Moving on to formula feeding or combination feeding
Things to know before you switch
Whether you decide to move on from breastfeeding to formula feeding or are considering combination feeding, it is important to make the change slowly, giving both your body and your baby time to adjust. It can be helpful to talk to your midwife or health visitor if you have any questions.
Get the support you need, the moment you need it
Something to consider if you have decided to switch solely to formula feeding, or if you wish to combine breastfeeding with formula feeding, is that breastmilk supply is generally driven by breastfeeding1 so introducing formula will lead to a decline in your breast milk production – a process that can be difficult to reverse.
Slowly reducing breastfeeds will give your body time to learn to produce less milk. It will also prevent your breasts from becoming engorged or leaking2. If they feel full to bursting, expressing a little milk can help relieve the pressure.
Which feeds to stop first
Deciding which feeds you would like to offer from the breast and which from the bottle is a personal choice – the key is to be consistent. This will help your body adapt to the new routine. If you choose to drop a night feed, for example, your body will stop producing milk at this time.
Just remember to take things slowly and give your body the time it needs to adjust. Your baby may need time too, as a teat will feel and taste different to your nipples.
Getting your baby used to a bottle
Some babies take longer than others to get used to bottle-feeding. If yours is finding it difficult to make the switch, you could try:
- Bottle-feeding with some expressed breast milk to help them adapt to the bottle
- It might be helpful to try bottle feeding the first times when your baby is happy and relaxed, rather than very hungry and upset1.
- Leaving the room and letting your partner feed them – your baby may be more likely to take what’s on offer when they can’t see you or smell your breast milk3
- A variety of different teats – your baby may prefer one shape and texture to another
- Try different positions when feeding you baby.
Getting into a routine that suits you both may take a little time, so be patient. If you are exclusively bottle-feeding, you may find that giving your baby plenty of skin-to-skin contact when you feed will help you to continue to bond.
Add these items to your shopping list:
- A selection of teats
- Bottles and sterilising equipment
Oriana Hernandez Carrion
Oriana has a BSc (Hons) in Nutrition and Food Science (1st class) from University Iberoamericana in Mexico, the country where she completed an internship in a Children’s Public Hospital (HIMFG) and later on worked in a private nutrition clinic.
- NHS. Combination feeding [Online] 2021. Available at https://www.dorsethealthcare.nhs.uk/patients-and-visitors/our-services-hospitals/physical-health/breastfeeding-support/all-about-breastfeeding/combination-feeding [Accessed July 2021]
- NCT. Mixed feeling: combining breastfeeding and bottle feeding [Online] 2021. Available at https://www.nct.org.uk/baby-toddler/feeding/practical-tips/mixed-feeding-combining-breastfeeding-and-bottle-feeding [Accessed July 2021]
- NHS. How to combine breast and bottle feeding [Online] 2019. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/breastfeeding-and-bottle-feeding/bottle-feeding/combine-breast-and-bottle/ [Accessed July 2021]
Last reviewed: 28th July 2021
Reviewed by Oriana Hernandez Carrion
Questions about feeding and nutrition?
Our midwives, nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.