There are occasions when mothers may have used some formula supplementation, particularly in the early weeks, and then decide they want to wean off formula from their baby.
This is certainly possible and is best done with guidance from a trained lactation consultant.
Here are 11 tips to help wean your baby off formula supplementation:
#1: Have Your Baby Weighed
Having your baby weighed (e.g. by your child health nurse) can help you ensure your baby is currently showing reliable signs of getting enough milk. This can help to work out how much formula you may be able to start cutting out. For example, if your baby is gaining a lot of weight, you may be able to start cutting out more formula as compared to if your baby is putting on an average amount or less. A lactation consultant can help you to work out specific amounts of formula you may be able to start cutting out.
If your baby happens to be struggling to gain weight well, it would be better to work on increasing your milk supply before starting to wean your baby off formula supplementation.
#2: Remove Milk From Your Breasts Frequently
As you wean your baby off formula supplementation, you may need to increase your milk supply to ensure your baby gets enough milk.
The more milk that is removed from your breasts, the more milk they will make. If your baby is feeding well, feeding her more often will help you make more milk.
If your baby is not feeding well (another reason to see a lactation consultant) or for extra breast stimulation, short but frequent expressing sessions with a quality pump (such as a hospital grade electric pump you can hire) can help increase your supply. Finishing off with a few minutes of hand expressing can help you make more milk too.
#3: Formula Supplementation May Be Able To Stop Immediately
In some situations, formula supplementation may be able to just stop straight away. For example, this may be able to happen if a baby is showing all the reliable signs of getting enough milk and has only been supplemented with a very small amount of formula for a very short period of time. A lactation consultant will be able to help you to work if this may apply to you.
#4: Consider How The Formula Supplementation Is Given
There are many ways for a breastfed baby to be supplemented. A bottle is just one way. Other options include use of a breastfeeding supplementer or a small cup. Obviously, the frequency and amount of supplementation used may affect your decision about what method to use. Speaking with a lactation consultant can help you work out what method might be best for you.
#5: Using A Paced Bottle Feeding Method
If you are using a bottle to deliver the supplementation, a paced bottle feeding method is a good idea as it helps your baby to better control her intake.
#6: Think About How Often Formula Is Given Every Day
If quite a lot of formula is being used, is it best to give your baby small top-ups after (or before) every/many feeds? Or would it be better for just one or two larger amounts of formula to be given? A lactation consultant can help you work out what might work best for you.
#7: Figure Out How Much Formula Your Baby Has Been Having
If your baby has been gaining weight well, work out how much formula your baby has been having on average in a 24 hour period. Then for the next week give your baby up to that amount of formula. Then have your baby weighed again (preferably by the same person on the same set of scales). Then a lactation consultant can help you work out what amount of formula supplementation may be able to be cut out next.
#8: The Amount Of Formula You Cut Out Depends On How Well Your Baby Is Growing
If your baby gained weight very well, you may be able to drop the maximum amount of formula your baby has in a 24 hour period by a larger amount as compared to if your baby put on an average amount of weight or less. Again, a lactation consultant can help you to work out specific amounts.
#9: Continue To Have Your Baby Weighed Weekly
Having your baby weighed about weekly helps to determine how much formula can be cut out week by week. If your baby is not showing reliable signs of getting enough milk, you could use the same amount of supplementation (or go back to the previous supplementation amount), while continuing to remove milk from your breasts frequently and effectively. This could be done for several days before having your baby weighed again.
#10: Consider A Galactogogue
A galactogogue is a substance claimed to increase milk supply.
If you hit a roadblock along the way, such as your baby’s weight gains are slow or low, despite frequent and effective milk removal, you could consider seeing your GP to discuss the use of a galactogogue such as domperidone.
#11: Contact A Lactation Consultant
A lactation consultant is a trained breastfeeding professional who can help support and guide you through the process of weaning your baby off formula supplementation.
Lactation consultants can be found by going to the following websites: