How To Switch Baby Formula & When To Make The Change

Last Updated On: 

September 12, 2018

As a parent, you’re always on the lookout to provide your baby with the absolute best nutrition possible so they can stay healthy and develop properly. Experts agree that the best source of nutrition a baby can get is their mother’s breast milk – and that nothing can top mom’s liquid gold.

However, breastfeeding all the time – or at all to begin with – is not always an option for all moms out there alike.

For moms who choose (or have to) either supplement with formula milk or exclusively formula feed their babies, finding the right brand might take a little trial and error.

Not all formulas out there are created equally, and not all babies’ digestive systems react to the same formula equally either.

How To Switch Baby Formula: Tips For An Easier Transition

Equal (Or Better) Quality

When switching up your baby’s formula, make sure the one you’re moving towards is (at the very least) equal – or better – in terms of quality and nutrition to the one you’re moving away from.

For this reason, it’s very important that you carefully read and inspect the formula label before you make a switch.

This is the only way you can make sure that the new formula you’re transitioning towards contains all essential nutrients and characteristics found in the old formula you’re transitioning from, and that the new formula doesn’t contain any ingredients you know your baby might be allergic to.

Keep It Gradual

Don’t try to rush the transition. On the contrary, you should give it the time it needs.

A gradual transition also enables you to keep a close eye on your baby and monitor whether or not they have an allergic reaction to the new formula you’re transitioning towards, in which case you need a change of plan again.

At first, start out by giving your baby small amounts of the new formula you’re moving towards. If they don’t resist the change and no signs of an allergic reaction appear, that’s your cue to keep moving forward.

Slowly feed them more from the new formula and less from the old formula.

An Example Schedule

At the very beginning, your baby’s formula feeding sessions should be 75% from the old formula and 25% from the new formula.

If all goes well from there, after a couple of days you can change the balance to 50% from the old formula and 50% from the new formula.

Another couple of days from there – and again, on condition no major hurdles come up – shoot for 25% from the old formula and 75% from the new formula.

Finally, and by the 6th or 7th day of the transition period, you should be good to go dedicating 100% of your baby’s formula feeding sessions to the new formula.

Going through the transition this way gives your baby enough time to get used to the new taste without the change being too intrusive.

Don’t Mix The Two Together

The thought of mixing the two formulas together so your baby gets used to the taste is not recommended.

It usually results in something that tastes plain out awful, and a baby that wants nothing to do with the bottle they’re being given.

Dealing With A Big Fuss

If your baby starts making a huge fuss out of the whole new formula situation, don’t give up just yet. Stay firm, remain consistent and stick to your decision. Chances are they’ll eventually throw in the towel and stop making such a big fuss out of nothing.

A baby’s gotta do what a baby’s gotta do, right?

When dealing with a little one’s fuss over this, don’t give in and feed them from the old formula again just so you can get a moment of peace and quiet. You’ll only be sending them mixed signals and teaching them that making a huge fuss eventually pays off and gets them what they want.

Again, just make sure that they aren’t making a fuss out of this because of a tummy ache or an allergic reaction. In such cases, they aren’t really to blame and you need to act quickly to relieve them from discomfort.

Same Protein Type

Unless there’s a valid reason for you to be doing otherwise, experts recommend that you stick to the same type of protein in any formula you plan on transitioning towards using.

So, that means if you were feeding your baby a formula that uses soy milk as the protein type, transition to one that’s also soy-based. If, on the other hand, you were feeding your baby a cow’s milk-based formula, then stick to one that uses cow’s milk as the protein type as well.

Why exactly do this, you ask? This keeps it as easy as possible on your baby’s digestive system during the transition.

Switching from a cow’s-milk based formula to a soy milk-based formula (for example) will take its toll on your little one’s digestive system.

Of course, in cases where you have a valid reason to switch between different protein types – or when you’ve been told to do so by a doctor – you don’t really have much choice to do otherwise.

This is usually the case when baby has a digestive intolerance to formulas with a certain protein type. For example, for babies that have lactose intolerance, doctors often recommend switching from feeding them cow’s milk-based formula to soy-based formula.

Deal with the temporary consequences and face them head on, your baby’s health and well-being is more than worth it!

Regular Weight Checks

You should be regularly weighing your baby to make sure they’re properly putting on weight – as they should be – when drinking their new formula.

If they’re putting on excess weight or aren’t putting on enough weight, there’s a problem that needs to be addressed.

