How to Transition Baby from Breast to Bottle
There comes a time in every breastfeeding mama’s life when she realizes that she really needs baby to take a bottle. Maybe she needs to go back to work. Maybe she’s agreed to be a bridesmaid in her college roomie’s wedding, and she has to skip town for the weekend. (True story.) Or maybe she hates breastfeeding and/or just needs a break from toting baby #everydarnedplaceshegoes. Whatever the reason, it happens. And it’s perfectly acceptable. But it can also seem daunting — whether it’s pumped breastmilk or formula. How the heck do you make the switch from breastfeeding to bottle feeding?
Disclaimer: Try not to introduce a bottle (if you can help it) until the four to six week mark — this will help to ensure continued breastfeeding success, should you decide to continue nursing.
Now check out these 8 Helpful Tips to make the transition from breast to bottle a tad bit smoother…
1. Don’t be afraid to ditch “the schedule” and feed baby when she’s hungry.
Trust us, you’ll be able to decipher baby’s cues in no time. Hell hath no fury like a baby who wants to eat. There IS no other option.
2. Assume the “breast” position. And invest in a quality nursing pillow!
(Even for bottle feeding.) A feeding session can last up to 20 minutes. So why not get comfortable? Feeding time is bonding time — no matter what form it takes. Keep baby close and secure. And never, ever rush her. There are many fabulous options to choose from when purchasing a nursing pillow. We like the Boppy nursing pillow and the natural curve nursing pillow from Ergobaby. What’s your personal favorite?
3. A bottle-fed baby knows when she’s had enough to eat.
She’ll usually turn her head away from the nipple when she’s done. However, if she does it after only a few minutes, she probably needs to be burped. Is she gaining weight consistently? Peeing and pooping at regular intervals? Chances are she’s getting enough to eat. Trust your mama intuition, and discuss any of your concerns with your pediatrician.
4. As in all parenting endeavors, practice patience.
Transitioning from breast to bottle is HARD…for baby and for you! But don’t give up. Be patient; give yourself a breather if you need it. Things will eventually get better — or at the very least, easier to manage.
5. Take a burp-break.
Try taking a burp-break halfway through her bottle. But don’t forget to have a good burp cloth (or burp cloths) on hand! Mine were projectile burpers. Sometimes we had to change clothes — both of us — after a feeding. Other ways to slow down the spit-up include: burping her every three to five minutes, feeding her smaller portions more often, holding her head higher than her feet during a feeding, and keeping her upright immediately following a feeding. If she is continually vomiting and projectile spitting up after meals, talk to your pediatrician. This could be a sign of acid reflux. But you won’t know unless you ask.
6. Discourage mid-feed dozing by undressing her, tickling her feet, changing her diaper, changing positions, or allowing another child into the room.
Oh wait, maybe that’s just me. Haha.
7. Watch out for allergies!
Babies who are allergic to the protein in cow’s milk — the basic ingredient in most infant formulas — usually have two types of reactions: symptoms are either instantaneous, or will show up approximately a week or two later. Keep an eye out for fussiness (more than usual), vomiting, wheezing, swelling, loose stools, hives, and other rashes. Switching formulas usually does the trick. As always, talk to your pediatrician and look for a product that is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.
8. Hoping to breast and bottle-feed simultaneously?
Unfortunately, this won’t always be an option with every baby. But here’s a trick worth trying. Consistent with a breastfed rhythm, encourage frequent pauses while baby drinks from the bottle (remember what we said about rushing?) to mimic the breastfeeding mom’s let-down patterns. This discourages baby bottle guzzling, and can help to mitigate nipple confusion and/or preference.
Did you know?
If you are using both breastmilk (expressed) and formula within the same feed, it’s best not to mix them in the same bottle? This will keep you from wasting precious “liquid gold” if baby doesn’t finish. Feed baby breastmilk first, followed by the formula. And never, ever save formula from a feeding! This is a breeding ground for bacteria. Can you say gross?
Some nipples (and angled bottles) can cause formula to flow too fast, which can cause baby to gag. The reverse is also true: some nipples can cause formula to flow too slowly, which can make her suck too hard, and take in excess air. Don’t be afraid to try different options. It’s advisable to wait to stock up on a specific brand of bottles until after you have determined what baby likes — otherwise you run the risk of wasting money. And now that you have littles, you really don’t want to do THAT.
Have we missed anything? Got any tips and tricks for transitioning baby from breast to bottle? We’d love to hear! We wish you all the best of luck! Parenting is hard, but feeding baby shouldn’t have to be. xoxo