How to shift from breastfeeding to bottle feeding

If you are clueless about bottle feeding, or are considering weaning & bottle-feeding,here are some pointers to help you painlessly shift from breastfeeding to bottle feeding your baby.

Weaning and Bottle Feeding

Most of the new and experienced mothers are curious as to when the right time is to start bottle-feeding their babies. Some mothers start bottle feeding their babies early on; some patiently take cues from their babies or allow the process of breastfeeding to take its natural course to achieve weaning, while others wait until they reach their target breastfeeding goals to make this transition. Nonetheless, the transition can take time, especially when a baby has been breastfed exclusively for the first six months or nursed through full-term or extended breastfeeding. Hence, it is important to gradually wean and start bottle feeding your baby.

Tips for Transitioning Your Baby to Bottle Feeding

Know when to wean and start transitioning to a bottle

Breast milk is the best for babies during the first year of their lives, as it offers many protective benefits to their health besides giving basic nutrition in an easily digestible form – the longer a mother breastfeeds, the greater the health benefits. However, knowing when to stop breastfeeding is a personal decision. Gradually reducing your weekly breastfeeding sessions and introducing your baby to foods other than breast milk, like formula milk (for babies younger than 1 year), and a selection of solid foods (for babies older than six months) as an alternative source of nutrition can initiate the weaning process. Many babies will get used to formula milk on their own, while other times mothers may introduce semi soft or solid food to help quicken the process.


However, it is important to hold off on weaning if:
1. Your baby shows signs of allergy or celiac disease –
formula milk can trigger the onset of some mild allergic reactions and even celiac diseases owing to their weak immune system.
2. Your baby is unwell –
you must ensure that both you and your baby are in good health for a smoother transition to bottle feeding.
3. You have encountered a stressful situation –
If you are moving places or houses, on a new job or going through any family emergencies.

How to know when your baby is ready

You must know your baby well enough to recognize subtle signs and understand when your baby is ready for bottle feeding.

Your baby is ready when he/she:

  • can sit with no or minimal support
  • begins to make chewing movements and does not suck milk well enough
  • reaches for objects and bites them
  • has gained a healthy weight
  • has a strong and steady head control
  • has good eye-to-hand coordination
  • gets curious about other food items around and makes a grab for them

Hand Expressing or Pumping Breast Milk?

The most common reasons why you would choose to pump or express milk are to store and use while at work or away from your baby, or to relieve engorged breasts, or to feed when your baby is unable to feed at the breast.
If you are a working mother or planning to go back to work after maternity leave, it is a good idea to express breast milk to help nurse your baby and build a backup supply of expressed breast milk for your baby even when you are away.

There are basically two means of expressing breast milk – hand expressing and using a breast pump. Although hand expressing is more effective during the early days of breastfeeding, Doctors tout the use of a manual or electric breast pump in any situation where it is difficult to breastfeed your baby or manually express milk.
Hand expressing breast milk, although a useful skill for all breastfeeding women, can be a bit time-consuming and challenging if you are struggling to maintain the supply. In such situations, breast pumps come handy.

Types of Breast Pumps

Breast pumps may look quite intimidating, but they are a lifesaver. Choosing a breast pump depends on your lifestyle, ease of use, preferences and your baby’s needs. Breast pumps come in two main types: manual breast pumps and electric Breast pumps. An easy way to start expressing breast milk is by using Innosense® Electric Breast Pump – one of the best manual breast pumps from Mothercare. It is perfect for mothers looking for the most comfortable expressing position and comfort while expressing.

Another Mothercare essential is a Medela Mini Electric Breast Pump, which makes breast pumping easier for mothers on the go; it is the smallest handheld electric breast pump that is easy to use and gives you the ultimate convenience. All breast pumps come with a manual guide detailing their use with instructions, along with a demo video. Simply follow the directions and you are good to go.

Sometimes you may experience some form discomfort or twitching sensation while pumping. During these times, you may use a breast shield, a nipple cream, or other pumping accessories to help relieve any discomfort and make pumping as easy as possible.

Your baby might put up a fight initially or not take to bottle feeding easily. Introducing a feeding bottle or baby bottle to feed the expressed breast milk in combination with breastfeeding your baby works well when he/she is at least 2 months old to maintain good breast milk supply. You may choose from a full range of baby bottles & teats and baby bottle-feeding products that work perfectly well for bottle-feeding your baby.

Storing Expressed Breast Milk

Some mothers pump breast milk and feed their babies soon after, while others store the expressed breast milk for later use. Stored breast milk has more health benefits compared to formula milk, hence it is worth to pump and store milk for your baby.

Normally, breast milk can be stored at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours and in a refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. However, it is generally advised to refrigerate the milk soon after pumping and use it within 24 hours. Mothercare’s range of specially designed breast milk storage solutions - Medela Disposable bottle packs, Pump and Save Breastmilk Bags, and Innosense® Breast Milk Storage Bags that are safe, hygienic and efficient for storing breast milk.

Introducing a breastfed baby to bottle-feeding is a milestone every mother encounters in her parenting journey.
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