23 answers

Switching from Formula to Whole Milk

hello..i am looking for some advice for my one year old foster son, who has recently been reunited with his birth mother. she was told by the pediatrician to wean from the bottle, stop the formula (soy) and switch to whole milk. although they thought he was lactose intolerant at birth, he has tolerated dairy products with no problems. bio-mom has told me that the baby doesn't seem to want the milk. any ideas and details on making this transition would be most helpful. he is a very healthy, happy baby taking solids well, starting to use a cup. thanks!

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wow, i love this site. thanks for all the responses. the baby was visiting overnight and i tried mixing formula and whole milk, leaving it out for a few minutes so as not to be too cold, and he took it like a champ. i passed on all of your suggestions to his mom, including not weaning from formula and the bottle at the same time, which makes perfect sense. thanks mamas!

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Try mixing 1/2 formula and 1/2 whole milk and if he drinks that ok then gradually degrees the formula. When my foster son first came to live with me he was taking soy formula and we first switch him to regular formula by mixing 1/2 soy with 1/2 regular. Then when it came time to switch to whole milk he didn't seem to want it so we gave him 1/2 formula and 1/2 whole milk, which he took very well. I gradually decreased the formula and now he drinks whole milk fine.

My son was on soy based formula and what we did was to put him on soy milk. He is now almost seven and still prefers soy milk. It is worth a try. Good Luck!

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if he was on soy formula i would not start whole milk right away. the best way to transistion i think, is by slowly swapping the formula bottles to milk. some will do bottle n bottle, some will give milk in sippy formula i the bottle. 1 yr is not too old for a bottle. if it was me again, i would transistion it out, slowly. keep using the bottles until he is used to milk. then swap bottles for cups. too many changes too soon, will make him regress a little bit, and he already had a household change.

as for the whole milk. my daughterwas on soy and ad a hard time digesting it. try 2 % or even 1 % at first. they also make formula that is designed for toddles by good start. she could try that too. I hope all this helps you and the mom
take care

it could be the taste of the milk is differemt than the soy formula. Try to transition him to soy milk Silk is a really good one. Then mix the regular milk into the soy milk and then start adding less and less soy mil (or soy formula) doing this with formula can work too. Alsoi tis a temperature chnage if the baby is used to the formula being heated drinking cold milk from a cup appears to be a drastic change. Try milk that sits for a bit so it is not super cold. also calcuim can be eaten in many forms... veggies, cheese, yogurt. The only ones who need cow's milk really are baby cows and even they don't drink it forever. Yes our kids needs calcium and milk is a great way to get it but it is not the only way. I am a proud foster parent with 3 children two who were adopted through the foster program and I appluad your efforts to remain a support to the bio mom during this transition.

I haven't read the other responses yet, so probably someone else has suggest this, but just go it slow and mix the bottles. First put 1 ounce of milk (or even 1/2 ounce) and the rest soy. A couple days later, double the milk, etc., etc.. Watch for signs of discomfort, and back off if it seems like he's suffering from more than just the taste.

Hi V.,
If she is trying to wean from the bottle and do whole milk at the same time - it may be too much change for him. She might try doing the soy in a cup for a bit to get him used to the cup. Then switching over to whole milk in the cup. Or milk in the bottle and then switch over to cup. It might be too hard for him to give up both great comforts at once. My middle son had a hard time transitioning to different things and we found that doing it in stages seemed to be the way to go. Hope this helps....C.

Go to Soy milk instead...it's healthier and has the same necessary vitamins as cows milk.

We had the same situation with my son when he was also turning one. We started to slowly mix in the whole milk with the soy formula. At first we would mix in one ounce of milk to 7 ounces of soy and just keep doing that for a couple of days to see how he could tolerate it (and get used to the taste). After a few days we went up to 2 ounces of whole milk and so on. The transition was very easy and I he didn't seem to notice the difference. Good luck!

