Many mothers choose to breastfeed their children. There are many benefits to this decision. However, inevitably the time comes to wean the baby from breastfeeding. Babies may be weaned from the breast to the bottle or from the breast to a cup and baby food or real food. It depends on the age of the baby being weaned. No matter the age or what the baby is being weaned to use instead, weaning has the potential to be quite difficult, for both the mother and the child.
A big question a lot of mothers have is when should they wean. It’s not something mothers really need to worry about too much though. The experts say that it’s best to breastfeed until a baby turns one year old. If expert advice is important to a mother then at one year old is the right time. The best time, however, for most babies to be weaned is when the mother feels it’s is time. When mommy and baby are ready, that is when it is time to wean.
Once the decision to wean has been made it is not a good idea to quit cold turkey. It’s also not a good idea to leave on a weekend vacation or something along those lines while Grandma takes care of the little one. This has the potential to cause physical problems for the mother and emotional problems for the child. Stopping breastfeeding suddenly can cause severe breast pain due similar to the engorgement experienced shortly after birth and sometimes complications such as clogged ducts may occur. Stopping suddenly, especially stopping and being absent from the child for a few days, may be a traumatic experience for a baby. Breastfeeding provides more then nourishment. It also provides comfort. It is possible for a baby to be very upset and feel abandoned if a mother suddenly stops breastfeeding and isn’t around for a few days.
Here are some tips to making weaning a smooth and easy transition. Start by skipping a feeding. At a time when a mother would be breastfeeding she could instead offer a bottle or a cup. Over a few weeks, more and more feedings are skipped until the baby has been weaned completely. The feedings may also be shortened. For example, if usually a mother breast feeds for 5 minutes. Those feedings can be reduced to 3. If the baby is old enough for solids the feeding can be followed by healthy snack. Continue shortening the feedings until they can be stopped completely. The third method that can be used to make weaning easy is to postpone feedings. This works especially well when a baby only breast feeds a few times a day. Distract the baby by playing with him/her. Every day or few days continue pushing the breastfeeding to a later and later time until you can stop feeding altogether.
If every strategy has been tried and none of it works, it may just not be time. If there has been a recent changed in the baby’s life, such as the mother going back to work, or moving to a new place can cause a baby to balk. When one thing changes they will resist any other changes in their life. A baby may also balk at weaning if they are going through a developmental change or if they are sick. If weaning is a struggle the best thing to do is to wait a month or so and try again.