Switching from Breast Milk to Formula

Updated on March 18, 2009
R.L. asks from Frisco, TX
18 answers

I am getting ready to make the switch from breast milk to formula for my 5 month old son. Right now the only formula he gets is 4 oz in his last bottle mixed with 4 oz of breast milk. The rest of the feedings are all breast milk. I would like to make the switch gradually so that it is easier on his tummy. My question is – is it better to alternate one full bottle of formula at one feeding and then all breast milk at the next feeding switching off - OR - mix ½ and ½ at each feeding until his tummy gets used to more formula.

We have tried getting him ready for rice cereal and as of now he wants nothing to do with it. He was born 6 weeks early so his pedi has told me he still has a 4-month-old tummy and to give him a little more time.

I know some of the moms will respond with how I should continue to give him straight breast milk. Due to going back to work full time, as much as I would like to, I am not able to pump as much now so it is not an option.

What can I do next?

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T.W.

answers from Dallas on

I had to ween my youngest off of breastmilk too. It was recomended to me to mix the breastmilk in with the formula in smaller and smaller doses until there is only formula left. doing it gradually should not shock his little system or make him reject it entirely.

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A.D.

answers from Dallas on

Congrats on making it this far with breast feeding, it's not an easy thing! When we switched, I talked with the nurse at my son's doctor's office and she said to do it in kind of a tapering fashion. Depending on how much he drinks you should start with 1-2 oz of formula and the remainder breast milk per bottle for about 2-3 days. Then increase the formula after 2-3 days to 3 oz of formula and the remainder breast milk per bottle for 2-3 days etc until you hit all formula. So, if he takes in around 8 oz you'll probably have a couple weeks of transitioning. We used a pitcher we got at Babies R Us and mixed the formula for what we thought would cover each day then kept it in the fridge then warmed it with the breast milk in hot water. Remember, formula is more filling than breast milk so he may not take in as much as he did before. It also will help you produce less milk in a gradual process and reduce the tenderness/engorgement you'll experience until your supply dries up.
As for the rice cereal try oatmeal instead, less binding, and if he's not ready, he's not ready. Try it again in about a month. It's not so much the tummy as that he may not have the reflexes yet to effectively swallow food given to him on a spoon. Good luck going back to work!

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A.W.

answers from Amarillo on

I don't really know anything about formula, but I don't think you are supposed to mix it with breast milk. I think for some reason that's not good to do.

I will give you another option to formula, though. Other people may rail against this, but with our second baby (our son) I just could not keep up with him. He was huge, and at 5 months we started giving him a bottle at night b/c otherwise he'd be up 2 or 3 times starving. When we had gone through everything I had pumped and frozen we started him on goat milk. I had a friend who had adopted her baby and she gave him nothing but goat milk until he could take solids. She put me in touch with her "supplier". Do some research on it. There are some people who say it's not healthy, but overall most studies say that it is the closest thing in nature to human breast milk. It doesn't have much iron, but neither does human's. But pasteurizing it kills everything beneficial about it. Kind of like sticking breast milk in the microwave. My son did great on it. The reason they are not supposed to have cow milk is that the fat globules are too big for babies to digest. Goat milk fat is like 50,000 times smaller than cow. Anyway, we went with it b/c I just couldn't bring myself to give him formula. I'm not a huge "naturalist" in a lot of areas, but when it comes to giving my baby chemicals and synthetics I just can't do it. If you decide to go with goat milk, check with a health food store in your area. They probably have a source where you can get it raw. Send me a message if you have any questions!

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K.C.

answers from Dallas on

For my first child I gradually added in formula to the breast milk in the bottles, starting at 1/4, then 1/3 then 1/2, then 3/4 and finally all formula. I did this over a 2 to 3 week period (from what I can remember). This worked well with her but she was probably about 9 or 10 months old. I had started her on bottles when she was about 8 weeks old to get her used to having them, as I also went back to work.

For my second, I am currently trying to get her on the bottle. She is 9 months old and will not take any breast milk in the bottle (for some weird reason!!), but takes formula like a champ! But my pediatrician said I could alternate one formula bottle with a breast milk bottle. So I guess either way is OK, just depends on what your little one prefers.

