All There Is To Know About How To Start Weaning Your Baby
Are you ready to begin the process of weaning your baby?
Would you like to learn more about the best way to start weaning a baby no matter which stage of preparedness you’ve already reached?
Are you looking for tons of great information about getting yourself ready for weaning as well as preparing your family, your home, and your baby too?
No matter what type of tips and tricks you’re searching for, when you want to learn how to start weaning a baby, we’ve got you covered!
In this article, we’ll give you proven strategies and hints for how to prepare yourself for the weaning experience, how to encourage your baby to get ready for weaning, how to help your family prepare, and even how to get your home ready too. You’ll learn everything you need to know so you’ll be better ready and able to begin the weaning process as soon as the right time rolls around.
So let’s get started learning more about how to start weaning your baby!
How to Prepare Yourself for Weaning
If you’re asking, “How do I start to wean my baby?” you’re in the right place. Preparing yourself is the first step toward a successful weaning experience. Stopping the weaning process can be very emotional for nursing moms especially, but even if you’ve been bottle-feeding since day one, you may feel as though your baby is growing up much too fast when it’s time to start weaning him or her onto solid foods. Try these methods to help improve your own emotional state before you get started weaning.
Write a story or letter to your baby.
This can help you put all of your emotions into words and feel as though you’re sharing them with your little one when the time rolls around. You may want to take some time to cuddle with your baby before your final nursing session and read the letter or story to him or her. Although your baby may not be able to understand it all right now, you’ll feel much better knowing that you’ve expressed yourself to your child.
- This is also something you might want to give to your child when he or she is older. Save the letter or story for a later date and consider giving it to your child as an adult.
Throw a party or have a ceremony.
Many moms (and dads, too!) have had a lot of success with giving up nursing or bottle-feeding by throwing a big party or, conversely, having a nice quiet ceremony for their little one. You might invite your baby’s grandparents, siblings, and of course your partner to attend, but try to keep the attendance number as low as possible so you’ll still be able to enjoy your final nursing session with your baby.
- If the ceremony will be just with you and your partner or with other close members of your family, you may want everyone to be present for the final nursing session.
Try using herbs for weaning (with doctor’s permission!).
Sometimes, you may need to take some herbal supplements to encourage your milk supply to dwindle. This can help you fight against the physical problems associated with weaning your child, such as engorgement and blockages in your milk ducts. You should always talk to your doctor before taking supplements—even herbal ones—while you’re still nursing your child.
- Herbal supplements may also help you emotionally, depending on what you try. Even something as simple as aromatherapy can help soothe your emotional state regarding the end of the nursing or bottle-feeding experience with your little one.
Treat yourself and your child.
One of the best ways to improve your feelings as well as your child’s about anything that may be perceived as negative in your lives together is to treat both of you to something special. This may be a favorite activity, a visit to a favorite place, or a little extra one-on-one time together for a few days after weaning has begun.
- You might also try treating yourself to a favorite food, a nice dinner, or a night out with just your partner. However, if part of your emotional stress is coming from being separated from your baby, don’t make the mistake of spending a night away from him or her right after weaning has begun.
Make a scrapbook.
This is many parents’ favorite way to fondly remember the nursing or bottle-feeding experience. Take plenty of pictures of your baby nursing or drinking from a bottle and put them together in a scrapbook along with some of your child’s favorite items from the same time in his or her life. You might also want to add to this scrapbook throughout your baby’s first couple of years and use it to document your child’s progression throughout all the stages of weaning.
- If you write a letter or story to your baby, be sure to put it in the scrapbook someday, too!
How to Prepare Your Baby for Weaning
Getting your little one ready for the weaning process is the next important step in starting to wean baby. There’s a lot you can do to help ensure your child’s weaning success, and much of it depends on the age of your baby. Follow these tips to try to introduce the concept of weaning and eating solid foods to your child before the actual process begins. Remember that every baby is different, so there may be some entirely different ideas you might want to try to get your baby ready to wean, too.
- Start bringing your baby to the dinner table with everyone else. You can encourage your child to get interested in eating by putting him or her in a high chair at the dinner table while everyone else is eating. As long as your child can sit up unassisted and hold his or her head up without help, he or she will be able to pay attention to everyone else at mealtime. This is a great way to show your baby what meals are all about!
- Make a big deal out of showing your baby how to eat. Show your child, either by actually eating or by pantomiming the process, just how dishes and utensils are used. Be sure your baby can see how happy you are to be eating solid foods, and be sure you’re expressing joy about the whole process. The more your baby can see that you associate positive feelings with food, the more likely he or she is going to be to do the same thing when it’s time to try solids.
- Enlist the help of other kids in the family to show your child how to eat too. Sometimes, babies learn a little bit better from older kids than from adults. Your baby will certainly be interested in what his or her siblings are doing, at least! And chances are good your child will want to start mimicking the older kids in your family soon, too.
