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When Do Babies Stop Drinking Formula?

last year5 min read
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Last updated: Jan 23 2023

Time to make the switch to solids? Does milk look like a promising addition to the menu? When do babies stop drinking formula? Let’s dive in.

When Do Babies Stop Drinking Formula?

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Formula is specifically designed to meet the early nutritional needs of your little one.

There’s a whole lot of rapid growth happening in those first few months, and human babies need a very specific mix of nutrients to fuel all this development.

But as your baby gets older, they will need nutrients and energy from other sources.

So when do babies stop drinking formula?

Bearing in mind that all babies have different needs and speeds, here are the basic guides.

In this article: 📝

  • How long do babies drink formula?
  • Do babies need formula after 6 months?
  • Do babies need formula after 12 months?
  • How do I wean my baby off formula?
  • Can a 3-year-old drink formula?

How long do babies drink formula?

The WHO and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months.

If that’s not possible, formula is the next best thing.

Breast milk, formula, or a combination of both provide all the nourishment and hydration your baby needs in their first chapter of life.

Do babies need formula after 6 months?

After about the six-month mark, babies need a little something extra in their diets to meet the needs of their next phase of development.

Enter complementary feeding, where baby gets a combo deal of breast milk/formula and their first solid foods. It’s also about this time that you can slowly add water to wash it all down.

So what happens to formula when the solids arrive on the scene? Well, it doesn’t have to make that quick of an exit.

Before offering solids, make sure to offer formula or breast milk because that is your baby’s primary source of nutrition for the first year.

As your baby begins to consume more solids, they may begin to gradually take less breast milk or formula.

Switching from formula to milk before the twelve-month mark may put a strain on their brand new kidneys or cause digestive trouble.

Also, milk doesn’t contain all the nutrients your baby needs to develop and grow in those early days.

Do babies need formula after 12 months?

Around the time of their first birthday, your baby may be ready to kick the bottle.

Full fat cow’s milk—or the non-dairy stand-in of your choice—can now be added to baby’s diet.

If you’re opting for a dairy substitute, the CDC recommends soy milk as the best option to help your baby meet their nutritional needs.

Choose one that is unsweetened and fortified with vitamin D and calcium.

How do I wean my baby off formula?

So now you know when to switch from formula to milk, but how exactly do you do it?

A common way to transition from formula to milk is to start mixing the two and then gradually phase out the formula.

Start by mixing in about two ounces of milk with about two ounces of prepared formula.

Over the course of a week, or longer depending on your baby’s acceptance of this new taste, increase the milk content while you decrease the formula.

Part of this transition is not only moving away from formula but also from the bottle that’s been housing it.

While bottles have served their purpose up to now, long-term use can lead to tooth decay and impact the development of the muscles around their mouth.

From about six months, you can start introducing them to drinking out of a sippy cup.

Here’s the goal after a year: Somewhere around 16 ounces of milk a day and a diet of beginner solid foods.

Soon(ish), the transformation will be complete.

If your baby is not gaining weight, has a health condition, or was born prematurely, their journey to solid foods may look a little different.

Speak to your healthcare provider about the best course of action to follow.

Can a 3-year-old drink formula?

There are some formulas on the market that are targeted at toddlers—but experts do not recommend them.

As this study out of NYU showed, products that brand themselves as “toddler drinks” or “toddler formula” often make misleading claims and can affect whether your child’s nutritional needs are met.

Many of these products are made up of corn syrup, powdered milk, and sweeteners, and often have less protein than cow’s milk.

A nutritious diet of solid food and soy or cow’s milk is a far better bet.

Finally, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to when to stop formula.

If you are stuck, chat with your healthcare professional. And reach out to your Peanut community. We’re in this together.

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How Long is Formula Good For?
Your Essential Formula Feeding Guide
When Can Babies Eat Baby Food?
How to Transition from Formula to Milk: 5 Tips
Do I Need Special Water for Baby Formula?
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