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How to Know It's Time to Go from Breastfeeding to Bottle Feeding


Going from breastfeeding to bottle feeding is a major transition in the life of an infant. The transition may not be necessary for some families until the baby is 1 or 2 years old. For others, it may need to happen earlier. Ultimately, it is the mother's choice when the change occurs. Here are a few things that may make the change necessary.


The older a baby gets, the more milk the baby needs each day. When a baby gets to be old enough to need a great deal of milk each day, the mother's breasts will make that amount of milk. This can cause a lot of discomfort in the mother as the breasts become heavier. The mother may suffer from rashes under the breasts, back aches and other physical problems. This heaviness prompts some women to transition the baby to a botle.

Teeth and Biting

When a baby starts to cut teeth, this can be a major incentive to go from breastfeeding to bottle feeding. Biting with gums can be painful, but when there are teeth involved, those bites can break the skin. Some women try alternatives to keep from being bitten during this time, including making a loud noise when bitten in order to discourage it. If this doesn't work and the biting persists, you may choose to start the bottle.

Falling Asleep

For many babies, breastfeeding is a precursor to sleep. It makes them so sleepy that they fall asleep at the breast regularly. This can be a problem for mothers who neeed to move the baby into a crib or bassinet. Once the baby is already asleep, moving her becomes difficult. Being woken after falling asleep can result in a less consistent sleeping schedule. Some mothers choose to go from breastfeeding to a bottle to make sleep and wake cycles more consistent.

Milk Production

Some women simply have trouble with their milk production. This can happen from supplementing with a bottle that results in less milk being made or for medical reasons that inhibit the production of milk. When this occurs, the baby does need to be supplemented in order to get enough to drink.


When a mother takes medications, many of them may be present in the breast milk. There are some medications that a mother may stop taking while nursing on order to keep the medication from the baby, but others aren't as easy to forego. A medication for acne, for example, doesn't treat a lie-threatening condition and there is no withdrawal period for stopping it. For more serious conditions, however, it may not be possible to stop the medications long term without creating other problems.

One of the most difficult decisions concerning breastfeeding can be weighing the importance of needed medications and the importance of breastfeeding. If you are unsure about how a medication will affect your baby and whether going without it will harm your own health, visit your pediatrician and discuss the issue. You may be able to take an alternative medication to make the issue easier for you both.

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