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  • How to Transition From Breastmilk to Formula?

    by Agustina Fernandez January 23, 2024 11 min read

    How to Transition From Breastmilk to Formula?

    Mother Nature created breast milk to supply babies with all necessary nutrients for their growth and development. It is well-known that breast milk is the best source of nutrients such as minerals and vitamins, and immune cells which help babies to effectively adjust to their new outer world and to grow up strong and healthy. But there are numerous situations in which breast milk supply is either not enough or breastfeeding is just not possible in some cases.

    Reasons for Transition to Bottle Feeding

    Issues feeding with breast milk can be connected either to problems with the mother’s body, babies' bodies, or the connection between mother and child. The transition from breast milk to formula can be needed if mother has to go on some type of medication which maybe not safe for a breastfed baby.

    The most likely situation, though, is when the breastfed baby needs more breast milk than their mother can provide. The solution to this is often a mix of breast milk and bottle feeding often with a cow’s milk based formula.

    Among other common breastfeeding problems are cracked and sore nipples, engorgement of breast, mastitis and thrush infection. All of which cause insufficient amounts of breast milk to be produced or lead to problems offering breast milk to the baby.

    Reasons for transition to bottle feeding | Organics Best

    It is also necessary to discuss situations in which issues with the baby necessitate the transition from breast milk to formula.

    First, some babies get tired too quickly during feeding and they end up sleeping instead of suckling thus failing to get enough milk. If their mothers have enough breast milk supply, one of the best solutions can be to transition them into bottle feeding breast milk instead or, in other cases, feeding baby formula.

    Second, when dealing with the serious medical condition of breast milk jaundice, switching to baby formula is one of the recommended treatment options. Third, sometimes babies struggle to latch on properly to get breast milk and this can be a difficult situation for mothers whose confidence and patience may be tested.

    We have to emphasize that whatever the reason is for making the transition from breast milk to baby formulas, there is no shame in it! In this article we're going to give you lots of information on how to make the transition from breast milk to formula more seamless to support both you and your little one in the process! If you are having issues with breastfeeding, it is best to reach out to your doctor or a lactation expert for help.

    Best Time for Transition

    Best time for transition from breastmilk to formula | Organic's Best

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the best thing for your little one is exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and then trying to maintain partial breastfeeding up until your child turns 2.

    As a caregiver, the decision to breastfeed or formula feed should be made with consideration to your baby's health and in accordance with the advice of a medical professional.

    In general, the longer mom's are able to keep up breastfeeding, the more they are able to support the good health of their baby. While of course this is the goal, the reality is that sometimes this isn't possible. When breastfeeding is not possible, a thoroughly researched and well-balanced infant formula based on cow’s milk or goat milk can be a good alternative to breast milk for the baby!

    How to Smooth the Transition

    The successful transition from breast milk to formula in many cases is a great challenge for both the mother and the baby. In any case, a well-fed baby and a happy mom is of the greatest importance.

    Although there is no one ‘best’ formula for feeding a baby, your pediatrician should collaborate with you to choose one that is beneficial for a baby and affordable for to your family for bottle feeding. This article describes how to transition from breastmilk to formula: the general steps to follow is meant to help ease the formula feeding process!

    Finding the ‘Best’ Formula

    The first and sometimes the most challenging task for mothers and their infants is to find the correct formula to swap out breast milk. A specialist can help examine the unique needs of your baby and give you recommendations for an infant formula so you don't need to worry about your breast milk supply anymore.

    Thankfully, modern mothers have a great variety of formulas to choose from making for an easier transition when choosing the best alternative to breast milk. While this can be a long process, as it not only involves the needs of the child, but also how the baby responds, and if the baby likes the formula, and of course, you the parents. However, with patience, you will find the perfect fit.

    Impressive Variety

    Based on the infant's age, there are a range of formulas staged from birth into toddlerhood that will support your little one from strictly milk feeding all the way up until they make the transition to solid food. Formula can be a supplement or substitute to mother's milk. 

    Stage 1 infant formulas are intended to provide necessary nutrients for babies from birth up to 6 months of age. Stage 2 formulas are typically for babies between 6 and 10 months of age.

    Learn more: European Baby Formula Stages Made Simple

    Besides cow's milk based infant formula, producers offer goats milk formula, as well as hypoallergenic and special formulas to meet all the needs of mothers and their infants.

    Certified by strict regulation with high organic standards, a thoughtfully chosen EU organic milk formula can supply all the required nourishment for infants and confidence to their moms who know their giving their little one the best feeding they can.

