The Best Advice For Weaning A Breastfed Baby
Is it about time to start your experience with weaning breastfed baby to solids?
Has your baby started showing signs that he or she is ready to start weaning, or do you feel like it’s time for you to stop nursing?
Do you feel confused trying to figure out the right time to get started on the weaning process?
Whether you’re wondering when to wean a breastfed baby or you’re just looking for tips on how to go about the process, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll give you tons of information and helpful pieces of advice that are mom-tested and have been proven to be effective for the weaning process. You’ll learn about weaning a one year old baby from breastfeeding and you’ll also learn suggestions for how to handle the experience if your baby is older or younger than 12 months, too.
We’ll also give you a little extra information about just how important a support system really can be. There’s a lot to be said for learning parenting tips from experienced moms (and dads!) who have been there before, so don’t neglect to look for advice even in places where you may least expect it.
By the end of the article, you should have a solid understanding of what to expect from the weaning process as well as how to get the most out of the experience for yourself and your little one. You’ll be able to choose whether or not it’s the right time for you to get started weaning and you’ll be more prepared for whatever the experience might throw your way.
When you want to provide your child with the easiest and least fussy weaning process while still ensuring that you’re doing everything the right way and at the right time, it’s important to pay attention to advice from moms who have tried it before. Experience is valuable in any part of parenting!
So let’s get started!
Support Systems and Advice
Having a solid support system can make a world of difference at any stage of the parenting process. There’s a difference between hearing advice and having a true support system, but both of these aspects of connecting with other parents can be helpful to you throughout the process—not just for weaning a breastfed baby. Below, we’ll explain briefly what makes a support system and where you can look for advice as well as further help from parents just like you who are going through the same types of experiences you are.
These are groups of people who you can turn to time and time again for help, tips, advice, suggestions, and emotional assistance if you’re going through something difficult. They’re also people you can share your victories and accomplishments with, too, which is just as important during parenting as any other type of support! Your baby will be reaching lots of big milestones throughout the first couple of years of his or her life, and you’ll want someone you can share those with as well as people you can turn to when things get a little more difficult than you might have anticipated.
- Family - Most of your support is probably going to come from your family, and that’s perfectly normal. It’s great when you have a supportive family who can help you with many of the struggles and achievements of your parenting experience. Just remember that, if you’re getting advice from older family members, some things may have changed in the world of parenting (and especially weaning!) since that person’s children were little. It’s always okay to reconsider any advice you think might be a little bit outdated.
- Friends - If possible, try to join mommy or parenting groups local to your area to help connect with other parents like you who can be supportive throughout weaning and beyond. This is also a great way for you to introduce your baby to other babies around his or her age and start teaching interpersonal skills as early as possible.
- Online - As with just about anything else these days, you can always look to the Internet for support, whether you’ve got local friends and family or not. The Internet can provide you with a wealth of useful information, and you can also join forums filled with suggestions and people willing to offer their experience and wisdom for any questions you might have.
Whether you’re asking, “When should I wean my baby from breastfeeding?” or a wide variety of other questions, it’s always okay to ask for advice from people you know and even people you don’t know, as long as you’re sure about the sources of their information. Just be sure that, if your advice comes from strangers online, you always double check with someone else or look it up for yourself just to confirm whether or not it’s really accurate information.
Also, remember that you don’t have to listen to every piece of advice you are offered, and not all advice is going to work for you!
11 Pieces of Advice From Moms, For Moms
In this section, you’ll find some of the best and most tried-and-true tips from parents around the country and even around the world who have learned when to wean baby from breastfeeding and much more about the weaning process. There’s so much to learn about weaning, and even these tips may only scratch the surface of the process, but they’re a great place to get started and can provide you with a solid framework from which to form your own weaning experience.
1. Shorten those nursing times.
One of the first and most important steps toward successful weaning is shortening the amount of time you spend nursing your baby every day. For example, if you usually allow your baby to nurse for ten minutes, cut that amount of time in half. This may seem like a drastic change for the beginning of the weaning process, but it’s a great way to encourage your child to be willing to begin weaning. Over time, you’ll also want to shorten this amount of time even more until you’re no longer nursing at all.
- When you go this route, make sure you allow your baby to nurse from each breast for a short amount of time before you try offering a bottle or sippy cup. This way, your child won’t be waiting for you to offer the second breast and won’t be expecting milk to come from anywhere else. This will also help relieve any engorgement you may be dealing with.
- Your baby may be very fussy if you do this, but you should try to feed enough to keep him or her from crying while still leaving your child hungry enough to be willing to try a bottle or sippy cup instead.
