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How to Stop Breastfeeding and Switch to Formula

How to Stop Breastfeeding and Switch to Formula

As your baby grows and develops, your breastfeeding journey will eventually come to an end. Whether you choose to stop breastfeeding due to medical or physical reasons, age, lifestyle, or any other factor, the best time to stop breastfeeding is when you feel it’s right for you and your baby. Weaning your baby is one of the most important baby developmental milestones, and this transition period can be tough for both.

If you’re stopping breastfeeding and your infant is under a year of age, you’ll need to transition them to formula milk until they’re old enough to consume other forms of calcium. Keep reading to learn all about how to stop breastfeeding and switch to formula.

When To Stop Breastfeeding

How do you know the right time to stop breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is a personal journey for every mother and baby, and there is no one catch-all answer for when you should stop. Choosing when to wean is a personal choice and can be influenced by a number of factors.

How To Wean Naturally

Weaning naturally is more than just stuffing cabbage leaves in your bra to dry up your milk. If you’re ready to transition your infant off the breast, there are ways to make it as painless as possible for you and your little one while keeping your strong emotional bond intact.

Keep Them Close

The bond between a mother and her baby is a special one. Holding your baby close while they’re being fed gives them comfort and security that encourages healthy emotional and physical development. Whether your baby is breast or bottle-fed, spending this time together helps establish and develop a loving connection.

Slowly Introduce The Bottle

Some babies are easygoing and will take their milk however it comes, be it a bottle or breast. If your infant has been exclusively breastfed (EBF) up until now, you’ll want to start introducing bottle feeding before fully switching to formula to get them used to the nipple flows and slight differences in how they are held at mealtime.

A slow-flow natural nipple bottle that is designed to help ease the transition, like Dr. Brown's Natural Flow® Options+™ Breast to Baby Bottle Slow Flow Gift Set, makes feeding with a bottle as similar to the breastfeeding experience as possible.

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Ease Into Formula

Just like when you’re switching from EBF to bottle feeding, it’s best to ease into adjusting the content of their meals. Start slowly by giving your little one bottles of breast milk mixed with some formula, then gradually transition to formula-only so that they have time to adjust to the difference in taste or texture.

Take It Slow

When weaning, it’s important to take it slowly to give your milk supply time to decline naturally. If you stop breastfeeding too quickly, you run the risk of engorgement or developing mastitis, which is a painful infection caused by clogged milk ducts.1

Avoid Weaning When Baby Is Sick Or Stressed

If you’ve been breastfeeding for a significant length of time, you probably noticed that your child increases feeding frequency when they are ill, upset, or in a stressful environment. Increased frequency makes your body respond by increasing breast milk production, so trying to wean at that time could raise your chances of engorgement or mastitis. Try to wait until their daycare cold clears up—for their sake and for yours.

Partial Weaning

If you or your babe aren’t ready to stop breastfeeding entirely, combination feeding or partial weaning is an excellent option to give you more freedom while maintaining a comforting bond. Start by transitioning out of mid-day breastfeeding sessions, eventually moving to only one or two a day.

First thing in the morning or bedtime feedings are usually the last to go. A working mom, for example, may choose to forgo pumping and have the baby take formula while at daycare but keep a morning or night feed to maintain the physical and emotional connection.

Find Alternate Ways To Comfort

Regardless of where or how, feeding is a wonderful bonding time for any caregiver and child. Holding them in your arms as they fill their bellies makes them feel safe and loved. If your little one is having a hard time weaning, offering alternate means of comfort like a soft, snuggly stuffed animal, could help soothe them.

The unique bond you create with your baby during breastfeeding is hard to replicate, but you can create new ways to establish a comforting connection with your little one that can carry through as they get older. If you have an older infant, carving out space in your day to spend time together one-on-one that includes a cuddle, book, or snuggle is a wonderful option.

Take Care Of Yourself, Too

The weaning process can be an emotional time for both you and your infant, as well as a critical time for you physically as your hormones adjust and your breasts transition back to normal. Keep an eye on supply and demand, and express milk as needed to make it as painless as possible.

Is Formula A Good Alternative To Breast Milk?

