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Baby Clinic

Bottle Feeding

Moving from breast to bottle

If you breastfeed exclusively for the first year, by the time your baby is ready for milk you can move straight to regular cow’s milk, served slightly warmed, in a cup.

However, if you want to either move completely to formula or mix breast and formula feeds anytime in the first year, you will need to ease your child into this transition.

Tips for moving to formula milk

  • Plan ahead. If you are moving to formula because you need to return to work, start easing in a bottle as one of the day feeds. Pick mid-morning or early afternoon as these are when you and your baby are less likely to be tired and be more willing to try something new. Gradually increase the number of bottle feeds. Also, allow yourself time to get used to the whole routine of sterilising and preparing bottles.  Allow four to six weeks for this gradual transition if you can.
  • Get someone else to feed your baby. At first, try to get your partner or a friend or relative to offer the milk from a bottle. If your baby is used to getting cosy and feeding from you, she may not be quite so willing to give a bottle a try when you’re sitting there. In fact, you might find you even need to be out of the house when the first few bottles are given. Soon enough this will pass, but many babies don’t accept a bottle from their mother at first, purely because they can associate their mothers with breastfeeding.
  • Choosing formula.  For most babies there won’t be much to choose between the different formulas in terms of taste, but make sure you follow the instructions for the correct size feed according to the brand you buy. Also make sure you don’t overheat the milk. Even if you cool it down before offering it to your baby, overheating can affect the taste and put your baby off.
  • A change of habits. You might notice small changes to the colour of what fills your baby’s nappy, or that your baby needs to be winded more often. You may also find that formula ‘fills’ her up more – this is because it is not so easily digested as breastmilk. All of these changes are normal and do not harm your baby in any way.
  • You don’t have to give up on breastmilk. If you need to move to formula for work reasons, you can still breastfeed at night and for the first feed of the morning if you want to. Many babies accept this mix of both, your supply will quickly adjust, and it keeps a great bond going between you and your child – especially if you find you miss her when you’re back at work.


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