How long should i formula feed my baby
When Your Baby Should Stop Drinking Formula – Cleveland Clinic
Make the formula. Feed your cutie. Wash, rinse, repeat. For parents of babies who drink formula, you’ve been doing this dance several times a day (and night) for what seems like forever. But could the end finally be in sight? When do babies stop drinking formula?
“A healthy baby should drink breast milk or formula until they are 1 year old. Formulas are fortified with vitamins and iron, which they need,” says pediatrician Radhai Prabhakaran, MD. “Generally, babies should have at least 24 ounces per day between the ages of 9 months to 1 year. But once your baby starts eating a full diet of nutritious solid foods, make the switch to cow’s milk, which offers protein and vitamin D.”
Signs your baby is ready to wean off formula
Whether babies are ready to hop aboard the milk express depends on their taste for table food. “Some babies settle into a mostly solid food diet early (between 9 and 12 months) because they like it, and it agrees with them. If they’re eating a nutritionally balanced diet, then it’s OK to wean your baby off formula earlier than 1 year old.”
A healthy solid food diet for a baby should include:
- Protein from meat, eggs or cooked beans.
“Gradually reduce the amount of formula they drink as they eat more. Continue to offer it to drink because sometimes babies aren’t full after eating solid foods,” notes Dr. Prabhakaran. “But wait until they are 1 to introduce cow’s milk, even if they wean earlier.”
Signs your baby is NOT ready to wean off formula
Your baby should continue with formula if they:
- Are not gaining weight.
- Were born prematurely.
- Haven’t established a balanced diet of solid foods.
- Need to continue with formula based on their doctor’s recommendation. (For example, if your baby has food allergies or problems digesting food or absorbing nutrients.)
Health conditions that affect how long babies drink formula
Certain underlying health conditions may affect how long your baby needs to drink formula. Babies may need to stay on formula longer if they have:
- Kidney problems.
- Liver problems.
- Metabolic condition like phenylketonuria (PKU).
“And if your doctor has already told you that your baby might need to go on a special diet, talk to them before weaning your baby off formula,” adds Dr. Prabhakaran. “They can help you put a nutrition plan in place that will make the transition safer.”
How to wean your baby off formula
If your baby likes the taste of cow’s milk:
- Start giving them a 2- to 4- ounce serving of milk for every two or three servings of formula.
- Over the next week to 10 days, increase the milk servings as you decrease the servings of formula.
- Stop giving formula once they are drinking the milk with no issues.
If your baby prefers the taste of formula:
- Make the formula as you usually do. Don’t add cow’s milk to the formula powder.
- Mix 2 ounces of prepared formula and 2 ounces of cow’s milk so you have a 4-ounce drink for your baby.
- Feed your baby the mixture.
- Over the next week to 10 days, add more milk and less formula to the mixture until it’s all cow’s milk.
Bottle or cup?
Get ready to say goodbye to the bottle. Dr. Prabhakaran says drinking from a bottle is a no-no after age 1. “Bottle feeding can affect teeth growth and cause cavities.”
Instead, transition your little one to a sippy, straw or regular cup at around 9 months of age. “If you’re feeling adventurous, wean them off formula and the bottle at the same time.”
Does my baby still need formula during night wakings?
Dr. Prabhakaran notes that most babies this age don’t need to eat when they wake up at night. “Generally, once babies double their birth weight (which happens at around 4 to 6 months) and are regularly eating solids, they don’t need the extra calories and can sleep through the night. So encourage them to keep sleeping.”
Babies at this age also have most of their baby teeth, so drinking milk or formula at night can lead to dental issues. Nighttime feeding can also make them too full to eat what they need during the day.
But as always, there are exceptions. “If your baby’s not gaining weight, your doctor may give you different advice. Breastfed babies may also take a bit longer because breast milk digests faster.”
When to pump the brakes on weaning off formula
Dr. Prabhakaran says to take the transition to cow’s milk even slower if babies start drinking milk and experience:
- Dramatic change in their stools.
