4 Things to Consider Before Switching Baby Formula

image001During the first year of your baby’s life, he or she will drink a ton of formula–hundreds of bottles of it! But will it always be the same formula? Sometimes the costs can be prohibitive, or there might be allergies or illnesses that require switching baby formula. When this happens, it’s best to clear it with your pediatrician to make sure it’s okay to make the change. Then you will have to watch your infant closely for signs of allergy or other problems during the first few weeks on that new baby formula.

Can I Switch Formula Brands?

Switching baby formula is definitely okay if it is something your baby needs. But if you aren’t sure, then it is probably best to stay with the current formula. Never switch formulas just because you have a free sample or other incentives that have nothing to do with your child’s health.

You might worry that switching formulas will result in tummy upset for your little one, but rest assured that it isn’t likely. All babies have gas, and a new formula likely won’t change that. What might happen is that the bowel movements could change a bit, such as frequency or color. Some formulas can cause constipation in your baby, while others might lead to diarrhea. If this happens, talk to your doctor–your baby might have a true formula allergy. But keep in mind that this is very rare!

When Should I Consider Switching Baby Formula?

Sometimes a baby will have a true allergy for formula, and that means that switching baby formula needs to happen. Look for diarrhea, dark, red, scaly skin, forceful vomiting or extreme fatigue and weakness. This all might indicate that your baby is not getting enough nutrients because his body is rejecting the formula. Your baby might also be fussier than usual, crying often, and dealing with excessive gas or watery stools after a feeding.

Sometimes your doctor will recommend changing the formula for a specific health reason. For instance, if your baby needs more iron in his diet, your doctor might recommend an iron-fortified formula. The doctor might recommend soy formula if it appears your child has lactose intolerance.

How Should I Switch to Another Formula?

So you have decided that switching baby formula is a good idea. How do you do it? Here are a few helpful tips.

1. Always Ask a Physician for Advice

Always speak to your physician about the proper formula for your baby. Your health professional is the only one who can truly say what your baby needs, and you will need their support if you have trouble with the switch. Never change the baby’s formula on your own without your doctor’s knowledge or advice. If your doctor is adamant that your baby doesn’t need to switch formula, pay attention there might be something else going on with your baby that has nothing to do with the formula he or she is drinking.

2. Choose a New Baby Formula

Take care when choosing the new baby formula. Look for a formula that has the same protein base, such as cow’s milk. If your baby has a medical reason to switch this, such as being lactose-intolerant, speak to your doctor about which formula might be best. Always read and compare labels, and do your best to choose a formula as similar to the old one as possible.

3. Introduce the New Formula Slowly

Some babies will be just fine with switching to a new formula and won’t have a peep of protest. In fact, they might like the new formula much more! But if your baby seems to have an aversion to the new taste, make the switch in stages. Gradually switch over by mixing the formulas. Start with a little of the new formula mixed with a lot of the old, and slowly change it by adding more of the new formula with each feeding. Soon your baby will be tolerating the new formula. And remember to always properly mix the formula as directed on the package, as you want to make sure your baby gets all the nutrients he or she needs.

What to Pay Special Attention to When Switching Baby Formula

When you start switching baby formula, you will need to pay very close attention to your child. This is especially true during the first 24 hours after you begin the switch. Look for signs that your baby is not happy with the formula, including excessive gas, constipation or diarrhea, hives or a rash, or other signs of illness such as clammy skin, limpness, fever, etc. Also look closely for blood in the stool or in the baby’s vomit, which indicates an emergency trip to the doctor. All of these are signs that your baby is not tolerating the formula well. In some cases you can wait it out for another feeding, but in most cases this means that you will need to switch back to the original formula or try something new. Either way, call the doctor to make sure of what your next steps should be.

Now that you have switched baby formula once, don’t switch to another new formula unless there is a serious health concern that warrants the switch. The more you change the diet of a newborn, the more likely he or she is going to have problems.

Sometimes it helps to hear about the experiences of other parents when it comes to switching baby formula. This video below details the experience of one mom who switched formula, and how it went for her baby: