How to Transition From Breast to Bottle?

By: Dr. Nazeli Gevorgyan - Updated April 12, 2024 - 15 Minute Read

How to transition from breast to bottle | The Milky Box

Breastfeeding has been a cherished experience, but different situations might make you consider switching to bottle feeding. Maybe you’re returning to work, facing some breastfeeding problems, or have medical reasons to make the change. It could also be about sharing feeding duties with your partner or your preference. 

No matter why you want to switch, the main question is: When and how should you start giving your baby a bottle?

In this article, we’ll guide you through transitioning from breast to bottle feeding, offering practical tips and strategies to help you and your baby make this change smoothly.

Breastfeeding Recommendations

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a baby’s life. However, per the WHO, only about two-thirds of babies get this full 6 months of breastfeeding. They also suggest continuing breastfeeding until the baby is at least 1 year old and for as long as both the mother and baby wish while introducing solid foods.

If you stop breastfeeding your baby before they reach one year, you should switch to infant formula.

Top Reasons for Switching from Breast Milk to Formula 

60% of mothers don’t breastfeed for the duration they initially plan to.

Here are some reasons why they may switch from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding.

1. Lactation and Latching Issues: If a baby struggles to latch onto the breast or the mother faces milk supply challenges, this can make breastfeeding frustrating, leading some mothers to consider bottle-feeding.

2. Infant Nutrition and Weight Concerns: Formula feeding allows for better tracking of how much the baby eats.

3. Medical Concerns: The mother may have medical conditions that make breastfeeding unsafe or may need to take medications that can cross into breast milk.

4. Personal Preferences: Some mothers simply prefer the convenience and flexibility of bottle-feeding, as it allows for shared caregiving responsibilities.

5. Work and Career: Unsupportive work policies, limited parental leave, or the need to maintain a career can lead to the decision to wean.

6. Holidays and Travel: Bottle-feeding offers more flexibility when away from home.

7. Cultural Norms and Family Support: Cultural norms and a lack of family support can influence a mother’s decision.

8. Hospital Practices and Policies: Unsupportive hospital practices, such as limited lactation support or insufficient guidance, can lead to difficulties with breastfeeding.

9. Specialized Feeding Needs: Babies with specific medical conditions or allergies may require bottle-feeding with specialty formulas.

Reason to transition to bottle feeding | The Milky Box

When to Introduce the Bottle to Your Breastfed Baby

The timing of transitioning from breastfeeding to bottle feeding is a personal choice, as per the CDC. However, waiting until breastfeeding is well established is essential, meaning you can produce enough milk to meet your baby’s needs.

It’s best to wait on average 4 to 6 weeks after your baby is born to avoid nipple confusion between the artificial nipple and breast and ensure you have enough breast milk supply.

If you know you’ll need to stop breastfeeding at some point, like when you’re returning to work, it’s a good idea to wean several weeks before gradually. Your baby might accept the first bottle happily, but they could also be a bit hesitant. Give yourself and your baby some flexibility to adapt during this process and reduce unnecessary stress.

Pick a Better Time 

Select a good time for weaning. Avoid doing it when your baby is going through tough times like teething, being very fussy, or being sick. Weaning is easier when things are calm in their life. Just make the best decision based on your baby’s situation, as there may never be a perfect time.  

How Do You Wean Your Baby? 

Let’s talk about how to wean your baby. Moving them from breastfeeding to bottle feeding is an important change, and we’ll go through it step by step. 

Find the Right Bottle Nipple

There are many options for bottle nipples in stores, and expensive ones aren’t always better. Look for a long, straight nipple rather than a short, flat one to ensure your baby latches deeply. You may consider a nipple that resembles your breast shape for an easier transition. 

The hole size determines the nipple’s flow, a smaller hole results in a slower flow. Starting with such a nipple gives your baby control over the flow to avoid overfeeding, spitting up, and rapid weight gain. Yet, some babies may prefer a faster flow, especially if their moms have a rapid milk flow.

You can also try silicone or rubber nipples. Test different bottle nipples to see which one your unique baby prefers.

Bottle Fun for Comfort

Let your baby play with a bottle as a toy for a few days before introducing them a bottle-feeding. This helps them get used to it and feel more comfortable during feeding.

Put Breast Milk in Bottles First     

Begin by giving your baby expressed breastmilk in a bottle if you have time in your weaning process. Transitioning to a bottle is smoother when the taste and smell of the bottle’s content are familiar to your baby.

● Around four weeks into breastfeeding, start pumping some milk after one feeding each day when your breasts feel a little full and freeze this milk.

● Calculate your baby’s daily milk intake based on their weight with help from your pediatrician, doula, or lactation consultant.

● Once you know the volume, divide it by their typical number of daily feedings. This gives you the desired volume for the first bottle.

For example, if your baby consumes about 24 ounces daily and feeds 8-12 times, the first bottle might be 2-3 ounces.

● Prepare a 2-ounce bottle of pumped breast milk and have a few 1/2 -ounces bottles just in case your baby wants more.

