Skip to Main Content
Transitioning to Formula-Feeding: When & How

Transitioning to Formula-Feeding: When & How

Considering switching from breastmilk to formula? Whether you want to switch entirely or supplement, here are a few things to know when switching from breastmilk to formula.

Medically reviewed by a board-certified pediatrician

Returning to work. A more flexible feeding schedule. Letting your partner or family join in feedings. Parents use formula for a bunch of reasons. Whatever your reason, formula gives your baby all the nutrition they need to thrive. And, don’t worry, you can still maintain a close bond no matter how you feed.

When to introduce formula

Gradually transitioning to formula can make it easier for both of you. If your baby needs to be fully bottle-fed by a certain time, you'll want to start about a month before then. This can help them adjust to bottles. It also helps ease breast engorgement for you, which might happen if you stop breastfeeding too quickly

If you plan to nurse and supplement with formula, it’s probably best to wait until your baby is at least three to four weeks old before introducing a bottle. By then, you'll likely have a feeding pattern and solid milk supply.

”I had to go back to work at 6 weeks postpartum and I wasn’t able to build up enough of a supply to have frozen breast milk for my son while I was working so we had to find a formula that worked for him. It was hard for me at first because I felt like my body was failing my child (my hormonal self definitely cried over it at first).” – Enfamil® mom

How to introduce formula

To start transitioning to formula, replace breastfeeding with a bottle. Try choosing a feeding time your baby is the least interested in, or one that’s inconvenient for you. As your baby adjusts to the change, gradually drop additional breastfeedings one at a time, until you've hit the schedule you’re looking for. For example, you may want to nurse at morning and bedtime and give your baby formula in between. Or, you may want to formula-feed exclusively. There are no right or wrong scenarios, it’s totally up to you!

If your baby refuses the bottle

Some babies take to the bottle better than others. If yours rejects the bottle at first, try experimenting with different brands of bottles and nipples until you find one your baby likes. Or, have a caregiver or your partner offer the bottle, since your baby may associate you with breastfeeding. Give your baby a bottle at a feeding when they’re not overly tired and hungry since they may be more willing to accept it then.

“Breastfeeding is amazing!!!! But having a second set of boobs (the bottle) is always helpful.” – Enfamil® mom

Maintaining a bond

Worried that transitioning to formula could mean a loss of intimacy with your baby? This doesn't have to be the case. You can create other moments to bond with your baby.

  • Hold your baby close as you offer a bottle, gazing into their eyes
  • Talk or sing softly to them
  • Try skin-on-skin contact, holding your baby close without clothes or blankets between you
  • Give your baby a soothing massage before bedtime, or cuddle together while reading a book

There are endless possibilities for one-on-one time. As you start to bottle-feed, you can take advantage of a more flexible schedule to create special moments together.

Still feeling emotional about switching from breastmilk to formula? It’s completely normal. You might want to talk to other moms who know how you're feeling and can offer support, whatever you decide.

All information on Enfamil, including but not limited to information about health, medical conditions, and nutrition, is intended for your general knowledge and is not a substitute for a healthcare professional's medical identification, advice, or management for specific medical conditions. You should seek medical care and consult your doctor or pediatrician for any specific health or nutrition issues. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment, care, or help because of information you have read on Enfamil.