Weaning your baby from breastfeeding can be an emotional time for both you and your baby so it’s best to start off slow.
When your baby has stopped breastfeeding and gets all of his nutrition from other sources than the breast, he’s actually considered weaned. Even though babies are also weaned from the bottle as well, the term weaning often refers to when a baby is stopped from breastfeeding.
When weaning is a mother’s choice, it normally requires a lot of patience and can take time, depending on the age of your baby or toddler, and also how well your child adjusts. The overall experience is different for everyone.
Weaning is a long goodbye, sometimes emotional and sometimes painful. It doesn’t however, signal for the end to the intimacy you and your child have developed during the nursing stage. What it means, is that you have to replace breastfeeding with other types of nourishment.
Starting weaning – When is the Right Time?
You’re the best judge as to when it’s the right time to wean, and you don’t really have a deadline unless you and your child are actually ready to wean. The recommended time for weaning is one year. No matter what relatives, friends, or even complete strangers tell you, there is no right or wrong time for weaning.
When you’ve had enough or you’re unable to continue breastfeeding for any number of reasons e.g. medical, pain due to biting, returning to work etc.
Sometimes the child will decide on their own when they are ready to stop breastfeeding. This may be ideal for some mothers but not for others, as it can leave you feeling rejected and disappointed that your breastfeeding journey has come to an end sooner than you expect.
Most probably the most ideal situation is when both you and your child agree that it is the right time. Weaning can happen naturally and gradually as the child increases their solid food intake, which in turn reduces the frequency of breastfeeding sessions. An important thing to remember that once your child starts solids, you must offer water to reduce the risk of constipation.
How to wean – Simple Methods to Get You Started
You should proceed slowly, regardless of what the age of your child may be. Experts say that you shouldn’t abruptly withhold your breast as the results can be traumatic. You should however, try these methods instead:
1. Skip a feeding
Skip a feeding and see what happens, offering a cup of milk to your baby instead. As a substitute, you can use bottle of your own pumped milk, formula, or whole milk. If you reduce feedings one at a time, your child will eventually adjust to the changes.
2. Shorten feeding time
You can start by cutting the length of time your child is actually at the breast. If the normal feeding time is 10 minutes, try 7. Depending on the age, follow the feeding with a healthy snack. Bed time feedings are usually the hardest to wean, as they are normally the last to go.
3. Postpone and distract
You can postpone feedings if you are only feeding a couple of times per day. This method works great if you have an older child you can actually reason with. If your child wants the breast, say that you’ll feed later then distract him.
When it’s right, it’s right
If you’ve tried everything and weaning doesn’t seem to be working at all, maybe the time just isn’t right. You can wait just a bit longer to see what happens, as your child and you have to determine the right time to wean together.