BF Low Supply/Running Out of Storage/When Can I Start Whole Milk?

Updated on September 17, 2014
A.C. asks from Wichita, KS
13 answers

Hello! Essentially, my main question is if it is okay to start whole milk for a baby who is younger than 12 months; however, there's more to it, so I will share what is going on with the hopes that if you have other suggestions, then you offer them! :)

My daughter (third child) is 10 months old right now and doing well. She is exclusively breastfed for her milk source and has babyfood three times a day, but I am a full time out of home (+ additional part-time from home) working mom, so I rely on my frozen breast milk to feed her when i'm not there.

Here's her current schedule:
6:45am Nurse then BabyFood/Oatmeal
10:00am 8 ounces of breastmilk in a bottle with babysitter
1:00pm I run home from work to nurse her, then babysitter gives Baby Food (this time is set....I cannot nurse her any other time during the school day)
4:00pm I get home from work and nurse her
6:00pm Nurse then Baby Food
9:00pm Nurse and then sleep until next morning (usually)

Recently, our family has gone through some MAJOR changes. My husband and I are both teachers, and we decided to make the move to a new city. In the past few months we have sold a house, bought a house, did some major updates to get said house ready to move into, moved into new house (3 hours away from our previous city) and then both of us started brand new teaching jobs 1-2 weeks later, kiddos started new school, new babysitter, etc. These are some HUGE life changes, and while we know that the move was the best for our family, we are still extremely stressed with all of the new things going on (navigating a new city, new school systems, etc.).

At my previous job, I did not have the opportunity to go feed my baby during the day, so last school year I was pumping every morning on one side while feeding baby on the other side to get some extra milk stored up. I was also pumping at school during my 25 minute lunch break. That was helping me to 'break even' on the supply and demand situation. On weekends, I would continue to pump in the mornings, and freeze that milk for later. When summer began, I continued to pump in the mornings, even though baby was with me all the time, so that I could build up stock for the upcoming school year. About mid-July, I stopped pumping, because franklly, I was so exhausted with all of the changes (packing, moving, getting ready for a new school year, etc.), that something had to give, and that was it. I'm still BF baby exclusively right now.

So fast forward to right now. I had a brief freak out moment about a week ago where I started doing inventory and found that my frozen supply is starting to run low. If things continue as they are, then I will run out about 3 weeks from now (very early October), when my daughter is 11 months old.

Now, my goal has always been to BF through the first year, and then gradually transition to whole milk. I was able to successfully do this with my first two children, and I really want to do this with my third child, as well. I am not anti-formula...but I don't want to switch to formula for a few weeks and then switch to whole milk. I really want to finish this out with breastmilk if possible.

In the past week, I have started trying to pump more (on one side while feeding on the other....this seems to be the only way that I can get any milk). I'm not getting much in I've maybe gotten about 6 ounces extra TOTAL in the past 3 days....not even to cover one 8 ounce feeding time. So that is frustrating and a lot of time/work for only 6 ounces. I started really bumping up my water intake during the day and taking fenugreek to help with that supply, but haven't seen much change yet. I am almost wondering if I am going to be able to get the supply back soon enough to be able to keep up. I know that my lack of sleep (from working) and all of these extra stressors are not helping things.

What am I missing? What should I try or do? Should I start transitioning her to whole milk earlier than 12 months? I do not want to increase her risk for developing a milk allergy. Should I try some other things to re-build my supply?

Thanks in advance for your support and suggestions! :)

ETA: Thanks for the suggestions so far. When I say 'baby food' I probably should have said 'baby appropriate' food. We ARE doing jars of baby food, but we are also doing baby appropriate table food with it. :)

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answers from Boston on

I would consider pumping at 6a on weekends before she wakes. She will be able to pull more out for her am feeds. I would give more real food like sautéed string beans and less baby food. I don't think whole milk a bu before 1 is a big deal. Practice sippy too. Great job!!! Many would have quit by now.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I would encourage you not to rule out formula. It has so many more nutrients than whole milk. My pumping supply (but not my ability to nurse) started to give out between 9 and 10 months with both my kids. I used formula stretch my breastmilk supply out longer.

Start by making a very small bottle - 2 oz, with 1/2 oz formula and 1.5 oz breastmilk. See if she will take it (I say start small, because if she refuses it, you don't want to waste a bunch of breastmilk). If she takes that and doesn't have a lot of gas afterwards, go to half and half. Make all her bottles for her sitter 1/2 breastmilk and 1/2 formula, and that way your breastmilk will essentially last twice as long, and instead of 3 weeks of breastmilk, you have 6 weeks and hopefully that will get your child past the 1 year mark.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

First of all, take a deep breath Mom!!

You have done super great for 10 months bending over backward to give your daughter the great start with breastmilk.

I am a childcare provider and I see the panic you are describing all the time. A lot of the time Mom gets to the point that you have with the pumping, they are just tired of all the prepping and cleaning and spending every moment of any break time hiding in a room to pump, and they are JUST PLAIN TIRED. Give yourself a break, you've done great!!

There is not a magic number on the calendar that says "this is the day you can start whole milk". If you'd prefer not to use formula then go ahead and supplement your breastfeeding with whole milk. Whatever you choose to do know that you've given your daughter a great gift by breastfeeding her as long as you have.


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answers from Oklahoma City on

Please understand that baby food is nothing but flavored goo and is not good for your baby. I got that from the company themselves when I called about an expiration date issue.

