How to Wean a Breastfeeding Baby

breastfeedingBreastfeeding is time consuming and can be a burden on mothers, but weaning from breastfeeding is equally difficult. Here are some tips to help wean a breastfeeding baby.

Baby Center is one of the best places to obtain plenty of information regarding pregnancy, babies and toddlers. Signing up to receive their email updates based on the age of one’s child is advisable. Their website also contains excellent recommendations. With regard to weaning from breastfeeding, it is advised that either the child or the parent can do it.

Child-Led Weaning

Some breastfeeding experts recommend child-led weaning. Children see breastfeeding as more than just a time to eat. They also see it as a time to relax and cuddle with their mom so the little one may or may not be ready to give this time up. Giving the child the chance to wean himself from breastfeeding leads to fewer problems. Keep in mind that child-led weaning does not mean that the child does all the work but rather, that the mother takes cues from the child regarding the right time for weaning.

Parent-Led Weaning

The alternative is to allow the mother to decide when it is right to wean the baby. This entails the mother slowly weaning the baby off breast milk and on to formula or whole-fat milk and solid food. The mother gently and slowly weans the baby off the breast, all the while watching for signs that the little one is stressed with this process. Kelly Mom warns mothers about these signs: sudden increase in separation anxiety; increased whining, crying or tantrums; sudden increase in night waking; biting when it has never occurred; new attachment to a comforting object like a blanket; new or increased thumb or pacifier sucking; refusal to eat, constipation or vomiting; and finally, new or increased withdrawal and aloofness. If these signs are observed, it is advisable to back off with the weaning for a while until the child displays signs that he is ready.

How To Guide

It is time to start once the toddler is showing signs that he or she is ready to wean from the breast. A child who self-weans is usually well over one year old. They are getting most of their nutrition from solids, are drinking well from a cup and have gradually reduced nursing. There are three stages in the process that Baby Center recommends:

Stage One

Feed the baby from the breast as usual and then offer him a small amount of appetizing, solid food.

Stage Two

Once the baby is eating well, try offering the food before breastfeeding. If this goes well, do it at every feed.

Stage Three

Eventually, offer the baby water in a sippy cup instead of breastfeeding.

How long this process takes depends on the child. It can take anywhere from a week to six months. If the child does not want to stop breastfeeding, there are ways of readying the child. Try comforting the little one in other ways: cuddling, playing games or reading a book. Attempt to delay feeding, explain to the child he will have to wait until after dinner or before bed. Pick a suitable time; if the child has been ill or has had some major changes in his life, then this is not a good time to wean. Remember, this is a vital stage in a toddler’s development, so patience and love are of utmost importance.

By Nicole Drawc

Baby Center
La Leche League