bébé allaité qui tète le sein de sa mère

Weaning: How to switch from breastfeeding to bottle feeding?


Weaning is one of the first big steps in a baby's life. First breastfed, fed on demand and as desired, baby will soon switch from breast to bottle. Not always in agreement, sometimes confused or on the contrary completely cooperative, he can react in different ways and so can you. You may even be surprised by ambivalent feelings. We told you about it some time ago, the milk blues sometimes hides behind the breastfeeding nostalgia. But, because the vast majority of weanings go wonderfully, let's see together how to put the odds on your side to make your baby accept the bottle.

First thing: put the end of breastfeeding into perspective

Biberon qui tète le sein de sa mère
Nothing is more normal than to feel a pang in the heart and even sadness at the thought of weaning your baby. It's the end of an era, when you were absolutely everything for your infant; the protective, loving and nurturing mother. By choice or by obligation, you are one of the mothers who stop exclusive breastfeeding to switch to mixed breastfeeding and then to bottle feeding, in the very first months of their child.

But the end of one period fortunately always announces the beginning of another! Your baby is no longer an infant, he wakes up and performs some small actions on his own. For you two, it is the advent of a other form of sharing.

 Breast milk at the breast or infant formula from the bottle, the essential is the love transmitted by the gesture of food .

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for newborns up to 6 months of age. However, in 2013 the study Epiphanes shows that at 3 months, 39% of children are breastfed. At 6 months, they are only one in four. Four years later in 2017, the proportion of children still breastfed at 6 months has risen to 22,8 % according to the national average.

Then: bet on the sweetness and the accompaniment to the bottle

For your breastfed baby from the first day of life, nothing is more natural and instinctive than drinking from your breast. This is why the presentation and then the installation of the bottle as a new daily nourishing object should be as progressive, gentle and attentive as possible. Temperature, texture, shape, handling… almost everything is different between breast and bottle, so you have to be careful. patience and kindness to move from one to the other without mistrust.

Give time and discover new sensations

There are approximately one full month to wean baby and transition from exclusive bottle-feeding to all meals. However, according to emotions, depending on your child, but also on your possibilities, this time can be reduced or extended. Also, give yourself the longest time possible to give you both the right to refuse, to not want to, not to succeed and to start again the next day.

By giving the bottle instead of the breast, you benefit from your baby's face. Because it is no longer buried against your breast but turned towards you, you perceive every day new emotions, news expressions. If breastfeeding offered you a carnal and almost primary, giving the bottle offers a interaction different, but just as rich, like a draft discussion between you.

Choose a graduated approach without a deadline

If weaning your infant is a choice, then it is you and you alone who determine its smooth running. If it's related to returning to work, or if you feel your milk starting to dry up, you have a deadline. However, you can always choose to gently wean baby by suggesting that they start drinking from a bottle earlier. You may feel like you're missing out on a few weeks of feedings, but you'll also benefit from a smoother transition which will leave you with no worries about your child's ability to feed without you.

Always with the idea of accompanying him towards more autonomy (an idea that will never leave you), why not start by replace a daily breastfeed ? Between 3 and 5 months, baby takes an average of 4 meals a day. For example, keep the precious morning and evening feedings – especially as they are necessary to avoid breast engorgement – and start by giving a bottle during the day. As with breastfeeding, do not focus on quantities, especially the first few times. Once this bottle is well accepted, in a few days or weeks, you can add a second one.. The period of mixed breastfeeding begins!

Baby accepts it? Stick to two feedings and two bottles for another week, and keep doing this until you finally switch to bottle-only meals. To make things easier, first offer him bottles of your milk if you want to express him, before moving on to an infant formula. 

Bébé dans les bras de sa maman qui boit son biberon physiologique Elhee
Weaning is not an exact science! Its success depends on many factors, on the moment, but also on particular emotional conditions. If baby agrees to take one bottle a day, but not two, it doesn't matter! You will try again later. That's the whole point of starting weaning early. And rest assured, the end of breastfeeding does not necessarily mean the end of feedings. Sick or tired, it is possible that your little one will come back from time to time to ask you for it, until it stops completely on its own.

