Weaning Your Baby
Do you feel that your baby is getting too old to be breastfed? Maybe she is showing more interest in solid foods and less interest in the breast. Or perhaps you are planning on returning to work and can't breastfed anymore. Then it is time to start weaning.
What is Weaning?
Who Decides to Wean?
Every breastfeeding relationship is unique and so who decides to wean will vary for each family.
Mother: A mother may decide to wean her child for any number of reasons: a return to the workplace, her own health, an expected absence, or feeling that the time is right. Depending on how ready your baby is to adjust to weaning, this process may take between a few weeks and several months.
Baby: The process of weaning is usually easier when you let the infant decide when she's had enough. This can, however, be inconvenient or hard to follow for the mother.
Watch for signs that your baby is bored with breastfeeding. If she seems distracted or latches on for just a few seconds before becoming disengaged, she may be ready to wean. Some babies truly are distracted; they will stop breastfeeding to look around at their environments. This doesn't necessarily mean they're ready to wean. Maybe start breastfeeding while lying down with your child in a dark room.
What is the Recommended Age to Wean?
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that a good time to wean is after the first birthday. A two year old may have a harder time weaning, as they'll be more attached to the breast. If you breastfed exclusively for six months and then gradually introduced solids into their diet, once the child reaches his first birthday may be the perfect time to slowly start weaning.
If you prefer to extend your breastfeeding, don't let anyone pressure you to stop! There are lots of known benefits of extended breastfeeding. Most women who wait longer to wean their child will stop at about two and a half or three years.
How do You Start Weaning?
Again, weaning is a distinctly individual process for each mother-child relationship. Pay attention to cues from your child and from your own body first, but here are some useful tips for weaning.
- Slow Abrupt weaning is never a good idea and may prove very traumatic for your child. If you're making progress, great - keep that pace. If you feel some digressions, be patient because your child may not be ready yet.
- Shorten the length of feeds Gradually and almost imperceptibly, start shortening the length of your feeds. If you're clocking in at ten minutes, start cutting off at nine, then eight…
- Start cutting out one feed every couple of days You should cut out one feed no less than every three to four days. Remember, you want to do this nice and slow.
- Only offer breast when she asks for it This may be tried once you feel your weaning process has gone comfortably, and can be one of the last stages.
- Delay and distract When your child starts showing she's ready to feed, try to postpone the feeding. Gently tell her you'll feed her later at night, before bedtime. Then distract her attention away. Be sure to provide supplements when she's hungry.
- Replace the void! Remember that breastfeeding to a child is not only a source of nutritious food, it's also a source of important comfort. When you start weaning your child, be sure to provide lots of skin-to-skin contact and spend time connecting with her.
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