If these symptoms stick around or get worse, talk to your baby’s pediatrician about a potential milk allergy. If needed, your doctor can recommend safe milk alternatives for toddlers.
Signs your baby may not be able to tolerate cow’s milk include:
What is the best milk for a 1 year old?
Experts consider whole cow’s milk the best milk for 1 year olds after they wean off formula. “The general rule is whole milk until they’re 2 years old unless there are specific circumstances,” says Dr. Prabhakaran.
Your doctor may recommend 2% milk instead if your baby:
- Is heavy for their size.
- Drinks more than the recommended amount of milk (16 to 24 ounces a day or 2 to 3 cups).
- Is constipated.
Unsweetened soy milk tends to be among the best cow’s milk alternatives for toddlers because it has a similar amount of protein. But soy milk is lower in calories — which babies need to thrive — than whole milk. Unsweetened rice milk’s calorie count is a bit higher, but it contains less protein and more added sugar.
The best way to decide, says Dr. Prabhakaran, is to look at your child’s overall diet. “There are so many milk alternatives, and babies’ diets vary so much. It’s impossible to have a blanket rule for what’s OK. Some kids may eat a lot of yogurt and cheese. Some babies are vegan. So talk to your baby’s doctor about the best alternative to help your child with specific deficiencies and their overall nutrition.”
Formula Feeding FAQs: How Much and How Often (for Parents)
Whether you plan to formula feed your baby from the start, want to supplement your breast milk with formula, or are switching from breast milk to formula, you probably have questions.
Here are answers to some common questions about formula feeding.
How Often Should I Feed My Baby?
Newborns and young babies should be fed whenever they seem hungry. This is called on-demand feeding.
After the first few days of life, most healthy formula-fed newborns feed about every 2–3 hours. As they get bigger and their tummies can hold more milk, they usually eat about every 3–4 hours. As babies get older, they’ll settle into a more predictable feeding routine and go longer stretches at night without needing a bottle.
Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about feeding your baby, especially if your baby is very small, is not gaining weight, or was born early (prematurely).
How Can I Tell When My Baby Is Hungry?
Signs that babies are hungry include:
- moving their heads from side to side
- opening their mouths
- sticking out their tongues
- placing their hands, fingers, and fists to their mouths
- puckering their lips as if to suck
- nuzzling again their mothers' breasts
- showing the rooting reflex (when a baby moves its mouth in the direction of something that's stroking or touching its cheek)
Babies should be fed before they get upset and cry. Crying is a late sign of hunger. But every time your baby cries is not because of hunger. Sometimes babies just need to be cuddled or changed. Or they could be sick, tired, too hot or too cold, in pain, or have colic.
How Much Should My Baby Drink?
In the first few weeks, give 2- to 3-ounce (60- to 90-milliliter) bottles to your newborn. Give more or less depending on your baby’s hunger cues.
Here's a general look at how much your baby may be eating at different ages:
- On average, a newborn drinks about 1.5–3 ounces (45–90 milliliters) every 2–3 hours. This amount increases as your baby grows and can take more at each feeding.
- At about 2 months, your baby may drink about 4–5 ounces (120–150 milliliters) every 3–4 hours.
- At 4 months, your baby may drink about 4–6 ounces (120-180 milliliters) at each feeding, depending on how often they eat.
- By 6 months, your baby may drink 6–8 ounces (180–230 milliliters) about 4–5 times a day.
Watch for signs that your baby is hungry or full. Respond to these cues and let your baby stop when full. A baby who is full may suck with less enthusiasm, stop, or turn away from the bottle.
Why Does My Baby Seem Hungrier Than Usual?
As babies grow, they begin to eat more at each feeding and can go longer between feedings. Still, there may be times when your little one seems hungrier than usual.