Hope this helps! :)

Oh, also best of luck going back to work - it is hard at first, but you both will adjust and be OK. Also, don't fret about putting baby on formula - I actually have to because my milk 's fat content is too low and my baby is not putting on enough weight, so my pediatrician recommended putting her on formula.

Best of luck.

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E.C.

answers from Dallas on

Don't worry about the switch. I felt guilty at first; however, it just worked out better for me. Did it longer with my first... much harder as a full-time working mom of a toddler and 4 month old the second time around. It was best for me and my family. Anyway, the way I did it both times was just to go a little longer between pumps. I would breastfeed in the morning and pump maybe 2x (verses the 3x) during the day. Then feed at night. Eventually got down to no pumps during the day and just feeding at night. I would just fill the bottle up with whatever breast milk I had and supplemented with formula. It maybe ended up being mostly breastmilk at first by the second week I had less milk pumping so she ended up getting more formula in the bottle. Eventually, I was all dried up and she was getting 100% forumula. It was a nice transition for my boobs and baby.It was a pretty easy transition both times. It was much harder on me than my baby :) Also, my second was not into cereal for a while... preferred the formula. I don't think she really started eating much solids until 7 months. It is more of a trying out thing anyway... they will get most of their nutrition the first year from breastmilk or formula. Good luck!

K.D.

answers from Dallas on

I just wanted to say congratulations on FIVE months of breastfeeding. That is awesome. You deserve a pat on the back for doing it. And it is something of a bummer that you have to brace yourself for negativity about stopping now like you did in your last paragraph. Five months is great! And, good luck at work. Knock 'em dead. Best wishes with all of your new transitions.

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J.T.

answers from Dallas on

R.,

I completely understand about not being able to pump enough when going back to work. I myself, went back to work when my son was 8 months old and had to supplement as well. I only breastfed in the mornings and evenings and pumped what I could. But, I also chose not to use formula to supplement with him. I'm sure you've heard all the stories from mom's on this site concerning tummy and constipation issues with formulas and I definitely didn't want that to happen to my son. Also, formula has so much corn syrup (some its the first ingredient!) I just couldn't bear giving it to him. So, I did some research and found Dr. Sear's site (the pedi that everyone wishes they could go to) and he recommends a goat milk formula that my son just loved and thrived on. Here's some info from his site and the recipe:
http://askdrsears.com/html/3/t032400.asp

MEYENBERG POWDERED GOAT MILK BEGINNING FORMULA

(12 oz container) Powdered Goat Milk 6 Scoops (84 g)
Water 36 oz.
Brown Rice Syrup 6 ½ Tbsp.
Calories (per oz.)20

As baby matures during its first year, gradually increase ratio of powder to water until whole milk level is reached (see below). Discontinue adding rice syrup (carbohydrates).

To reconstitute to Whole Milk

Powdered Goat Milk 8 scoops (112 g)
Water 32 oz.
Calories (per oz.)19

You can find the powdered goat's milk at Whole Foods in the bulk isle section or at The Vitamin Shoppe ($1 cheaper there). My son still drinks goat's milk today and loves it! Hope this helps! God Bless. Any further questions just email me at: [email protected]____.com

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J.W.

answers from Dallas on

As much as breast feeding is pushed these days formula feeding was pushed when I was a baby. I have both breast feed and formula fed and I say you have to do what works for you. Don't feel guilty or beat up about it what is important it that your little guy eats. My 2 early ones did fine switching over to formula one at 3 months and one at 5 months. I alternated breatmilk and formula. With all of my children we started with oatmeal instead of rice. Rice is binding so it can cause constipation quite quickly. But he will let you know when he is ready so don't worry about it. If you start to have constipation issues you can put a 1/4 tsp dark Kayro surup in his bottle with formula. Good luck!

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A.S.

answers from Dallas on

My son was 6 months when we switched from breastmilk to formula, and I mixed half and half for awhile. But he also wouldn't take a full formula bottle at first because he didn't like the taste. It seems to me that it would be easier on his tummy to mix half and half rather than alternate because he would never get a large amount of formula for his system to digest. Then you can slowly start increasing the ratio of formula to breastmilk. We've always used Earth's Best Organic, and he has never had a problem. Good luck!