2. Postpone nursing requests and distract your baby or toddler from the thought of nursing.
This works a little bit better with older children who are at least 12 months old, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work at all with younger babies. You’ll just need to adjust how you go about it if you choose to try this with a younger child. If your baby cries or your toddler asks you for a nursing session, simply put it off. Tell your toddler that you’ll nurse a little bit later, but then bring another fun activity into the picture and offer a bottle or sippy cup instead. Chances are good this distraction will help prevent your child from wanting to nurse.
- If you’re trying this with a baby, you may not be able to explain to your child that you’ll nurse later, but you can still try the distraction method. With a younger baby, you may still want to actually nurse for a few minutes later on rather than simply distracting him or her and moving on.
- Make sure that you offer formula, breast milk, or cow’s milk (if your baby is over 12 months) in a bottle or sippy cup instead of offering something else to drink that isn’t healthy.
3. Think about letting your child choose the time.
Baby-led weaning is a different matter altogether from parent-led weaning, but it works great for a lot of families. Even if you don’t fully follow the baby-led weaning formula—which entails letting your child self-feed from day one of the weaning experience—you still may want to wait to begin weaning when your child is truly ready to get started. Especially if you’re having trouble with parent-led weaning, this may be the best way to go.
- Letting your child choose may mean nursing well past 12 months of age, at least a little bit. Make sure you’re prepared for the physical and emotional strain that this may put on you. Many times, other parents will judge you or make comments to you about nursing your child for too long, so if you want to do this, be prepared to deal with the negativity you may experience and even to educate others if the chance arises.
- Be sure to bring up the topic of weaning to your baby if he or she is old enough to understand it. However, there’s no need to push it if you don’t want to. The idea is just to ensure that your child knows about weaning and understands that it will happen someday.
4. Bring on a new nightly routine to break that last nursing habit.
Many times, the last nursing session before bedtime is the hardest one to give up, for baby and mommy both. This is a time when you usually get to be alone with your child, or you may enjoy time as a whole family together with your baby and your partner while you nurse before bedtime. This is also a time of comfort and soothing for your child and it’s probably one you look forward to yourself as well. So it’s understandable that it’s tough to give this up!
- The best way to break the habit of a bedtime nursing session is to change the nightly routine. Start by changing it a little bit at a time so you aren’t surprising your baby too much at once. For example, try putting on pajamas first and then brushing teeth, or add a longer bedtime story or nighttime song that will eventually take the place of nursing altogether.
- The first night you put your baby to bed without nursing, be sure to spend a lot of time cuddling with him or her beforehand to ensure your child that you’re still just as close as ever.
5. Be mindful of engorgement and other changes to your own body.
Many times, when you begin the weaning process, your breasts may become engorged with milk as your body adjusts to your child’s development and makes changes to reduce the amount of milk production over time. This can be very painful, but rest assured that it won’t last for too long. You can always speak to your doctor or your child’s pediatrician for information about how to handle engorgement, but many times, nursing moms can get a lot of relief from simply applying cool compresses until the problem eases up.
- There are other changes your body may experience during this time as well. Depending on how long you’ve been nursing, some of these may be different than others, but it’s always a good idea to pay close attention to signs from your body when you’re making changes like this.
- As your child gets older, your body will even out and things will return to normal. Just remember to be as patient with yourself as you are with your little one! It takes time for your body to get back to its previous state after giving birth and raising a baby, so try not to rush things.
6. Don’t forget your own emotional state, too.
As you’re dealing with physical changes and discomforts from the weaning process, you may find yourself hit with emotional issues you weren’t expecting, too. Nursing moms have formed a close bond with their babies that revolves around the nursing experience, and when that comes to an end, you may feel as though you’re losing a part of your relationship with your baby. It can be overwhelming to think that you’ve already come to the end of something in the life of your child, but don’t worry! Just because your baby is weaning doesn’t mean he or she needs you any less.
- You can still spend a lot of time cuddling with your baby and being affectionate without the nursing aspect of the situation. Just make sure to double up on time you spend reading together, playing, and sitting together throughout the day.
- Your baby will continue to need you at mealtime, too. If you’re bottle-feeding, you’ll still be actively involved in the feeding process. And if you’re moving to solid foods, you can be even more involved by preparing your child’s food at home, too.
7. Bring someone else into the picture to help at feeding time.
Your baby may be very used to nursing from you at this point, and he or she is naturally going to associate you with mealtime because of this. This is totally normal, but it can be a tough habit to break with your child, and you may find that your baby simply won’t take a bottle, sippy cup, or even solid food from you when he or she is expecting to get a chance to nurse. Over time, this will get easier, but you may need to bring someone else into your mealtime experience for a while to help speed the process along.
- Your partner is a great option for this. Feeding can be an excellent way for your partner to get involved in the process of raising your baby in a way that he or she hasn’t been able to while you’ve been solely nursing. You may also want to ask a grandparent, aunt or uncle to help. Just make sure you choose someone who is a capable adult.
