bamama is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

How to Switch Baby Formula – Complete Guide

How to Switch Baby Formula - Complete Guide

There are instances when you may need to switch to a different infant formula than the one you initially started with. Many parents have trouble sticking with their baby’s best formula because of shortages and other issues.

Even though many parents worry that switching formula brands may make their infant fussy or cause stools to shift, this is not a problem.

Babies can frequently switch between formulas without any issues—even if the shift is very quick. 

I looked up some of the best ways to switch formula brands, potential adverse effects, and other factors, and compiled all the necessary info my fellow mommies need. 

Use this advice to switch formula brands safely and successfully.

How to Change Formula Milk for Baby

How to Change Formula Milk for Baby

It’s best to switch your baby’s formula gradually to rule out any allergy or sensitivity to a new formula. However, ensuring that your infant is fed is the most crucial step. 

Don’t let switching from one formula to another add to your stress. Your baby will do well.

If the baby drinks the old formula, move to half-and-half, then 1/4 old and 3/4 new, and finally, a full bottle of the new brand.

If possible, make this transition over 1-2 weeks. Because brand-specific scoop sizes can vary, utilize the one with the formula.

If you are still determining what formulas are appropriate for infants with allergies, consult your child’s doctor immediately. Some formulas are more allergy-friendly than others. 

Know the Formula’s Base Ingredient

More processing is done to some baby formulas than others. You should search for a GMO-free brand, low in sugar, and minimally processed, if you’re worried about giving your infant healthy foods. 

Typically, there are four different base ingredients used to make baby formula:

  • Most babies regularly consume cow’s milk formula, closely resembling breast milk
  • If your baby is lactose intolerant or there’s no breast milk or formula available, soy formulas are a viable alternative to milk proteins. Some families also choose soy as a dietary choice.
  • Hydrolyzed proteins are frequently advised if a baby has trouble digesting dairy or has a general allergy. Although casein and whey proteins from cow’s milk are used, they have been dispersed into smaller particles. These partially hydrolyzed proteins are present in several formulas for gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • Formulas containing amino acids are considered non-allergic and are only used in extreme situations when a baby cannot consume cow’s milk and hydrolyzed proteins don’t work for them.

The majority of newborns respond well to cow’s milk formula. Some vegan families will choose a soy formula for their infant because they feel it is better for the youngster. 

Formulas containing hydrolyzed proteins or amino acids are also recommended for babies with cow’s milk allergies.

NOTE: Goat milk formula is completely safe if your kid isn’t diagnosed with severe lactose intolerance or a cow milk allergy. Because it is more soothing on the stomach and just as nourishing as cow’s milk, it is a perfect substitute for infant formula made with cow’s milk.

Switch Formulas Slowly

A gradual adjustment provides parents time to watch for negative effects when a baby is switching from a specialist formula, like a hydrolyzed alternative. 

To use this technique, combine the two formulas while gradually reducing the original formula’s volume.

You can progressively introduce the new formula after introducing the old formula in equal amounts for 2-3 days. Start with a 4-ounce bottle. 

You might transition more slowly if you start with a larger baby bottle. You can accomplish this by substituting 1 scoop of the new formula for the old formula every 2 days. 

This transition will take less than 1 can of formula.

NOTE: Ask your pediatrician about prescriptions for breastmilk to use at milk banks as an alternative to baby formula. Infants who don’t require specialized formula can drink breastmilk.

Tips for Changing Baby’s Formula

Tips for Changing Baby’s Formula

Avoid the following mistakes while switching baby formula:

No to Homemade Formula

Making homemade infant formula is widely discouraged by doctors because many recipes are stale and lack important nutrients.

Ask your local pediatrician if they have any formula samples you might try instead. I advise contacting a nearby nutritionist if you are in a bind.

Even though preparing infant formula at home was customary decades ago, it is actually unsafe.

To ensure that a baby formula supports healthy growth and development, laws and other government rules ensure that infant formulas sold in stores comply with strict ingredient rules. 

In the US, the FDA also regulates the production and storage of approved formulations. 

The government conducts routine inspections of the manufacturing facilities and formulas to ensure the regulations are followed to prevent contamination and spoilage.

Never Dilute the Formula With Water

Avoid diluting your supply of formula with water if you need to, as doing so could cause issues for your child.

Making smaller bottles is something to consider if you want to stretch your supply further. 

Many parents make an 8-ounce bottle even though their infant only consumes around 6 ounces. A 24-ounce supply can last four feedings instead of three using smaller bottles. 

