Decreasing formula while building your supply
June 09, 2015
You've had low milk supply, and you've had to supplement with formula. But you're working hard to increase your milk supply, and are seeing some progress.
This can be a tricky point in your breastfeeding journey. Wean from formula too quickly and your baby may not gain enough weight. Wean for formula too slowly and you risk suppressing your milk supply. So what do you do?
The keys are to do it gradually, get weight checks to make sure your baby is growing normally, and continue with your plan to increase your milk supply.
If you'd like a sample plan for how to do this, we have the following suggestions for managing this transition:
1) If your pediatrician has been concerned about your baby's weight gain, check in with her and let her know that you've been building your supply and that you're planning to reduce the formula supplementation gradually.
2) Get a baseline weight check on a baby scale. You can do this at your pediatrician's office, at a breastfeeding clinic, or at some WIC clinics.
3) For a few days, record how much formula you are using every 24 hours. You may also want to record the number of wet and dirty diapers your baby has every 24 hours.
4) Reduce the amount of formula you're using by one ounce on one day, and stay at that level for two or three days. For example, if you're using 10 ounces of formula every 24 hours, you'd reduce to 9 ounces every 24 hours, and stay at that level for two or three days.
5) Wait for two days and watch your baby's reaction. She may want to nurse more, and her diaper count may change. Of course, nurse frequently and continue with your plan to increase your milk supply.
6) After two or three days at that level, reduce the amount of formula you're using again, by one ounce in 24 hours. Continue at that level of formula for two or three more days.
7) Within a week after starting this plan, get another weight check to see if your baby has continued to grow in the normal range. Of course, if you have any concerns at any time on this plan check in with your pediatrician, who will likely have you do a weight check.
8) If all is well, continue to gradually reduce the supplements every two to three days, and do period weight checks until you've reached your goal!
A few resources to help you with this transition:
- Kellymom: Weaning from formula supplements
- Australian Breastfeeding Association: How to wean off formula supplements