How To Switch To Formula (20 Steps)

As a child, parents have all the answers. They knew what their kid should wear, what they should eat, they knew how to cook... Any time there were questions, they had answers. And for most of us, that was a time before Google! When it came to raising babies, they did what they learned from their own parents, books, and natural instinct. They are amazing.

Now that many of "kids" are now adults themselves, it's bewildering to think how parents did it all without the help of the Internet. Sure, a phone call to the doctor can always be made or the information can be found in books, but the Internet is so much more convenient.

When it comes to feeding a child, many moms will know if they're giving their baby formula or breastfeeding from the start. However, there may come a time when a mom wants to switch formulas or even switch from breastfeeding to formula. Regardless of their choice, there are a few steps a mom can take before making the switch. The most important thing about switching formulas, or changing to formula from breastfeeding, is to make note of how your child reacts. Introducing something new to their system can be a toss up sometimes, so let's check our 20 steps to take when making the switch.

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20 Consult With A Doctor First

I know I praised Dr. Google in the introduction, but you can never be too cautious when it comes to the wellbeing of your child. If you're thinking of making any changes to your baby's food selection, call your child's pediatrician for their professional advice. Not only will they tell you how helpful ways to introduce the formula, but they'll also give you recommendations on what formula they suggest. It's also reassuring as a new mom to have the backup of a professional when making any new decision with their child. If you have any questions or concerns about the formula they suggested, they're just a phone call away.

19 Take It Easy At First

While some parents believe in cutting out the previous formula cold-turkey, others suggest testing the field first. (The same goes for women who are breastfeeding and want to try formula.)

Instead of ditching the old formula right away, try giving them little amounts of the new formula to see how they like it or how they react.

If there's no reaction and they don't seem to care what they're eating — then parents can make the switch immediately. This, of course, is reassuring as a parent. Maybe parenting is easier than we thought! Seeing your little one adapt so quickly with no signs of intolerance or allergies is one way to make any parent sleep well that night.

18 Distract And Redirect

If you're a mama who has breastfed their little one, switching to formula can be quite intimidating. Since you've been creating your baby's food naturally for the past year, getting them to want milk that's not from you can seem tricky. Especially considering babies can smell the milk from their mother.

When you're trying to get your baby to bottle feed, distract them away from you the best way you can. Whether there's a song they love, a silly face you can make, or telling them a story — do everything you can to distract them, and then redirect them to the bottle.

17 Read The Label

Regardless if a mom is switching formula brands, or simply giving up breastfeeding, parents need to get in the habit of knowing what their baby is digesting. Once you're familiar with what seems to be working for your baby, you can find other formulas with similar ingredients.

If you're looking for a change from the formula you're currently using, choosing a formula with opposing ingredients could be the way to go. After all, if that particular brand isn't working for your babe, it could be because of what's in the ingredients.

Knowing what ingredients your baby is eating is also educational; get to know what these words mean and what good (or bad) they can do to your baby.

16 Choose The Same Protein

If you've been feeding your child formula with cow milk protein, then looking for a brand that also has cow milk protein could be the way to go. Sticking with the same protein will be easiest on your baby's digestive system (unless, of course, they have an intolerance to the protein and that's why you're switching). Our babies are so delicate that new foods and liquids need to be offered with care. When you give your child a new formula—with the same protein—keep an eye on them and make sure they're adjusting normally. If there are any flare-ups or signs of distress, contact your doctor immediately.

15 Or Maybe Change The Protein Type

If your sweet baby seems to have a bad reaction to the current formula, maybe it's time to switch the protein type. If you've been feeding your baby formula from cow's milk protein, try switching to a formula with a different protein base. Of course, the intolerance might not be from the protein, but you'll never know until you switch and see for yourself.

Another popular form of protein in baby formula is soy (seen as 'soy protein isolate' on most labels). It is important, however, for parents to do their research. The debate between soy milk and children is quite heavy. As is a child ingesting milk from an animal that was made in a GMO-plant. Again, read the labels.