Your baby may be going through a period of rapid growth (called a growth spurt). These can happen at any time, but in the early months are common at around:
- 7–14 days old
- between 3–6 weeks
- 4 months
- 6 months
During these times and whenever your baby seems especially hungry, follow their hunger cues and continue to feed on demand, increasing the amount of formula you give as needed.
Is My Baby Eating Enough?
At times, you may wonder whether your baby is getting enough nutrients for healthy growth and development. Babies who get enough to eat seem satisfied after eating and are regularly peeing and pooping.
At your baby’s checkups, the doctor will review your baby’s growth chart, track your little one’s development, and answer any questions. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about your baby’s feeding and nutrition.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: November 2021
Feeding baby formula
All parents dream that their child grows and develops correctly and harmoniously. However, the formation of a child's body largely depends on balanced nutrition that the baby receives from the first days of life.
Dry milk drink "Baby milk" Valio Baby 3 NutriValio for feeding children over 12 months Read more
Of course, the best food for a baby is mother's milk, because it gives the child a lot of useful and necessary substances for growth and development. The quality of a child's nutrition in early childhood largely determines the state of his health in adulthood. In addition, nutrition is important in the development of the child's central nervous system and affects his intelligence and abilities.
If the child is artificially fed, it is all the more important to consciously approach the issue of his nutrition, carefully choosing the right mixture. Carefully monitor the feeding regime and introduce complementary foods in a timely manner. It is in the power of parents to provide the baby with health for many years.
It is important to follow a few rules, always remembering that when choosing a diet, consultation with a doctor is required!
1. Give preference only to adapted mixtures, since in their composition they are as close as possible to the composition of breast milk.
2. Take into account the individual characteristics of the body and the state of health of the baby.
3. Take into account the age of the child and select mixtures of the appropriate stage - initial and subsequent. To make it easier for parents to navigate, the formulas are labeled with numbers: 1 (0–6 months), 2 (6–12 months), 3 (from 12 months). The initial (starter) mixture is indicated by the number 1 and is intended for children in the first six months of life. Subsequent formulas have the numbers 2 and 3 on the packaging. They are intended for older babies from 6 months. It is important to remember that in mixtures for each stage, the composition formula changes, taking into account the age-related characteristics of development and the needs of children.
4. Observe the dosage in accordance with the instructions on the packaging. Deviation from these norms can adversely affect the well-being and health of the child. If you take too much dry matter, the mixture will come out with an increased content of nutrients, which can lead to more frequent regurgitation, unstable stools and excessive stress on the kidneys and intestines. If you take the powder less than the specified norm, then the mixture will turn out to be low-calorie and insufficiently nutritious - the baby will remain hungry.
5. Use specially prepared water to dilute the mixture. Only clean and boiled water should be used.
With artificial feeding, it is impossible to abruptly transfer the baby to a qualitatively new food and without the need to change the mixture. It is very important to properly control the amount of feeding. For each age, the daily volume is calculated, which is divided by the number of doses. This is done so that the actual volumes eaten by the baby do not exceed the calculated recommended norms. To calculate the amount of feeding for the baby yourself, you should rely on the following data.
- For a child in the first days of life, the volume of feedings (day and night) per day should be 1/5 of the child's body weight. Approximately 600-900
- In the first 2 months, the volume of feeding per day should not exceed 1/5-1/6 of the child's body weight. For example, if a child weighs 4 kilograms, then he should eat no more than 800 g of the mixture per day.
- For a 2-4 month old baby, the daily formula is 1/6 of body weight (800-1000 g)
- For a 4-6 month old baby, the maximum daily amount of formula should be 1/7 of body weight (900-1000 g).
- After six months and up to 9 months, the baby should eat within the daily volume of the mixture not exceeding 1/8 of his body weight (1000-1100 g).
- At the age of 9–12 months, the daily volume of milk formula is already 1/9 of the child's body weight (1100–1200 g).
