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How to introduce formula to your baby

Mothers decide to introduce their babies to formula for many different reasons. For moms going back to work, supplementing or transitioning to formula can make it easier for mom, baby and the baby’s caregiver. Moms may also introduce their baby to formula so dad can share in the feedings. Sometimes moms have trouble producing enough breast milk for a hungry baby and the pediatrician will suggest supplementing with formula. For whatever reason you decide to introduce formula to your baby, here are a few suggestions on how to make the transition easier for baby and mom.


Ask your pediatrician to suggest a type of formula

There are several varieties of formula available including basic cow’s milk formula, soy-based formula and hypoallergenic formula, as well as special formula for babies with sensitive tummies or for premature babies. Talk to your baby’s pediatrician about the best type of formula for your baby. Once you begin offering your baby formula, if he has trouble digesting it, you may need to try another type until you find the right one for your baby.

Timing is everything

Pediatricians suggest that the best time to introduce your breastfed baby to formula is after four weeks old so baby can become accustomed to breastfeeding first. This is especially important if you are introducing formula as a supplement and plan to continue breastfeeding. Once your baby is breastfeeding regularly, you can begin introducing formula. Offer baby a bottle when he is hungry, but not overly hungry or fussy. Some babies take to a bottle of formula easily while others take more time to adjust to this new form of feeding.

The style of bottle matters

Babies who are used to breastfeeding may be more resistant to the style of bottle and nipple than the formula. There are many styles of nipples available as well as bottles, so if your baby ultimately resists one style, try another one. Finding the right fit for baby will make introducing formula easier.

Introducing formula when baby resists

If your baby refuses a bottle of formula, try mixing breast milk with formula and then gradually increase the amount of formula in the bottle at each subsequent feeding. Adding a few drops of breast milk on the nipple of the bottle may entice your baby to begin drinking from the bottle. Warming the nipple by running it under warm tap water may also help baby become accustomed to bottle feeding.

Change it up

It may be easier for dad or another caregiver to feed the baby a bottle of formula than for mom. Baby expects to be breastfed by mom and may fuss with a bottle at first. Also, try feeding baby in a different chair or position than you would normally do when breastfeeding. Babies learn routines quickly and may expect to be breastfed in a familiar location.

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