You don’t have to go to the doctor’s office for weight checks like this, an at home baby scale will get the job done just fine.

Space Out Changes

Whatever you do, don’t switch to more than one formula in a single week’s time.

You should give it one week at the very least to see how your baby’s getting along with a formula change before deciding to stick with it or move on and change to something else once again.

This, of course, assuming no allergic reaction is present. If there’s an allergic reaction, you can tell straight away that this formula isn’t a suitable option for your little one.

Besides giving a formula switch the time it needs, you also don’t want to over-do this because switching formulas too many times in a short amount of time can cause all sorts of digestive problems in a baby.

If you find that one formula didn’t work out as you expected it to and you need to make another change again, give it at least one week before trying out a different option again.

When Should I Switch My Baby’s Formula?

Cost Saving

It might be getting a bit too heavy on your pocket for you to keep feeding your baby the current formula they’re on, and switching to a more cost effective option might be the only choice you have left – especially if you’ve tried saving money on formula milk other ways but nothing seemed to work for you.

In such cases, it might be wise for you to switch from name-brand to store-brand formulas.

Or, you might have been given some discount coupons for another brand of formula and now it’s becoming tempting for you to make the switch because hey, who doesn’t like to save money?

It might also be tempting to switch formulas just because you got a whole bunch of free samples to try out, but please don’t do so if you don’t plan on sticking with this formula after these samples are all used up.

Tummy Aches 

The current formula your baby’s on might be giving them one too many stomach problems, in which case a change is a must.

Gassiness is also a huge problem in babies that drink formula milk, and switching to a different formula often solves the problem.

Just make sure the formula is what’s actually causing these troubles in the first place, and that it isn’t anything else in disguise.

If you’re not absolutely positive about it, getting a professional’s opinion on the issue is best. In this case, talk to your doctor about it before going ahead with the change.


Baby being all fussy and crying for no apparent reason, leaving you clueless about what to do? This might just indicate a need to change formulas.


Your baby might have an allergy to the formula they’re currently on, in which case a switch to a different formula that does not contain the same allergens is a must.

If you suspect that your baby is allergic to the formula they’re currently drinking, most often because of the milk or soy protein found in the formula, then keep an eye out for any of these symptoms such as excessive gas, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.

If at any point in time you notice blood in your baby’s stool, drop everything you’re doing and talk to your pediatrician immediately or take them to the emergency center right away. Blood in a baby’s stool is usually a sign of a major allergic reaction that, if not treated right away, can have dire consequences on a baby’s health.

Trouble Sleeping

Another possible sign is when you notice your baby’s having trouble sleeping properly at night, is always cranky and keeping you awake with them.

Nutritional Needs

There might be something with your baby’s diet and nutritional needs that warrants a formula change.

For example, pediatricians often recommend that babies with iron deficiency be given iron rich formula milk because of their increased need for iron.

Another example is when a baby isn’t putting on weight according to schedule. All other factors equal, the difference between one baby gaining weight fast enough and another falling behind schedule is likely to be the formula they’re being fed.

Talk To Your Doctor Before Changing Your Baby’s Formula

Whatever the reason pushing you to switch your baby’s formula, it’s always best if you consult with a doctor or pediatrician first.

Whether it’s because you can no longer afford to buy their current formula, you notice symptoms that might indicate an allergy, or any other reason for that matter – your doctor is best able to guide you in the right direction and tell you which alternative formula options out there can meet your baby’s specific needs.

A pediatrician can also be of great help if you’re worried about changes in your baby’s bowel movements after changing their formula.

Also, if you need to switch to a specialty formula because of a feeding issue with your baby, your doctor will tell you when (or if you ever) need to go back to regular formula after the problem is addressed. Sometimes it’s fine to do so, but other times it’s advised against, so only a doctor will be able to tell you which is which in your baby’s case.

A competent doctor can also give you tips and pointers to make the transition phase an easier one.

Wrapping It Up

Even though many parents think that changing their baby’s formula is the answer to all their formula feeding problems, this isn’t always the case. In reality, there’s an entire checklist of other possible causes you’ll have to go through first before making the switch.

But that doesn’t mean you have to remain “brand loyal” for the rest of your life, nor does it mean you have to keep using the same brand you were given at the hospital back when you were giving birth.

If there’s a valid reason for you to make the switch, and (ideally) you’ve been told to do so by a doctor, then do what you have to do!

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