Switching from breast milk to formula can be a daunting process. The transitional phase from being fully breastfed to formula-fed is tricky but you can reduce the overwhelm by following some or all of the tips outlined in this essential guide to weaning your baby off breast milk.
Health experts generally recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Solids combined with breast milk for the next six months until your baby is 12 months old is the recommended time frame however, you can start weaning from six months to combine formula milk with solids instead of breastfeeding.
Here are a few helpful tips to facilitate the process of weaning from exclusive breastfeeding to formula feeding.
Consult Your Paediatrician or Family Healthcare Professional
Consulting your healthcare professional will provide you with peace of mind and they can give you all the options that are available to you. There are various types of formula milk to choose from and your healthcare professional can make the process of choosing much easier. For example, if your child is completely allergic to cow’s milk, you might want to choose a dairy-free alternative. There are soy-based formulas available as well as soy and milk-based formulas such as S-26 Alula Toddler Formula, which is suitable for toddlers.
Your paediatrician will give you all the information you need regarding weaning and choosing the right formula for your baby.
Find The Right Bottle
Finding the right bottle is crucial for your success. Go to a baby store and speak to a sales advisor about the types of bottles available. Be careful when it comes to purchasing bottles because babies often develop excess gas or colic when they switch from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding. Therefore, search for a bottle that reduces the passage of gas from bottle to baby.
Let your child see and touch the bottle
Before you start feeding your baby with the bottle, allow your baby to touch and see the bottle. Remember that your baby is a tiny human being, they have feelings, they need to adjust to new situations therefore, don’t throw them into the deep end head first. Give your baby a chance to familiarise themselves with the bottle.
Put Breast Milk in a Bottle First
Once your baby is familiar with the bottle, put your breast milk in the bottle and try feeding your baby with the bottle for one feed. Continue to breastfeed for the rest of the day. Do this for a few days and see how it goes. If your baby completely rejects the bottle, stop and give it a few days.
Paced Bottle Feeding
When you first introduce the bottle to your baby, consider using a technique called paced bottle feeding. This regulates the flow of milk or formula which facilitates the feeding process. Your baby should essentially sip the milk instead of gulping. When your baby stops sucking, lower the bottle to stop the flow of the milk. When your baby begins to suck again, raise the bottle slightly to resume the milk flow.
Work with your partner and other caregivers
Get your partner and caregivers involved in the process of transitioning from breastmilk to formula milk. Allow your partner to feed your baby using the bottle and fill the bottles with breast milk for caregivers to feed your baby too.
Slowly reduce breastfeeding times
Give yourself about three to four weeks to wean your baby, start by reducing breastfeeding times. Start with one bottle feeding session a day. Add another session after a few days and continue to add bottle-feeding sessions until your child grows accustomed to it.
Find other ways to bond with your baby
Breastfeeding is an excellent way to bond with your baby, without it, your baby might feel down or detached from you. Therefore, find other ways to bond with your baby such as baby massage sessions, sing, read and create special playtime sessions with your baby. Go for walks in the park and spend a lot of time cuddling and relaxing with your little one.
Weaning your child off breast milk is often challenging however, the key is to take your time, don’t rush and focus on what works best for you and your baby. Expert advice is just a guide, use it to guide your steps but also, use your motherly instincts and intuition to help you decide how to wean your baby from breast milk to formula milk.
*This is a collaborative post. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.
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