● When you are ready to introduce the bottle, thaw the 2-ounce bottle in the fridge overnight. As feeding time nears, you can heat the bottle in a bowl of warm water or use a bottle warmer.

Change the Environment

Try bottle feeding in a different place from where you usually breastfeed, ideally without you in the room. The change in routine can help your baby avoid the usual breastfeeding triggers.

Get Support

It can make it easier for your little one to accept the bottle when they don’t smell your presence in the room or at home. This will also help your baby get used to someone else feeding them.

Offer the Bottle When the Baby isn’t Super Hungry

It’s better to introduce the bottle between feedings, before the usual feeding time, or when your baby shows early hunger cues, and not late hunger cues, like crying. This way, your baby isn’t too impatient to try something new. 

Transitioning from breast to bottle | The Milky Box

Introduce the Bottle: Pace Feeding

Paced bottle feeding, also called pace feeding, responsive feeding, or baby-led feeding, is recommended for all babies who use a bottle, whether they’re exclusively bottle-fed or switch between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding. It aims to mimic breastfeeding by slowing down the milk flow from the bottle.

Here’s how it works: you hold the baby upright with the bottle in a horizontal position, allowing them to latch onto the nipple and suck as they would during breastfeeding. This approach supports a slower feeding pace, with breaks for the baby to assess their hunger and fullness. Paced bottle feeding ensures your little one consumes the right amount of milk by following their natural cues.

Because it imitates breastfeeding, pace feeding can ease your baby’s transition to bottle-feeding by reducing stress and confusion. This gentle approach makes the process smoother for both you and your baby. For more information about this method, visit ‘’The Milky Box” website.

Slowly Drop Feeding Sessions 

Experts usually recommend a gradual process when introducing formula alongside breastfeeding. This means slowly replacing breastfeeding with formula feeding over a few weeks or more.

● Begin by dropping one breastfeeding a day, such as the one your child likes the least. Replace it with bottle feeding of breast milk, if possible. Some mothers continue to breastfeed at night for their baby’s comfort.

● As your baby becomes comfortable with the bottle, switch to formula and gradually replace all breastfeeding sessions if you aim for complete weaning. This approach helps your child get used to the taste of formula and learn to drink from a bottle properly.

On the other hand, as you do this slowly, your body will naturally produce less milk until it completely stops. Just express a little milk to relieve breast fullness, but don’t empty your breasts to avoid continued milk production. Gradual weaning lowers the risk of swollen breasts, blocked ducts, or the painful breast infection called mastitis.

Finding The Best Breast Milk Alternative 

Transitioning from breast milk to formula can be challenging and emotional for both the mother and the baby. It is essential to ensure that the baby gets the necessary nutrients to grow and develop appropriately while also providing the mother with peace of mind.

The Best Breast Feeding Baby Formula

The first and sometimes most challenging task for mothers and their infants is to find a baby formula to replace breast milk. Thankfully, European Baby Formulas offer many formulas, making choosing the best breast milk alternative easier.

Formula Options

Like breast milk, European baby formulas transition for infants depending on their age and nutritional needs. These formulas can be used alongside breast milk to help ease the switch and as a substitute for mother's milk.

Learn more about European Baby Formula Stages here:

European Formula Stages | The Milky Box

Best Breast Milk Alternative

European baby formulas provide nutritional support similar to breast milk and offer digestive support to make the transition from breast to bottle easier. A recent study found that protein digestion and absorption timing in goat milk infant formula was much closer to breast milk than in cow's milk infant formula.

Goat Milk Baby Formula 

European goat milk formulas are a fantastic alternative to traditional cow's milk formulas. They contain many essential nutrients that promote healthy growth and development in infants. 

These formulas are specifically designed to provide easily digestible nutrition, vitamins, and minerals that contribute to healthy physical and cognitive development, making them a popular choice for parents looking to transition their baby from breast milk to bottle-feeding.

In this comprehensive chart, we'll examine the best European goat milk formulas and their compositions in greater detail so you can make an informed decision about which formula is right for your baby.

Organic Goat Milk Formula Chart | The Milky Box

How Much Formula Does My Baby Need?  

Welcoming a new baby into your life is a truly special experience. As you embark on your journey of parenthood, it's important to remember that each baby is unique and their feeding needs can vary greatly. 

During the first few days, weeks, and months of your baby's life, it's essential to pay attention to their individual requirements and to provide them with the right amount of formula. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you navigate the world of infant formula feeding.

Feed your baby based on their weight:

● Typically, they should have about 2½ ounces (75mL) of formula for every pound (453 g) they weigh.

● At the end of the first month, your baby will usually drink 3 to 4 ounces (120mL) of formula per feeding, and they’ll eat every 3 to 4 hours.

● By around 6 months old, your baby will typically drink 6 to 8 ounces (180-240mL) of formula during each of their 4 to 5 daily feedings.

Also, let your baby’s hunger cues guide you, like when they try to suck on their fingers or hands, move their eyes and head, make puckering or smacking movements, or hold their hands tightly.

Keep in mind that your baby usually shouldn’t exceed 32 ounces (960mL) of formula in a day. If your baby consistently wants much more or less, talk to your pediatrician.