- Talk to your older baby about the upcoming changes. If you won’t be starting the weaning process until your baby is a little bit older, there’s no reason why you can’t talk to him or her on the appropriate level about the changes. Of course, waiting to wean until your child is a toddler isn’t always a good choice, so your baby may not be old enough to understand when weaning time rolls around.
- Give your baby a new stuffed toy, blanket, or some other method of self-soothing and comfort. Make sure you exercise caution with this if your child is still very young because putting a blanket or a stuffed toy in a crib is not safe or recommended. If you can’t do this, try to think of some other way you can introduce this comfort object to your child, such as during supervised cuddle time with you. Your baby will want to be comforted and feel like he or she is getting plenty of attention during weaning.
How to Prepare Your Home for Weaning
There are lots of excellent items you can purchase ahead of time to ensure the success of your weaning experience. Knowing what to start weaning a baby with can make a huge difference in the whole process, so be sure you stock up on everything you’ll need for a safe, healthy, and happy weaning adventure. This isn’t really a place to cut corners in terms of baby supplies, but you can find much of what you need in a variety of different locations and at prices that are suitable for just about any budget.
High chairs and booster seats
You’ll want to start inviting your baby to the dinner table with the rest of the family at mealtimes before you ever begin truly weaning, if possible, so bring home a high chair or a booster seat as early as you can. Make sure you choose a high chair that’s safe enough to hold your baby in place when he or she gets wriggly and sturdy enough not to tip over easily. You can read reviews for high chairs for sale online to find the ones that are more highly recommended by parents just like you.
Bibs, tarps, and towels
Babies are bound to get messy when they’re weaning onto solid foods, so prepare by having lots of bibs and towels on hand! If you’re trying baby-led weaning, you can expect an even bigger mess, and many parents like to put down a tarp or an old tablecloth underneath the high chair to help make cleanup a little easier.
Baby dishes and utensils
If you’re doing baby-led weaning, you may not need dishes or utensils just yet, since most parents who try this option offer baby-safe foods directly on the tray of the (clean!) high chair for the first couple of stages of the weaning process. However, if you’re opting for parent-led or spoon-fed weaning, you’ll need to be sure you have dishes that are safe for your baby and utensils that won’t hurt him or her when you feed your little one. Choose options that are easy to keep clean by throwing them in the dishwasher—you’ll be glad you did!
If you’ll be making your own baby food, make sure you stock up on glass jars, durable freezer bags, silicone ice cube trays, and anything else you might need to store the foods you make ahead of time. Glass containers with locking lids are great for refrigerator storage, too!
Blenders, food processors, and ingredients
Making your own baby food—whether you choose baby-led weaning foods or traditional purees that you make yourself—will require the right devices. You’ll need a blender or a hand mixer, you may need a food processor, and you’ll definitely need the right ingredients to prepare the foods you want to serve your little one.
A meal plan
Baby-led weaning relies heavily on meal plans, but traditional parent-led weaning can benefit from having a plan in place before you ever get started, too. Write up what you’ll give your baby each day and make sure you’re still supplementing his or her solid food diet with breastmilk or formula until at least one year of age, too. This can be a great time to choose which food you’ll offer your baby first, as well. You don’t have to be limited to only starting with baby cereal or oatmeal—try mashed banana or mashed avocado for a tasty alternative to this traditional choice!
How to Prepare Your Family for Weaning
So how do you start weaning a baby when you’ve got other family members to consider? Getting your family and household ready for the weaning process is a step that some parents tend to overlook, but don’t forget about the other people in your home, too! Prepare everybody in the household for the hurdles and victories that will come along with weaning your baby by following these suggestions. Whether you’ve got other kids or not, whether you’ve got grandparents living at home or it’s just you and your partner, you can get everyone ready together and improve the weaning experience significantly by doing so.
- Talk to your partner about your emotional changes. Your partner is going to be a vital support for you if he or she is living with you, so make sure you are open about the emotional changes you’re going through. Let your partner know that you may cry a lot more or feel sad about the loss of this bond with your child, but that the feelings aren’t going to last forever.
- Explain to your children about your emotions on a level they can understand. Your older kids may not know what to expect if Mommy is suddenly crying a lot more every day, so be sure you talk to them about what’s happening in words they’ll understand. Tell them that you’re going to start feeding the baby differently and that you’ll miss cuddling with him or her more often, but that the whole family can soon enjoy mealtimes together.
- Tell your children to expect your baby to be a little louder and fussier for a while. Older kids and teens may be especially annoyed by the fussiness of a weaning baby, so let them know ahead of time to expect this. Also, be sure they understand that it won’t last forever.
