As a parent, you want what’s best for your child. While most pediatricians agree that breast milk provides the best nutrients for your baby and offers a bonding one-on-one experience, the fact is, some parents cannot or don’t want to breastfeed for a variety of reasons. Formula is a viable alternative. It gives your baby the nutrients he or she needs to thrive. Of course, every baby has his or her timeline for completely transitioning to solid foods. These baby formula tips will help you decide when the time is right to begin the weaning process and how to start it.
The Formula Feeding Timeline
The average baby uses formula as their main source of nutrition or as a supplementary source for their first year of life. The amount of formula and how often you provide it decreases as your child gets older and begins to eat baby food and then solid foods. The following is a loose guideline:
- Newborns – Newborns usually need formula 6-8 times per day, more if they’re not taking breast milk. Each feeding is 2-3 ounces.
- Infants (4-6 months) – Between four and six months, infants need 4-5 formula feedings per day (possibly more if they aren’t on breast milk) and take in 5-7 ounces per feeding. They’ll also start on baby cereal and other baby foods.
- Infants (6-9 months) – At about six months, babies usually want the same number of feedings but they’ll need 6-8 ounces as they begin to grow. They’ll also begin eating mashed fruits, vegetables and finger foods like oat cereals.
- Toddlers (9-12 months) – Feedings intervals will go down to about four per day but they’ll require up to eight ounces per feeding. Parents should also continue introducing new solid foods.
By the time a baby reaches his or her first birthday, weaning should start and switching to whole cow’s milk as a nutrition supplement should begin. Of course, if breastfeeding, he or she should continue to do so for as long as you see fit.
How to Wean Your Baby Off of Formula
No two babies wean the same way. So, what works for your first child may not work for your second, and so on. However, there are some basic tips you can keep in mind for the weaning process. Start by shortening feedings until you eliminate them. Start with the mid-morning or late-afternoon feedings and work your way to the others.
Show your baby how he or she can be comforted without formula by cuddling and providing skin-to-skin contact during the time they’d usually be feeding. If your child is older, playing with their favorite toys might help. Substitute one meal a day the first week, two the second, and so on. If your baby is at least a year old, it might also help to give him or her a cup of whole milk. Change up your bedtime routine by rescheduling bath time, performing bedtime routines in a new room or otherwise disassociating the routine with feeding.
Why Full-Fat Cow’s Milk Is Important
Even if your family doesn’t usually drink full-fat cow’s milk, it’s important to keep some in the refrigerator for your baby. The full fat in the milk is necessary for your baby’s brain development during the toddler years. After age 2, you can switch your child to a reduced fat milk if preferred.
Unless your child’s pediatrician says he or she has an allergy, avoid soy milks and rice milks. These alternatives don’t provide enough nutrients. Despite the importance of milk, keep in mind that it is a supplement and not a main source of nutrition. Remember to feed your toddler plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables for optimal development.
Weaning your baby needn’t be on an exact schedule. Your son or daughter has his or her own personality and their own individual needs. These routines will play a vital part in when he or she is ready to be entirely on solid foods. Remember, before you begin introducing your baby to solids or weaning him or her from formula, talk to your pediatrician, especially if a milk allergy is a possibility.