Weaning Your Baby
Weaning is something that all mothers and their babies will have to go through at some point. Just as breastfeeding your baby has been a unique and personal experience for you, weaning will be as well.
You’ll need to think of weaning not as one single event that is going to happen, but rather as a process that is going to take a bit of time for both you and your baby.
It may take just a few days for your baby to wean or it can take up to a couple of months. Every baby is different so don’t expect there to be hard and set rules for you to follow.
Don’t Approach Weaning with Dread
Don’t think of weaning as something that is going to be hard and unpleasant.
Breastfeeding has most likely been a wonderful experience for you and weaning is just part of the natural process that your baby is going to go through as he gets older.
After all, you can’t breastfeed forever. The approach that you take when weaning your baby is going to make all the difference in the emotional and physical comfort for you and your baby at this time.
While there are some women who will need to stop nursing quite suddenly, weaning should be loving and gentle rather than abrupt and rigid.
Avoid Abrupt Weaning a Baby
Abrupt weaning will be very hard for both you and your baby. Physically, sudden weaning can be very uncomfortable and may even lead to some serious problems.
Even though you stop nursing your breasts will keep on producing milk. If this milk isn’t removed your breasts will become painfully engorged and painful.
This can lead to a breast abscess or an infection. The sudden drop in the prolactin hormone in your body can cause you to feel depressed.
These are all reasons that weaning should be done gradually. The drawbacks for your baby from sudden weaning are more emotional than physical.
It can be emotionally traumatic for your baby to be abruptly denied breastfeeding. Suddenly being withdrawn from your breast can feel as though your love and affection are being withdrawn as well.
Weaning a Younger Baby
If you want to wean your younger baby then be sure to wean gradually. Start by eliminating one of your baby’s daily feedings about every second day.
This will allow your milk supply to slowly start decreasing without giving you a lot of discomforts. It will also ensure that your baby is adjusting to slow weaning.
Make sure that you give him lots of extra attention and love to make up for the closeness that he was getting when he was breastfeeding.
If you like, you can offer a pacifier at this time or a bottle to make up for extra feedings. Over the next couple of weeks, you can continue to drop feedings.
The aim is that by the time your breast milk is gone that your baby has completely adjusted to either drinking from a cup or a bottle.
You will, of course, need to make sure that your baby is getting all the nutrition that he needs from sources other than your breast milk.
Weaning Your Older Baby or Toddler
The older your baby or toddler is the less he’ll be relying on your breast milk for all his nutritional needs. The emotional aspects of nursing become more important the older your baby gets.
He most likely has some very strong preferences for how and where he likes to nurse. The routine of breastfeeding is now very established between the two of you.
For this reason, it can take longer to wean an older baby than one who is younger. Offer plenty of snacks and drinks to your baby even though he’s most likely nursing for comfort rather than for hunger.
Don’t offer to breastfeed your baby, but at the same time don’t refuse him if he asks. You want him to feel as though he’s still loved and that if he wants to nurse, he can.
Distraction for Breastfeeding
You most likely have a good idea of the times when your baby is going to want to nurse. Anticipate these nursing times and be ready with a distraction or a substitution for nursing.
Don’t wait until he asks to nurse to provide him with a substitution. If you know that after nap time he’s going to want to nurse be ready beforehand.
Offer him a special snack when he wakes up from his nap and then take him out to play. Always make sure to offer healthy and nutritious snacks rather than sweets or candy.
Understanding the Weaning Process
Once you understand that weaning is a gentle process you can respect your baby’s preferences and choices when it comes to this process.
Be as gentle and as understanding as you can. After all, nursing has become a big part of your bonding and even though it’s time to now move on, you want to maintain a strong and loving relationship with your baby or toddler.