Going from soy formula to regular milk is HUGE - the taste alone is probably why he doesn't like it. Start with 1oz of milk in the bottle/sippy cup with the rest being soy formula. After a few days, up it to 2 oz of milk. Keep going until it's all milk.

That's the only way I was able to get both of my boys to get off formula and to milk.

Good luck!

Not sure why this is so important to the pediatrician, BUT I would advise continuing the formula but diluting it with some milk - maybe 80% formula and 20% milk to start. Gradually increase the amount of milk, maybe after a week to 10 days. After a couple of months, it will be all milk. You could alternate the bottle and the sippy cup, maybe keeping the bottle first thing in the morning if he needs it for comfort, and last thing at night? Use the cup during the day and especially while "on the road" where he might not expect the bottle or at least is removed from the normal setting.

Good luck, and bless you for being a foster mom!

Good morning V.,

My husband and I are actually in the process of finishing up my daughter's formula and transitioning her to whole milk. I was told by my daughter's pediatrician that a gradual process is always best. For example, my daughter does 2 bottles a day (one before morning nap, and one before she heads to bed for the night). She's at 6 oz now, so we started off with 1 oz milk and 5 oz formula for about 4-5 days, then we would step it up and do 2 oz milk and 4 oz formula, etc.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

Try mixing 1/2 formula and 1/2 whole milk and if he drinks that ok then gradually degrees the formula. When my foster son first came to live with me he was taking soy formula and we first switch him to regular formula by mixing 1/2 soy with 1/2 regular. Then when it came time to switch to whole milk he didn't seem to want it so we gave him 1/2 formula and 1/2 whole milk, which he took very well. I gradually decreased the formula and now he drinks whole milk fine.

Hi, Vee,

It's great to hear about families fostering other children. What a satisfying and sometimes difficult (when you have to see them leave!) opportunity. Our admiration out to you! As for your question, my son didn't like the switch between breastmilk and cow's. We tried to mix breastmilk with cow's milk little by little, but he knew the difference! But, you could try a gradual switch. What we ended up doing was mixing a little tiny bit of drinkable yogurt in with his milk. At 2.5 he still drinks it that way!

Good luck,

Make the transition gradual. For instance if he drinks a 7 oz bottle of formula, give gim 6 oz formula to 1 oz milk for 2 days and just gradually increase it. I'm in the process of the same thing with my 13 month old. She is my third child and it worked great for the others

Wean slowly, try just one bottle or cup of whole milk a day all others can be the formula. Each day take away one more formula and use milk. If that does not work start diluting the formula with more water than usual, he won't like the watery taste as much. Then give whole milk NOT watered down.
Some people say to mix formula with whole milk (1/2 milk, 1/2 formula) too if nothing else will work.
Or try Rice milk (my son is allergic to regular milk, dairy) but because rice milk does not have any fat you need to add olive oil to it so that he gets the fat he needs until he is 2.
You put in 1/3 teaspoon of olive oil to the bottle or cup of milk he is drinking. My son now hates the taste of regular whole milk so he is still on Rice milk with olive oil.
Good luck!

I had trouble switching my son from formula to milk as well. I started by putting 6 oz of formula and 2 oz of milk in the bottle and slowly increasing the ratio until he was only on milk.

Give the baby part milk/part formula, increasing the milk to formula ratio very slowly and gradually. My daughter wouldn't accept formula after eight months of nursing. I started the transition with 1/2 ounce of formula mixed in with 5 1/2 ounces of breastmilk. Once things were going well, I increased the formula by a half ounce just about every other day. It took a while, but it was a very smooth and uneventful transition...which is just what I wanted!! Good luck!

Hi Vee
Try him on enriched rice milk instead of whole milk. Get the full fat variety as babies need those good fats for brain development. Rice milk has a bit of the consistency of breastmilk and is a little sweet as well. You might be tempted to switch him to soy milk but I would be cautious in that because of the phyto-estrogens in soy. Most likely it wasn't lactose that he was allergic to. It was probably the milk proteins he was having trouble digesting. There is actually more lactose in breastmilk than cow's milk (I know that you didn't breastfeed him but this is just an interesting fact). Anyway, try the rice milk and see if he doesn't like that a little better. Thank you for being such a concerned foster mother even when he's no longer in your care!!

