How should I introduce formula to a breastfed baby? Formula Feeding

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mother and dad feeding baby
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If you've been exclusively breastfeeding and are getting ready to begin supplementing, you probably have questions about the best way to proceed. Get advice here from experts and moms who've successfully supplemented.

Go Slowly

"Begin with one feeding of formula each day for three days and see how baby tolerates it. If she tolerates the formula, you can slowly increase the formula-to-breast milk ratio. Signs of intolerance may include: vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, colic, bloody stools, reactive airway problems, and skin rashes. If your child is prone to allergies or has had any kind of intolerance or adverse reaction to breast milk or formula, consult your pediatrician before changing anything." -- Heidi...

"Begin with one feeding of formula each day for three days and see how baby tolerates it. If she tolerates the formula, you can slowly increase the formula-to-breast milk ratio. Signs of intolerance may include: vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, colic, bloody stools, reactive airway problems, and skin rashes. If your child is prone to allergies or has had any kind of intolerance or adverse reaction to breast milk or formula, consult your pediatrician before changing anything." -- Heidi Miller, pediatric speech pathologist and feeding specialist, Heidi Miller Speech LLC, Florham Park, NJ

Be Patient

"Try replacing one feeding in the afternoon with a bottle and see how your baby does. Some babies adjust well, while others take time to get used to the taste, texture, and actual use of a bottle. Give your baby as much time as he needs. The less stressful the process is, the more success he or she will have with it! As they get more comfortable, start replacing other feeds with formula as tolerated." -- Skyler Gardner, RN, BSN, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA

Mix It Up

"My doctor recommended I slowly mix the formula into the breast milk. You can also use the breast milk supply you have and just continue to offer mixed bottles. The older they are, the easier it may be to introduce formula with fewer issues."

Breast Before Bottle

"I always nurse baby on both sides before giving her the supplement in the bottle. So, if you need to give eight ounces of formula per day for example, count back from bedtime and give two ounces after each of  the four daytime feedings."

Replace One Daily Feeding

"I replace one nursing session with a bottle of formula every other day, but not right before nap time or bedtime -- do that in the last couple of days, as he's more likely to resist if he's tired. You can even pump instead of nurse so he'll get used to the bottle."

We Used a 1:4 Ratio

"When we started supplementing formula for my daughter, she was pretty difficult about it. We mixed the formula at a 1-to-4 ratio of formula to breast milk and gradually increased the ratio. That helped reduce her resistance to it. Good luck!"

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.