Some physicians advise introducing solid meals as soon as your kid is ready, which might be as early as four months. But did you know that this doesn’t necessarily indicate you’re ready to quit formula-feeding your baby?
Whether you’re breastfeeding or formula-feeding, your baby’s major source of nutrition throughout their first year is breast milk. They need a steady supply of nutrients and energy to maintain their quickly growing bodies and minds.
Continue reading to learn more about when to stop feeding your baby formula and how much you should feed them at each stage of their development.
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How long should babies have only breast milk or formula?
Let’s discuss when and how to start solid meals in younger infants—the first stage in their eating transition—before we talk about weaning off baby formula or breast milk.
Breast milk or formula is all your baby needs to thrive and develop throughout the first 4 to 6 months of life. During this stage, newborns will commonly breastfeed or drink from a bottle. Breastfed babies nurse 8 to 12 times per day, whereas formula-fed babies drink 6 to 8 bottles per day.
Signs your baby may be ready to try solid foods include:
- They can sit on their own and have decent head control.
- When they are fed food, they open their jaws and lean forward to signal that they are interested.
- When food is presented, they consume it rather than pushing it back out. They try to grab little things in their hands and bring them to their mouth.
- If your baby isn’t ready, don’t offer solid meals until they show indications of readiness. If they can’t swallow the food, they may choke. New foods can be introduced in any sequence, but items with only one component should be avoided (like a single pureed fruit or vegetable). Allow 3 to 5 days between new food introductions to determine whether your baby has an adverse reaction to any of them. 2
How do I transition my baby from formula to milk?
There are numerous methods to make this adjustment, and your child will most likely let you know what works best for them (and not). When children reach the age of 12 months, their caregivers can simply switch all of their cups or bottles to whole milk. This strategy is most effective for children who adjust to change fast.
You might want to give this a shot and see how your baby reacts. If it doesn’t work, or if you think your child might respond better to a more progressive approach from the start, try one of the following strategies:
- A gradual transition is typically best for a youngster who is a more cautious or restricted eater. Every few days or weeks, for example, you may replace one bottle of formula with a cup of whole milk. Children may find it more difficult to give up the first and final bottles of the day, so you may choose to swap them out last after your baby is drinking milk throughout the day.
- If your infant won’t drink plain milk, try mixing formula and milk together. To begin, only add a small amount of milk (one ounce, for example) so that your baby is predominantly consuming formula. Every few days, gradually increase the amount of milk in the bottles while decreasing the amount of formula in the bottles so that your kid becomes accustomed to the flavour. You can eventually stop using formula altogether and only use milk in the bottles or cups.
Making the switch from formula to milk necessitates certain adjustments in how you think about feeding your kid. There are two key aspects to remember:
- Milk, unlike formula and breast milk in the first year, should be seen as a beverage rather than a meal by parents. Children between the ages of 12 and 24 months should consume 16 to 24 ounces of whole milk per day. Solid meals should provide a significant portion of their nourishment throughout the toddler years.
- When a baby begins to consume more solid foods, particularly those that include dairy, some of the milk can be substituted with water. (It’s not a good idea to drink juice or other sweetened or non-nutritive liquids.) Your doctor can help you alter your ounces-per-day target over time.
What If Your Baby Has a Milk Allergy
Cow’s milk may not be a good choice for your infant if he or she has a milk protein allergy or intolerance. Soy milk, on the other hand, can be a viable substitute because it is nutritionally comparable to cow’s milk. In this scenario, you might want to explore a toddler formula made specifically for children who are allergic to milk.
Consult your physician for assistance in selecting a milk substitute that is both allergy-safe and nutritionally adequate for your kid.
If you believe your child has an allergy but hasn’t been diagnosed, it’s crucial to have them tested to confirm it or rule out other possibilities. Also, keep in mind that children’s allergies may outgrow or acquire new ones over time.
While some parents prefer soy milk, almond milk, or other milk substitutes to cow’s milk, these products are often lower in the fat and protein that young children require. They should only be used as a last resort and under the supervision of a healthcare provider or nutritionist.
Formula Feeding Frequently Asked Questions
Do babies need formula after 12 months?
One-year-olds are no longer need to drink formula and may now drink full milk. Some toddlers refuse to drink milk; if this is your child’s situation, don’t force it. Toddlers require the minerals calcium and protein found in milk, however, these nutrients can also be obtained from other sources.
Why do you stop formula at 12 months?
Because a child’s digestive system has grown sufficiently to tolerate toddler formula or raw cow’s milk at the age of twelve months. Breast milk or infant formula (formulated to mimic the content of breast milk) is simpler to digest before this time.
Can I give my baby water at night instead of milk?
If you’re bottle-feeding, instead of formula, give your infant a bottle of water at night. At night, all newborns (and adults) wake up. Babies may wriggle or make noise, but they need a chance to assist themselves fall asleep again. They will never learn to do anything on their own if you don’t help them.
Do I need to use bottled water in my baby’s formula?
You can mix your baby’s formula with tap water if the water in your home is safe to drink.
When should I introduce milk to my baby?
You should wait until your kid is at least one year old before giving him or her milk.
Around six months of age, though, you may start introducing dairy proteins through meals like yogurt and cheese.
Can you mix formula and whole milk to transition?
If your infant doesn’t like the flavor of cow’s milk, you can make a mixture of whole milk, breast milk, or prepared formula (don’t use powdered formula instead of water). Then gradually reduce the breast milk/formula to whole milk ratio.
When to Stop Formula For Your Baby Bottom Line
During their first year of life, your baby’s body and brain require a lot of nutrients and calories. The basic conclusion is that your baby will need to consume formula or breast milk for at least the first year, even if you start introducing solids. You may then gradually wean your youngster off of formula. Meanwhile, ensure that your kid is getting the most out of his or her bottle feedings.