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Switching from Breast Milk to Formula? Here’s What to Buy
Updated on
July 12, 2024

Switching from Breast Milk to Formula? Here’s What to Buy

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A fed baby is a happy baby. Whether you find yourself needing to supplement or decide you’re ready to wean, there are a few things to keep in mind and a few products to help ease the transition from breast milk to formula. And we’re here to help you navigate the switch. 

First things first, you’ll need to pick a baby formula for your little one. There are many different formulas available—do you want something organic or non-organic, cow’s milk or soy-based? Be sure to check out our best baby formula guide for more guidance. And don’t hesitate to reach out to your baby’s pediatrician with any concerns or questions.

Beyond the formula itself, things like extra bottles, a formula pitcher, a good bottle brush and other products designed for formula feeding are helpful to have on hand if you’re making the switch from breastmilk to formula. These products are some of our favorites and can help you make the switch seamlessly.

Switching from Breast Milk to Formula? Here’s What to Buy

A Bottle That’s Designed for a Breastfed Baby

If your baby has gotten used to breastfeeding, it can take some time for them to get used to drinking from a bottle. This Lansinoh pick is one of our top bottle recommendations for breastfed babies because of its nipple shape. “Generally speaking, babies tend to do well with bottles that have nipples that are closer to the shape of a cone than to a human nipple,” says Laura Howells, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and founder of Woven Lactation, since they mimic baby’s latch on the breast. These bottles also feature a ventilation system to reduce air intake (which can help with gas and colic).

Most babies do well starting with a slow-flow nipple, but Howells also recommends considering your own personal milk flow rate. This set comes with three bottles, all with slow-flow nipples but you can purchase additional flow rates if necessary (sold separately).

Switching from Breast Milk to Formula? Here’s What to Buy

For Speeding Up Bottle Prep

If you’ve been mostly breastfeeding or feeding your little one pumped milk up until this point, you may not realize just how time consuming it can be to prepare a bottle of formula at every feeding. A formula maker can be a major lifesaver—and timesaver. This motorized blending pitcher mixes a day’s worth of formula with the push of a button. There’s a spill-free locking lid and a no-drip spout, and the pitcher and mixing wand can be tossed in the dishwasher at the end of the day so it’s clean and ready to go for the next day. To make bottle prep even faster, Baby Brezza also carries a formula maker (think Keurig but for babies) and a warm water dispenser so you can skip the bottle warmer.

Switching from Breast Milk to Formula? Here’s What to Buy

A Place to Hold All Your Stuff

Bottle feeding means more dishes—and since most bottle parts and other feeding accessories need to air dry, you’ll need a drying rack to keep everything contained.

The Boon Lawn is the drying rack we come back to again and again. It’s not only super fun, brightening up whatever space it’s in, it’s also super practical. There’s plenty of room for drying bottles, nipples, pacifiers, sippy cups and more. The rack’s blades of “grass” keep everything upright and allow for 360 degrees of air circulation while the tray below catches all the drips. It comes in different colors (like sage green or white) and even has cute accessories like a flower and stem to hang smaller bottle parts like nipples. It may not be the type of lawn you can relax on, but it’s great nonetheless. Pro-tip: many bottles can also go in the top rack of the dishwasher if you’re in a pinch (just be sure to check your specific bottle’s care instructions!).

Switching from Breast Milk to Formula? Here’s What to Buy

The Only Bottle Brush You’ll Ever Need

While we’re on the topic of cleaning, a good bottle brush is key if you’re going to be scrubbing formula out of your baby’s bottles. This one from Oxo Tot does an excellent job of reaching every nook and cranny your sponge can’t. The bristles are soft but durable, and the brush handle has a secret compartment that hides a silicone nipple cleaner that cleans tight spots more effectively than bristles can. The brush comes with a stand to hold up the brush and collect the excess water drips so they don’t end up soaking your counter. There is also a travel version for easy on-the-go cleaning.

Switching from Breast Milk to Formula? Here’s What to Buy

A Few Extra Bibs

Fact: you can never have too many bibs.

