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How To Wean Baby from Breast, Bottle, and Formula. Tips and strategies to help make the transition from breastfeeding and bottle-feeding smoother for baby.
Whether you are weaning from breast or bottle, you might be wondering what to do. Here is what I did with Brayden. We haven’t weaned Kaitlyn yet, so more ideas might come after I do that (a few months off).
I breastfed Brayden for a year. Neither one of us were attached to doing so. When it came time for weaning, neither one of us were sentimental about it (though I did have a brief moment at one point–lasted maybe five minutes).
One woman I know once pointed out that if you feed your baby for comfort or to get to sleep, weaning will be harder. So the good news for Babywise moms is that it shouldn’t be an issue because baby eats to get nutrition, not for other reasons. Comfort, joy, and cuddling might be bonuses, but those things can still be done even if you don’t breastfeed if you put in the effort to do so.
I am the type to take things slow, so here were my strategies for weaning.
Weaning from the Breast
When I weaned Brayden at one year, he had 4 nursings a day.
- I dropped one nursing a week and replaced that nursing with a bottle. If your baby will go straight to sippy cup without issue, I would shoot for that. The bottle is what worked for us.
- I started with the third nursing the first week. I knew I didn’t want to start with the first or last since 12 hours were already between those. I knew the third nursing I had less milk than the second, so we went for that.
- I weaned to formula. He was already accustomed to the taste of formula because I fed it to him once a week from birth.
- Even though he insisted upon holding the bottle himself, I still held him while he drank. We got some cuddling time (rare with the active little boy). Also, I was able to make sure he drank it all at once and kept the feeding time and didn’t turn it into a snack on the run.
- Week two, I dropped the second nursing and replaced it with formula.
- Week three, I dropped the morning nursing. After a few days of this, he preferred to drop the fourth nursing also.
Something I loved about this strategy was that my milk supply slowly decreased, so I had no discomfort.
Weaning from Formula to Cow’s Milk (or Breastmilk to Cows Milk)
After Brayden was completely weaned from the breast, we switched from formula to cow’s milk. I was genuinely shocked when he didn’t like the cow’s milk. Come on! That has got to taste better than formula! There were two problems. One, milk is really cold and two, he just wasn’t used to the flavor. Here is what I did. You could apply the same strategy if you are going straight from breastmilk to cow’s milk.
- Slowly mix cow’s milk in with the formula or breastmilk. If you are doing breastmilk, you will obviously need to pump. Brayden drank 6 ounces per meal. I started with one ounce of cow’s milk mixed with three ounces of formula. I gradually increased the amount of cow’s milk. It didn’t take him very long–only a few days–to prefer cow’s milk.
- I also warmed the milk up. I had always given him his formula with cold water because he just didn’t mind it. But I think milk that has been sitting in the fridge is colder and harder to swallow faster than cool water coming from my fridge. So I put the milk and formula in the bottle and then put the bottle in a cup full of hot water and let it warm up a bit. We didn’t need to do this for long, either. He soon became accustomed to drinking it cold.
Weaning from Bottle to Sippy or Regular Cup
Once Brayden was weaned from the breast and drinking straight cow’s milk, we started working on switching to the sippy. He already knew how to drink from a sippy, but only drank water from it.
- I followed the same steps as weaning from the breast. We did one feeding at a time. We did it slower than one a week, though. I don’t remember the exact time frame.
- He was fine with the sippy at the two meals in the middle of the day, but wanted a bottle at morning and night. For those two, I used a soft-top sippy. He was fine with that.
- Once he drank only from sippys, I hid the bottles. He then only wanted them if he saw them.
- Over time, he started to just drink milk with his meals and not in a formal “sitting on the couch” eating session.
- For the next year, I was sure he got his needed ounces of milk each day based on his doctor’s recommendations.
Good luck in your weaning process! I found it to be painless, and other Babywise moms I have spoken to have expressed the same thing.
Reader Weaning Questions:
- Baby Momma said…
How long til breasts no longer have milk? I don’t have discomfort, but I did the last feeding over two weeks ago and still have milk and haven’t gone back to my original size (I don’t expect original state).Glad to see this – I feel like I haven’t been able to find good weaning resources.
January 30, 2008 10:37 AM
Baby Momma, I am not sure. I have heard some women can take up to two years for no more milk! That is purely word of mouth with no verification, though. I know I weaned my son and got pregnant with my daughter two months later. I had milk very early in the pregnancy. Maybe I never really lost it?
January 30, 2008 6:37 PM
- Salina said…
I’m thinking of weaning my son from breast to sippy. He’s never consistently had a bottle, so I figure why start now? He’s 9.5 months, and my goal is to also go through his 1st year. Now, he merely sips a little water from the sippy, but mainly plays with it. I guess I’m a little anxious about the whole process that will be here soon. He’s also never had formula. When did you go from sitting feeding the milk to letting him take it at the table. How much is enough cow’s milk?January 30, 2008 2:51 PM
Salina, I think it is a great idea to go straight to sippy if you have never used the bottle. I would completely encourage that. Even though my daughter has had a bottle, I think I will go straight to sippy with her if she will do it. It is hard to describe why, but I think she will be okay with that. I don’t think my son would have been. I don’t remember the age we went from sitting drinking to taking it to the table. My guess is he was around 16 months or so. I then watched his ounce intake per day and tried to get him to drink what he needed to just before bed. This was a purely liquid feeding.I read 24 ounces of milk a day. I told that to my doctor, and he said that sounded great. I did 6 ounces 4 times a day. Good luck when you get there!
January 30, 2008 6:40 PM