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Making the Change From Breast to Bottle-Feeding

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Save one special feeding. It's hard for some moms and babies to stop nursing, even if they've canceled most feedings. If you value your time together, keep it up.

“For many children, bedtime nursing is last to go,” says Diane Wiessinger, IBCLC, co-author of La Leche League International's The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. “Others take more comfort from a middle-of-the-night nursing, early-morning nursing, or mama’s-home-from-work nursing. You and your child will know what’s right.”

Hand someone else the bottle. Your baby may become upset if you offer him a bottle after months of breastfeeding. Many moms leave the house and dads step up, but a grandparent or friend can help.

“As long as the person who's giving the bottle is loving, caring, and responsive to the baby, it should be fine,” says Heather Wittenberg, PsyD, a parenting psychologist in Maui, Hawaii.

Make bottle-feedings familiar. If you're switching to bottles, make mealtime as similar to breastfeeding as possible.

“You'll help your baby feel more secure,” Wiessinger says. “Use lots of body contact during feeding ...  and continue to respond to your baby's need for food and contact without any pre-determined schedule.”

Distract babies from breasts. You can use subtle tricks to discourage your child from breastfeeding while you phase out nursing.

“If your baby is over 6 months old and well-started on solids, try nursing less often, nursing for shorter times, or offering distractions, other foods or a bottle at nursing times,” Wiessenger says. “For toddlers, try 'don't offer, don't refuse,' wear clothing that's difficult to nurse in, spend more time together out of the house, substitute in snacks or extra stories, or arrange for your partner to take over the bedtime routine.”

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Reviewed on March 21, 2014

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