Transitioning Baby from Breast Milk to Formula...

Updated on October 16, 2007
J.S. asks from Oak Ridge, TN
9 answers

Is there a tried & true method for transitioning a breast-fed baby over to formula? My daughter is almost 7 month's old now, and is still almost exclusively breast-fed. (Not that I'm complaining - I'm a huge advocate for breastfeeding your babies, if you can, and for as long as you can!) Our doctor told us we could start her on baby food - rice or oatmeal cereal and vegetables. She will eat these sometimes, but prefers the breast. She's definitely a comfort nurser, and does more "snacking" than actual eating. And...she keeps me up half the night wanting to eat. I haven't had more than a solid 2 hours sleep in months and I'm exhausted.

My husband is a SAHD to our daughter and our 3 1/2 year old son. I tell you this so you know that she's already used to bottles, but it is still my expressed milk, not formula. I wondered if any of you mommies have added a little formula to your breast milk, gradually increasing the milk/formula ratio until it is only formula. If so, what was your method and how did your baby react to the transition?

Our 3 1/2 year old was also breast fed, but he essentially weaned himself and therefore, this wasn't an issue. I would have fed him longer, but he wanted to move and did so on his own. Not his little sister, though! She'll keep going until I force the issue.

I really need your help. Any thoughts or suggestions would be most welcome.

Thank you all for your time.


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answers from Chattanooga on

Congratulations! You have done well to have made it to 7 months! I have 2 boys and I have used 2 different ways to transition them from Breast Milk to formula. The best way first of all is to get off ot he night time nursing as soon as possible. My 2nd son was definitely a comfort nurser and my first was to some extent just not as extreme. With my second, I first of all stopped the last feeding of the evening and changed it to a bottle of formula because formula fed babies tend to sleep several hours more at night. I used a soy formula Prosobee because it is the easiest to digest. I did not mix with breast milk but you can if you want if she won't take it at all. Formula is much sweeter and I always made sure it was a warm bottle. For me, I had to prop the bottle or let my husband or son feed him because a breast fed baby can smell you from across the room! If they know you are around then they may not take it at all. The next step I took was to give a bottle at night. Now some peole say you should just wean them off everything completely, but, both my husband and I have a hard time listening to the crying for that long! So I chose to take away one feeding at a time. He slept with me which made the nursing harder to stop, but I made a point to roll over when he would start to nibble or something and then he finally would give up. First of al to make that a success I had made a very determined decision not to give in---they do learn very young to "sweet talk" you into something! However, my most successful experience was to give formula at night though, because it stretched his sleep, usually by 2 hours. Which is like heaven when you have been up every two hours since birth! My first son I supplemented with a bottle of formula every day from early on and then he used pumped and stored breast milk for about 3 or 4 months after I had weaned him. Be very aware that, unless you are wanting just to stop nursing all together that it is a bit of a shock to the household budget to go to formula after using breast milk! With my oldest son, I found that after 6 months I could pump at work with a Medela double breast pump, and in the morning and for a while I pumped before bed time after he refused the breast because the bottles were less work! He would have enough for 3-4 bottles a day because we were very careful to not waste any. I stored (froze) it in 2 ounce portions most of the time, and then only used what we needed. It was so much cheaper! With my youngest son, My DH had to help out with the weaning for a about 2 weeks until he figured out that the bottle really was less work. It took some patience, but I started with my nights because my most important reason for needing to slow or quit was sleep deprivation! Foods didn't work for my youngest, at 7 months you are really only training them to eat, but it is very worth while to start making that a practice with veggies every day at a set time. My oldest never had baby food fruit until 14-15 months old, and to this day he will eat vegetables really, really well. I wasn't as careful with my youngest and he won't choose veggies without being required to, at least most of the time. Fruits always a favorite, though! Everyone is different , but I do hope this helps in some way. I do understand what you are dealing with becasue I have been there. Do what you "feel" is right---they don't call it a mother's instinct for nothing! I do wish you the best! Sorry for being so long winded!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Knoxville on

I have a 16 month old daughter, am a working mom, and my husband is a SAHD as well. We also breastfeed, so I understand your problem. We made our daughter's baby food-there are great websites out there, the food is better and it is cheaper. My daughter was eating these foods by 6 months. I guess the best way to switch out breast for formula is to keep expressing milk, and slowly add formula to the milk. However, breast feed babies will "hold out" for the breast, and your husband might find that she doesn't eat as much during the day. My daughter was a comfort nurser as well, and continued to be until she was weaned. You wake up every two hours to nurse and are exhausted-feel ya on that! You might have to slowly cut out some night feedings. We kept a bottle with milk close at hand, and when my daughter wake up for feedings during the night, I would only give her the bottle. To go to sleep, and about 11 she would nurse. SLowly, the rest of the night, she only got the bottle. We went on vacation for a week, and we only gave her a sippy cup the whole time- she was 13 months. When we were back, she was weaned.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

