We are sharing some best practices on common feeding transitions during infancy and early childhood. These are guidelines, not rules! Every families’ feeding journey is unique and there are truly as many ways to move through feeding transitions as there are babies! Ultimately, the best approach to your feeding transition will be the one that works best for you and your little one.
It's important to know that supplementing with formula regularly will likely diminish breast milk supply. Feeding changes should always be discussed first with your healthcare provider.
1) Exclusive Breastmilk to Breastmilk + Formula (aka combo feeding)
Approximately 84% of babies in the US receive some breastmilk during infancy. It’s estimated that only 25% of infants in the US are exclusively breastfed until 6 months of age. This means about 60% of families in the US are combination feeding; that is, using both breast and formula to feed their baby.
A common combo feeding strategy is to continue to breast feed first during each feed, then top-up with formula. This method helps maintain milk supply because you empty the breast fully during each feed. Alternatively, you may choose to pick a few feeding sessions during the day to replace with formula. If you choose this method, it’s important to recall that more time between breastfeeding sessions means mothers are more likely to experience diminished milk supply.
2) Exclusive Breastmilk to Formula
We encourage families to provide as much breastmilk as they can or want to. That said, there are many reasons why families may need or choose to exclusively formula feed. For mothers making this transition, it’s recommended to first pick a few feeding sessions during the day to replace with formula.
As the amount of formula feeding increases, breastmilk supply will likely decrease. Gradually drop breastfeeding sessions one at a time until you have completely transitioned to formula feeding. Ideally, mothers who are trying to suppress their milk supply can do so over time. Phasing out one feed or pump session every couple days, and/or shaving off a few minutes during each feed can help avoid engorgement and reduce the risk of blocked ducts or mastitis. Implementing gentle breast massage and hand expression can be helpful in instances where mothers may need to stop breastfeeding more abruptly.
3) Current Formula to New Formula
It's estimated that families will change formulas at least twice within their baby's first year. While this could be attributed to multiple factors, baby discomfort is often a motivating factor for parents to consider a formula alternative.
Cow milk-based formulas have been the standard in the US for many decades. And, while it is tolerated by many children, it has been linked to some minor functional gastrointestinal symptoms such as gas, stool abnormalities and discomfort in some babies. For parents seeking a gentle alternative, a goat milk-based formula, such as Kabrita, may be a consideration.
Goat milk has easy to digest protein and is A2 milk by nature. Kabrita Goat Milk Toddler Formula has added whey for easy digestion and uses a premium fat blend with beta-palmitate which benefits nutrient absorption and promotes softer stool. You can learn more about parents’ experience after making the switch to Kabrita here.
If you’re wanting to make a formula switch and/or “Go-Goat!”, a 5-day transition is recommended.
In each bottle throughout the day, mix the formula you are currently using with your new formula choice. Gradually increase the amount of the new formula and decrease the amount of current formula used each day.
4) Formula or Breastmilk to Whole Cow’s Milk (or milk alternative)
The American Association of Pediatrics recommends breastmilk or whole cow’s milk as a primary beverage at one year of age. Choosing milk for your baby is a personal choice and for those interested in milk alternatives, we recommend reading Cow’s Milk Alternatives: Parents FAQs and reviewing our ‘Kabrita Goat Milk Toddler Formula, cow milk and other milk alternatives’ comparison chart to see how different milks compare nutritionally.
When it comes time to transition to milk, one common method is to pick a few feeding sessions during the day and replace those sessions with undiluted milk. If your baby refuses undiluted milk, consider a more gradual transition; combine current feeding method with milk, increasing the amount of milk each time.
For a quick summary, check out our guide on 4 Common Feeding Transitions.