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How to Change Baby Formula. Tips for a Smooth Transition

Changing formula can be necessary for your baby’s well-being, but it’s vital to approach the switch correctly. This article lays out clear criteria for when a change is warranted and practical advice for handling the transition, minimizing discomfort for both you and your baby.

Understanding the Need for a Formula ChangeBaby formula containers on a kitchen counter

We don’t take the decision to switch baby formulas lightly. In fact, healthcare professionals generally recommend a change in baby formula only in cases of severe allergies or digestive concerns. Symptoms such as:

  • fussiness
  • constant spitting up
  • poor weight gain
  • bloody stools
  • excessive gassiness
  • disturbed sleep

could indicate an intolerance to the current formula and signal the need for a switch.

Yet, factors beyond our control such as formula recalls or product unavailability may necessitate a formula switch at times.

Other times, the switch is motivated by parental personal choices, such as a desire to limit a baby’s exposure to certain pesticides, antibiotics, or growth hormones, or due to budget constraints, values, or religious requirements.

Adjustments to the type of formula, such as switching baby formula between liquid concentrate, powder, or ready-to-feed formula, can also lead to a formula change.

Identifying the Right Formula for Your BabyNutritious baby formula ingredients

Selecting an appropriate formula for your baby forms a pivotal part of the switching process. The formula’s nutritional composition should closely match your baby’s dietary needs.

You’ll also need to consider factors like base ingredients, nutrient levels, and any potential allergens, ensuring that the chosen formula adheres to strict regulatory standards for ingredient quality and safety for your baby.

We’ll now discuss the various types of formulas in more detail.

Cow’s Milk-Based Formulas

Cow’s milk-based formulas are widely chosen by Australian parents as standard infant formulas. These formulas are crafted to suit infants, fortified with iron to prevent deficiency and adjusted to mimic human milk's macronutrient content.

However, it's important to acknowledge potential issues with cow’s milk-based formulas. These may include limited evidence for certain added probiotics and prebiotics, risks of protein sensitivities or allergic reactions, and lactose intolerance, although rare in babies.

Soy Formulas

For some infants, soy formulas may be the best option. These formulas are lactose-free and can be a suitable alternative for babies with lactose intolerance or galactosemia, a condition where the body cannot metabolize galactose.

Soy formulas contain complete proteins, providing all nine essential amino acids needed by the body, similar to those in animal-source foods.

While soy formulas are available, their use should be based on medical advice for specific conditions that preclude the use of cow’s milk-based formulas. There are potential concerns about allergies and health risks associated with soy formula.

Hypoallergenic Formulas

Hypoallergenic formulas are designed for infants with food intolerances and allergies to cow’s milk protein. The proteins in these formulas are extensively hydrolyzed, meaning that they have been broken down into smaller particles that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction.

Take note, not all hypoallergenic formulas are identical. They can be classified into partially hydrolyzed, extensively hydrolyzed, and amino acid-based, with extensively hydrolyzed and amino acid-based being suitable for babies with cow’s milk allergies.

While these formulas aim to reduce allergic reactions, about 10% of babies may still react to even extensively hydrolyzed hypoallergenic formulas.

If your baby has a milk allergy, particularly a severe one to cow’s milk, amino acid-based formulas might be required, as they do not contain peptides from cow’s milk.

Transitioning Strategies: Gradual vs. Cold Turkey

So, you’ve identified the need for a formula change and have chosen the right formula. The next step? Transitioning your baby to the new formula. There are two main strategies you can adopt: a gradual transition and a cold turkey switch.

We’ll delve into the specifics of each strategy now.

Gradual Transition

A gradual transition to a new baby formula entails mixing a small portion of the new formula with the old formula on the first day. This ratio is then gradually adjusted over several days until your baby is fully on the new formula.

If your baby shows resistance to the new formula due to its taste, don’t worry. Continue with the gradual mixing to progressively acclimate them to the new flavor profile. The key here is patience. It may take some time for your baby to adapt to the new formula.

Cold Turkey Switch

In some cases, an immediate switch to a new formula, also known as a cold turkey switch, may be necessary. This could be the case if the usual brand is not available or in cases of allergy, intolerance, or medical conditions requiring switching formula.

However, transitioning to a new formula using the baby formula cold turkey method requires careful monitoring of your baby’s digestive changes and symptoms. If a usual brand is not available, it’s important to choose a new formula with the same base ingredient and type as the old one to minimize digestive issues during the switch.

Always remember to be vigilant for any signs of adverse reactions, such as trouble breathing or bloody stool, and consult a pediatrician immediately if such symptoms occur. In cases of allergy or intolerance, it may take up to a week for the old formula to completely get out of your baby’s system.

Monitoring Your Baby’s AdjustmentBaby's health monitoring

After initiating the switch, observing your baby’s adaptation to the new formula becomes crucial. This involves observing a variety of indicators, such as:

  • bowel movements
  • weight gain
  • sleep schedule
  • any presence of blood in the stool

We’ll examine the indicative signs of successful adaptation and potential arising concerns.

Positive Signs

Positive signs of successful adjustment to a new formula include:

  • Regular bowel movements
  • Weight gain
  • Regular diaper wetting, at least once every six hours, indicating that your baby is well-hydrated and adjusting well to the new formula.

The absence of severe symptoms such as bloody stool or excessive spit-up is also a positive sign of a baby’s successful adjustment to a new formula. In fact, most side effects like changes in baby’s stool patterns and fussiness from switching formulas improve or resolve within a few days.

Potential Concerns

As with any significant change in your baby’s diet, there can be potential concerns to watch out for. Frequent switching between baby formulas can cause digestive discomfort, with symptoms such as increased fussiness, changes in stool patterns, and excessive gas.

During the formula transition, it’s important to watch for signs of constipation or severe digestive upset, such as hard or bloody stools. Furthermore, be vigilant for allergic reactions, including skin rashes, eczema, swelling, vomiting, or gagging, which may indicate a need to reconsider the chosen formula.

Persistent or severe reactions like excessive crying, blood in stool, or signs of dehydration after a formula change should prompt immediate consultation with a pediatrician.

Change Baby Formula, Manage Side Effects and Discomfort

Managing side effects and discomfort during a formula transition can pose a challenge. However, various strategies can help manage these issues.

Constipation is a common side effect when introducing a new formula. It can be relieved with warm baths and incorporating easily digestible starchy foods like cereal and rice for babies on solids to support gut health.

Probiotics and paced feeding may reduce digestive discomfort, while techniques such as baby massage and anti-gas bottles can help alleviate gas and bloating. If products like iron-fortified formulas are suspected of causing constipation, don’t hesitate to reach out to your baby’s pediatrician for advice.

The Role of Pediatricians in Formula Changes

Pediatricians play a crucial role in changing baby formula. For switches to hypoallergenic formulas due to health needs, consulting a pediatrician is essential.

Additionally, personal preferences or budget constraints also necessitate their involvement to ensure nutritional adequacy. In cases without allergies or severe reactions, they often suggest a gradual transition, thus helping to minimize potential sensitivity issues.

Alternatives to Traditional Formula

Despite the majority of baby formulas being based on cow’s milk or soy, alternatives to traditional baby’s formula exist. Organic baby formulas are free of synthetic preservatives, colors, and flavors, using high-quality, organic ingredients.

Produced using organic farming practices, these formulas avoid synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, making them environmentally friendly.

European baby formula brands provide another option, now authorized for US import. Consequently, these formulas cater to infants’ developmental and digestive needs.

Despite higher costs, parents often prefer organic and European options for their perceived health benefits. Therefore, many research extensively to select the optimal formula for their child.

Bottle-Feeding Tips for a Smooth TransitionPaced feeding for smooth transition

Select a teat that allows milk to flow smoothly for minimal air intake. Keep your baby inclined to fill the nipple with milk. If your baby resists bottle-feeding, pause and consider paced feeding with resting periods, using a small cup or spoon as alternatives.

Transitioning to a new formula is significant for your baby, so patience and gradual adjustment are key.

Switching from Baby formula to Toddler Formula

Learning how to change baby formula in general to toddler formula can be seamless with products like Else’s Plant-Based Toddler Drink or Else’s follow-on formula.

If your baby is moving away from specialized formulas, like hydrolyzed protein or amino acid-based options, consulting with your pediatrician to see if Else Products suits your child’s needs is crucial. This ensures a smooth and nutritionally sound transition to toddler formula.


Learning how to change baby formula can feel daunting, yet it becomes manageable with proper knowledge and support. Understand why you’re switching formulas. Choose the right one. Apply an effective transition strategy. Observe your baby’s reactions. Address any discomfort.

Each baby is distinct and may respond uniquely to the change. Consulting your pediatrician is crucial if you have concerns. Your dedication and patience are essential as you navigate this change.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I just change my baby’s formula?

It’s generally safe to switch your baby’s formula, but it’s important to consult your baby’s pediatrician first. They can provide guidance on the appropriate timing and ensure a smooth transition for your baby.

How long does it take for a baby to adjust to new formula?

A baby might take 1-2 weeks to adjust to new formula. Monitor for new symptoms during this period.

What are the side effects of changing baby formula?

Changing baby formula can cause more burping, gas, and stool color changes. These are normal. Always follow the formula’s instructions.

Can I switch baby formula cold turkey?

It is generally recommended to gradually switch baby formula instead of going cold turkey, as it may be easier on the baby. However, in certain situations such as recalls or allergies, a quick switch is acceptable.

What are the reasons for changing my baby’s formula?

You might change your baby’s formula for allergies, digestion, recalls, or personal choices. Consider each reason carefully for your baby’s best.




The content and advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis, treatment, advice for specific medical conditions. Always consult a pediatrician to understand the individual needs of your child. The article expresses solely the views of the article editor.

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