The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding until your baby is about 6 months old. During this time, your infant needs no other food except breast milk. Once your little one has reached this 6-month mark, or you’ve decided to stop breastfeeding, you can make the transition from breast to bottle smooth and seamless for your baby and yourself.
Begin the transition about a month before the desired date that you’d like the baby to be fully bottle-fed. For instance, if you plan on breastfeeding until the baby is 8 months old, begin the transition around 7 months for a more gradual approach that is easier on the baby.
Replace one feeding a day with a bottle initially. Nurse your baby on one breast, then give her a bottle with a couple of ounces of formula or breast milk, then finish up the feeding on the other breast. Do this for about a week. The following week, replace two feedings with bottles, but do them at opposite times of the day so he’s not getting two bottles in a row. By the third week, only nurse the baby in the morning and at night, replacing all other feedings with a bottle. And the fourth week, begin replacing either the morning or night feeding with a bottle, then eventually all feedings.
Have someone else bottle-feed the baby during the transition process -- such as Dad, Grandma or a caregiver -- so he isn’t discouraged from bottle feeding because he knows breast milk is nearby. Select an area of your home for feeding that isn't where you would typically breastfeed the baby, and leave the room while the baby is being fed the bottle. This prevents your baby from receiving the usual feeding cues that he associates with breastfeeding.
Choose bottle nipples that closely resemble the shape of your own nipple. The nipple should be wide at the base and gradually taper down to the nipple tip. Start with a nipple that has a slow milk flow so the baby is not overwhelmed while sucking on the bottle. You may need to try different types of nipples to find one that is agreeable for your baby.
Offer the baby the bottle by putting a few drops of the milk or formula onto his lips. Then rub the bottle nipple across his lips to encourage him to open his mouth. Once he opens his mouth, insert the nipple and allow him to latch on. Make sure he latches onto the base of the nipple, rather than just the tip. After 10 minutes, if he still hasn’t latched on and seems uninterested in the bottle, stop trying for the time being. Try again at the next feeding. It may be that he doesn’t like that particular nipple, so you might have to experiment to find out which one works for your baby.