There are a lot of ideas in the world about weaning away from breastfeeding, but for families that formula feed, the information is a little harder to find. Like so many different parts of parenting, the question of when to stop formula feeding does depend on your child’s stage of development, which doesn’t always line up perfectly with their age.
Still, there are a few questions to keep in mind when thinking about when to make the switch, and one of them is Baby’s age.
Is Baby a year old yet?
When Baby’s first birthday rolls around, they'll be ready to start drinking cow’s milk, though before that, their little digestive system may not have been ready for it. So when Baby is a year old, they may be able to switch away from formula because there’s an alternative available.
How does Baby do with change?
Even once they can drink cow’s milk, babies and toddlers who don’t always feel comfortable with change might do better switching from formula to milk more gradually, instead of all at once. This can be done either by gradually replacing one bottle or cup of formula with milk every day or every few days, or by slowly diluting the formula with milk more and more, until you’re just offering milk.
If you choose to dilute the formula with milk, make sure to continue to mix powdered or concentrated formula with the normal amount of water before adding milk.
How is Baby doing with eating solids?
Babies and toddlers who are enthusiastically taking to solids, and are starting to get a significant amount of their nutrients from solids already, are perfect candidates to switch from formula to milk. Babies who are enjoying the switch to solids less, or are pickier about solids, still can switch over fairly easily.
But when it comes to babies and toddlers who are very picky, whose parents or pediatrician worry that, by switching to milk, they might not get all the nutrients they need for a while, formula can be a good way to make sure they stay healthy and keep growing at a steady rate as they slowly adjust to eating more solids.
Even if you keep offering formula a little longer, it’s still often recommended to make sure they start to make the switch to getting most of their nutrition from solids not long after their first birthday.
- Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph. “Formula Feeding FAQs: Starting Solids and Milk.” KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation, January 2015. Web.