    Keep in Mind While Making Your Choice

    When choosing the right formula for your baby, it's important to keep in mind a variety of different factors to help you choose the right one for your child. Some moms prefer to go for an organic formula over a standard one, in which case we recommend you consider a formula with the EU organic certificate on the package.

    Why do we recommend EU organic formula? Because this certification means the product does not contain harmful substances such as hormones or chemical fertilizers. Plus, the formula must pass numerous strict safety checks before the product can reach the shelf of a market and end up in your hands

    Nowadays, there are infant formulas similar to breast milk based not only on cow milk but also goat’s milk. It may also be worthwhile to do your research about hypoallergenic formula if your baby is at a risk of developing an allergy to milk proteins.

    Types of Infant Formula | Organic's Best Shop

    The great variety of baby formulas allows you to find the best fit for your baby's diet, and will allow you to consider food allergies (like milk protein allergy or lactose intolerance), your own preferences, and to have options in case your baby rejects one kind of formula. Always be sure to consult your pediatrician when choosing a formula for your little one!

    Some Popular Organic Formula Brands to Consider

    Our Favourite Organic Formula Brands | Organic's Best

    When it comes to considering organic formulas, we think it's worth your time to explore the wonderful world of European baby formulas. Brands like HiPPHolle, KendamilLebenswertLöwenzahn and Jovie, are some of our favs and we think they're great options to consider. These premium formulas are well designed to meet the needs of a child plus they have a great taste and are very high quality.

    They can be used for mixing breast milk and formula or be used to formula feed your little one exclusively. For every single situation, there are different lines of European formulas that will meet the needs of every baby! Please keep in mind that the decision to give your baby any kind of formula should be made in collaboration with your child's doctor. 

    Related: Best Organic Baby Formula

    Is There a Best Strategy?

    Generally speaking, many health care professionals recommend that mothers gradually transition their baby from breast milk to formula. By 1 month, a mom's milk supply has usually been established so if the transition is considered after this age mothers can continue to feed their baby with their own milk while slowly introducing formula to their little one. In this case, babies’ digest systems get the time they need to adjust to the newness of formulas.

    The transition period usually takes up to 2 weeks, during this time, baby formula is mixed with breast milk in one bottle. Mother's milk will be added to the prepared baby formula bottle before feeding in the correct ratio according to the day of the transition period. Below you'll find the commonly recommend ratios and schedule for mixing milks:

    • ¾ : ¼ for the first 4 days
    • ½ : ½ for the next 4 days
    • ¼ : ¾ for the next 4-5 days or even one week
    • Finally, 100% baby formula

    Such a schedule can help baby’s digestive system and enzymes adjust to the ingredients of the cow's milk formula and get them used to the new texture of the milk. This slow and gradual schedule means your baby can learn to adjust to having less breast milk in their system.

    It's important to mention that a gradual transition is not recommended in every case. Sometimes circumstances force moms and their infants to switch out breast milk to cow's milk based formula within a very short period, fairly abruptly. Because there are different strategies, schedules, and ratios for the transition period, it is important that you consult your pediatrician to find the best way for your baby. Remember, it's not a one size fits all situation!

    How to Introduce Formula | Organic's Best

    Combination feeding 

    If there is an opportunity to offer your baby combination feeding for some period of time, it's often recommended that you give this a shot. Even a short transition period of simultaneous feeding breast milk and formula feeding can help prepare the digestive system of the newborn for the completely new type of milk.

    Ideally, this would be more gentle on your little one's digestive activity and make for a smoother transition. This also benefits the mom’s body, too. During combination feeding, mom’s body will gradually start to produce a lessened amount of breast milk in response to their baby’s decreased demands for breast milk, which are being replaced by formula.

    Learn more: Can You Mix Formula and Breast Milk?

    How to Choose the Best Bottle

    At last, you've made the swap to cow’s milk formula, and now it's time to choose the right bottle that will ideally mimic the female breast as close as possible. But bare in mind even a bottle that closely resembles a female’s breast for some infants can seem not good enough (source).

    It's best to be prepared to go through the several trials and errors along the way. Don't worry though, with patience and time you'll find the right bottle for your baby!  If your baby has undergone a long period of breastfeeding, this likely means that they've gotten used to working really hard to get breast milk.

    That means a bottle with tight nipple can offer your babe a similar feeling to breastfeeding which may just be the perfect choice. As for those babies who didn't have to suckle hard for their milk, bottles with a less tight nipple may be a good choice. Be sure to speak with your child's pediatrician if you're struggling to find the best bottle for your infant.

    What's the Best Strategy for Bottle Introduction?

    What's the best strategy for bottle introduction? | Organic's Best

    Among the most frequently asked questions from moms is what's the best time to introduce the bottle to the baby? Pediatricians largely agree that the first meeting for a baby and their brand-new bottle should be at the end of a breastfeeding session.

