Things to know before you switch
Whether you decide to move on from breastfeeding to formula feeding or are considering combination feeding, the decision can be emotional and is biologically difficult to reverse. Therefore, it is important to make the change slowly, giving both your body and your baby time to adjust.
If you have decided to switch solely to formula feeding, you can do this at any time. However, if you wish to combine breastfeeding with formula feeding it is best to wait until around six to eight weeks, once breastfeeding has been firmly established. Whatever option you choose, introducing formula will lead to a decline in your breast milk production – a process that is very difficult to reverse.
Slowly reducing breastfeeds by one a week will give your body time to learn to produce less milk. It will also prevent your breasts from becoming engorged or leaking. If they feel full to bursting, expressing a little milk can help relieve the pressure.
Which feeds to stop first
Deciding which feeds you would like to offer from the breast and which from the bottle is a personal choice – the key is to be consistent. This will help your body adapt to the new routine. If you choose to drop a night feed, for example, your body will stop producing milk at this time.
Just remember to take things slowly and give your body the time it needs to adjust. Your baby may need time too, as a latex teat will feel and taste different to your nipples.
Getting your baby used to a bottle
Some babies take longer than others to get used to bottlefeeding. If yours is finding it difficult to make the switch, you could try:
- Bottlefeeding with some expressed breast milk to help them adapt to the bottle
- Warming the formula before feeding – some babies prefer milk to be at body temperature
- Leaving the room and letting your partner feed them – your baby may be more likely to take what’s on offer when they can’t see you or smell your breast milk
- A variety of different teats – your baby may prefer one shape and texture to another
- Holding them against your front but facing away from you – they may find it less distracting
- Using a toy or music to distract them while they feed
Getting into a routine that suits you both may take a little time, so be patient. If you are exclusively bottlefeeding, you may find that giving your baby plenty of skin-to-skin contact when you feed will help you to continue to bond.
Add these items to your shopping list:
- A selection of teats
- Bottles and sterilising equipment
Last reviewed: 28th July 2014
Questions about feeding and nutrition?
Our midwives, nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.