14 Gradually Drop A Feeding


Before the riots ensue, I'm not telling you to stop feeding your child. When your child is hungry, you have to feed them — they're growing babies! But if you're trying to wean off breastfeeding so you can switch to formula, Working Mother suggests dropping "one breastfeeding session at a time" to make a smooth transition.

If you're breastfeeding eight times a day, try only doing it seven times a day and giving them formula for that one feeding instead. This way, your child is kind of getting the best of both worlds; they're still getting their mother's breast milk, but is also being introduced to a new form of milk.

If you're in the area of switching formulas, you can absolutely do the same thing. Give them the new formula little by little until they're weaned off the former.

13 About The Protein Change

Perhaps you've done some research and aren't too peppy about the protein in your child's formula. Or perhaps you're ready to introduce a new protein to your baby. Regardless, if you're switching the main protein (from soy to cow's milk or vice versa), then it's important to take it slow. Give them little by little until they've adjusted beautifully.

Moms and dads can introduce the new formula by mixing it with their original formula. Fill their bottle up with 3/4 of the original formula (or breastmilk) and add 1/4 of the new formula. Once your baby seems to drink that without any concern, you can then increase the amount of the new formula (half and half, 3/4, and eventually, the entire bottle).

12 Formula For Lunch

Considering mornings and evenings are associated with sleepy thoughts and comfortability, try using the new formula in the afternoons. Depending on your schedule, children seem to be more alert during the afternoons. Use this time to introduce a new formula — you can call it lunch!

If you're breastfeeding, continue to do so only in the mornings and around bedtime until they slowly wean off and desire the bottle more. BabyCenter says, "Your baby may not want to give up morning and bedtime feedings even if she gets formula as a replacement." Starting with lunchtime feedings could be the best route.

11 Bye, Bye Milk Supply

There are a few women out there who think if they slowly stop pumping or breastfeeding, their chest will continue to fill up... So that when they go to feed their child again, they will essentially have an oversupply of milk. That couldn't be further from the truth, though. When a woman shortens feedings or stops pumping, her supply begins to lessen. Eventually, the milk will dry up, which is where formula comes to into play.

Like the entry above, try only breastfeeding in the mornings or evenings, and then giving them formula throughout the day so that your supply can lessen.

10 Solids

According to the Mayo Clinic, your baby is ready for solids around four to six months. "Solids" in this case mean mushy baby food — not dinosaur chicken fingers. That being said, this time frame could be perfect for switching formulas, too.

As Working Mother says, "Switching to formula when you add solids to your baby's routine can make the transition easier. She's already getting more of her nutrition from the solids than from breastmilk."

After trying solid food for the first time, along with a new formula, your baby might just be open enough to keep on eating more of the new goods and forget all about their previous choice.

9 Chill On The Cow's Milk

The debate between breastfeeding and formula feeding is a deep, never-ending hole. As is the subject of feeding cow's milk to a child. Many argue that if cow's milk is suitable enough for their own young, then why not ours? Similarly, the same can be said for breastmilk: If we produce it naturally, then why find another source of milk? Regardless of your views, there are a few professionals who believe a child should hold off on the cow's milk until a certain age.

"Hold off on cow's milk until at least age 1. Your baby's body isn't ready to process it any sooner. Milk also doesn't provide the nutrients that she gets from breastmilk or formula," says Working Mother.

8 Give Them Formula When They're Actually Hungry

I can totally relate to this next entry. Many of us eat when we're not really that hungry. We're either bored, emotionally eating, or are actually eating when we should really be drinking water. Although babies are, well, babies, they know when they're hungry. Since babies can't really speak, though, they'll cry out if they're hungry or sleepy. Many parents hear a cry and immediately go to feed them — even when they're not hungry. Instead of doing that, try only feeding them when you know they're absolutely hungry. They'll have no choice but to drink the new formula when they're that hungry. At that moment there's no fighting — they'll eat what they can get.