- Show your children photos of themselves when they were weaning to help them understand. If you have younger kids who aren’t totally understanding what’s going on with your baby, try showing them photos of themselves nursing and weaning when they were younger. This can be a fun way for them to relate more to your baby and it might be nice for your emotional state, too!
- Ask for support from any live-in grandparents or other family members at mealtime. Any other family members who are living in your home can be enlisted for help at mealtimes with your weaning baby. Ask them to take photos, help you prepare the food, help feed the baby, or help clean up afterward. This way, they’ll feel included in the process and your baby will start to expect them to be a part of their mealtime adventures, too.
- Remind everyone that patience is key. Everyone in the family needs to stay as patient as possible with the baby while the weaning process is taking place. Although it can be tough to stay patient when a baby is screaming and crying a lot, remind everyone that this is a key part of ensuring that weaning goes smoothly.
- Ask the family to handle any arguments outside the home for the time being. Your baby may get more stressed at mealtimes if he or she can sense negativity in the household, so ask everyone to take their fights outside the house if something should arise. Also, encourage your family to stay as calm as possible and try to avoid fighting altogether during the weaning process. Families encounter fights now and then, and this is normal, but it can, unfortunately, throw off your baby’s weaning process a lot if he or she is present for yelling and other negative displays.
5 First Steps to Take When Weaning a Baby
If you still find yourself wondering, “How do I start weaning my baby?” then there are a few more tips that may work well for you. Depending on your baby and the weaning method you’re choosing for your situation, you may want to try one or more of these 5 excellent first steps to take for the weaning process. You don’t have to do them all or do them in order if it doesn’t work for you, but they can give you a great starting point for weaning your child successfully. Try them for yourself and see which one is right for you.
1. Get started slowly.
Start by introducing solid foods at one meal per day, and make sure you also offer breastmilk or formula as usual at this feeding session, too. Slowly introducing your child to solid foods (or purees) is the best way to encourage your baby to wean easily. Doing this may take quite a lot more time than any other method, but it’s going to be a lot easier on you and your little one throughout the whole experience, too. Over time, you can start replacing nursing or bottle-feeding meals with solid food meals instead.
2. Pay your baby more attention.
As soon as you begin taking away nursing or bottle-feeding sessions from your child’s daily routine, make sure you supplement these times with more cuddling and closeness to make up for the lack of physical contact. Nursing is a very physical and close bond between you and your child, but if you’ve been bottle-feeding, your baby has gotten used to being held and cuddled at mealtime, too. Because of this, you should always make sure to cuddle with your child before and after meals even when you begin serving solid foods or purees. Remind your child that your bond hasn’t broken or changed.
3. Don’t force any foods your child isn’t ready for.
If your baby is under six months of age, don’t force weaning at all. If he or she is ready to begin with solid foods then you can start offering very safe options, but this is something you should address with your baby’s pediatrician. It’s usually not safe to start weaning your baby onto solids earlier than six months of age. Even once you get started weaning your baby, make sure you offer foods he or she is ready for physically and developmentally. Don’t force your baby to eat something he or she won’t be able to swallow or digest well until the time is right.
4. Let your child play with utensils and foods to get used to them.
A week or so before you begin weaning, let your baby see his or her baby dishes and utensils. This may mean allowing your child to make a mess or throw these items around the room as he or she gets used to what they are and what they’re used for. You might also want to mime eating something out of the bowls or plates you’ll be using for your baby or show your baby how you would “eat” something with his or her spoon. All of this can help your child get used to the idea of eating solid foods on these dishes.
5. Choose a good time.
Whether you’re going for baby-led weaning or opting for a parent-led method instead, when it comes down to it, timing is everything. Your baby may be showing you that he or she is ready to start weaning the week before you’re going on vacation, but for the sake of convenience, you might want to wait to introduce solid foods until you get back home and things have become settled once again. Always make sure to choose a time when you’ll be able to devote attention to your baby as well as to preparing his or her foods if you’re going for a baby-led weaning method.
We hope that you’ve learned some helpful information here today about the right way to begin the process with your own child. Remember that every baby is an individual and every situation is different, so the right option for you may not be the same as the right choice for someone else, and that’s okay!
Remember that it’s always best to wait until everything is in place and everyone is ready to begin the process before you get started. Of course, just because this is best doesn’t mean it’s always possible, but if it is, you should always try to be thoroughly prepared before weaning ever gets going.
And if you’re wondering, “How can I know how to start weaning my baby in my own situation?” remember that you can always try some trial and error until you get it right! If you think your baby is ready for weaning but he or she doesn’t respond well to one method, try another way. Eventually, you’ll find the right solution and your child will be well on his or her way to weaning happiness.
Always speak with your child’s pediatrician about beginning the weaning process so that you can be sure you’re offering the right amount of food and milk or formula every day throughout each stage. Good luck, and have fun with weaning your little one!