- You may have to leave the house and stand outside in some extreme cases while someone else tries to get your baby to take a bottle. If your baby can smell you, he or she may still expect a nursing session.
8. Offer plenty of attention and care throughout the process.
We’ve already touched on this one a little bit, but it’s a crucial step toward ensuring successful weaning. You don’t want your baby to feel like something special is ending between the two of you, and you don’t want to have to feel that way, either! Spend lots of time cuddling and being close with your baby to help make the transition a little bit easier for everyone involved. You might also want to bring your partner into your cuddle times to help encourage more bonding as a whole family—but be sure to leave a little one-on-one time for yourself and your baby, too.
9. Consider waiting to wean from breastfeeding until your baby is established on solid foods.
This is also known as partial weaning, and it’s a method that’s been working for parents for a long time already. Basically, this means introducing solid foods to your baby as a replacement for some nursing sessions but continuing to nurse your child at least a couple of times a day until he or she is otherwise fully established eating solids. This may take a little extra planning and time management, but with the right schedule, you’ll be able to pull it off well and have a great no-fuss weaning experience.
- Usually, moms will continue nursing for the first and last meals of the day while offering solid foods to their babies throughout the day otherwise. However, this may not be the schedule that works best for you, and as long as you’re keeping up with at least one nursing session while still offering solid foods at other meals and snack times, you’re participating in partial weaning.
- It’s best to leave your baby’s favorite nursing session until the very end of the partial weaning experience. This is often the final meal of the day before bedtime, but not always.
10. Take your time and don’t force your baby cold turkey.
Suddenly taking away your baby’s method of eating as well as a favorite source of comfort is not something that’s going to go over well with your child, so it’s best to work slowly and phase out nursing over time rather than stopping it immediately, no matter what age your baby might be.
- With that said, however, there are always exceptions to this. Every now and then, children simply have a better weaning experience if they quit nursing cold turkey. You shouldn’t try cold-turkey weaning first, but if all else fails, it may be the only option you have. You should speak to your child’s pediatrician before making this decision, however, since it can be difficult for your little one.
- In some instances, you may have a medical reason that means you’ll have to stop nursing suddenly. If your milk production slows too much or stops completely before your baby has weaned from nursing, you’ll have to wean cold turkey. You may have other medical issues that cause you to need to stop nursing suddenly, and your baby may also choose to stop nursing without warning in some instances, too.
11. Let older children get involved in choosing new cups or other fun items to encourage weaning.
If your child is at least a year old, he or she is going to start having preferences and being more capable of making decisions. This can be a fun time to get your baby involved in choosing a new sippy cup in a color he or she likes or picking out his or her new baby dishes. Give your child a couple of choices to pick from and let him or her decide which one to use for the day. This way, your baby will be getting involved in the weaning experience and will feel like a part of it rather than at the mercy of it.
Now that you’ve learned some helpful hints on how to wean a breastfed baby, we hope that you feel a little bit more confident in your own decisions about the process. We definitely understand that the weaning process can be a scary and emotional one for you and your baby both, and whether you’re weaning baby from breastfeeding at 12 months, getting started earlier or waiting a little longer, there are always going to be hurdles you have to overcome. With patience and plenty of info from experienced parents, you’ll be able to accomplish successful weaning with your baby no matter what!
When you learn tips and tricks that work for you while weaning a breastfed baby 12 months or any other age, it’s important to remember to pay it forward. You probably learned at least some of your helpful hints from moms just like you, so don’t forget to let other new moms know what worked for you too. This way, you’ll be able to continue the cycle and may even become a support system for someone else, whether you know it or not!
Learning when to start weaning breastfed baby and how to go about the weaning process can be tricky, but it can also be a little controversial. Remember that, if you offer advice to other moms, that doesn’t mean they have to do exactly what you say or raise their babies the same way you’re raising yours. Just like you’ll want to pick and choose the tips that work well for you, so will other moms, and that’s okay! Every baby is an individual and so is every mom.
Another important piece of advice to keep in mind for weaning and any other part of your parenting experience is to always speak to your child’s pediatrician before you make any drastic changes to his or her diet. Once you’re introducing solid foods, you won’t need to check in every time you want to bring something new into your child’s diet, as long as it’s following the original plan laid out by your baby’s pediatrician. However, you should definitely ask before you begin weaning. Your baby’s pediatrician will have plenty of information to offer you about the process, too.
Whether you choose to take tips from other moms or you plan to just wing it and see how it goes based on information from your child’s pediatrician alone, we hope you’ve learned something useful here today about weaning your baby. Good luck with the experience, and remember to be patient and loving throughout. In no time, you’ll have a happily weaned baby!