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Stopping Breastfeeding At 3 Months. How Can I Ensure My Baby Gets Proper Nutrients?

Are you contemplating stopping breastfeeding at 3 months but worry about the health effects on your baby? Choosing formula over breast milk is a common concern among mothers, but is more common than you might think.

Many mothers find themselves unable to breastfeed for a number of reasons.

Common causes for ending breastfeeding include:

  • Pain, discomfort, or infection in the breasts
  • Inadequate milk production
  • Baby refuses to nurse
  • Returning to work or other scheduling conflicts
  • Caring for older children and having no time to breastfeed

While we often see pictures of smiling mothers nursing their newborn babies, the truth is that many babies simply refuse to nurse. Other women find that they do not produce enough milk or that the process of nursing is painful for them.

Some mothers may feel their child is not feeding often enough and find that switching to bottle feeding helps ensure their baby eats enough. They may give bottles in addition to breastfeeding or switching to bottle feeding altogether.

Because there is so much pressure on mothers to breastfeed, you may feel guilty at first about switching to bottle feeding. Try to find a supportive group of friends or moms in your community who also formula feed to answer questions and help you feel confident about your choices.

Is it Safe to Stop Nursing at 3 Months?

While breast milk has health advantages for your child, your baby can still get the nutrients she needs from formula. Many formulas are developed for infants from zero to 12 months old, meaning you can start using them from day one.

Some mothers choose to continue breastfeeding but do so less often and supplement these feedings with additional bottle feedings throughout the day. This is a practical alternative for working moms who don't have time to breastfeed for every meal but don't want to give it up altogether.

Each situation and each baby is different. It is up to the mother to decide when she and her child and ready to transition from breastfeeding to bottle feeding.

Often the mother is unable to keep breastfeeding due to health concerns or lack of time. In other cases, the baby has too much trouble latching on or is too fussy with breastfeeding and prefers to drink from a bottle.

Babies may become fussy or even spit up after feeding. This is not uncommon and can simply mean the baby is gassy or be a natural reaction due to a still-developing digestive tract.

Mothers worry that the formula is to blame for an upset stomach, but before switching brands try a few of these tips first:

  • Burp your child every 3 to 5 minutes during feeding
  • Try smaller bottle sizes more frequently throughout the day
  • Hold your child upright after feeding
  • Don't bounce your baby while feeding
  • Ensure your baby's head is higher than his feet when feeding

If you do need to switch formulas, begin by mixing a little of the new formula into the old. Continue to increase the amount of new formula and decrease the old formula gradually until you have transitioned to the new formula.

Spitting up is not uncommon for infants, even when you find a good formula. Typically your child will outgrow this stage by their first birthday.

If your child has problems with vomiting after feedings, which is different than spit up, you should consult with your child's doctor.

If your baby seems to have frequent upset stomach, is often constipated, or cannot keep any formula down you can try a different brand of formula. Some babies may have a milk allergy, in which case your baby’s doctor should recommend the best formula that will be gentle on your child’s stomach while still providing enough nutrition.

How Can I Transition from Breastfeeding to Bottle Feeding?

When you are ready to stop breastfeeding you may need to stop abruptly. If possible, however, it’s best to transition over the course of a few weeks to allow your baby’s tummy and your own body to adjust.

For three month old infants, most parents are doing several feedings throughout the day. Start by switching either the morning or night set of feedings to bottle feeding, whichever works best with your schedule.

After about 5 to 7 days, you can then stop breastfeeding for the second set of feedings and transition to exclusively bottle feeding your baby.

By transitioning slowly from breastfeeding to bottle feeding your body will begin to reduce the amount of milk it produces. You will also reduce your chances of developing infections such as mastitis.

Your baby’s digestive system will also adjust better to slow transitions from breast milk to formula. However, if you must stop abruptly you can still begin formula feeding without any serious complications.

You will want to ensure you have the right supplies on hand when you start formula feeding. Running out of formula before feeding time will result in a fussy baby!

The basic supplies you will need include bottles, nipples, formula, and clean water for mixing with powder formulas. A special brush for washing the inside of the bottles and nipples can also come in handy.

Many mothers want to know if they stop breastfeeding if they will be able to start again. It can be difficult to start lactating again after stopping, however it is possible for some mothers.

If you stop breastfeeding your baby and later decide to try breastfeeding again you will want to continue formula feeding your baby. Once the baby is content, have him latch on and attempt to breastfeed.

At first no milk will be produced, but by frequently attempting to pump or having your baby latch on to feed you may be able to restart lactation. Bottle feeding your child first will ensure he does not get too hungry and fussy during breast feeding attempts.

How Can I Ensure My Baby Gets Proper Nutrients?

The first six month’s of your baby’s life she should drink only milk. When you stop breastfeeding at 3 months, you will need to ensure your baby receives plenty of nutrient rich formula to help her development.

There are several types of formulas:

  • Cow's milk-based formula
  • Soy-based formulas
  • Hypoallergenic formulas
  • Specialized formulas for premature, low birth weight babies

Always consult with your doctor before switching to any formula that is not cow's milk-based to ensure your baby will still receive all the nutrients she needs. Spitting up is not automatically a sign of a milk allergy, though this is a common misconception among new mothers.

At 3 months old, your baby will likely drink between 4 - 6 ounces every 3 to 4 hours. You can feed your child whenever he seems hungry.

Babies cry when they are very hungry, so it's best to feed them before they reach this stage. Once a baby becomes restless and isn't as easily distracted with cuddling or playing with toys, this is a common sign that he is ready for a feeding.

The FDA regulates infant formula and has specific nutrient requirements for all infant formula. These include that formula include minimum amounts of 29 nutrients and maximum amounts for 9 of those.

When choosing a formula, be sure says it is designed for infants zero to 12 months old and that it has iron in it. Iron is very important during this time of rapid growth and development in your newborn.

Organic formulas are available for parents who are concerned about the ingredients in regular formulas. Organic formulas typically cost more but may be more gentle on sensitive tummies.

Other than an iron rich formula that follows FDA regulations, your baby does not need any additional vitamins or supplements.

Many formulas have added DHA and ARA that claim to help with development. Studies on whether this is true have had mixed results, however it is not harmful for your baby to drink formulas with DHA and ARA added.

Be sure to take your baby to all of his well-child checkups with his pediatrician. His doctor well ensure he is healthy and recommend any feeding changes as needed.

Conclusion

While many mothers are concerned that it may be harmful to their child to stop breastfeeding early, it is actually safe to stop at any age. Some mothers are not able to breastfeed at all and choose to bottle feed from birth.

The key to successfully switching to bottle feeding is to do so gradually, if possible, and to find an iron rich, cow's milk-based formula that doesn't upset your baby's tummy.

If you are still concerned about stopping breastfeeding at 3 months, speak to your child's doctor for advice

Hannah Tong
 

Hannah Tong is the founder of Omaby.com, a blog dedicated to providing accurate advice to mothers regarding childcare. She loves taking care of her kids and teaching them the right things. She is also enthusiastic and loves sharing her experiences to teach others about how to care for their families’ health.

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