23 answers

Breastfed Baby to Formula

I am currently nursing my 7 month old son and wish to continue until he is about one. However, he has been waking up the past two weeks at least three to four times a night to eat. I have read that my milk at this stage is begining to get watered down so I was thinking he may not be getting enough to keep him full during the night. I was thinking about giving him formula for his bedtime feeding. I am little nervous that he will get an upset stomach or worse will not want to nurse anymore. As anyone else supplemented a bedtime feeding with formula? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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I breastfed both my girls for a year or more and we started solids at 6 mos. Maybe you could give him a later dinner or snack before bed to fill him up rather than supplement with formula?

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I will put my two cents in even though I think you have already gotten some great advice. I definitely think that at 7 months he is more than ready for solids and breastmilk is not going to keep him full. However, though I think you should start him with rice cereal mixed with breastmilk, I do NOT think you should mix it and feed it to him from a bottle or one of those terrible infant feeder things that are really just bottles for feeding baby food. Your baby has to learn to move the food from the front of his mouth to the back. The tongue will push the food out the first few times (it's the reflex that tries to keep your baby from choking on things he shouldn't have in his mouth) and make a huge mess and it will seem like he hasn't gotten any food at all, but he is learning. Once he figures it out he will be swallowing it faster than you can spoon it in, and it will satisfy that huge appetite. The reason I say not to give it to him out of a bottle or a feeder is because it defeats that reflex that he has to spit out solids instead of properly teaching how to swallow. It will make it harder to get him used to other solids and it could make him choke more easily once you do try to get him to swallow thinker foods. The end goal is to have him eating from a spoon, why not start there? Just remember the first few nights could be frustrating and could take up to an hour to get all the cereal in him, but keep it up, have patience, and soon he will be a baby food champ! Good luck!!

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Aleisha, congrats on making it this far! You've gone longer than a lot of women do! I'm currently breast feeding my 1 yr. old (we're going on to extended feeding), and I can tell you after having breast fed two babies, that if you start supplementing with formula, your milk supply WILL decrease significantly, to the point of no return. I was young and uneducated on breast feeding with my first son, and had no access to the internet. So when he started being more hungry throughout the night, I kept supplementing with formula, thinking I was doing him a favor, when in reality, I made my milk dry up.
So please, if you want to continue breast feeding, do NOT supplement with formula.
Another fact that is always lost in the shuffle of this debate is that infants DO NOT *NEED* solids until they are 1 yr. old. Their bodies are MADE to live off of our breast milk (or formula for those who can't/won't/don't want to breast feed). It is just *suggested* that you start to introduce baby to foods. It is *not* necessary, however, as most will have you believe. So if you want to introduce solids, that's fine. But it is not an absolute thing that you HAVE to do. Rice cereal is a good starter because it is GENTLE and has low risks of allergic reactions.
As for your milk being watered down, I'd like to know where you read that, because it's simply not true. Whom ever is supplying such awful information is going to end up turning women against nursing longer.

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It's probably a growth spurt and he's trying to up your supply. If you decide to start on formula, it will have a negative effect on your supply. Your milk is fine and will continue to meet ALL of his nutritional needs until at least 12 months. Who ever told you that it's watering down was misinformed - definitely check out kellymom.com for more information. I will say that I know some mamas who tried formula at bedtime and had some luck, but also the same amount who saw no difference.

Good luck - I know it's so hard when they keep waking up. I remember those days too well & not too excited about it all again. LOL!

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Please do not put rice cereal in the bottle. Unfortunately, I'm sure the advice is well-intended, but it is out-dated. With some good advice from a La Leche League Leader or a lactation specialist, you probably do not need to use any formula at all. One of the many drawbacks to using formula to supplement is that unless you also pump at that time, your supply will certainly not respond to your baby's demands. You can find La Leche League leaders and their support groups for breastfeeding moms in your area by going to www.lalecheleague.org - click on the "find a leader" section. Even if you don't have a group right in your town, just call whomever is nearest to you - they'll be more than happy to help - and it is free advice. Plus, the La Leche League website has tons of great information.

You can also find lactation specialists several ways - look up breastfeeding or lactation in your local phone book, these websites have lists of lactation specialists by area as well as great information:

www.ilca.com (int'l lactation consultants association)
If you are eligible for WIC, your county WIC office has lactation consultants you can see for free.

Some great books are:

"The Breastfeeding Book" by Dr. William Sears (he also has a website - www.askdrsears.com with breastfeeding info)
"So That's What They're For!" By Janet Tamaro
"The Womanly Art of Breasfeeding" by La Leche League

You can find these books on the internet, a bookstore or you can loan them for free from your local library.

You are also welcome to contact me. I am a postpartum doula and have a lot of training in breastfeeding support - ____@____.com you live in the Dayton area, you might want to come to Dar a Luz Network meetings. They are a support group for moms and families during preganancy, birth, postpartum and motherhood. www.daraluznetwork.com.

