My friend Deborah, who works full time in the San Francisco area, was ready to kiss her pumping days bye bye. As a dutiful pumper, she had amassed a tremendous supply of breast milk in her freezer and had not yet spent her hard-earned money on formula. She asked how to introduce it to her 8-month old baby. She also wondered “Is it possible to keep nursing when I am no longer pumping?”
Congrats on your most excellent nursing and pumping success.
I’ll answer the second question first, based on personal experience: You can keep nursing as long as you want. Probably. I nursed my kids just twice per day – morning and night – for MONTHS. Like 5 months! Seriously, they were walking (!) and only nursed for bedtime and wake up. Finally for the last month (around 15 months old) it was just morning.
I was also a very very slow weaner, dropping one feeding/pumping per month. I started with dropping the pumping sessions because to be liberated from the pump was my key objective! That machine is both the savior and the hell of a working nursing mother.
Then again, some babies have different agendas around 8 months and decide that the world is too interesting to bother with nursing. My friend Erin experienced this with both of her children right around the same time. She spent weeks trying to get them back on the boob, without success. They loved their bottles and never looked back!
Here are a few options for introducing formula:
1) Slowly: mix it properly first, and then do a cocktail of 25% formula 75% breastmilk. If she goes for it, after a few feedings, go to 50/50. If that mixture is not rejected, you’re good to go!
2) Quickly: simply offer a bottle of formula and see how it goes. Plenty of kids have enjoyed it for years and yours might be one of them. If not, consider option #1 or option #3.
3) As a side dish: Use formula in her cereal to make the taste familiar. Add a bit to any pureed food to dilute it.
Let’s also ask the crowd: was this an issue for you? Did your baby have a hard time with formula or no problem at all? My own kids refused bottles completely, so that’s a whole other issue!