Breast milk is best for baby, but for many mothers, it’s just not possible to exclusively breast feed. In fact, less than half of all new mothers achieve their goal to breast feed for at least 3 months, reports a new study.
Work, medical conditions, and lifestyle are among the many factors affecting the decision to transition to or supplement with formula. No matter what the reason for introducing formula into baby’s diet, the transition may not go as easily as hoped for.
Do you remember the first time you tried a new food? Maybe the food’s taste, smell or texture surprised you and it took you a few tries before deciding you liked it. Well, baby’s first experience with formula can be very similar to that of an adult tasting a food for the first time.
Keep in mind, breast milk is typically sweeter than formula, and has a very distinct smell and flavor. Formula tends to be thicker and a little less sweet than breast milk.
If you’ve been exclusively breastfeeding, your baby not only has to get used to a new food, but a new delivery system as well – a bottle. The first step to easing the transition from breast milk to formula is getting your little one used to a bottle. If your baby isn’t comfortable with a bottle, he more than likely won’t want to drink anything that’s in it, including breast milk. Start by replacing one feeding a day with a bottle and slowly increase the number of bottle feedings until he’s feeding with ease.
It’s best to start giving him a bottle of what he’s familiar with – breast milk. Once he’s gotten used to the idea of a bottle, you can offer him a mixture of breast milk and formula. Begin with a mixture that’s more breast milk than formula and slowly decrease the amount of breast milk as he gets used to the new taste and texture. The process of eliminating breast milk from the formula should occur over a two-week period – longer if your baby is a picky eater.
It’s important to remember the type of bottle being used may also affect your baby’s desire to eat. You may have to take a few trips to the store to find a bottle he likes. And, don’t be afraid to try different nipples as well. Oh, and don’t wait too late to introduce a bottle to him. Most experts agree, it’s best to introduce a bottle at about 4 weeks of age.
If baby is comfortable with a bottle and still seems to have trouble taking the formula mixture after a couple of weeks, you may want to try a different formula. Some babies prefer the sweeter taste of goat milk, which would make a goat milk based formula a great choice. Although rare, it’s possible he’s experiencing a stomach sensitivity. In cases where a stomach sensitivity is an issue, a specialty formula may be needed.
The transition from breast milk to formula may not go as you planned, but with a little planning and patience, your baby can experience