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Changing From Breast to Bottle Feeding

Ask for Help

If you plan to replace only some nursing sessions with bottles, get help. This way your baby won't question whether you'll nurse when she's hungry. Your partner can bond with your baby as someone who provides food, not just hugs and kisses.

“It's best if someone else offers the bottles, so the baby associates breastfeeding with the mother,” says Laurie Beck, RN, of the U.S. Lactation Consultant Association.

Find New Ways to Bond

There are plenty of ways to stay close with your baby when it isn't mealtime.

“The mother will continue to snuggle, cuddle, and kiss her baby,” Beck says. “She will develop special times with her baby, such as bath time or story time, to continue to build her special relationship.”

Make It Gradual

Drop one nursing session every few days. Start with daytime sessions.

“Babies are busy playing and interacting with their environment,” Burgert says. “Once solid feeding is going well, roll right into a bottle in the morning, rather than a nursing session.”

It's often hardest for babies to give up bedtime nursing.

“To be successful, the routine has to change,” Beck says. You can “offer a drink from a bottle or cup and then try walking around to put the baby to sleep. Or let someone else put the baby to sleep so that they do not associate going to sleep with breastfeeding.”

Distract Your Baby

If your little one reaches for a breast when she's hungry, try to get her to focus on something else.

“Some babies may struggle accepting a bottle in place of the mother's warm soft breast,” Huggins says. “Distracting the baby with a colorful scarf, a cozy blanket, or a beaded necklace may help some babies make the transition.”

Ease Your Pain

When you cut back on nursing, your full breasts can feel painful. It can even happen if you wean slowly, Huggins says.

To relieve pain, try these methods:

Chill your breasts. “Ice packs help to constrict and feel good if the breasts are warm to the touch,” Beck says. You can get the same relief by putting chilled cabbage leaves in your bra. (Really!)

Remove some milk. Use a breast pump to take off some pressure. Don't pump for too long or your body will think that it should maintain its milk supply. “There's a difference between pumping 15 to 20 minutes to fully empty the breasts and removing just enough milk to make yourself comfortable,” Beck says.

Leave your breasts alone. Once you stop nursing, keep breasts off-limits to help your milk supply stop. “Avoid any breast stimulation, including forward-facing showers and sexual foreplay,” Huggins says.

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Reviewed on February 10, 2015

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