Formula tends to stain clothes a bit more than breast milk does, so if you’re making the switch, it’s a good idea to make sure your bib supply is well stocked. These KeaBabies bibs are made with 100% organic cotton front and a water-resistant lining on the back. They’re also large, covering most—if not all—of baby’s chest, and there are three different buttons to adjust the neck hole as baby grows into a toddler. We also like to have some of these absorbent muslin burp cloths close by to wipe up any spills and catch spit up.

Switching from Breast Milk to Formula? Here’s What to Buy

A Hand Pump For More Comfortable Weaning

Just because you’re making the switch from breast milk to formula doesn’t mean it has to be exclusive. If you’ve been breastfeeding long enough to have established your milk supply, Howells recommends taking your time with the weaning process, since “you may experience a bit of an [emotional] rollercoaster during this time as large hormone shifts are taking place, especially if you move through this process more quickly.”

If you do need to wean quickly, she recommends that you see a lactation consultant to help guide you through the weaning steps, to help you avoid too much discomfort or an infection. A hand pump can be helpful for occasional milk expression or to take some of the edge off if you’re feeling full. Medela’s Harmony is simple, straightforward and compact. Another option that’s popular among nursing parents is the Haakaa silicone pump, which gently suctions onto the breast and passively removes milk. Neither option requires an electrical outlet and they do a great job of expressing milk, whether you need a full pumping session or just a few minutes to take the edge off if you’re engorged.

Switching from Breast Milk to Formula? Here’s What to Buy

A One-Step Sterilizer

A sterilizer isn’t a must-have for a full-term, healthy baby, but some parents like the germ-free peace of mind that it provides. This one uses natural steam heat to kill 99.9% of germs on bottles, bottle parts, pacifiers and even small toys and teethers. The standout feature here? A drying function—it’s the only sterilizer on the market with one built right in. Everything comes out completely dry so you don’t have to worry about leftover moisture and mold growth.

Switching from Breast Milk to Formula? Here’s What to Buy

A Cooler Bag for Feeding on the Go

A premixed bottle of formula lasts much longer if it’s kept cool than if you leave it at room temperature. This insulated cooler bag holds two large bottles with a bit of room to spare for when you need to feed your baby on the go. It features a removable ice pack and an adjustable clip that attaches to your stroller. The lining is fully wipeable for quick, easy cleanup.

Switching from Breast Milk to Formula? Here’s What to Buy

A Smart Bottle Prep Solution

This innovative solution to bottle prep lets you fill bottles with one hand—a huge win as we can hardly remember the last time we had two free hands to do much of anything. All you need to do is push it down on a smooth, dry surface and nestle the bottle inside. The bokee props up the bottle and holds it

Switching from Breast Milk to Formula? Here’s What to Buy

Tummy Trouble Prep

It may take some time for your baby’s digestive system to get used to formula when making the switch. Howells says you will notice the biggest change in their poops (which look different than exclusively breastfed newborn poop) but they might also experience an increase in gas and spit up as they adjust. Gripe water can help soothe gassy tummies.

And be sure to talk to your baby’s pediatrician if you have any concerns when transitioning from breast milk to formula. 

EXPERT SOURCE

Laura Howells, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant based in the Bay Area, California. She’s the founder of Woven Lactation and also provides support to families through East Bay Birth Collective.


Jen LaBracio

Senior Gear Editor

Jen LaBracio is Babylist’s Senior Gear Editor, a role that perfectly combines her love of all things baby gear with her love of (obsessive) research. When she’s not testing out a new high chair or pushing the latest stroller model around her neighborhood, she likes to run, spin, listen to podcasts, read and spend time at the beach. In her past life, she worked for over a decade in children’s publishing. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and their two boys, Will and Ben.


Briana Engelbrecht

Assistant Editor

Briana Engelbrecht is Babylist’s Assistant Editor, where she brings her passion for early childhood development and the perinatal period, plus experience as a mom of two to Babylist articles and guides. She’s also a certified lactation counselor. A former preschool teacher, she loves children’s picture books, cats, plants and making things.

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