Something Else: Create a New Ritual for Bottle Feeding

Start and end the bottle with a cuddle, talk, explain, hum to reassure your baby, introduce meals with dad… Time is your best support to avoid small fears and frustrations related to this major change that is the end of breastfeeding. And creating rituals makes things much easier.

The force of habit is a powerful engine of acceptance which can help ease the transition from breast to bottle. Also, if you haven't already, introduce a reassuring ritual that baby will associate with mealtime. Also favor if you can, a quiet time when you are alone.

Practice skin to skin! Since contact with the bottle will soon replace contact with your breast, offer baby the best compensation by taking the time to cuddle skin against skin during his meal. Comfortably installed in an armchair or in a rocking chair, slip baby into a sling or simply put it against your chest. Lulled by the beating of your heart and relaxed by your warmth, he should let himself go more easily to his new snack.

Find THE bottle that baby likes

L’anticipation sometimes overcomes the thorniest problems by giving you time to think about everything (or almost). Before giving your child their first bottles, take the time to review your different choices in terms of containers. Not all bottles are suitable for your baby and this is even more the case when it comes to making the transition from breastfeeding.

Choose the appropriate size
Find healthy material
Bet on a physiological pacifier
This is perhaps the most impactful element for baby. The bottle teat gradually replaces your nipple. Its shape is different, its texture as well as the flow rate of the milk sucked by the infant. Also, it is possible that your child will simply reject it. It's no ! The physiological teat promotes the breast-bottle transition thanks to its asymmetrical shape designed to adapt to the mouth and palate of children. Very flexible, it does not bother baby and does not require any effort to drink. If in addition it is made of medical silicone as is the case for the bibRond Elhée teats, it does not emit any odor. Everything you need to quickly adopt it!

Offer him the perfect bibRond

Taking all of these considerations into account, Elhée, one fine day, set herself the task of imagining the perfect bottle, for a healthy and serene feeding of babies. It would be healthy, soft, and practical For mothers too. Besides, it would be beautiful. Some time later and with the contribution of a great team and production line, the bibRond Elhée was born.

Today, the little pink heart of Elhée accompanies the round baby bottle all over the world. The moms words who have tried it and adopted it are there to testify to it.

Do not forget: the choice of a suitable infant milk

Bébé dans les bras de sa maman qui tire sur la tétine physiologique de son biberon anti-colique Élhée
But weaning is not just a question of technique or equipment. This first dietary transition is above all a matter of taste. From breast milk to infant formula, a whole world of preparations opens up before you when it comes time to choose.

From the classic milk powder made from cow's milk, to preparations designed for the digestive comfort of little ones with allergies and to thickened milks, all you have to do is make your choice... and follow your baby's choice. As it is possible that the first milk chosen is the right one, you may have to change brands several times before finding your child's one. 

From a practical point of view, only use infant formulas recommended for your child's age range : first age milk before six months and second age milk after. The quantities and method of preparation are always indicated on the box.

Bonus: Mom's Secrets to Dealing with Weaning Difficulties

But that's all theory. In practice, you may have to wean your baby sooner than expected. You may not want to or on the contrary, you will take the lead in enjoying the bottles earlier. Maybe baby will cry a lot and you will feel helpless. Maybe the baby will also be the first to refuse to breastfeed and there too you feel helpless. It is also possible that baby easily takes his first bottles and suddenly refuses to continue drinking them...

In short, you will have understood it and if you already have a child you know it, maternity theory and practice are not always linked. So, here are some mom secrets to share to help each other out: 

  • Change places between breastfeeding phases and bottle meals. The idea is to create a new moment, a new space between you, in which baby will no longer automatically look for the feed. Were you breastfeeding in the room? Prefer the sofa in the living room or the bench on the terrace if the weather allows it.
  • Tilt the bottle by giving it and/or use a slow flow teat so baby doesn't feel overwhelmed. With a bottle, the milk flows faster than during breastfeeding! 
  • Leave a another person to give the first bottles. Even if it's a little hard, letting dad give your child the first bottles can facilitate the emotional transition by drawing baby's attention away from his meal.
  • Done gently heat the milk. Since breast milk is naturally lukewarm, warming the bottle before giving it can help you!
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