7 Practice Makes Perfect


One of the hardest parts about transitioning a child to formula isn't necessarily the formula itself, it's the bottle. To get them used to the bottle, put breastmilk in a bottle first. Get them used to drinking/eating from something that isn't attached to their mother. Kabrita explains, "If your baby is used to taking a bottle of breastmilk, the transition to formula feeding may be a bit easier. Practice with your baby by feeding her a bottle of pumped milk and allow her to grow accustomed to a bottle and teat." Once the bottle becomes more familiar to your baby, switch to formula slowly.

6 Become A Team


You know what they say, teamwork makes the dream work!

It can be hard to get a baby to transition to formula-feeding after being breastfed, solely because they're so used to seeing mom as their food source. Eventually, though, these babies need to learn that people besides their mom can also feed them via bottle.

Kabrita explains, "Your baby is used to getting fed by [you], instead of a bottle. To make the transition to formula feeding smoother, you could let your partner (or a friend) offer the first few bottles. This will prevent your smell from distracting your baby from feeding."

5 A Tasty Mixture


"If your baby refuses the formula then you can try to mix it with some of your pumped milk," notes Kabrita. If you've never breastfed, though, and are simply switching the brand or style of formula, then you can do a similar thing. Mix the two formulas together until your baby gets used to it. If there are no bodily concerns, then the parents can slowly wean out the original formula, and replace it with the new one with zero concern. Kabrita continues saying, "This will create a more familiar smell and taste and might help your baby to accept this new formula feeding."

4 Gas Will Be Normal

One of the main ways a parent can tell how their baby is reacting to a new food or formula is by what's in their diaper. Their stool will change texture and color depending on what they're eating, and they may seem gassier than normal. But according to BabyCenter, gas is quite normal. "All babies have gas–a lot of gas–so gas alone doesn't mean your baby is unable to tolerate whatever kind of formula you're giving her. Nor is it a sign of trouble if your baby's bowel habits change in other ways, such as frequency or color."

A gassy baby aside, if your child's stool is firmer than usual, they could be constipated, in which case could be due to the "iron-fortified formula." Call your baby's doctor if the change in stool is concerning.

3 Room Temperature

Whether this is your first time using formula or the first time using a new formula, never put a whole bottle in the microwave. If a bottle is not free of BPA, the toxins in the plastic can be heated into the baby's milk. The milk may also not be heated evenly, which makes feeding time uncomfortable. The bottle may seem cool to the touch, but the liquid inside could be too warm for the baby's throat and mouth. Make sure to always check the temperature of the milk on your own skin, and to heat up the formula outside of the bottle to create an even temperature.

2 Difference In Tops

Surprise! As if feeding time wasn't difficult enough, the cap of a baby's bottle might not be the cap for your child. Also called a "nipple," no nipple is one size fits all. If your child isn't taking to bottle-feeding, it might not be the formula at all — it could be the nipple. Luckily, there are plenty of professionals out there who caught wind of this early on and created thousands of different kinds to suit any child. From different widths, lengths, and textures — there are plenty of different bottle caps to work for even the fussiest baby. If your baby is upset over formula-feeding, don't give up hope. Try a different bottle first to see if that makes any difference.

1 Keep Notes

The most important thing a parent can do when changing formulas (or going from breastfeeding to formula) is to take notes. Monitor how your baby is reacting. Are there any skin flare-ups, change in mood, different textured stool? Make notes every day so that you can see what's normal for your baby and what is not.

When in doubt, take your information to your baby's doctor so they can assess the situation a little closer. Your notes, however, can help them help you way quicker. If you're not sure how many times a day your child relieves themselves or how often they eat — it's time to keep track.

Resources: WikiHow, WorkingMotherKabritaBabyCenter, BabyFormulaExpert

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