Typically made using soy milk as a base, infant formula is designed to meet all of a baby’s nutritional needs and is a good alternative to breast milk. Infant formula is widely used as either the primary source of infant nutrition or as a companion or supplement to breast milk—according to the CDC, only twenty-five percent of infants are exclusively fed breast milk by the time they are six months in age.2

Another benefit of formula is its ability to be tailored to specific dietary needs. For an infant that has an allergy or digestive issue, a specially tailored formula that provides complete nutrition sans allergen or trigger will help to make sure all their nutritional needs are met.

If you’re unsure what type of formula is best for your baby, consult with their health care provider or lactation consultant to determine their needs and ideal feeding frequency.

Reasons To Stop Breastfeeding

Just as there’s no specific time set in stone for when you need to stop breastfeeding, there are a multitude of reasons that can influence a mother’s decision to stop breastfeeding, including:

  • Milk Supply – Maintaining an adequate milk supply to keep your baby fed can be a difficult task. Stress, medications, and other influences can negatively affect how much milk you produce. Mothers with low or lessening supply will typically supplement with formula to ensure the baby still gets enough necessary nutrients.
  • Pumping Issues – Having to be away from your little one is not easy, especially when you’ve finally got a good breastfeeding rhythm going. Returning to work as a breastfeeding mom means lugging a breast pump and finding accommodations to express milk, as well as keeping it stored and safe throughout the day. Stressing over-pumping enough to keep your baby fed while you’re away might make you consider switching to or supplementing with formula to alleviate some of the extra pressure to produce.
  • D-MER – Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER) is a dopamine drop during breastfeeding, resulting in negative emotional feelings that only occur when milk is released. One study found that D-MER affects around 9% of breastfeeding mothers who were surveyed during their first postnatal exam.3 Since it doesn’t clear up until breastfeeding has ended, many women choose to transition to formula for better mental health.
  • Medications – Certain health conditions require medications that aren’t safe for breastfed babies as they can cross the barrier into the milk supply, and other medications can have a negative effect on milk production. In these cases, switching to formula is usually the best way to ensure a healthy mother and a healthy baby.
  • Including Other Caregivers – As a breastfeeding mom, being the primary caregiver when it comes to feeding can mean less sleep and more stress, especially during those early, every three-hour feedings. Bottle feeding gives you a chance for a much-needed break and other caregivers a chance to bond with the baby during meal time.
  • Change In Baby’s Eating Habits – As your baby gets older and you start to introduce solid foods, they become less dependent on breast milk. Some babies will want to keep breastfeeding indefinitely, but others will choose to end on their own as they become more interested in other food sources.
  • Because You Want To – At the end of the day, the only reason you need to stop breastfeeding is because you want to. You’ll know when to stop breastfeeding and switch to formula—at a time that is right for you and your little one.

Give Baby The Best With Monica + Andy

At Monica + Andy, we’re here to help you throughout your pregnancy and motherhood journey. We want you to feel confident in your parenting choices, knowing that every family experience is unique.

From organic cotton baby clothes in adorable prints to baby nursery essentials, we have everything you need to ensure you’re wrapping your little one in the highest quality products for mealtime, bedtime, playtime, and any time.


Sources:

  1. NHS. Breastfeeding challenges. https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/baby/feeding-your-baby/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-challenges/mastitis/
  2. CDC. Breastfeeding Report Card. https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/reportcard.htm
  3. Breastfeed Med. Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex: A Descriptive Study. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31393168/
  4. AAP News. Updated AAP Guidance Recommends Longer Breastfeeding Due to Benefits. https://publications.aap.org/aapnews/news/20528/Updated-AAP-guidance-recommends-longer
  5. La Leche League International. Weaning: How To. https://www.llli.org/breastfeeding-info/weaning-how-to/
  6. Mayo Clinic. Weaning: Tips For Breast-Feeding Mothers. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/weaning/art-20048440
  7. National Institute of Health. What is weaning and how do I do it? https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/breastfeeding/conditioninfo/weaning#
  8. Nutrients. Review of Infant Feeding: Key Features of Breast Milk and Infant Formula. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4882692/
  9. Pediatrics. Reasons for Earlier Than Desired Cessation of Breastfeeding. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4861949


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