Will my breastfed baby have side effects when I introduce formula? Transitioning to a Bottle

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mom bottle feeding baby
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If you've been breastfeeding and decided to introduce your baby to formula, you may be concerned your little one could have trouble adapting to the change in her diet. Here's what experts and moms have to say about what you may expect when switching to formula.

Most Formulas Are Well Tolerated

"Most infant formulas are cow milk–based and tolerated very well by babies. Talk to your doctor about alternative formulas for your infant if he has trouble digesting cow's milk." -- Lisa Liu, MD, physician at Loyola Center for Health at Gottlieb, assistant professor of family medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Melrose Park, Illinois

"Most infant formulas are cow milk–based and tolerated very well by babies. Talk to your doctor about alternative formulas for your infant if he has trouble digesting cow's milk." -- Lisa Liu, MD, physician at Loyola Center for Health at Gottlieb, assistant professor of family medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Melrose Park, Illinois

Look Out for These Red Flags

"If your baby seems uncomfortable after a formula feed or has new or excessive spitting up or gas after formula, you should call your pediatrician or schedule an appointment to discuss this. You should also call your pediatrician if your baby develops diarrhea, constipation, blood in the stool, or black stool with a feeding change." -- Maria Lombardi, MD, a pediatrician at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network, Valhalla, New York

"If your baby seems uncomfortable after a formula feed or has new or excessive spitting up or gas after formula, you should call your pediatrician or schedule an appointment to discuss this. You should also call your pediatrician if your baby develops diarrhea, constipation, blood in the stool, or black stool with a feeding change." -- Maria Lombardi, MD, a pediatrician at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network, Valhalla, New York

Most Babies Have No SIde Effects

"Most babies have no side effects from formula. A mother may note a change in frequency or consistency of a bowel movement, but that should become less of an issue once a baby's system becomes adjusted to the new formula." -- Jill Creighton, MD, pediatrician, Stony Brook Children's Hospital, Stony Brook, New York

They May Be More Gassy

"In my experience, when you introduce formula, your baby may be more gassy while they adjust. Make sure the water-to-formula ratio is exact, since too much water can cause diarrhea and too little can cause dehydration. It may take trying a few different formulas to see which one the baby prefers and doesn't give them extra gas. If the baby is always extremely irritable or not keeping food down after every feeding, they may be allergic to something in the formula or have reflux and need to see a doctor."

It Depends on Your Baby

"Side effects will depend on the baby! I've known some babies to have gas and some make a seamless transition. It's trial and error, but if you're first introducing formula, it's good to mix with breast milk, so you go gradual before giving them a full feeding of formula. That gives their tummy time to get used to it!"

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.