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When to Introduce Formula to a Breastfed Baby?


Mother’s milk is a natural source of important nutrients for a baby. But sooner or later, the time comes when you have to switch to formula. The recommendations you’ll find below can help you introduce it to your child in a healthy way.

When do you need to switch to baby formula?

There are different reasons why you might need to start using infant milk:

  • A baby’s individual intolerance to breast milk (some infants are allergic to certain components of breast milk);
  • Poor weight gain due to low nutrition value of mother’s milk;
  • Weaning;
  • A mother’s personal choice.

The first thing you should do before transitioning to breastmilk substitutes is consulting your paediatrist. A doctor will offer recommendations based on your child’s individual needs. If possible, the transition to infant foods should be gradual. All in all, it takes around 5 to 14 days.

How and when should you add baby formula to your baby’s diet?

Transitioning to formula is a stressful process for your infant. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s inevitable. It’s no secret that every baby is unique in how they react to different milks. Changing infant foods halfways isn’t good for your child. This is why it’s so important to make an informed decision to avoid this.

General recommendations

  • Mother’s milk is the best you can give your little one. If possible, keep breastfeeding them until they are at least 6 months old. Express your breastmilk, seek professional advice on how to do that and how to store your milk correctly;
  • Start planning this change in your child’s diet at least a month in advance. Give them infant milk as supplementary feeding first and gradually transition to formula-feeding.

Choosing the right formula for your baby

Modern infant milks are made based on a baby’s physiological needs. It’s extremely hard to substitute breastmilk. But baby formula brands do everything they can to adapt their products to different stages of development from 0 to 3 years old. Regardless of where it was produced, each type of formula has marking according to a specific stage.

“PRE” milks. Infant products for preemies and underweight babies. These formulas are high in protein, fats, carbs, and some microelements (iron, calcium, vitamin D). They also have a high calorie count and are low on lactose. For example, Hole formula.

 “1” formulas, or first milks. These are intended for babies 0-6 months old. Their components are as similar to mother’s milk as possible. However, they can’t fully substitute breastmilk. This is why it’s recommended that you use them as supplementary feeding. For example, HiPP formula.

“2” formulas, or follow-on milks. These are for babies 6-12 months old. There’s less protein but more calories thanks to healthy fats and carbs included. There are also more vitamins and minerals which is exactly what a growing baby requires.

“3” follow-on milks, or growing-up formulas. Products for toddlers of 1 to 3 years old. These are a great additional source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, B vitamins, and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

This type of marking is the same for all EU formula producers. However, there might be some variations in terms of ingredients, based on the specific needs of babies. Thus, there are hypoallergenic, probiotic, lactose-free, anti-reflux products. There are also formulas based on goat or soy milk.

Thanks to breakthroughs in nutrition science and pediatrics, baby formula brands can make products as chemically similar to human milk as possible. Dividing infant foods into stages is one of the ways to adapt your baby’s diet to the way their body changes. Choosing the right baby products during weaning is of utmost importance.


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