Weaning is one of the few experiences that all breastfeeding mothers share.
Today we will review the process of weaning your baby.
You may think of weaning as an event, it is actually a
It begins when your baby takes food or drink other than your milk and ends
with the last breastfeeding.
Weaning may be your choice, your child’s choice, or it may be mutual.
It may be abrupt or gradual, taking days, weeks, months, or even years.
When can I wean my baby? You and your partner will
decide on when to wean your baby. What will guide your decision is what the
experts have said on weaning.
Let's see what the experts suggest!
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive
breastfeeding for 6 months. Exclusive means no other
food or liquid unless medically needed.
The AAP also recommends that breastfeeding should be continued for at least
the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother
But the reality is that some mothers may stop before 1 year or 6 months due
to many reasons, low milk supply, difficulty to pump at work, pain, to
support their mental wellness or increased stress associated with continued
The right amount of time to breastfeed is what works best for you
and your family!
It is best to stop gradually….but if you need to abruptly stop
breastfeeding. Be aware of what you may feel as well as your baby due to
the sudden loss of comfort and security breastfeeding may give them.
You may experience:
Fevers, chills, muscle aches (AKA milk fever)
Feelings of depression
Resuming your period and fertility
Your baby may:
Refuse a bottle
Be more Fussy
Need extra snuggle and closeness time
Using a breast pump may allow some relief as well as a well fitted bra. Do
not bind your breast as that may increase clogged ducts!
Make weaning a positive experience for your child by paying
attention to your own inner voice and being sensitive to your child’s
cues. Your baby is most likely ready for solids when see the
following signs of readiness:
Can sit up alone.
Can pick up food and put it in mouth.
Tongue-thrust reflex has disappeared.
Shows an interest in eating other foods.
There are two basic weaning approaches. Let’s go through
Mommy-led weaning. Incorporate
pureed foods gradually, one at a time. This gives you time to make sure
your baby tolerates well whatever food you substitute before your milk is
gone. It also allows you to give your baby more focused attention and
comforting skin-to-skin contact to make the emotional adjustment easier for
your baby and also to know that you are not withdrawing your love along
with your breasts.
Gradually eliminate one breastfeeding session every two to five
Shorten nursing sessions slowly.
Lengthen the time between nursing sessions
Baby-led weaning. Allowing your
baby to outgrow breastfeeding on their terms. Your baby accepts increasing
amounts and types of complementary food while still breastfeeding on
demand. Your milk supply reduces slowly and comfortably without any thought
or effort as your child’s attention becomes more focused on the world
around them and less on you.
All children outgrow breastfeeding. The length it will take varies from
child to child, like the age they learn to walk, talk, and get their first
tooth. One child may wean at one or two years while another may be eagerly
breastfeeding at three. In general, with baby-led weaning, the
complete wean usually occurs between two and four years of age but can
happen as young as twelve months
The major challenge you may face with baby-led weaning is coping with
others’ opinions, and the older the child, the more challenging this
TRUE! Weaning is transition and with all change it can
bring different emotions. Relief and a sense of freedom can also be
accompanied by sadness, guilt and depression. This is normal.
Your baby is 6 months and you are ready to wean. Let’s go over some tips to
help with weaning whichever method you chose!
Make weaning a gradual and positive experience. Allow
plenty of time. It may take several weeks to wean, depending on how many
times a day your child has been breastfeeding.
Think about alternatives that your child might consider
even better than breastfeeding, provide other forms of emotional
nourishment that are equally attractive or at least interestingly
Offer regular meals, snacks, and drinks. Minimize hunger
and thirst with alternatives to breastfeeding, and offer your child
age-appropriate fun activities to avoid breastfeeding out of boredom.
Change daily routines. Think about the times and places
your child asks to breastfeed and how to change your routine so they will
be reminded less often. For example, if they usually ask to breastfeed when
you sit in a certain chair, avoid that chair.
Get your partner involved in giving your child
breakfast, helping the baby get back to sleep when they wake at night, and
plan special daytime outings together to distract them from the usual
Be flexible. When unusual situations arise, avoid
sticking rigidly to your weaning strategies. If your child is ill, they may
want to breastfeed more often for comfort. You can go back to weaning after
they are feeling better.
Well done, for coming this far! Weaning can be
challenging and emotional. Remember the right choice is whatever you and
your partner choose!
Our MaternalWell text support is also here for you for any general
For more specific concerns or recommendations reach out to our licensed
lactation specialists or to your healthcare provider.