Headed back to work? Ready to hand over nighttime feedings to someone else? Or maybe you just need a breastfeeding break once or twice a day to care for yourself or your other children? Whatever your reasons, it sounds like it's time to introduce baby to a bottle. But when and how do you do it? There is no right or wrong formula to weaning a baby from breast to bottle. So much of the process depends upon you and your baby and what you both need. But here are a few tips that can help make the transition easier for both of you:
Time it right. Most experts recommend that you introduce the bottle when your baby is fairly good at breastfeeding but not so used to it that she won’t do anything else. For many babies this falls somewhere around the six week mark, but that date is not set in stone. If you need to introduce a bottle sooner - say because you're going back to work - feel free to give it a try as soon as you think your baby is ready.
Start before you need to. If your headed back to work or transitioning to a nanny or daycare provider around a certain date, be sure to start the bottle transition a few weeks before so that you and your baby will both have time to adjust.
One thing at a time. Even if your plan is to eventually wean baby from breastmilk to formula, don't introduce the formula just yet. Fill baby's bottle with breastmilk so that he is only adapting to one change at a time. Once he gets the hang of the bottle, you can try adding formula if so desired.
Call in the reinforcements. Ideally, someone other than mom should offer baby her first bottle. After all, why should she take this strange object when she knows mom has the source of the goods right there?
Start small. Both for your sake, and for your baby's, start by weaning one feeding at a time from breast to bottle over the course of several weeks. This will help reduce problems with engorgement and give you baby a chance to adapt slowly to the change.