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How to Transition from Breastmilk or Formula to Milk

How to transition from breastmilk to milk

At some point in your child’s life, one or both of you will be ready to make the transition from breastfeeding or formula to whole milk or plant-based milk. This transition can come with a lot of questions (and emotions!). How do you know when the time is right? What is the best approach? How will this affect your relationship with your child?  Read on to find out when and why you should transition, simple guidelines you can follow and why you should consider non-dairy milk alternatives.

When & Why You Should Transition From Breastmilk or Formula to Milk 

There are a few reasons you might be thinking of moving from breastfeeding or formula to milk. If you are breastfeeding, you may no longer want to or be able to breastfeed exclusively. Your child might be showing signs that they are ready to stop breastfeeding. Or it could be a combination of the two. If you are feeding your baby formula, this is also the time to think about moving them to milk since it contains all the nutrients they need.

Making the switch from breastmilk or formula typically occurs when your child is around one year old. It is not recommended that anything other than breastmilk or formula be the primary liquids in their diet until they turn one. After that, it is important to start focusing on providing them with a balanced diet, with whole milk or the right plant-based milk (more on that below!) until they are two to ensure they are getting all the nutrients their growing body and brain need to thrive.  

Is Weaning or Cold Turkey Best?

Weaning your baby off of breastmilk slowly can help to ease the transition. This gives your child the chance to get used to the taste of whole milk or plant-based milks, and also gives your body time to slow down and eventually stop milk production. 

On the other hand, if your child is clearly no longer interested in breast milk and is old enough to switch, then going cold turkey is probably the best course. This transition is easier if they are already used to drinking from a cup or a bottle, so it’s good to get them accustomed to that if possible while they are still breastfeeding.

How to Switch From Breastmilk to Formula 

There’s no one right path for making the switch. Every baby is unique and will have their own preferences and needs. Here are some steps that can be helpful in making the transition easier on both of you:

Gradually begin mixing in milk. If you’re weaning your baby gradually off breastmilk, you can get them used to the taste by mixing small amounts of milk into your breastmilk, and gradually increase the amount of milk added. Their body and taste buds can get accustomed to the change slowly this way.

Add milk into foods. Another way to wean your baby onto milk is to add whole milk or plant-based milk into the foods they already enjoy, like muffins, quiches, or other tasty baby-led weaning favorites. This can help their little tummy adjust to the change slowly. 

Offer milk at mealtimes. Your baby is making the change from milk as an entire meal, to milk as a mealtime accompaniment. It can be helpful to offer them a cup of milk alongside their meals as they make the switch to solid foods as well. Offer them sips throughout their meal but  don’t force it - that just causes anxiety for everyone. 

Remain patient. Some babies will be delighted to switch from breastmilk to milk, while others might be more reluctant or hesitant. If your baby isn’t thrilled about the transition at first, just remain patient - they will get there at their own pace!  You may be tempted to offer sweetened or flavored milk or other sugary options, but remember that babies don’t need that sugar (and it will slow down the transition to plain milk as well!) 

 Is Non-Dairy Milk Ok?

Whole cow’s milk is the most popular option for kids between ages one to two, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right option for everyone. Your child may be allergic to milk or lactose-intolerant, or you may be a plant-based eater yourself. 

The good news is that plant-based milks can be just as nutritious for your baby as cow’s milk. You simply need to choose the right plant-based milk. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends soy milk fortified with vitamins D and calcium added - and be sure to choose the unflavored and unsweetened variety. Whichever milk alternative you decide on, it’s important to speak to your pediatrician to ensure that your child’s diet is not deficient in protein or vitamins and minerals.

Switching From Breastmilk or Formula to Milk 

This transition is just another exciting milestone in your baby’s early life - there’s no need to stress too much about it. Your baby will make the change at their own pace and be enjoying plant-based milk or cow’s milk in no time. 

If you’re looking for the perfect meal pairings with that sippy cup of milk, Tiny Organics offers plant-based, organic meals made for your little one. They’re a great addition to baby-led weaning and can help you raise an adventurous, healthy eater for life! Try it today