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L.L.

answers from Denver on

Congratulations on being able to breast feed a premie!

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J.H.

answers from Amarillo on

I think it would be fine to give him all formula. I on my 4th went straight to regular milk and he did fine. I know a lot of people wouldn't agree with that, but I for sure think formula would be fine. I nurse all of mine right at first and then switched.

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T.M.

answers from Dallas on

I did the same thing with my youngest:

Started with 1/4 formula to 3/4 breast milk for a week, the 1/2 to 1/2 for a week, the 1/4 breastmilk to 3/4 formula for a week, the full formula.

I did the same switching from formula to milk.

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T.B.

answers from Dallas on

my son was 6 wks early too. His doc stress to us not to start food til he was 6 months since he was early. So that's what we've done and it's worked out fine.

As for switching to formula from breastmilk. I do 1 bottle formula, 1 bottle breastmilk. I alternate with him and its working out fine for us. Hasn't bothered his tummy at all. I would just do the transistion slowly. Thats just me though.

Good luck with it all!

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C.M.

answers from Dallas on

I did it both ways (2 children). Just what ever you have to offer. First one got 1/2 and 1/2 (what a pain) and the second got fed what was available at that feeding. Both were happy and fine with that.

If the formula is a good one for your child it shouldn't be a problem. But if the child gets tummy troubles try a soy based formula...

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A.F.

answers from Dallas on

R.,

My daughter had same issue not wanting formula after being on breast milk. Her Pediatrician recommended concentrated Goat milk which is very close to breast milk and she loved it. It is also much better for her.

Best wishes!

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J.L.

answers from Dallas on

Hey R.,
I also weaned my son at 5 months. I just replaced one breast milk meal a week with formula. He had 4 feedings a day so in a month he was completely switched. It went very smoothly. I hope this helps!

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K.S.

answers from Dallas on

First off, I worked at a drug store in high school and I remember that we had one customer for whom we special ordered goat's milk because the formulas of the time did not agree with their baby. This was the 1970's, so there was not the variety of formula there is today.

With my granddaughter, she ended up on soy formula because she tolerated it best.

With my daughters, I breastfed. The first one I had good success pumping at work to have milk to take to the sitter. If she needed more, she took a bottle of formula without problem.

With the second child,I had a different job and was not successful pumping at work, so I'd nurse her in the morning and night and on the weekends and then supplement with formula. She got so that she preferred the formula and weaned herself at 6 months whereas the older daughter weaned herself at 12 months.

Somehow mixing the formula and breast milk seems sacroligous to me. My first babysitter with my first child was trained as a live-in nurse for first time moms. She would stay with the family for 4 to 6 weeks to help them ease into life with a baby. That was in the 60's when such services were available to wealthy women. As part of her training, she said that they had to do a taste test of milk and several formulas. I don't think I ever did that, but there is a distinctive difference in the taste. I know there's a real difference in the smell and the texture and color.

I was watching some old episodes of the old George Burns and Gracie Allen show which was sponsored by Carnation evaporated milk. I had forgotten that before the days of canned and powdered formula, mothers made their own formula using evaporated milk.

If you haven't already, you might try the baby of a variety of different formula one at a time for a week or so at a stretch and see which one he prefers.

Weaning my girls by nursing when and while I could and gradually replacing their feedings with formula and juices and solid foods worked well. My supply decreased gradually and it gave me time to adjust to the emotions of moving past a wonderful and satisfying experience.

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C.H.

answers from Dallas on

Hi R.. I switched my daughter to formula without mixing it with breast milk (I had some unfortunate supply issues). Once we switched her to formula, the only breast milk she got (right before bedtime at night) was whatever I was able to pump during the day (generally less than 4 oz). Granted she was older than your son (8 months), but she didn't even seem to notice the difference (personally, I think she was just glad not to be thirsty all the time). If you're trying to keep breastfeeding as long as possible, you might want to consider continuing to nurse in the mornings and evenings and on weekends; but I totally understand how sometimes this just isn't an option. Good luck! -- C. --

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