To calculate the volume of each feeding, it is necessary to divide the calculated daily volume of milk formula by the optimal number of feedings. With artificial feeding of children in the first months of life, as a rule, 6-7 meals a day are recommended after 3 or 3.5 hours with a 6.5 or 6-hour break.
0-2 months - 7-10 feedings per day
2-4 months - 6-7 feedings per day
4-6 months - 5-6 feedings per day
6-12 months - 4-5 feedings per day
If a child has at least some deviations in development, a lag in weight gain, then you should definitely consult with a pediatrician to draw up a baby nutrition plan!
Most doctors and infant nutritionists agree that “free” (on demand) feeding is optimal for a baby. To meet the needs of the child, it is important for parents to listen to the child. However, when a child is bottle-fed, you should pay attention to some nuances. Already in the first days of life, babies show their individual character - one eats in moderation, the other can overeat. Therefore, when feeding with milk formulas, it is recommended to stick to the golden mean and choose a partially limited "free mode", when there are no restrictions on the time and frequency of feeding, but the volume of the mixture eaten is controlled.
From the first days of the transition to artificial feeding, it is important to carefully monitor the reactions of the baby and record them. The best option is to keep a child's food diary, where you need to write down all the nuances associated with feeding: time, amount of food, baby's reactions after feeding. If necessary, such a diary will help you and your baby's pediatrician adjust the schedule and volume of feedings, as well as understand the possible causes of problems with nutrition and growth.
After a year, the time comes to transfer the child to a diet that is closest to what is eaten in the family. And then the question arises of when to give up formula milk. If up to a year a child is breastfed or artificially fed and does not particularly need regular milk, then after a year it becomes an important source of nutrients: calcium, phosphorus, vitamins, proteins, fats and carbohydrates. But even the best cow's milk in its original form is not suitable for feeding young children. Why?
It's all about the large amount of casein - a protein that is difficult to digest and thereby increases the load on the child's digestive systems, which do not produce enough hydrochloric acid and enzymes to digest casein.
The ideal option for children from one year old is special baby milk or a milk drink that will provide the child's body with all the necessary nutrients, helping to occur a natural transition and adaptation to the next, adult, stage of nutrition. Valio specialists have developed a special baby milk Valio Baby 3, which can be used with mixed and artificial feeding. It is ideal for children from one year old, who become more mobile and active every day. You can also learn more about the correct complementary foods menu in our blog.Food
Medical Institute. Pavlova, specialization - pediatrics
Author: Reetta Tikanmäki
Palm oil in baby food
Infant milk formulas are made from cow's milk. However, in terms of fat composition, it differs significantly from that of the mother.
Author: Ivargizova Oksana
How to choose milk formula for a baby
Breast milk is the best food for a newborn baby. It contains all the necessary nutritional components that fully meet the needs of the child and are necessary for his healthy and harmonious development.
Up to what age can a child be fed formula milk
— Polina Alexandrovna, until what age can a child be given powdered milk formula?
— If breastfeeding is not possible, then formula is the best feeding option for your baby. Often mothers are worried that the mixture is not useful enough, it can be harmful or dangerous. Of course, breast milk is the best food for a baby, but if it is not possible, then there is nothing wrong with the mixture, you should not worry.
To begin with, I would like to say that there is no point in finishing formula feeding as soon as possible. There is no such clear boundary after which it is impossible to feed the baby with a mixture. Usually, the transition from the mixture occurs smoothly, each baby is different. The minimum age up to which it is desirable to feed with an adapted milk formula is 1 year, and then we look at the child.
— How should complementary foods be combined with formula feeding? For example, if a baby at seven months refuses the formula and at the same time eats complementary foods? Is this normal or should I try to keep formula feeding?
- I can't say this is normal. If you take a seven-month-old baby, then no matter what time they begin to introduce complementary foods, by this age he still receives a fairly limited set of products. Therefore, it is impossible to fill all the needs of the child's body with the help of complementary foods. Complementary foods are an intermediate step in the transition to the "adult" table, and the baby still has to receive a huge amount of nutrients from breast milk or from formula. Therefore, I do not recommend removing formula from the child's diet at such an early age.
