Childcare and You

Childcare and You

Friday, December 30, 2011

When and How to Wean your Baby from Breastfeeding

My son had turned a year old when I had decided to wean him from breastfeeding. But it was easier said than done because he had decided not to let go. His attachment to his favorite toy was in the literal sense, attached to somebody, namely me. I had tried all the tips given to me by others in the family and friends but they all fell short against a formidable one foot tall opponent. I realized it was relatively easy to wean a toddler at 8 or 9 months because I did not have to try very hard to wean my daughter at 9 months as opposed to my son. Though it is best to nurse your baby until he is a year old, it is up to you to decide when to wean your baby from breastfeeding.

A friend suggested that I apply a paste of bitter gourd around the time my son was ready to be nursed. But I had not bargained on the resourcefulness of a determined toddler. When my son saw the paste, he proceeded to wipe it off with a tissue, had his fill of milk, went to the kitchen to fetch the paste and gave it to me for reapplication. I realized then that the situation called for change of tactics.  

Wean gradually as the sudden physical separation might stress your baby and upset her. Replace one feed at a time.

Give your baby a sippy cup as an alternative, to drink water or juice from, before you begin to wean your baby from breastfeeding. Give your baby the sippy cup during his snack time or when you give him solids.

Skip one feed, after breakfast or after lunch and give milk in the sippy cup instead. To start with, give your pumped milk, for a few days to start with, in order to avoid his outrage at the sudden change in the taste of milk that might upset him needlessly. Gradually reducing the number of feeds over the next few weeks, will give your baby ample time to come to terms with the transition. Besides, your milk supply will also reduce in time.

Shorten each feed time of your baby. Make up for the reduced time by giving your baby his favorite snack or milk from his sippy cup. Your baby’s bedtime feed will be the last one to go.

Distract and postpone your baby’s feed once or twice in a day by reasoning or distracting him with his favorite toy or music or an outing to the park or postpone the feed that he is least interested.

Weaning from mom to dadDuring the weaning period, give extra cuddles and hugs to your baby to comfort her. At this juncture, the father can lend a hand by holding the baby more and comforting her.

If weaning becomes a struggle on account of certain unusual developments at home, then perhaps you should postpone weaning until the next month or so. Don't worry, your baby will be weaned sooner or later. 

Weaning can be initiated by your baby when he shows less interest in getting nursed and shows more interest in toys or other things.

Be prepared to notice certain physical changes in your baby once she is weaned like harder stools from formula milk as opposed to breast milk, which is normal.

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