    It is ideal to have a bottle of breast milk so that you can offer your baby the same milk but in a new way. Having some mother's milk on the nipple of the bottle allows it to smell familiar to the baby, so there are better chances that the first meeting will be the beginning of the long-lasting relationship.

    In several days or possibly up to a week when the baby has adjusted to the bottle, it's typically recommend to replace ¼ of breast milk with their new chosen formula which may be cow's milk formula or one of the other kinds of formula available. Then in 2 week time, with a slow and gradual increasing of the ratio of formula to breast milk in between, it can be possible to offer the baby 100% cow’s milk formula.

    How to Make Friends With the Bottle?

    While some parents are lucky enough to adjust their baby to a bottle in no time, for others it can be a bit more of a challenge. Thankfully, for the transition from breast milk to formula, there are several techniques to help a baby to adjust to a bottle.

    Different position during feeding with a cow's milk based formula can help a baby to identify formula feeding as a new activity and ideally accept it better.

    With many cases involving bottle feeding, a new member of the family can make the transition easier. You see, a lot of the information that babies perceive comes not only from their vision but also using olfaction to smell their mothers which for many helps them to connect their mother with breast milk. So, connecting formula feeding with another member of the family during the transition period could be a good option if mom doesn't want to be the only one feeding the baby.

    Whether mom is going to conduct formula feeding or another member of the family is, skin-to-skin contact is still a very important part of the process in addition to eye contact and showing affection during the feeding session. These things help to maintain your little one's connection with you. 

    How to Adjust To Bottle Feeding | Organic's Best

    Be Mindful of the Milk Temperature

    While breastfeeding, women don’t need to think about the temperature of the breast milk that their babies get but when formula feeding, it's important to control for temperature. 

    The standard opinion is that 35-37°C is the optimal temperature as it's similar to the temperature of expressed breast milk (source). Although very often there is no time to take a thermometer to the milk, there are other ways to test the temperature of cow’s milk formula. 

    One simple but useful strategy is to use as a bottle warmer which can ease the life of the family with a newborn child as well as prevent a serious health hazard like burning because it keeps the temperature consistent. However, regardless of what method you choose always be sure test the temperature by squeezing a bit of milk on yourself first before offering it to your baby. 

    Learn more: Do You Have to Warm Up Formula?

    Avoid Common Mistakes

    There is a list of mistakes commonly made during the transition to bottle feeding. Trying to avoid them can help moms and babies stay happy.

    Besides too quick of a transition and using the wrong nipple which were mentioned above, it's also to be watch out for using the wrong amount of formula, improper milk temperature, or forcing the process which can cause problems within the transition to bottle feeding.

    Summing it All Up

    There is no doubt that breast milk is the best choice for your baby. When that's not an option, formula can be a suitable replacement to breast milk. Like breast milk, it can supply all necessary nutrients for each stage of your baby’s life to support their well-being and growth.

    Baby formulas are designed to meet all the needs of the growing babies, and special formulas can even help to manage challenges such as the allergy to lactose or different types of proteins. Exquisitely sensitive measuring equipment are used to test baby formulas thus offering the highest level of safety and trustworthiness.

    It can be a challenge for families to choose the right formula for their infant. They have to take into account things such as cost of baby formula, their child's needs, and also choosing the right time and method for making the transition from breast milk to formula.

    Each baby is highly individual and so this process demands a lot of patience and flexibility rather than the strong will or determination of parents.

    It's best to reach out to trustworthy specialists and health care professionals who have up-to-date information about existing infant formulas to help parents on the journey to find the right formula for their child. We wish you a happy and healthy transition from breast milk to bottle feeding!


    Please be aware that this information is based on general trends in babies, and it is not medical advice. Your doctor should be your first source of information and advice when considering any changes to your child’s formula and when choosing your child’s formula. Always consult your pediatrician before making any decisions about your child’s diet or if you notice any changes in your child.

    Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby because breast milk provides your child with all the essential nutrients they need for growth and development. Please consult your pediatrician if your child requires supplemental feeding.

    Agustina Fernandez
    Agustina Fernandez

    Dr. Agustina Fernandez earned her medical degree from the prestigious Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina. With a deep-rooted passion for pediatrics, Dr. Fernandez is currently on the path to specializing in children's healthcare. Recently, she has delved into the vital field of infant nutrition. Her research interests include breastfeeding, infant formula, and baby food in little ones’ formative years. Dr. Fernandez's commitment to this area of study underscores her dedication to ensuring the health and well-being of children from their earliest days.

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