Whether it’s 6 weeks, 6 months, or anything in between, every maternity leave has to end (sad face).  Whether you’ve been breast or bottle to this point, it is now time to devise a plan on how your baby will be fed in your absence. We turned to  Dana L. Kearney, MS, RD, LDN, CHC, a registered dietitian from the Gerber Resource Center, to set the story straight on pumping, formula, and the breast-and-bootle feeding relationship. Spoiler alert: whatever method you choose, you got this.

If mother wants to breastfeed  baby while at home but use formula while work, is there a way to successful do this? Could this deplete supply or compromise the breastfeeding relationship? Breastfeeding forged a strong bond between the two of you and when going back to work, it should not ruin your milk supply. It’s natural to have these feelings when going back to work after your baby’s born, but it doesn’t mean you will have to stop breastfeeding. It’s definitely possible—with some planning, preparation and support! Pumping while at work and away from your baby is a key factor in helping to maintain your milk supply. Since you’ll be removing several nursing sessions while you’re at work, you need to replace them with pumping sessions in order to signal to your body to continue to make milk during those hours. You’ll need about 20-30 minutes every 3 hours to pump and some basic accommodations like a private space with an electrical outlet. Breastfeed your baby before you head off to work for the day, this allows your baby to have at least a few hours before needing the first bottle of breastmilk, and it also empties your breasts, triggering milk production for your first pumping session. Then, make sure to breastfeed your baby when you’re reunited at the end of the day.

That’s encouraging. When it’s time to start, what is the best way to introduce formula to a breastfed baby? We recommend breastfeeding as the best start for your baby. For mothers who cannot or choose to supplement with formula, iron-fortified infant formula is the only safe alternative. If you have chosen to transition to full or partial formula feeding,  BabyNes is a great choice. The BabyNes formulas are inspired by the evolving composition of breast milk. BabyNes covers the period from 0 to 3 years and therefore leaves the choice up to you, under your pediatrician’s consultation, to decide on the best time to introduce it into your child’s diet.

When introduced to their first bottle, some babies are curious, others are more hesitant. Yours might make it clear that he prefers your breast. Be patient: this transition stage lasts about 15 days, and you can always slow down if necessary, or even go backwards and add back in more breastfeeding sessions if you decide. On the choice of infant formula, do not hesitate to ask your pediatrician for advice. He can tell you the formula best suited to your baby, especially if he has any digestive issues, or colic.

Tips For A Successful Transition

•Prepare the first bottle with your own milk, so your baby will be less confused.

•Do not force your baby to drink the entire bottle. You will gradually be able to increase the amount of milk he drinks as time goes on.

•If you practice mixed feeding (breast and bottle), always offer the breast first before giving your baby a bottle.

•Don’t force your baby to take the bottle if he is reluctant. This is a normal reaction, as the bottle is new to him. Be patient and try again later.

•If necessary, try different nipples to find one that your baby likes best.

•The transition from breast to bottle is also an opportunity for dad to get involved. Dad giving baby a bottle might help your infant better accept the transition.

•And finally, no matter who is feeding baby, cuddle up to your baby to reassure him that everything is still fine.

Super helpful. What specifics should parents look for when choosing a formula? Great question! For those mothers who cannot or who choose not to breastfeed, iron-fortified infant formula is the only adequate alternative. Experts agree that breast milk is the ideal source of nutrition and protection for your baby during the first year. When choosing formula, know that not all formulas are the same, and what you feed from the start may make a difference. One of the differences between formulas is the type of protein they contain. Comfort Proteins are 100% gentle whey proteins that are partially hydrolyzed. Here are some reasons why to choose a formula with whey for Comfort Proteins:

• Gastric Emptying Time: 100% whey protein partially hydrolyzed formulas empty from the stomach at the same rate as breastmilk, and faster than formulas containing casein protein and intact proteins (proteins that are not broken down or partially hydrolyzed).

• Stools: 100% whey protein partially hydrolyzed formulas have been clinically shown to promote soft stools.

• These formulas are designed to be easy to digest.

• The Comfort Proteins in these formulas are made to be gentle on babies’ developing systems.

• The Comfort Proteins are made by starting with 100% gentle whey proteins, and then they are partially hydrolyzed (or broken down into smaller pieces).

A pro-breastmilk formula — so refreshing. Can a BabyNes machine be used and stored in daycare facilities? 

When taking your baby to daycare, you have the choice to give baby your stored breastmilk or formula. If you choose to bring BabyNes, the machine syncs with your smartphone to provide feeding notifications so you’ll know when a bottle is prepared even when you’re at work.

Hear that? It’s our collective sigh of relief. Such great advice. Thanks, Dana!