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Breastfeeding, Twins/Toddler Tuesday

Ten Tips for Transitioning Your Breastfed Baby To Formula

formulasNow that I have successfully weaned three kids, I can offer some advice on the topic of switching from breast milk to formula and bottles. Read on to learn from the mistakes I made with my first baby, including a pretty bad practice that I didn’t even realize was wrong.

1. Start Bottles Early.  It was a disaster. I waited a full four weeks (I had read to wait six) before attempting to introduce a bottle to my son because I had been reading all about nipple confusion and I was petrified he would give up on breastfeeding. Then, after having frustrating week without success I went on to a few chat rooms and to learned that if you wait too long they may never want to take a bottle.  Basically, your damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  So, with the twins it was bottles from day one, and there were no problems. I can’t say for sure that nipple confusion doesn’t exist, but I can say that based on my experience and the several other moms I have spoken to it seems rare. Plus, you deserve some time to yourself, and bottles are the key.  So pump and freeze and then have a night out for crying out loud…or just get some much needed sleep.

gerber bottles2. Try Different Kinds Of Bottles. There are dozens of different types of bottles on the market in every size shape and colour. Just because your baby doesn’t like the first one you try, it doesn’t mean they won’t like another one. In my case, I went to the Babytime Show when I was pregnant and got all kinds of free bottle samples to try. And don’t think that expensive is better, because your baby doesn’t care how much you paid. Yes, if there are underlying issues maybe, but in general, no. With my son he would only drink from Gerber Nuk bottles (which I had received samples of when I joined the Nestlé Baby Club).

3. Have Dad Help. Since your baby associates you with breastfeeding, they may be more willing to accept breastmilk in a bottle from dad (or grandma or grandpa etc.)

4. Start With Liquid Concentrated Formula. Yes, it is more expensive, but even doctors recommend the liquid over the powder. I find that the smell and texture seem to be a lot closer to breast milk than the powder. Plus, when you are making bottles with the concentrate you can use water that has been pre boiled. This means no cooling bottles down, burned fingers, and constantly boiling water. I thought you could do this with powdered formula, but I was informed by the public health nurse that you cannot. The powder is not sterile and therefore it must be mixed with boiling water in order to be sterilized. Read more HERE.formula2

5. Gradually Introduce Formula. Most babies will get tummy troubles (or worse) from a sudden change in diet so be sure to introduce formula gradually. Start with mostly breast milk mixed with a bit of formula and then after a few days increase the amount of formula until finally you are at all formula. This will also help get them used to the different taste.

6. Try Different Kinds of Formula. Just like with bottles, there are lots of different brands and types of formulas. My guy would only drink Similac, so that’s what we stuck with. These days there are also lots of types of formulas as well. So if your baby is having issues (talk to your doctor) and consider trying a soy formula or sensitive formula that has partially broken down proteins. (Side note: if you do use Similac, join the Similac Club for free samples and coupons).

Bottle-Sterilizer7. Invest In Equipment. It’s easier to make up a batch of bottles so make sure you have enough to go around. We don’t have a dishwasher so we use a microwave sterilizer. It’s great. In a couple of minutes you have a whole batch of sterile bottles ready to go. With Sawyer we used a bottle warmer to heat up the frozen breast milk, but since I hardly ever pumped for the twins were didn’t bother.

8. Cuddle Your Baby. As tempting as it can be to use a prop to allow the baby to feed themselves (or if they are older, maybe they can hold their own bottle). She is used to cuddling while nursing, and studies shown that babies need that physical contact for their well-being, so keep the cuddles going, even though it’s formula. Yes, I am guilty of not always being able to do this, but I do when I can. Sometimes it’s also not really an option (i.e.. if they are in their car seat or the stroller, so I used to rely on the Baby Bottle Buddy to help them feed themselves.

9. You May Want A Bib. When switching to formula your baby may have some trouble. They may FoolsBibovereat, eat too fast, or get tummy troubles, all of which will end in some good spit up. Save on laundry and throw a bib on ’em until the coast is clear. That’s right, they are not just for food (my mother-in-law actually gave me that tip).

10. Be Patient. Switching to formula can be hard on you and your baby. There will be crying (possibly by both of you) and frustration. You may be feeling some guilt because you have to switch to formula because you have to go back to work or because you have breastfeeding issues, but don’t let that get you down. You have to do what works for you and your baby. Remember that everything at this stage is short-lived. Just because the first few days are hellish, it doesn’t mean they all will be. You’ll both be back on track in just enough time to transition to cow’s milk. 😉

Happy Feeding!

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About Shannon

I am a university educated full-time working mother of four children. Proudly Canadian, I freeze my butt off along with my loving partner, two dogs and a cat. I hope you enjoy reading my posts as much as I love writing them, but if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all.


4 thoughts on “Ten Tips for Transitioning Your Breastfed Baby To Formula

  1. For how long are you supposed to make sure formula is sterilized? I switched my baby to formula at 8 months and (true confession here), never sterilized anything: bottles, water, nothing.

    Posted by laurachristine06 | November 26, 2013, 12:43 pm
    • Hey, no judgement here! I was using preboiled water with my son thinking it was okay. Using boiling water sterilizes the powder. I sterilize my bottles in the microwave sterilizer which goes in for 2.5 minutes and then sits for 10. I think if you do them in the dishwasher they are also sterilize, but I am not sure on that since we don’t have a dishwasher. Good luck.

      Posted by Shannon | November 26, 2013, 2:06 pm
  2. I didn’t know about the unsterile formula bit. We sterilized bottle like you in the microwave steamer, and poured boiling water into them to cool for later use. I never knew this was the wrong way to do it!

    Posted by linbritt | November 27, 2013, 5:59 am

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