In either case, save the leftovers. The leftover milk is good for 24 hours if kept in the refrigerator.

When selecting water for mixing baby formula, I recommend using bottled or boiled tap water chilled to room temperature. These are the safest choices.

When to Change Baby Formula to Next Stage

When to Change Baby Formula to Next Stage

Many parents worry about when it’s time to move their child to the next stage of formula.

Age is one sign, but there are also other observable indicators, like:

  • Reduced tongue reflexes – When a baby turns five months old, their natural tongue reflexes deteriorate. As a result, the baby must “think” about pushing food out of their mouths rather than just doing it automatically.
  • Asking for more food – After being fed by stage 1 formulas, your baby may still be hungry and request more. It is because a baby is too big for the nutritional benefits that a stage 1 formula provides.
  • Above-average baby body size – Your pediatrician may advise switching to a second-stage baby formula sooner if your child is larger than average and is deemed to be in a higher growth percentile. 

NOTE: By the third or fourth month, many parents start transitioning their children from exclusively breastfeeding to formula feeding (either fully or partially).

Can I Change My Baby Formula Without the Doctor’s Advice?

Always consult your doctor before changing anything! 

It is normally safe to switch formulas as long as you do it as a last option to treat your baby’s problems and you don’t disregard expert medical advice.

It’s crucial to speak with your pediatrician before switching your baby’s formula. This will ensure you have the proper formula for your infant’s unique nutritional needs.

Is It Bad to Keep Changing My Baby’s Formula?

An infant may require up to two weeks to completely adapt to a new formula. Try to avoid changing formulas during this 1-2 week transition period.

Changing formulas too quickly can worsen your child’s digestive discomfort and lead to symptoms that might mistakenly suggest your baby is not responding well to a formula. 

How Much Time Do Babies Need to Adjust to New Formulas?

How Much Time Do Babies Need to Adjust to New Formulas?

Babies often need 7-14 days to get used to a new formula. They may either like one right away, or not like any of them.

For instance, hypoallergenic formulas are known to have less palatable flavors for babies, even if they may result in fewer or no allergy reactions.

Although premature baby formula is made to be easily ingested, older newborns may be unable to tolerate it. 

Understand that what works for one baby may not work for yours. Speak with your baby’s pediatrician for professional guidance.

Is It Safe to Switch Formulas?

It’s acceptable to switch to a different formula brand. Giving your baby different formulas is safe, especially if they have the same core ingredient.

Breastfed newborns consume different milk daily due to dietary changes made by their parents, providing a slightly different recipe at every feed.

The nutritional makeup of several infant formulas are quite similar. 

The proportions and amounts of nutrients your baby gets are the same across different brands, even though the sources of the components may differ. 

Switching between powdered, concentrated liquid, and ready-to-feed formula is generally safe for most babies. 

Premature or immunocompromised infants under three months may be the exception and cannot yet consume powdered formula.

A baby on specialized or hypoallergenic formula cannot be switched to sensitive or normal formula without a doctor’s permission. 

It is technically possible to switch a baby taking the regular cow’s milk-based formula to hypoallergenic formula. 

Side Effects of Switching Formulas

You may notice changes in your kid, even if it’s okay to switch the infant formula brand, for various reasons, such as the current formula shortage. 

If your baby is affected by the new formula, you won’t see it immediately. Some babies need a week or so to get used to the shift. Some babies are more sensitive to change than others.

Babies might get constipated, poop more frequently, have their poop’s consistency change, or be gassy.

I advise parents to wait 10 days before concluding that a new formula is ineffective. 

If you detect any warning signs the formula doesn’t agree with the baby, like breathing difficulties or blood in your stool, stop consuming the formula immediately.

Contact your baby’s pediatrician if you are worried about any adverse effects of switching formulas.

How Long Before Side Effects Become Apparent?

As mentioned, the baby should have entirely adapted to the new formula after about a week. The baby’s symptoms, which prompted the adjustment, can be monitored. 

I advise monitoring the following factors:

  • The amount of formula your baby has consumed
  • The consistency of their stool
  • Your baby’s sleep patterns
  • How much they’re spitting up
  • Skin changes
  • If they have bloody stool

Call your pediatrician if you see anything alarming.

When You Might Need to Switch Formulas

When You Might Need to Switch Formulas

Mothers should start their children on a regular milk-based formula unless they have a medical problem, like a cow’s milk allergy, that requires a specialized variety.