I'm not sure about the formula because my son has only known the breast. He's never had a bottle, but I know when u begin feeding her cereal and vegetable in the evening she'll probably begin to sleep through the night. They need that extra nourishment by the time they're 5-6 months. That could be why she's waking up in the middle of the night. My son is exclusively breast fed and eats fruit & veggie mixed with cereal twice a day and sleeps great through the night. He'll sleep about 10-11 hrs a night, plus 2-2hr naps during the day. I hope that helps some.



answers from Johnson City on

i did mine different i started out w/ the night time bottle and made it a full formula bottle at first and then when she got to eatting foods i nursed in the morn then pumped in the afternoon and fed her with the fruits first and a bottle where i pumped the night b4 and would pump while doing that and then fed her a formula bottle at night then slowly introduced tha formula bottles slowly for the other meals all the while pumping just in case and by 7 months she was weaned (i started about 4 or 5 months) and then by i think 10 months we gave up the bottle and was on a sippy maybe 11 months but thats how i weaned my little girl



answers from Knoxville on

I have a 4 year old daughter. I breast fed until she was around 3 months old, only because of her eating habbits, I had to switch. She wanted to snack as well as your child. She would eat once every 15 to 20 minutes. I never got any sleep. It was causing my milk to overproduce. It was a little hard for her to adjust to, but she got it eventually. My doctor, at the time, told me to try waiting a little longer to feed her, so that she would start to get hungry instead of snacking. I also started adding a little cereal and she would be satisfied a little longer. It was hard to do that, but eventually it worked. Little by little, I would slowly wait longer periods of time. But every child is different, and you've been breast feeding longer than I did, so my way might not be for you. Just wanted to share how I did it. Good luck and God bless.




answers from Memphis on


Yes. When I weaned my daughter I would replace one ounce each week with formula. I did this until she was drinking a full 8 ounce bottle of formula then she was completely weaned.




answers from Nashville on

I had a comfort nurser too. I think that is mostly what led to him not being weaned until he was 19 months old. You can mix half and half in a bottle and try it. He didn't mind it when I was super sick and couldn't nurse him for two days due to meds. I would definitely use a liquid formula even though it is more expensive than powder. As far as sleeping at night. You may want to try stopping the nighttime feedings. Eventually I only nursed my son to sleep and quit letting him nurse throughout the night. I was like you, and super exhausted. He cried the first two nights like a banshee. I hated it, but I knew I had to do it. We ended up buying a CD player for his room, and when he would wake up in the middle of the night, I would play a nighttime lullaby CD. It really worked at calming him down and getting him to go back to sleep. Now, he falls asleep to music. I think it is all trial and error. What worked for my nursing friends, didn't necessarily work for me. Just make sure you give her some extra attention to compensate for not getting to nurse as much. My son was also not a very good baby cereal and food eater. He definitely preferred mommy. I just kept trying to feed him. I didn't force him to eat, but I just kept offering it to him even though he would almost certainly refuse it. He is still a rather picky eater and he's 28 months old. Just be patient. She may eat more once she starts formula or once she is weaned. Believe it or not, they will get what they need in the end. Connor has days where he eats like a little piggy, and then he have several where he will barely eat enough to sustain a mouse. According the his pediatrician, it all evens. Just be patient with her and yourself. I definitely think that mixing half formula and half breast milk will work.



answers from Knoxville on

Hello J.,
I have three boys that I breastfed, and all were a little different when it came time to wean. But, in general, I added a small amount of formula to the breast milk in the bottle. I think I started with one or two ounces of formula for an eight ounce bottle. I was able to transition to just formula fairly quickly this way. Maybe two weeks. I guess that depends on how well your baby tolerates the change. I know it can take longer. Good luck!

Oh, I also did this method when it came time to switch from formula to milk. (My last pediatrician had me start milk at about 9 months)

Hope this helps!



answers from Knoxville on

If I were to do it that way, I would add 1 oz. formula to 7 oz. breast milk to make one 8 oz. bottle. See how she reacts to that... keep it at that level for a week, then do 2 oz. the next week.

If you reach a level that she doesnt like, then just go back to the previous week, and keep it that way for a couple more weeks.

By 8 weeks, IF all goes well, she could be completely switched over.

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