If you need to or want to stop breast-feeding, it’s best to wait until your baby is at least 4 weeks old. If you are going to use breast milk in the bottles instead of infant formula, this gives you enough time to have a good milk supply and makes it easier to pump your breast milk.
If your baby is older than 9 months, he is probably ready to wean straight to an open-rimmed cup rather than to a bottle.
Here are some tips for weaning your baby from breast-feeding to bottle feeding.
The early morning and late evening nursing sessions are usually the hardest for your baby to give up. Wean your baby from these last.
If your breasts get engorged because you are not nursing as much, let your baby nurse 15 to 30 seconds from each breast to relieve your discomfort. Make sure that you don't nurse any longer, however, or you will trigger your breasts to make more milk and the engorgement will get worse.
Your baby will probably resist at first. Stay calm and go slow. When you first introduce the bottle, touch the baby's lips with the bottle nipple. Express a little milk from the bottle nipple onto your baby's lips or tongue. Do not force the nipple into his mouth. Let your baby draw the nipple in. If your baby is not upset by the bottle, move the nipple a little further into the baby's mouth and let him explore it. Keep smiling and talking in a soothing voice. Don’t stick the bottle into your baby's mouth with too much force. This may make your baby gag.
At first you may want to try putting breast milk in the bottle instead of formula. Because the bottle nipple smells and tastes different from your breast nipple, it helps to have a familiar fluid to drink.
Don't spend more than 10 to 15 minutes trying the bottle. Stop sooner if your baby or you are getting frustrated. It's better to end the session on a positive note and try again another day.
Setbacks in weaning can be caused by many things, including stress, major changes in meal or bed times, or illness. If you have a setback, it’s OK to wait until things calm down, and then continue weaning your baby. Call your baby's healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.