Unless you’re superwoman and you’re able to be with your bundle of joy 24-7 – breastfeeding isn’t always sustainable.
And that’s okay.
Sometimes we set unrealistic expectations of ourselves, but the reality of it is, life happens. Latching issues can occur, our milk supply can dry up unexpectedly, medical issues arise, and more often than not – we have to go back to our full-time job, whether we want to or not.
Whatever your reason is for introducing formula to your breastfed baby, you will likely be faced with anxiety and worry, wondering how the transition will go.
And you may even be wondering if it’s even possible to switch to formula for breastfed babies?
I can assure you, it is. It can be a process, but it’s entirely possible and not as difficult or time-consuming as you would think!
You can rest easy knowing you are making the right choice for yourself and your baby by introducing formula.
Formula for breastfed babies is a great option since formula contains all the nutrients your baby needs.
The transition doesn’t have to be challenging, either!
Here are the best methods for introducing formula to breastfed babies:
Introduce The Formula Slowly
When a baby is solely breastfed, it can be challenging to introduce formula at first.
For some babies, that’s a major understatement. It all depends on your individual baby.
Which is why introducing formula for breastfed babies is best done slowly, which often makes the change less noticeable for your little one, and it makes the process easier on mom, too.
It’s recommended to start by adding only 25% formula with 75% breastmilk at first. If all goes well, you can increase this to 50% formula and 50% breastmilk.
If no problems arise and all is going well, then you can start offering pure formula in their bottles.
Choose The Right Formula
Not all infant formulas are created equally.
Some regular baby formulas are even made with sucrose, which can harm tooth enamel faster than other sugars.
I highly doubt you would feed your precious baby spoonfuls of sugar, and that’s exactly what sucrose is!
It’s scary to think of what can be in our babies food.
Even with organic infant formula, you still need to read the ingredients and be cautious of what you put in your babies mouth. As I said, they are not all created equally.
An alternative to the common (and sometimes harmful) American formula brands, is going with a European infant formula, which contains zero sugar, and is GMO-free and doesn’t contain any harmful additives.
European infant formula beats American infant formula for several reasons, but most importantly it’s free of carrageenan and sucrose, and you can sleep better knowing it hasn’t been genetically modified.
It is becoming more common for Americans to purchase their babies infant formula from Europe.
Offering them a quality product will make the transition go smoother for both mom and baby.
Use It As A Side Dish
You may have a clever baby who isn’t having any of this bottle nonsense, so adding organic infant formula into your babies food may be the best method when making the change.
Depending on the age of your baby, mixing a bit of formula into their baby cereal or any pureed food is a great way to introduce infant formula.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you wait until your baby is between four and six months before you start any solids, so you will want to make sure your baby is old enough before you try this method.
But, if your baby is over the recommended age, you can start by mixing in small amounts of formula into your babies cereal to get them used to it.
This will give them the taste for it, and then when you decide to give them a bottle of formula, it will undoubtedly be a painless transition.
Time It Right
Generally, timing is everything.
And this is no different when it comes to introducing formula to breastfed babies.
Although children tend to adapt to new situations pretty easily, you may have a baby who refuses to touch a bottle with a ten-foot pole. Don’t be discouraged!
If this is the case, you are going to want to make sure you time this right.
Most experts suggest waiting until your baby is at least three or four weeks old (when breastfeeding has been well-established) before you begin to offer formula.
The best times to offer your baby formula for the first time:
- When they are not over-tired
- When they are extremely hungry
- When they are in a general ”good mood”
- When they are relaxed or feeling sleepy
Let Someone Else Do The Feedings
Babies know their mother’s scents. Especially, when that mother is full of milk.
If you are the one to offer your baby a bottle of formula for the first time, chances are, they will smell the breastmilk and want nothing to do with the bottle in front of them.
This is why it’s smart to have family member or friend be the one to offer your baby a bottle of formula or the first time.
This will lead to less confusion for your baby, and likely an easier time for mom, too.
Offer a Slow-Flow Nipple
Most bottles for infants under the age of 6-months are equipped with slow-flow nipples anyway, but if not this is a method you will want to try.
When a baby is breastfeeding, they have to work for it. It doesn’t just pour out for them.
So the idea with the slow-flow nipple is that it will be most like their mother’s breast, and they will have an easier time adapting.
Put Some BreastMilk On The Bottle’s Nipple
This method is more or less tricking your baby into drinking the bottle of formula. But, it’s effective, none the less.
It can be a tad confusing to go from a warm breast to a cold, rubber nipple.
Imagine you were used to having a warm bowl of oatmeal every day for breakfast, and one day someone placed a bowl of plain, uncooked, steel cut oats in front of your face.
I imagine you would be wondering what on earth you’re being fed, and where is your regular, belly-filling breakfast.
It’s the same for a baby who is accustomed to drinking breastmilk everyday.
So pour a small amount of breastmilk right on the bottle’s nipple before feeding your baby with the bottle of formula, and your baby will be more likely to latch on.
This will give your baby a taste of the breastmilk and they will likely continue to suck on the bottle because of the initial taste of breastmilk.
This method goes hand in hand with making sure the timing is right. Timing is everything, they say.
A cranky, over-tired baby is more likely to get frustrated and straight up refuse to take a bottle in this process. Now, a calm, carefree baby is much more likely to be complacent and start sucking on that bottle.
You can try breastfeeding for a short time but not allowing him or her to fill up completely. Once they have had some breastmilk and they are calm and relaxed, try switching out for the bottle of formula.
This won’t necessarily work with every baby, but there’s a good chance that if your baby is relaxed enough they won’t resist.
Don’t Give Up
Change is hard, there is no doubt about it. But giving up is not an option!
Whatever the reason is that you are introducing formula to your breastfed baby, just keep that in mind when you feel like throwing in the towel.
Some babies take to the bottle the first time, without any issues. But many babies do have an adjusting period.
You may end up having to try several methods before you find something that works for you and your baby, but something will work.
Be persistent, in time your baby will take a bottle.
Every pregnant first-time mother has a romanticized perception of how parenthood will be. And most of us swear to breastfeed our babies until they are toddlers.
But what we don’t bank on is that sometimes (okay, a lot of the time), life will get in the way of our plans. That’s just how it goes!
Sometimes we forget that one day we will have to go back to work and leave our darling baby.
Or maybe we just need to have a little time for ourselves, so we have the option to leave the house once in a blue moon.
Whatever your reason is, it doesn’t matter.
Formula is a wonderful alternative to breastmilk, and there’s no shame in introducing formula to your infant.