— Polina Alexandrovna, when can you switch from formula to kefir and yogurt and how will this affect the child's digestion?
- By and large, this is not a transition. When we introduce fermented milk products - yogurt or kefir - into complementary foods, the baby usually still receives enough nutrition in the form of a mixture (2-3 feedings). And replacing them with yogurt or kefir would be completely wrong. Despite the fact that these are fermented milk products and some of the proteins in them have already been broken down by the bacteria that are contained there, the protein load remains quite large. And at this age (they are introduced at about 8 months), it would be wrong to consider a fermented milk product several times a day as a complete source of nutrition. It is better to introduce dairy products into the child's diet as one of the additional types of complementary foods along with the milk mixture, which remains in the baby's diet for up to a year. And it is advisable to start not with kefir, but with yogurt - its acidity and composition will be more gentle for a small child. Kefir is better to enter by 9-10 months.
- Let's move on to the older kids. Why is it better for children from one year to use a mixture of the third formula, and not whole cow or goat milk?
The protein composition of cow's and goat's milk differs significantly from that of breast milk and adapted formulas based on cow's or goat's milk.
When a child consumes whole milk, there is a risk of getting an excess of proteins and microelements, which is not a very good factor - the child's body begins to intensively remove excess substances. A very large load falls on the kidneys, there is a violation of their function. Microelements are also excreted, which are few, but the child still needs them.
Whole cow's and goat's milk is rich in some elements and proteins, but contains quite little in others.
For example, cow's milk is not very rich in iron and goat's milk is not very rich in folic acid. There is an imbalance - the child receives an excess of some substances and at the same time does not receive others. Therefore, adapted milk mixtures are more relevant.
When buying whole cow's or goat's milk, you can't always be sure of the quality of the product.
Even when buying on the market in "verified places", no one will give you a guarantee that this milk is really good. No one will talk about how goats and cows are kept, how milk was stored. But when you buy formula milk, you can be sure of its quality - baby food is produced under very strict control.
Proper use of the mixture reduces the risk of bacterial growth.
The undoubted convenience of mixtures is that they are usually sold in dry form and diluted immediately before use. Due to this, the risk of reproduction in the product of pathogenic bacteria, which lead to various problems of the baby's gastrointestinal tract, is reduced.
— When can a switch to pure cow's or goat's milk be recommended? It is believed that up to 3 years the child's digestive system does not tolerate them well.
- Yes, indeed, there is such an opinion. I completely agree with him and do not recommend transferring babies under three years old to adult goat or cow milk for the reasons indicated above. It must be understood that if proteins undigested by the baby are retained in the gastrointestinal tract, they remain in the intestinal lumen. And if these are proteins of the casein fraction, they can negatively affect it - irritate the intestinal walls and lead to discomfort. And large molecules that are not crushed by enzymes, but enter the bloodstream, can cause allergic reactions.
It is better not to risk and use those products that are recommended for babies under three years old, namely, special milk formulas. They are adapted to this age, fortified and contain the optimal ratio of proteins and microelements so that the baby gets what he needs, and at the same time does not eat anything extra.
- Is it true that “normal milk is not found now” and the mixture will be healthier for the baby?
— Yes, indeed, when we buy whole milk, it is not always possible to be sure that the milk is produced as they say. Infant formulas are produced under strict control, according to certain technologies. Therefore, of course, there is much more confidence in such products.
— Polina Alexandrovna, there is a myth that if you feed a child with milk formula for a long time, he will not learn to chew properly. Is this true?
— There is some truth in this. If we feed a child only formula and nothing else, then, of course, he will not learn to chew, because we do not offer him the kind of food that can be chewed. The baby will not learn to chew on its own without your help.