The ideal formula to switch to if their infant doesn’t like a regular formula depends on the symptoms. A baby’s current formula may not be well tolerated for several reasons.

Your Baby’s Pediatrician Advises It

Even though parents are the experts on their children, you might mistake normal infant behavior for allergies or food intolerances, causing you to go through different formulas in a panic. 

I strongly recommend speaking with your child’s pediatrician before making dietary adjustments.

Your child’s doctor might suggest a change based on your baby’s symptoms. Always discuss this with your physician before making a switch.

Diagnosed Allergy 

CMPI, or CMPA, also known as a milk protein intolerance, affects infants. You must switch to a hypoallergenic formula if a stool test reveals your infant has a milk allergy.

Stool With Blood

Act fast if you find blood in your baby’s diaper. Bloody stool often indicates a food sensitivity or allergy requiring a hypoallergenic formula.

Diagnosed Illness 

A formula change may be necessary if your baby has been diagnosed with a disease (such as FPIES, GERD, or metabolic abnormalities).

NOTE: Many parents are interested in dairy-free baby formulas because they avoid the potential risk of ingesting animal byproducts. 

Lack of Availability

Switching to a different baby formula brand is fine if your preferred brand is unavailable. 

Try to choose a generic store brand comparable to your existing formula and watch for any negative effects on your infant. 

Also, avoid giving your kid cow’s milk until they are 1 year old (babies older than 6 months may be okay in a pinch).

Changing Types (Powder, Ready-To-Feed, Liquid Concentrate)

Many families change their baby’s formula for availability, cost, and convenience. The formula “ready to feed” can be consumed right out of the bottle. 

It is extremely practical for travel and since it is sterile, it is the top choice for premature or immunocompromised babies. 

Unfortunately, ready-to-feed formulas are much more expensive than powdered formula.

Liquid concentrate recipe is an additional, less popular choice. This solution is also practical and only requires mixing with water (generally at a 1-to-1 water-to-formula ratio). 

It commonly comes in cans or tetra-paks. Even though it is costly, it is generally cheaper than ready-to-feed formula.

Though the product name may differ, some brands may use different ingredients for their powder, ready-to-feed, or concentrate products.

GOOD TO KNOW: Only when administered under medical supervision is lactose-free formula suitable from birth. Fortunately, lactose intolerance is uncommon in newborns.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, check out these other questions about switching baby formulas.

What if the New Formula Makes My Baby Spit Up?

Your infant may start acting out when you use the new formula. Some babies might not react for a few days. 

For approximately a week, watch your baby closely to look for any behavioral changes. Keep track of any changes in sleeping or bowel habits or fussiness. 

If there are any unfavorable changes, the formula may distress your infant. Relactation is an option if the infant refuses the formula, or you can try a different one. 

When choosing a formula with the same nutritional advantages as breastfeeding, consult a pediatrician before making any modifications.

Can You Switch Immediately?

As opposed to a gradual change, an urgent switch is typically advised when swapping baby formulas due to an allergy, intolerance, or medical problem. 

Consult your baby’s pediatrician to determine the best time to switch formulas.

Is Similac Better Than Enfamil?

You’ve likely seen baby formulas compared to each other, like Similac vs. Enfamil. Here’s a quick breakdown.

Compared to Similac, Enfamil contains more natural components. 

Compared to Similac, Enfamil has less sugar. Enfamil also has more iodine, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. 

Vitamins C, B12, E, and K are more abundant in Enfamil too.

Final Words

There are several reasons that could cause you to change baby formulas, whether they are formula-feeding exclusively or as a supplement. 

Suppose your pediatrician has instructed you to switch formulas (for example, to a hypoallergenic formula due to an allergy). 

In that case, you probably should stop using the previous formula and begin using the new one immediately.

As usual, consult your baby’s doctor for the best advice on making the changeover and selecting the right formula for your child.
Your baby’s digestive system requires this much time to adjust to the new diet. Just be patient, mama! You got this!

Nayna Llenos
Nayna Llenos

Hi, I’m Nayna!
I’ve always wanted to be a mother, and I’m lucky and blessed to have two wonderful children to care for and love.
Despite this blessing, there are times wherein I do wonder if I truly am the mother my children need. Am I giving them the right food, care, and discipline to them?
But that is the beauty of parenting — you grow along with your children as they flourish to be their wonderful selves!
I wish to share my experiences with motherhood and how these tips can help you in your parenting journey.
I hope my advices and experiences will prove useful to you and that you have a smooth and wonderful journey as a mother!