Additional Tips for a Seamless Transition

These tips can make the transition to the bottle more accessible, but remember that every baby is unique, and the best method may vary.

Change Feeding Positions: Babies have their favorite positions for breastfeeding, so try different ones for bottle feeding. Hold the baby facing out or propped up on your legs. Change positions or arms during the feeding to keep things exciting and offer your baby similar visual engagement as when breastfeeding.

Move Around: Your baby may like it when you walk around the room, gently bounce, or sway while bottle-feeding them.

Familiar Smells: Make the bottle smell like you by wrapping it in your shirt or cloth. Some moms place a burp cloth near them while they sleep and then use it to wrap around the baby’s bottle.

Adjust Milk Temperature: Experiment with milk temperatures - some like it warm, others prefer room temperature, and some even like it cold.

Taste First: Before offering the bottle, use a syringe to give your baby a little breast milk or apply a few drops on the bottle nipple. This can encourage them to suck on the nipple.

Use Music: Play the same music during nursing and bottle-feeding to signal to your baby that it’s time to eat.

Never Force: If your baby refuses the bottle, wait, and try again later, perhaps an hour or two after their next feeding.

Tips for seamless transition | The Milky Box

Find Other Ways to Stay Close with Your Baby

Maintain closeness. Breastfeeding isn’t just about breast milk but also the bonding time and comfort. Both of you enjoy skin-to-skin contact during nursing, so ensure you cuddle and stay physically close to your baby as much as possible while you’re weaning.

Consider Partial Weaning 

Some moms mix breastfeeding with formula feeding rather than stopping breastfeeding altogether. You may want to breastfeed during the day and use formula when you’re away or at night.

It’s important to make sure your milk supply is established before trying combination feeding.

You may find partial weaning challenging, as your baby may prefer bottle feeding due to the easier, faster flow of milk. When flow preference occurs, your baby may get fussy and refuse the breast.

In such cases, you can hand express some milk before breastfeeding to reduce breast fullness and ensure your baby gets milk quickly after latching. The Australian Breastfeeding Association advises on dealing with breast refusal. The pace feeding, we discussed above will also help you avoid the flow preference.

If your baby still resists breastfeeding, take a break from the bottle for at least a week.

Considering an Alternate Feeding Method for Your Baby

Some babies just won’t take a bottle, no matter what to try. But there are other options to consider. Pay attention to your baby’s cues and give each feeding device a fair chance for several days before giving up on it. Babies can be picky about their preferred feeding method, and they usually adapt well once they find one, they like.

If your baby keeps refusing the bottle you’ve offered, you can switch from bottle to cup. Your baby might prefer a small medicine cup, a sippy cup, or an open cup, even if they’re very young. Small open cups are the safest option and are easy to clean. Even premature babies can learn to drink from an open cup with careful practice. Learn more about how to feed with a cup!

Alternate feeding methods also include using a dropper, oral syringe, or teaspoon for very young babies.

How to Take Care of Yourself During the Weaning Process

As you stop breastfeeding, you may experience a range of emotions - like feeling a bit sad, happy, or a mix of both. At this time, taking care of yourself is important. It’s different for each person, so do what makes you feel good, whether it’s exercising, seeing friends, or playing music.

Feel proud of the breastfeeding you did - you gave your baby a healthy start!

Self Care | The Milky Box

Bottle Feeding Adventure

Transitioning from breast to bottle can be challenging and rewarding. Stay patient and attentive to your baby’s needs, and you’ll succeed in this journey.

‘’The Milky Box’’ is here to provide help and support in your family’s infant nutritional needs. Here’s to parenting adventure and the new experiences ahead!


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Please be aware that this information is based on general trends in babies, and it is not medical advice. Your doctor should be your first source of information and advice when considering any changes to your child’s formula and when choosing your child’s formula. Always consult your pediatrician before making any decisions about your child’s diet or if you notice any changes in your child.

Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby because breast milk provides your child with all the essential nutrients they need for growth and development. Please consult your pediatrician if your child requires supplemental feeding.

Nazeli Gevorgyan is a medical doctor from Armenia, and is a researcher in the fields of Obstetrics and Gynecology, among others. Dr. Nazeli is passionate with providing women and parents with reliable and high-quality information on healthy options for infant nutrition, breastfeeding, infant formula, and food. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, traveling, and pottery. 

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Reviewed by Dr. Eric Wood, ND, MA

Dr. Wood is a licensed naturopathic doctor, with a doctorate degree from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, Canada. He received his post-graduation certification in Mind Body Medicine at Harvard University.

With 15 years of experience, Dr. Wood is an Associate Professor of Holistic Nutrition at the American College of Health Sciences in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Wood is an educator, clinician, author, media figure, consultant, and owns his own holistic (naturopathic) medical practice in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Dr. Wood is currently researching and drafting books on cancer and pediatrics.

Outside of the medical profession, Dr. Wood loves singing with the Miami Lyric Opera and is an avid musician in South Florida. He also loves spending time with his wife and kids.