There may come a time when you want to finish breastfeeding your little one. Not every baby takes to bottlefeeding straightaway, so how do you start to introduce a bottle to a breastfed baby? In this blog we share some top tips when transitioning from breastfeeding to bottle feeding!
To prepare for the breast to bottle transition, make sure you have all the necessary products and equipment you need: bottles, teats, sterilising machine etc. and follow the instructions to make up your feeds properly. There are a number of different types of bottles out there to suit your breastfed baby, from those that imitate the breast to help support breastfed babies latch, to anti-colic and self-sterilising bottles.
So how do you know which bottle is going to be the right one for you and your baby? It really is a case of trial and error; reading reviews and listening to feedback from other parents who have been through the same transition. If you want to read reviews from everyday parents about which bottles they found best, check out our bottle reviews here.
Remember babies breastfeed for comfort as well as food. Slowly phasing out breastfeeding will give both you and your baby time to get used to the idea. Removing breast feeds gradually will also help prevent other problems like breasts becoming hard and painful to touch, as well as mastitis.
It is recommended to start the transition by dropping one feed at a time. It doesn't matter which feed you decide to loose first, so we would suggest choosing the feed that best suits you. For example, some women like to carry on with evening feed so that their baby still has the comfort of the breast at night. Other women prefer to continue with the morning feed as it's the feed that has helped to form a strong part of their baby's wake-up routine.
If your little one is younger than 12 months old, you will need to replace the breastfeed you have decided to drop with a formula feed from a bottle. If your baby is over the age of one and is consuming a variety of foods and fluids they won't need a replacement feed.
When you and your baby have established a new feeding routine, and are settled into the pattern of having one less breastfeed, you can then think about gradually loosing another one.
Breastfed babies are held a lot and because of this, breastfeeding has been shown to enhance bonding between baby and mum. That's why it's a good idea to think about letting your partner or a family member feed your baby with the bottle; if your little one can smell and feel your breasts they are likely to keep crying for them and will ignore the bottle. This also means you can share the feeds with others, giving your baby more time to bond with other family members, your partner or friends.
When it comes to you bottle feeding, make sure you position your little one so that they are facing away from your chest to make your breasts less distracting. Also think about trying a variety of different shaped teats in case your baby finds a specific one more comfortable, sometimes it's even the flow of the milk that your baby needs to get used to which is why some mothers find a faster flowing teat works better.
There is no right or wrong way to phase our breastfeeding. Some mums decide to combine breastfeeding and formula feeding rather than entirely stopping. If this is something you'd like to do, it's recommended to wait until your milk supply is fully established which can take up to six weeks. To get started try substituting one of your baby's frequent daily breastfeeds with a bottle.
Please remember, whichever way you decide to start transitioning from breast to bottle it will take time. Your baby needs to get used to a new routine which doesn't involve your breast milk for every feed, they also need to get familiar with the feel and taste of a bottle, as well as the shape and texture of the teat.
You really have to keep trying every day and be consistent. You may have to be prepared to try different variations of time and position and person, but just keep at it. You've got this!