Baby food is a tool, not for nutrition. If you want nutrition for your baby you should be nursing her first then feeding her table food.

If you can nurse her do so, at every available time. Otherwise...well, if she was younger I'd say with my whole heart that formula was a must.

Formula and breast milk have complete 100% nutrition for a baby. It is every single thing they need.

What happens with baby food is this. You give your baby this flavored goo and they eat it because it tastes yummy. But since it has no nutrition in it they get really hungry. You offer a bottle or breast they suck it down because they are starving.

When you offer them more food they gobble it down too because they're starving. They get full and can't eat any more but they didn't get any nutrition so when that food is out of their tummy they're starving again. You give them more food and they gobble it down but still don't get the nutrition they need.

It's a cycle and since they're so hungry all the time it seems like they love the baby food and eat it up but in reality they're eating flavored goo that doesn't have the nutrition they really really need.

Since your baby isn't getting very much nutrition I'd say you need her to go to formula if you can't breast feed her more.

But if you aren't going to do formula then give her whole Vitamin D milk. It takes about a month to fully transition a baby completely. If you do it what "I" consider to be the right way.

You take that bottle and mix 2 ounces of whole milk into the formula milk. The baby takes that for a while, at least a week. Their body will let you know if it is tolerating the milk or not.

Then when the baby is doing well and the gas and stuff are gone go half milk and half formula. To me this one is the biggie. This one is at least a week and once it's a doing well you can stay here for a couple of weeks if you want. Then when you decide to go the next step it is the fasted level.

You mix 2 ounces of formula with whole milk. Once this is tolerated well you can go to whole vitamin D milk, not skim, not 2%, not anything but whole vitamin D milk.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

Whole milk is not a replacement for breastmilk. Breastmilk is food, cow milk is a beverage. You can feed her cow milk as part of a well rounded solid food diet, but you should not use cow milk to replace a bottle or a nursing session because it is nutritionally deficient.

If she is not yet eating mostly regular meals of solid foods and still relies on nursing for primary nutrition, you can supplement with formula. You should nurse and use formula until she is switched to entirely solid foods.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

1) ask your doctor and
2) don't assume your baby will even take milk. I had three babies and not one of them ever liked it. Tried dairy, soy, almond, they would have none of it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

If you just re-started pumping, it will take a while for your supply to come back. Pumping doesn't do as good of a job of signaling your body to make more as breastfeeding does, so pumping while you feed is a great idea. It may take two weeks or more to build back up to where you were. If you pump when you are not also feeding, it can be helpful to look at a picture of your baby at the same time. I know it sounds crazy, but it worked for me! I was either in school or working full time outside the home with both of my breastfed kiddos, so I feel your frustration with pumping. But you are so close to that year goal, hang in there!

When I transitioned to cow's milk, it was a very long process. I used rice and coconut milk to help with the transition. As other posters have mentioned, I started with just a tiny amount of another milk with the breastmilk, the slowly increased the ratio. I actually went even slower than Gamma G described.

If you need to stop pumping, I would suggest starting the transition now so you can use your supply to slowy add whole milk to the current bottle feedings. Continue to breastfeed her when you are able. It will be easier on you both if you don't "flip a switch" and go from all breast milk to all whole milk all at once.

As far as developing an allergy, the medical community goes back and forth on how introducing foods plays a role. I would not take the 12-month mark as gospel, particularly given that your daughter is 10 months. Proper nutrition is a bigger concern, and she will get that if she is still breastfeeding all but one feeding per day.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My middle son stopped nursing on his own at 9 months, broke my heart!! Our pediatrician at the time told us he could have whole milk because he was close enough to 12 months, big mistake! He had a horrible reaction to it. we used formular for him for the last few months and tried milk again a little later - to this day he is still my biggest milk drinker at 9 years old.

Our youngest stopped nursing about 10 months (I was then working full-time outside of the home and going to school full-time online as well). We didn't even talk to the ped about it, we just gave him formula for the last two months as well.

So *I* do not recommend milk before 12 months, but that's me as a mom, not a doctor.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I think if she is 11 months when you run out of frozen milk, you could use whole milk for 1 bottle a day at the sitter (or 2) and still nurse while with her, no problem.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

My milk started to run out when my daughter was 10 months. Her ped would not allow us to go to whole milk and suggested stage 2 formula instead. It worked for the 2 months until she went on whole milk.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

I'd say you are probably ok to start the whole milk transition. My son was about 10/11 mos when he just flat out started refusing the bottle and formula we were giving him. My son already had food allergies by this age, but milk was not one of them. I would think that if there was a sensitivity to dairy, you would have noticed already from your own dairy intake via breast milk. Just start slowly introducing it in your breast milk and see what happens. Like another poster said- I would also introduce milk via a sippy cup and not a bottle. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Even without that 8 ounce feeding she is still nursing 5 times a day. If it were me I would just replace the 10am bottle with a yogurt and some water/juice to drink and just nurse her when you are with her/continue to come home at 1:00. I doubt she would even drink formula if you tried. She'll be fine:)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Wow, you have done a great job of providing your child with breastmilk. Personally, I would phase down on pumping and continue to breastfeed her. Supplement with formula when you are not there until she is one, then gradually introduce whole milk.

Relax, you have done an amazing job with a lot of stress.

1 mom found this helpful
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