Infant Tips

Is It the Right Time?

How to Manage Feeding Transitions With Your Baby

When it comes to transitioning your baby from breastfeeding to bottlefeeding, from bottles to cups, or from breast milk to formula, you are the person who knows your baby best. Listening to your instincts—and reaching out to qualified health care providers when necessary—will help you decide when and how to make these transitions.

Introducing a Bottle to Your Breastfed Baby
If you’re breastfeeding, pediatricians and lactation experts recommend that you nurse your baby exclusively for the first three or four weeks to establish a good milk supply. By about week four, you may want to pump breast milk so that you can offer it to your baby in a bottle; just keep in mind that early pumping may affect milk supply.

Getting your baby used to occasional bottlefeeding means that others (including Dad) can participate in feeding time. This practice can be helpful for you, your baby, and the caregiver when you’re away from your baby for short periods. Also, introducing a bottle now can ease the transition to bottle feedings when you’re away for longer periods—for instance, if you’re planning a return to work or other commitments outside of the home.

For more information on helping your baby accept a bottle, visit this link. Also, click here to learn more about safe storage and handling of breast milk. Visit this site for help in managing a return to work while continuing to feed your baby breast milk.

Some tips for early bottle feedings:
  1. Your pediatrician will be a good source of guidance and specific advice in this area. Call if you have questions or concerns.
  2. Offer the bottle a little before your baby’s anticipated feeding time. A baby that’s frantically hungry is more likely to be frustrated by this new delivery system.
  3. Another option you can try is to try using a bottle soon after you’ve breastfed your baby. Some babies are more receptive to a new feeding method after a recent feeding. If you try this method, offer your baby a small amount of milk or formula and let them experiment and play.
  4. Try a bottle with a standard (“mom-shaped”) nipple or a nipple that’s shaped like the baby’s pacifier.
  5. Run warm water over the bottle nipple before feeding so that it isn’t cold.
  6. Drip a little breast milk over the bottle nipple before guiding it into your baby’s mouth.
  7. Try shifting your baby to a position that’s different than what they’re used to for breast feeding. For example, holding your baby in a semi-upright position (not lying down flat) allows them to pace the feeding.
  8. Let Dad or someone else offer the first bottle. Your baby can instantly identify you by smell, knows how it feels to be held by you, and may instinctively turn away from the bottle and begin to search for your breast.
  9. While feeding your baby from a bottle, be sure to comfort them; hold them close, and make eye contact. If your baby becomes fussy, turns away, or is visibly upset, simply stop bottle feeding them and try again later. Remember that feedings should be a positive and enjoyable time for both of you.
  10. If it doesn’t work perfectly the first time, keep trying. Your baby may need time to get used to a bottle, so continue to offer one every day until they accept it.
  11. Some nursing mothers choose not to introduce a bottle for several months. If your baby is five or six months old and has never accepted a bottle, you may want to try offering your milk or formula in a cup instead.
Transitioning from Breastfeeding to Formula Feeding
Weaning is a process which ideally happens gradually over some time; there is no right or wrong time to wean your baby from breastfeeding. Pediatricians encourage mothers to offer their babies the nutritional benefits of breast milk for as long as possible. In fact, the “right” time is the time that is right for you and your baby.

Once you make the decision to stop nursing, try to make the transition to formula gradually. Give your baby—and your body—time to adjust. Start by offering a bottle instead of the breast at one feeding a day (perhaps mid-morning or mid-afternoon) every day for a couple of weeks. Once this pattern is established, switch another feeding time to bottles for a week or two; continue in this way until you are nursing only once a day (bed time perhaps). Then, finally, eliminate that feeding as well.

Here’s some useful information on transitioning from breastfeeding to bottles or cups. For helpful tips on how to wean your baby, check out this article.

From Bottle to Cup
Between seven and nine months, your baby will probably be responding well to solid foods and able to grasp teethers and small toys. This is usually a good time to introduce a cup.

Start off by giving your baby a small amount of water in a spouted cup. Remember that this is a new skill. Hold the cup at your baby’s lips and tip it slightly offering a small sip. Allow your baby to experiment with the cup and show him by example how to drink from it. But don’t let cup drinking interfere with mealtime. One little sip, successfully swallowed is a great beginning. Offer more sips gradually. Be matter-of-fact about spills. And don’t rush the process. Once your child has mastered the spouted cup, you can experiment with an open cup and perhaps a straw cup.

Your Comments

Tiffany Ellison
Info on bottles
5/3/2012 4:59:35 PM

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