How to Switch from Breastfeeding to Formula: Discover These Simple Strategies

“Breast milk is best for babies!” – This is a popular slogan from an advertisement that promotes breastfeeding. Breastfeeding offers good nutrition to babies and protects them from sickness.

For most babies, breast milk is vital, especially for the first four or six months. Nonetheless, most mothers breastfeed their babies even after six months while simultaneously giving them foods. When I was pregnant with my first child, I decided to stick to breastfeeding because I knew about the benefits that breast milk brings to babies’s development and health.

However, there came a time when I had to stop giving my baby breast milk and faced a serious dilemma on how to switch from breastfeeding to formula. So, I did a thorough research and consulted other mothers. In this article, I will share what I learned about transitioning from breast milk to formula.


Breastfeeding versus Formula Feeding: Is There Any Difference?

New mothers are often confronted with a decision whether to breastfeed or bottle-feed their baby. Is there any difference between the two? Well, yes! There are differences between breastfeeding and formula feeding.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding offers the best nutrition for babies. The organization suggests breastfeeding babies for the first six months. Thereafter, babies are allowed to eat soft foods along with breastfeeding.


Breast milk offers a lot of benefits to your infant. First, breast milk has natural antibodies that aid baby in resisting sickness, including ear infections. They are also easily digestible; hence, babies are less gassy and constipated. Breast milk also works in reducing the hazard of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, particularly during the first year of life. Because of breast milk’s healthy content, they also improve your baby’s intelligence.


Several studies in the past have proven the effectiveness of breast milk in enhancing the child’s cognitive function. In later years, breast milk can be a potent aid to the child in eliminating the risk of obesity and asthma, diabetes, Hodgkin’s disease, lymphoma, high cholesterol, and leukemia.

On the other hand, breastfeeding brings various benefits to mothers, too. Breastfeeding mothers will have a lower risk of diabetes, breast cancer, heart disease, ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis. For new mothers, the ultimate reason behind breastfeeding their baby is the bonding experience they get to enjoy.

Disadvantages of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding provides the best form of nourishments to babies. However, there are some disadvantages to breastfeeding as well.


At the start, most mothers may feel uncomfortable breastfeeding their babies. However, with the right support, proper education, and practice, this can be overcome.


When breastfeeding, it is often a common experience to feel latch-on pain, especially during first 7 to 10 days. This lasts for a minute or less with each feeding.

If breastfeeding continues to produce pain, or if there is soreness of the nipples or breasts, it is best to inquire help from a lactation consultant. In most occasions, the pain stems from utilizing the wrong technique or, at other times, it can mean an infection.​


Breastfeeding can be demanding of a mother’s time and commitment, especially at the start when babies feed more frequently. Working mothers, traveling moms, or moms who always run errands are constantly challenged to have a scheduled breastfeeding or pumping of breast milk throughout the day.

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And because breastmilk is easily digestible, babies tend to eat more. This puts mothers in demand every two or three hours.​


Breastfeeding mothers should be conscious of what they drink and eat because these can be transferred to the infant via the breast milk.

Breastfeeding moms must avoid fish with high mercurial content. Alcohol drinking must also be avoided as this can be passed to the baby.If a mom drinks alcohol, she must hold breastfeeding for at least two hours to avoid alcohol transfer.

Caffeine consumption must be limited to 300 mg or less or about three cups of regular coffee or less because this can make babies restless and irritable.


If a breastfeeding mother suffers from serious medical conditions such as HIV, it is unsafe to breastfeed the baby. Mothers must constantly check with the physician about the safety of the medicines they take while breastfeeding.

Formula Feeding

Formula feeding is a healthy alternative for infants. Mothers who use a formula to feed their baby are on the right track regarding choosing the best substitute to breast milk. However, mothers are advised not to make their formulation or give cow’s milk to babies.

There are various reasons why mothers choose to feed their baby with formula milk. On top of these reasons is the convenience it brings. Babies who are formula-fed can be provided their sustenance by any individual at any time they are hungry. Flexibility is another reason behind formula feeding the babies.


With formula feeding, you can eliminate breast pumping from your to-do list. Instead, you may leave the formula for the day care center or the babysitter. With formula, you can get your partner involved with nighttime feedings while experiencing the same kind of bonding you experience with your little one.

Moreover, the formula makes scheduled feedings easier. However, the formula takes longer to digest compared to breast milk. Therefore, with formula, babies need not often eat, particularly during the early months.

Mothers who provide their babies with formula will no longer have to think hard about what to eat. Breastfeeding mothers tend to avoid foods and drinks that their babies might not tolerate such a cocktail or a glass of wine.

Disadvantages of Formula Feeding


Yes! Formula milk is very expensive nowadays. Powdered milk is the most affordable while ready-to-feed is the most costly. Milk that is specially formulated, including hypoallergenic and soy, is more expensive than those with basic formulas.


Formula-fed babies are more at risks of constipation and gas because formula takes longer to digest than breast milk.


Breast milk is unlimited, readily available, and can be served at an ideal temperature. On the other hand, the formula takes planning and organization to ensure that what you will be providing your baby is exactly what he needs. Hence, mothers must purchase formula and ensure that it is always available to avoid going to the store at late night.

Here is a video that explains more in details the differences between breastfeeding and formula feeding:

Why Do Mothers Quit Breastfeeding?

Not all mothers who initially plan to breastfeed their baby follow through. Many of them do not realize the benefits that breast milk brings such as reducing the risk of obesity. So, why do most moms quit breastfeeding?

