Inside: When you’re transitioning baby from breast to bottle, the specific bottle you choose is just as important to successfully wean, as are the strategies you use to help baby adjust. Get our best tips for weaning baby.
As a breastfeeding mother of three, I only had one main regret throughout the experience: I just wish I had introduced the bottle a little sooner. You see ALL of my boys preferred the breast to bottle — which is the case for most breastfed babies — but their continual refusal to drink from a bottle meant I couldn’t get a break when I desperately needed one. My kids would rather fuss and cry than get it any other way those early months.
But there comes a time in the breastfeeding journey when a mother must step away and help her baby transition to a bottle. Whether she’s returning back to working outside of the home, needs some time to herself or is finally weaning baby from breast milk. Whatever the reason, this new stage in a child’s life can be very challenging if done without careful consideration. Because let’s face it, food isn’t the only thing a baby gets from nursing; the breast becomes a big source of comfort for them as well. After struggling with each one of my boys as we made the change from breast to bottle, I’ve learned a few weaning tips other breastfeeding moms may want to keep in mind.
Tips for Transitioning from Breast to Bottle
Choose the right bottle.
I cannot stress enough the importance of choosing the right bottle for your baby. As a new mom, you may receive a plethora of baby bottles as gifts — which at first seems amazing. However, if you think a breastfed baby will just latch on to any old bottle you’re in for a rude awakening. The mechanics of breastfeeding and bottle feeding are quite different. For one, a breast has a unique feel and shape. The mechanics involved in latching and sucking are very different as well. According to Dr. Sears “when baby latches onto the breast, he opens his mouth wide and draws the very stretchable nipple and areolar tissue far back into his mouth. When bottle feeding baby doesn’t have to open his mouth as wide and milk flow is continuous whether or not baby sucks.” This means the bottle you choose should be a natural transition and mimic the breast mechanism.
One bottle I found to make the transition easier is the new Philips Avent Natural bottle, a trusted brand recommended by moms worldwide.
The Philips Avent bottle has many features that make it stand out as a natural choice. It’s wide breast-shaped nipple and flexible spiral design make latching more organic. This design, combined with the comfort petals makes for a comfortable feeding, similar to breastfeeding. Moms can choose from a range of different nipple softness and milk flow to meet baby’s development needs.
If you’re looking to reduce colic as well, the Philips Avent Natural bottle has a unique anti-colic Airflex vent that relieves discomfort by keeping extra air away from baby’ tummy.
As a mother transitioning to the bottle, I found this bottle to be a very breastfeeding-friendly option with fewer interruptions of milk flow. Because one problem I know many moms face is collapsing nipples that cause discomfort during the sucking.
Take your time.
Obviously introducing the bottle as early as possible is paramount to your success in getting baby to transition. But it’s not the only way. In fact, my youngest was 7 months before he even accepted a bottle, and again that was by choosing a bottle that closely mimicked the breast.
But when I was looking to wean, I found that setting a spacious timeline — and working backwards — was a more realistic way to reach my goals. So if you want to wean baby completely by 18 months, it’s best to start the process a couple months earlier, AFTER you’ve already introduced the bottle and established a routine. Because if you are introducing the bottle and trying to wean at the same time, it’s going to be an uphill journey.
When you want to stop breastfeeding, one tactic that many pediatricians recommend is distraction. Keep baby busy whether it’s singing songs, playing games or getting outside the house. I found this to work best for when baby was older and on more of a schedule so I could sneak in fun activities and reduce feedings, as nutritional needs changed.
One of the best forms of distraction from the breast, is food. As your baby grows past 6 months and gets introduced to more and more baby foods, it will become easier to wean. They’ll still need milk or formula to meet their nutritional needs, but introducing different baby foods is another step for getting them to transition away from the breast without tears.
Although finding help isn’t always easy, having an extra set of hands from a spouse, friend or caregiver can work wonders towards your weaning efforts. Because we all know, our own baby is less likely to take a bottle from mommy — it’s as though they can smell your breast milk in the room.
I weaned my youngest, after a long journey of 22 months breastfeeding by having others use the bottle and sippy cup while I was out of sight.
Here is my happy big boy, finally enjoying a Philips Avent bottle.
You can learn more about the Philips Avent Natural bottle on their website.
Disclaimer: Compensation was provided by Philips Avent via Momtrends. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Philips Avent or Momtrends.
Ana, a mom to three rambunctious little boys, has supported thousands of women throughout their pregnancy and motherhood journey since 2012 as a prenatal and postpartum educator at MommysBundle.com.