While formula feeding, we start the introduction of complementary foods with a homogeneous puree without pieces. There is nothing to chew there, but when the baby gets used to it, we gradually introduce food with small and soft pieces, then the pieces become larger and harder. And it is thanks to this that the child learns to chew. If, along with this food, the baby receives a milk formula, then, of course, he will not forget how to chew from what he eats from a bottle. Therefore, it is fundamentally important here not how long you feed the formula, but whether you offer the child pieces that he can learn to chew.
- about what foods to start feeding your baby with and how to combine complementary foods and artificial feeding
— If a child of more than two years old eats formula with pleasure, is it necessary to worry and limit it? Or will he eventually give up on her?
- There is definitely no need to worry, there is nothing wrong with that. If a child receives a mixture adapted to his age (for two years this is the third stage), then, of course, this should not bother you. But you need to regulate the consumption of the mixture.
It is important to be aware that the mixture, although liquid, is a source of a huge amount of nutrients, it has a fairly high calorie content. So this is not a drink that can be consumed up to five times a day. Such a mixture can be equated with a meal and, accordingly, left or introduced into the child's diet adequately to his needs and age norms. A two-year-old child can be given formula for an afternoon snack instead of a dairy product. In this case, this is adequate nutrition adapted to the age of the baby, and he will only benefit from it. There will be harm if this product is abused.
— How many times a day should the child be fed the 3rd formula?
— Everything depends not only on the age of the child, but also on how much complementary foods he receives.
The child receives a sufficiently large amount of complementary foods.
He receives the main part of his food during the day from complementary foods, there is one milk feeding at night. In this case, we leave the mixture for night feeding.
The child is accustomed to getting formula for the afternoon snack.
It will not be a problem at all if he receives the mixture both day and night.
Always start from the needs of the child. For example, if the baby is one year old and he still has two or three milk feedings, then you do not need to strive to quickly get away from the mixture and reduce such feedings to a minimum. Do this when the child is comfortable. That is, there is no such thing that the mixture can be given only at night or only during the day.
- When does it come time to completely transfer the child to the "adult" table? How can a mother understand that the child’s body no longer needs the mixture and that he receives all the nutrients from other foods?
— You need to pay attention to a few things:
- consult a pediatrician who can take into account the characteristics of the child and focus on his opinion;
- it would be nice to count calories, proteins, fats and carbohydrates, although it is unlikely that mom will do this;
- analyze how the baby eats, how much food and nutrients he receives with complementary foods.
Based on this, we look at when to move away from milk formula. But if a 2.5-year-old child uses formula once a day and this is not another extra meal, but the same afternoon snack with fruit or cookies, then everything is quite adequate.
– Polina Aleksandrovna, and at the end of the conversation: what is the use of MAMAKO ® Premium mixtures for children and up to what age should they be given?
Range 0 to 3 years
– First of all, I would like to note that MAMAKO ® has a specially adapted formula for each age. For babies in the first six months of life - 1, from six months to a year - 2, and for babies older than 1 year - adapted milk drinks marked 3. This, of course, is a big plus, because babies get what they need at each specific age.
Saturation of mixtures with useful components
- Secondly, the rich composition of the mixtures is a big plus. Every age child has different needs. Dry infant formulas MAMAKO ® contain both a complex that supports the development of the nervous system, a complex that protects the eyes, and pre- and probiotics that promote comfortable digestion. Thanks to this enrichment, of course, this mixture is quite useful for the baby.
Adequate protein composition
- Thirdly, the protein composition of the mixtures is adapted to the specific age of the baby, which means there is no protein load on the kidneys.
Goat milk benefits
- If we are talking about the basis of the mixture MAMAKO ® Premium - goat's milk, then, of course, it is more preferable for feeding babies than cow's milk. Goat milk proteins have a composition closer to breast milk proteins, and it is easier for a child to digest them than cow milk proteins.
There is no clear boundary when you need to remove the mixture from the child's diet. The minimum is one year, the age when the baby still needs milk feeding.