Off to a bad and rough start

While it may look easy, the reality is the opposite. Breastfeeding entails a lot of work, and most new moms take the time to get used to it. When giving birth, most mothers experience soreness in their nipples while others feel great exhaustion. For these reasons, they reach for the formula instead of feeding breast milk to their baby.

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The baby is not receiving enough breast milk

“To see is to believe!” This is what most people’s mantra in life is. We always have that attitude of seeing things before believing they are actually what they are. Simply put, most mothers feel their baby is not receiving enough milk from them because they cannot see the quantity of milk that comes out of their breasts.

Hence, they become anxious. Moreover, breastfed babies consume more frequently compared to formula-fed babies. Why? That’s because breastmilk is digested easily. Most babies love staying on their mom’s breast, and their moms misinterpret this as them not getting enough and wanting more.

Awkward feeling of breastfeeding in public


We all live in a culture where breasts are over sexualized. For mothers who breastfeed, doing it in public makes them feel uncomfortable, especially when people stare at them.

Maternity leave is over

For working mothers, returning to work after a maternity leave is a deal breaker. While breastfeeding and working can be done simultaneously, finding the ideal place and time to pump, transport, and store breast milk, is stressful.

How to Make the Switch

Breastfeeding provides the most nutrients to babies. But time has come to phase out breast milk because of diverse reasons. So, how do you make that switch? Transitioning from breastfeeding to formula feeding requires a gradual process, and it is likely that before taking the big leap, you will be experiencing a mix of emotions.

Step 1: Know when to make the transition

Deciding when to switch from breast milk to formula necessitates a lot of thinking. Many factors and questions are considered during the decision-making stage. Will it be a perfect time? How will the baby respond to the switch? Is formula feeding the best alternative? Once you have resolved the answers to these questions, then you are ready to proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Stop breastfeeding

Logically speaking, you cannot switch to formula feeding if you continue to breastfeed your baby. So, to succeed the transition, you need to stop breastfeeding. I understand how overwhelming this can be but you just really have to do it.

When is the ideal time to stop breastfeeding?

For many experts, it is recommended that you let your baby decide when to stop taking in breast milk. But ultimately, the final decision will come from you. To your baby, breastfeeding is his source of sustenance that offers him reassurance and a sense of security and closeness. If you allow your baby to decide, then, you will less prone to encounter resistance.

How to Stop Breastfeeding

Babies stop breastfeeding once they start eating foods. Sometimes, babies stop breastfeeding by choice. As a mother, you can help make the process faster. First, allow your baby to complete a breastfeed and provide him with a small food.

This will enable him to experiment with textures and flavors. As soon as your baby starts munching the food, his poo changes. In this case, begin switching things around by offering foods before breastfeed.

My Baby Refuses to Stop Breastfeeding, What Should I Do?

So, here is the most challenging part now of having to switch from breastfeeding to formula-feeding - your baby refuses to stop. In this case, be patient. Babies enjoy their mom’s breast because it nourishes and soothes them. But you can always help them adjust. How?

Step 3: Find the right milk bottle for your baby


Nipples and bottles are very different from each other. So, try to experiment with nipples and bottles and find the perfect one that will work for your baby. The nipple’s hole is the most important factor to consider. Check if the nipple is too big or too small and look for the one with the right size. A nipple that is too big can result to gagging while that which is too small will give your baby a hard time to draw out the milk.

Step 4: Ask help

Know that it is okay to ask help from other people sometimes. You may consider asking help from your partner, caregiver, grandparents, or parents to bottle feed your baby.

Step 5: Consider giving your baby a sample.

Do you have a pumping bottle? Have you tried pumping breast milk into the bottle? If you haven’t yet, then try it. Pour a few drops of bottled milk on the lips of your baby. Some mothers would usually begin by pumping their breast milk to a bottle or mixing their breast milk with a formula in the bottle. This process helps babies in making adjustments to this new method before transitioning to formula exclusively.

Step 6: Watch for cues.

When switching from breastfeeding to formula, be very observant of your baby’s behavior. Look out for cues. If bottle feeding with formula is not going well, give it a break and try again after a while or after your infant has calmed down. Do not impose bottle feeding if your baby refuses because that can stress him out. Be patient and gentle like you have always been.

Step 7: Your baby is the leader in the switching process.

Let him lead you the way. In switching from breastfeeding to formula, your baby is the leader in the entire process, and you simply have to follow or make some tricks to distract your little one. When babies drink from their bottle, allow them the opportunity to stop and restart. This is a great way to make them realize that breastfeeding and formula feeding processes are the same. They suck the nipples and draw out the milk.

Step 8: Relish the time you have.

Transitioning from breastfeeding to formula is not an overnight process. Do it gradually, and you will be amazed at how well your baby will respond. Start with drops of milk from the bottle and alternate it with your breast milk until the baby get used to it.

Step 9: Experience the love and the bond.

Whether it is breastfeeding or formula feeding, both offer the opportunity for snuggling and relaxing. When formula feeding your baby, retain the eye and skin contact and continue to shower him with lots of care and affection.


Transitioning from breastfeeding to formula is not an easy process, but this can serve you right once you get the hang of it. A gradual and gentle step-by-step switching is the best approach to take in this case. Remember, your baby has gotten used to skin and eye contact. So, never lose that contact in the process of bottle feeding. Offer the same affection and find more ways to bond with your baby.

Did you find this article helpful? Share with us your ideas on how to switch from breastfeeding to formula.


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