Your baby is almost 12 months and you’re struggling to wean off breastfeeding,
Making the choice of when to start weaning off breastfeeding your infant is a struggle for many mothers.
They are caught up in the mixed emotions of what is right for their baby, their own needs, and what everyone is telling them.
Weaning off breastfeeding can never be defined as certain age or certain developmental stage in your child’s life. The proper time comes down to only a couple of simple items.
The first portion of the decision may come down to a lifestyle choice. Advocates of breastfeeding may hate to hear this, but sometimes our lives dictate change.
If you have been breastfeeding through the first six months of your baby’s life and it is beginning to interfere with work and life you can make a choice to start weaning your baby. Plan on it being a gradual process.
The second portion of the decision comes down to your baby. Every baby has an internal clock which is going to be their own time to start the weaning process.
If you are comfortable with continuing to breastfeed then watch your baby for clues. You will see them gradually decreasing the frequency they want the breast and are more interested in solid food.
This process can begin between 6 to 12 months, and sometimes as late as 18 months. As the process begins you can start offering more alternatives to speed the process if you desire.
Methods of Weaning – How quickly can I wean off breastfeeding?
One concern with weaning off breastfeeding is the speed of the weaning. You can do it cold turkey but unless it is for a medical reason this produces major distress for both of you.
The sudden removal of the breast will cause an unhappy baby, probably cause you to experience painful breast engorgement, and can lead to feelings of separation or depression in mothers.
The best way of weaning a baby is to slowly reduce the frequency of breastfeeding and start offering more alternative choices. This can be in the form of more solid foods, the formula in a glass, or even the formula in a bottle.
By reducing the frequency over several weeks it removes the stress on both of you making the transition easy and healthy.
If you are choosing to start weaning from breastfeeding because you are experiencing breast or nipple problems, but would really prefer to keep nursing, then you need to ask a few more questions.
Many hospitals, pediatricians, and obstetricians can refer you to a lactation expert. This expert may be a nurse, doctor, or physician’s assistant. They can give you great advice on how to overcome most problems and may delay your need for weaning.
5 Tips to successfully wean your 1-year-old and beyond
The process of weaning can be challenging and frustrating to many mothers. Here are 5 tips to successfully wean your baby with the least amount of problems.
Tip 1: Do not attempt to wean your baby cold turkey. This has two very negative consequences. The first is the stress on your infant. By weaning gradually, reducing feedings over several weeks, you reduce the stress, and it seems more natural.
The second problem is to you. If you stop cold turkey, your breasts are going to engorge with milk, and you will experience pain. It is much easier to gradually decrease over several weeks, allowing your body to adjust.
Tip 2: Start a substitution method immediately. When you start to wean your baby, replace the bonding time from breastfeeding with another bonding activity.
Holding your child and reading a book, playtime, or just holding them to rock in the chair. They need their time with you and will miss it just as much or more than the breast.
Tip 3: Do not place your child in normal breastfeeding positions. When you hold your child, avoid holding them in ways that can feel like you are preparing to start breastfeeding. They will be reminded of what they are missing, and you could have a very unhappy child.
Tip 4: Sometimes it is better to let your child decide the proper time for weaning. When you choose when to ween your baby, you are basing it off of personal desires, or someone telling you it is time.
Your baby will start reducing their desire to breastfeed as they eat more solid foods, learn to use a cup, and become busy playing. You may be pleasantly shocked to discover they stop wanting the breast on their own.
Tip 5: Try to offer the cup first. As you begin to wean your baby, make sure to offer them a cup of milk before you offer the breast. Many times they will accept the cup and will forget about the breast for now.
This helps them gently transition from breastfeeding to a cup. If they are insistent at this moment, then go ahead and breastfeed if it is one of the planned times.
These 5 tips to successfully wean your baby can help you overcome your baby’s resistance, and reduce your personal stress. The most important thing for both of you is to fill your time with other bonding efforts to reduce the feelings of loss you will both experience.
Your baby is growing up quickly, and this is just another one of those magical times of transition you will both survive. The new freedoms you will both gain will repay both of you many times over. Trips to the mall, going out to eat, and other activities will suddenly be much easier.
Is it painful to wean off breastfeeding?
Weaning or the start of your baby’s food diversification can cause you some pain.
When you reduce the number of feedings, your milk supply does not decrease instantly. It will take a few days for your lactation to adjust.
This can create a feeling of warmth, throbbing, swelling, or even create a lump inside your breasts… This is the famous phenomenon of engorgement.
You have generally already experienced it when the milk comes in, in particular. It is caused in particular by the slowing down of milk circulation, the increase in blood flow, and the development of edema.
When you have made the choice it is time to start weaning off breastfeeding, it is always a good idea to replace the lost contact time with your baby with other activities.
Start spending the same amount of time holding them reading books. Get down on the floor and play with them. Take them for a walk. Many times the greatest stress is not the change in diet, but the loss of attention.
This is one problem you can remedy with ease. Weaning can be easy, if you just take time, and give it the proper thought.
Reference: Weaning: How To