According to the American Association of Pediatrics, exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months is critical in nurturing a healthy baby. However, not all moms can achieve that due to several reasons; either on medical grounds or for convenience.
Whether you are switching from breastfeeding to formula way before six months of age or after, it is not always a walk in the park.
Babies react differently to the transition and it is important to take it easy and gradually. So, how do you navigate smoothly? Read on.
Reasons Why Moms Switch From Breastfeeding to Formula
Breastfeeding is not easy. It comes along with lots of challenges for the new mom and the baby.
Depending on individual circumstances, some moms may choose to partially or completely switch to formula feeding.
The reasons include:
- Infections such as mastitis. Mostly affects mothers during the initial moments after delivery.
- Low milk supply. Women differ, some are blessed with lots of milk while others experience a low milk supply. Although one may opt to take food that boosts breastmilk supply such as oats, in some cases, it may not always yield positive results.
- Baby’s poor nursing habits.
- Family or work-related pressures.
- Exhaustion and inadequate sleep especially due to night-time feedings.
- Restrictive-diet. Some moms could be addicted to coffee, wine, and spicy food. Formula feeding your baby allows you to take such food without worrying about your baby’s health and safety.
Helpful Tips To Ease Switching from Breastfeeding to Formula
Switching from breastmilk to formula may prove quite difficult for Mama and her little cub. However, the following tips will smoothen the whole process:
1. Consult a pediatrician
Before making any changes to your cub’s diet, it is advisable to talk to your pediatrician. It is not only reassuring but also you will get helpful insights and tips from the pediatrician on how to transition smoothly.
What’s more, the pediatrician is in a better position to offer advice on the best formula for your baby as well as the best feeding bottles to use.
2. Introduce a baby bottle
How about letting her get used to feeding on something that is not attached to her mother; a baby bottle. While introducing formula can be hard, it can be even harder introducing a bottle-feeder to your little munchkin.
Before bottle-feeding your baby with formula, it would be wise to initially bottle-feed her with expressed breastmilk. Once she gets used to bottle-feeding without any hiccups, you can then introduce the formula.
3. Gradually reduce feeding sessions
To make up for a smooth transition, gradually reduce breastfeeding sessions until she is completely on formula.
For instance, if you are used to 10 breastfeeding sessions, you can gradually reduce the sessions by one, replacing each breastfeeding session with the formula, until she is completely off breastmilk.
This will allow her to enjoy both worlds without sudden change.
4. Offer formula milk when hungry
Babies tend not to be too choosy when they are really hungry. Therefore, there is a high likelihood that your baby will take her formula well if you offer her, when she is on a hunger pang.
5. Mix breastmilk and formula
You can play a trick on your cub’s taste buds by mixing the breastmilk with the formula to create a taste and flavor that she is familiar with. That way, she can easily transition to formula, little by little.
6. Switch to the formula when ready for solids
If possible, introduce formula to your baby once she takes her solids which is around 6 months. The reason is that she is getting used to new flavors and tastes from her solids, therefore, there is a high chance that she will positively respond to her new formula milk.
7. Get help with baby feeding
Babies associate their mothers with breastmilk and view them as their sole source of food. Having someone to bottle-feed your baby allows her to understand that she can also get food from other people apart from you.
8. Stick to the formula during the day
To enhance a smooth switch, ensure that you feed your baby with formula during the day while maintaining breastfeeding sessions for night and morning hours. This is because, during the day, your baby is more alert and thus will get more familiar with the taste and flavor of the food she is taking.
9. Mix breastmilk with formula
Another effective way of introducing your cub to the formula is by mixing the breastmilk with the formula. She is likely to love her milk since she is familiar with the taste and flavor of breastmilk in the mixture.
However, ensure that you take note of the portions of breastmilk and formula in it so that your baby gets all the necessary nutritional components from it.
Main Methods of Transitioning from Breastmilk to Formula
There are three common ways of transitioning your baby from breastmilk to formula feeding:
1. Partial weaning
Partial weaning entails having your baby enjoy the two sides of the world, that is, breastfeeding and formula feeding. When doing so, it is advisable to replace one feeding session per day with formula bottle feeding.
2. Gradual weaning
Gradual weaning is the ideal method when you want to get your baby off breastmilk, but steadily until she completely adjusts to formula. It entails replacing a single breastfeeding session with formula milk after every five to seven days until she is completely weaned.
3. A complete switch to the formula
This normally occurs due to unavoidable circumstances possibly due to health concerns or unforeseen situations. It entails a 360-degree switch from breastfeeding to formula feeding.
It would be quite a challenge especially if the baby has not gotten accustomed to bottle-feeding before. That would mean shopping for the best baby bottle that would make the whole experience easier for the baby and you.
Common Mistakes that Moms Make When Switching from Breastfeeding to Formula
The transition from breastfeeding to formula feeding could prove difficult due to several issues that could be avoided. They include:
- Using the wrong bottle nipple.
- Dropping many feeding sessions instantly.
- Feeding the baby with formula is not her choice.
- Not enough or too much feeding of formula.
- Forcing the baby to take her formula.