Making the Transition From Breast to Bottle Feeding
Ready to wean baby from the breast or add bottles to the feeding schedule? Here’s how to make it smooth for both of you.
Bottle Feeding: What to Expect During the Transition
Once you begin the move to bottle feeding, how much breast milk or formula will baby need?
If your baby is a newborn, start with two or three ounces in a four-ounce bottle. For an older baby, one rule of thumb is to divide her weight by two and give her that many ounces of infant formula or breast milk per feeding. For example, if baby is 10 pounds, offer her five ounces at each feeding.
Don’t be concerned about feeding baby as much as she wants, but don’t force her to finish a baby bottle either. You’ll know baby’s getting plenty to eat when she is relaxed after eating and continues to gain weight.
Because infant formula takes longer to digest than breast milk, you may notice some changes during the transition to bottle-feeding. These include:
Feeding frequency. Babies drinking infant formula may feed less often than breast-feeding babies, or they may go longer between feedings.
Sleep. After they’re about two months old, bottle-fed babies may sleep longer at night, though breast-fed babies catch up at about 3 to 5 months.
Bowel movements. Baby’s poop may change when she switches to baby formula from loose, yellow, and less odorous to darker, smellier stools.
Common Bottle Feeding Problems
“I waited until she was 3 weeks old to introduce [the bottle] for fear of nipple confusion. There was no confusion at all -- she wanted the breast and nothing else!” Jamie writes of her experience with the transition on the WebMD message boards.
Although this mom eventually solved her problem with ingenuity -- getting baby to accept a bottle while in a swing -- your solution may differ. Every parent making the transition from breastfeeding to bottle needs patience.
Waiting too long to introduce the bottle was definitely “one mistake we made,” says Morgan Griffin, Massachusetts writer and dad to Alice and Ada. With Griffin’s wife returning to work and 11-month-old Alice still not adapted to the bottle, “it was a couple of harrowing weeks. But we stuck with it, tried not to freak out, assumed she wouldn't starve, and she came around.”
Griffin’s main piece of advice is echoed by moms and dads on WebMD’s parenting board: Stay calm and keep trying. If baby won’t take one bottle, try a different brand or a different nipple. Try a nipple with a slower or faster flow. Or change baby formulas.
Sometimes, babies won’t take a bottle from their mothers because of the strong association between mom’s smell and the expectation of breastfeeding -- but they’ll take a bottle from dad or someone else. “I often suggest [trying] this if a baby is having bottle trouble,” Jana tells WebMD.