My daughter adjusted very well during the initial switch from formula to milk. Like many have suggested, we took it slow and phased out of formula and into milk. However, at about the 2 month mark (almost exactly the time we went to straight milk), she developed terrible constipation. We eventually put her on soy milk, which worked wonders. At 3 years old, she's now on cow's milk and doing just fine.

My suggestions:
1) Be flexible w/ the plan
2) Be open to other suggestions - as it appears you are, since you posted here :>
3) Stay in constant communication w/ the pediatrician - things seems to change fast so something that may have been recommended for us moms 5-10 years ago may be discouraged now

Good luck!

For both of my daughter's they needed Nutramigen, a special formula for baby's with bovine protein allergies (even though they are not allergic to bovine proteins).

When it came time to transition (am actually in the process with my youngest now), I slowly started adding whole milk to the formula until it went from being formula to milk.

So for example my daughter drinks approximately 8 ounces. (She is on a special 100 cal formula so I have to measure out more scoops of formula than usual.). I start with 7 oz of formula & 1 oz of milk and do that for a day, then 6 oz formula & 2 oz of milk on day two. Somewhere in the middle I usually have to repeat a few days, however, within 2 weeks they are usually drinking whole milk.

Another thing that helps is if he has had other forms of liquid such as juice (cut with water if you don't want the sugar high). Going between numerous liquids will help him enjoy the variety and make it easier for you to give him the whole milk rather than the formula. (You could also try to give him fortified soy milk once a day, he might really like that).

Hope that helps :)


I mixed the whole milk with the soy formula. I would do 1/2 and 1/2 for about a week. My oldest had allergy concerns and handled the switch just fine. When moving them to a cup, I would try to make certain drinks, like juice and water, only in a cup. They never got it from a bottle. I found just having a sippy cup of water with them at all times helped them get used to the idea, even if they just played with it at first.

Good luck!


when i did this with my now 15yr old daughter i switched to milk based formula first then to lactaid milk she never really handled whole milk well period. ILOVED the day i coul dmove her down to 2%... I mixed the formula 2oz carnation GS to 4 ozs soy (she only took 6 ozs) and swappped it slowly to all milk based formula then did the same with the milk and added the lactaid stuff top the whole milk as soon as it was 1/2 &1/2 ...

My son was on soy based formula and what we did was to put him on soy milk. He is now almost seven and still prefers soy milk. It is worth a try. Good Luck!

I just recently went through the changeover myself and my daughter didn't particularly like the milk at first. I have 2 tips that worked for me.
First of all, I used "Nuby" cups. I got the ones that are shaped more like a bottle and have 3 nipples: 1) a bottle nipple, 2) a sippy cup nipple, 3) an early-stage straw nipple. This makes the transition from a bottle to a cup easier.
Secondly, I learned that if you've given the baby warm formula, he/she isn't going to want cold milk. Try warming the milk just a little at first. This way, he can adjust to the taste, then to the temp. later. Obviously warm milk sitting out isn't safe but if it's warmed right before feeding it to him, it's fine.
Good luck.

Hi- I did the following with both of my children when transitioning from formula to milk. And it worked out great, neither one noticed the difference. Depending on how many ounces your child is taking, I would replace 1oz of the formula with whole milk for a couple of days. Meaning if your child is drinking 7 oz do 6 oz of formula and 1 oz of milk. The next couple of days replace 2 oz of formula with whole milk. If you find they do not like it go back to the 1 oz for another day or two and try again. Eventually you have replaced the whole bottle with milk and they shouldn't notice. It's temperature difference if anything but thats an easy fix.
Good luck with the transition!

A little about me: Happily married stay at home mother of 2 great kids. Sarah who is 5 and Daniel who is 3.

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