I urge you to try to resolve your problem with help and continuing to breastfeed, not with formula.

Take care and best wishes!


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my son always nursed more when he was cutting a tooth or going through a growth spurt. at 7 mos, your boy is probably doing both. it's normal for him to still be waking up to nurse at this age, also your breastmilk composition changes as your baby grows to meet his needs, so i doubt the "problem" is how watery your milk is. you might try just sticking it out for a few more weeks if you can before switching to formula, because you may find he won't sleep once you switch due to gassiness or intolerance instead of just to nurse!

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Congrats on nursing to 7 months - what an awesome gift of health for BOTH of you (nursing has amazing health benefits for both mom and baby, and the longer you nurse, the greater those benefits like reduction of cancer risks, diabetes risks, obesity risks, etc.)!!!

1) Trust your mothering instinct - it's there for a reason! You say in your request, "I am little nervous that he will get an upset stomach or worse will not want to nurse anymore" -- listen to & honor that excellent maternal inner voice of yours. There are real risks of introducing formula: first, the 2 main bases of commercial formulas you buy at the store are DAIRY and SOY, and BOTH are on the "Top 8 Most Common Food Allergies" list (along with eggs, peanuts, wheat, shellfish, fish, tree nuts) - why introduce these if you don't have to??? Many moms who formula feed can tell you about "the formula shuffle" where they have to switch formulas many different times to find one that doesn't cause physical discomfort in their baby. You can avoid this completely.

2) Your son is not waking up because of the quality of your milk - please, please know that YOUR MILK IS WONDERFUL. At 7 months, your milk is still perfect for your son. The quality is still *just right* for your son. TRUTH: Your breastmilk is still better, healthier, safer, and cheaper than ANY formula you could possibly give him. There is no need to supplement with formula - BUT, if you are concerned about his needing more food, breastfeed him first and then offer a well-mashed or pureed whole food (banana, sweet potato, avocado, pear, peach, etc.) on the tip of your finger. If he wants more of the solid food, give him more. Follow his cues. While rice cereal is a possibility (many will suggest it) just keep in mind that it's not as healthy as a whole food like simple mashed banana, steamed sweet potato, mashed avocado, pureed peaches, etc.

3) Please don't forget about the commons reasons for nightwaking and an increase in night nursing for a baby your son's age - the following are much more likely the reason behind his nightwaking and increased hunger:
* growth spurt (needing more food - if you nurse him, your supply will increase to meet his demand)
* teething (wanting the pain-relieving effects of nursing (breast feeding & breastmilk act as anti-inflammatory AND pain-relief, as well as the comfort and closeness of being with mom)
* increased development/mobility (hey, I can crawl! my body is full of energy! I'm aware of more things and my mind is feeling awake, wanting to know where my parents are!)

Best of luck to you and your son - and don't fall into the formula trap just because everybody else does it or because you feel unsure of yourself. Too many moms have regretted their decision to introduce formula only to find out that there were other, more appropriate, more safe and healthy (and way cheaper!) options out there.

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I breastfed both my girls for a year or more and we started solids at 6 mos. Maybe you could give him a later dinner or snack before bed to fill him up rather than supplement with formula?

1 mom found this helpful

First, congrats on making it to seven months breastfeeding! That's awesome!

You didn't mention if your boy is eating any solids during the day, so I'm not going to go there.

My son is ten months old (already!) and he still wakes to eat fairly frequently at night. I don't know about your milk becoming watery, but I do know that breastmilk is more easily digested than formula, so a breastfed baby will naturally want to eat more often. I'm sure you already know that, though.

I would suggest going to breastfeeding.com, and also to kellymom.com. those two websites have lots and lots of great info.

As far as cereal in the bottle, I've heard it from lots of parents, and it may have worked for them, but recently docs have stopped recommending it. besides that, rice cereal has little nutritional value, as breastfed babies don't need the iron that they add to it. if you'd like to try making your own cereals, so they are more nutritious, they have good instructions at wholesomebabyfoods.com

if you do decide to supplement with formula (i would rather not but i'm not you. :) ) you may want to pump to keep your supply up. remember your milk production is all about supply and demand, and if you don't get it outta you, your body will slow production.

one thing i have found with my son is that he likes to nurse more at night if we haven't had a chance to snuggle much during the day. he's walking now and getting really independent, and i think he uses his nighttime nursings to re-connect with me. do you work outside the home? or is your boy reaching new milestones like crawling or walking? or even teething? breastfeeding is his best way to feel close to you, so maybe he's just doing that. if so, you can try to snuggle and cuddle more during the day. or it could be that he's so busy with his new skills during the day that he is using his night nurses to fill up on what he misses during the day. check out kellymom's info on reverse cycling and nighttime parenting.

anyway, i'll stop my rambling now. do please check out kellymom and breatfeeding.com, they are great resources for lots of breastfeeding questions and have helped me out numerous times! hope some of this helps, whatever you decide.

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