How to Change Baby From Breast Milk to Formula Milk

Updated February 21, 2017

The bond between a mom and her newborn is fraught with emotion--particularly if the child is the mother's first--so replacing the breast with a bottle can be a scary experience. If you are at that juncture and want to move from nursing to bottle, relax. Babies survive having their feeding systems changed every day and turn out just fine. Keep offering your nurturing love when you offer baby a bottle and it won't be long before you're both quite content with this new relationship.

Introduce your baby to the feel of a bottle nipple by tapping it on his lips very slowly at a time when the child is slightly hungry. Place some warm breast milk into the bottle so the taste and texture are familiar to the child as you insert the nipple tip slowly into baby's mouth. Don't spend more than 10 minutes trying to get him to accept the rubber nipple. Try again at a later time.

Begin the actual weaning process only after the baby easily accepts a nipple and automatically begins to suck when it's placed in her mouth. Substitute one bottle of formula per day for the breast--at approximately the same time of day--to start the process.

Stay with this one bottle of formula per day for at least a week. Add a second bottle of formula at another time of day once the first bottle-for-breast replacement ritual becomes comfortable for the baby. Take it slowly and spend as much time as you both need to complete the transition from breast to bottle. Continue to cuddle and hold the baby closely to maintain the familiarity of the nursing experience.

Avoid rushing the transition from breast to bottle so you, your body and your baby have an opportunity to adjust. Prepare yourself for possible feelings of the depression as hormones involved in milk production begin changing in reaction to your diminishing supply of breast milk.

Look for adverse physical reactions when you begin to introduce formula to make certain your baby is tolerating the brand you've begun to feed him. If he develops a rash or digestive reactions, ask your doctor about changing formula brands.

Anticipate setbacks down the road--even after you believe the change from breast to bottled formula is complete. Sick babies have been known revert back to their longing for the comfort of the breast when they don't feel well.

Speak with your paediatrician and other knowledgeable health professionals at any time during this change from breast to formula milk. Ask friends for their insights. Read books on the topic if time allows. Call the La Leche League to add to your arsenal of research and get a big helping of encouragement from women who have gone through this--often multiple times.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.