Weaning From Breastfeeding: Here's The Right Way To Do It
Breastfeeding doesn't just nourish the body of a baby. It nurtures their emotions, makes them feel comforted and brings ecstasy to the mother. The World Health Organization and other Pediatric societies worldwide recommend mothers exclusively breastfeed for the first six months. However, after that, additional nutrients are required for the baby's growth.
Hence, switching to solid foods or weaning becomes necessary. While there will be an array of advice on when to start weaning, let us tell you there is no right age for weaning. It is you and your baby who shall call the shots anytime after six months. Whenever you decide to wean from breastfeeding, here are a few tips to help you make the big transition comfortably.
Catch The Clues
You can nurse your baby as long as both of you are comfortable. However, a few signs in your little one will indicate that they are ready for solid foods. Around that time and anytime after, you can start to wean from breastfeeding.
The signs we are concerned about are primarily developmental. They usually show up around the sixth month. However, the pace of development varies in children. So, it is best to have patience and wait till your child is ready.
Here Are The Clues To Look Out For
They can sit straight without any support and hold their head upright.
They no more resist a spoon in their mouth or push food outside. It means they have outgrown the tongue-thrust reflex and are ready to swallow solid foods.
Their motor skills are decently developed. They can identify and hold things.
They express interest in the food eaten around them and try to pick food and put them in their mouth.
They are fidgety during the nursing sessions.
Know When 'Not To Wean'
While you and your baby have full liberty to decide when to stop breastfeeding, adding weaning into your routine during stressful times can misfire. Therefore, ensure that you and your baby are in good health when you decide to wean. If one of you is going through any physical discomfort, then coping with the massive changes of weaning can be challenging.
Besides, a significant life change like shifting homes, starting daycare or teething is not a good time to start weaning. Your baby already has a lot to adapt to. Imposing another challenge in the form of weaning might weigh them down and affect their emotional as well as physical health, making weaning taxing for both of you.
Moreover, see how your little one is responding to weaning. If they are having a tough time adjusting and continue to resist eating other foods for days in a row, give them some time. You can try weaning a little later.
When you gradually wean from breastfeeding, it gives you and your baby enough time to adjust to the changes. Besides, weaning slowly will prevent breast engorgement and mastitis due to blocked ducts. Dropping one nursing session every week is the most recommended approach to weaning.
This will not overwhelm your child with a sea of changes. In addition, it will give your breasts enough time to adjust to the decreased demand for milk, leading to reduced production.
Dropping a nursing session doesn't necessarily mean that your child shall not get breastmilk during that time. Instead of breastfeeding, you can pump your breast milk and provide it.
Pumping has become more comfortable than ever before with MomMed's wearable and portable breastfeeding pumps. Even if you are driving, cooking or working at the office, you can always have milk ready for your little one.
If your munchkin hasn't celebrated their first birthday yet, do not give them cow milk as a replacement for your breastmilk. Give them formula or pump milk in a bottle. After a year, you can replace the feeding session with cow milk or a healthy snack.
Make It Easy For Your Little One
Weaning from breastfeeding is emotionally challenging for your little one too. Therefore, do not be rigid with your weaning routine. Make sure you make your baby feel comfortable and help them spontaneously fall into the routine.
Try These Out:-
Distract Them: if you have dropped a nursing session and you see your child craving to be breastfed, offer distractions in the form of a toy, tell them a story or take them to a park. Start an activity that diverts their focus. Eventually, they will forget about their need to be nursed.
Swap Responsibilities: This is where you make your family a part of your weaning journey. If dropping the bedtime or waking up feeding seems tough, let your partner or your parents put your baby to sleep or wake them up.
Not being able to nurse with you by your side is hard for the baby and can make them cranky. Not having you around them will give them the message that their demand cannot be met. This will ease them into the habit of not asking to be breastfed in the morning or during sleepy time.
Change the routine: If you have decided to drop a nursing session and breastfeed during that time, your baby might throw tantrums while accepting the bottle from you. In that case, you should try changing the usual place where feeding happens.
Move into a different room and try a new position. Since their minds get trained to associate particular people and places with specific activities, changing that helps in a smoother transition.
Give lots of cuddles: To compensate for the loss of physical contact due to weaning, provide comfort in all ways possible. Spend quality time with your little one. Tell them stories, sing to them, play with them and shower them with hugs and cuddles.
Let Your Baby Lead, If It Works For You
If you are ready to accept surprises, then choose this path. Letting your baby lead doesn't give the quickest results. This approach requires you to nurse the baby only when they ask for it and not offer it when they don't. Going this way means that you are complying with your baby's pace. Needless to say, this requires you to wait till your baby is entirely ready to stop breastfeeding.
Your Breasts Might Engorge- Learn To Soothe
Sometimes, trying to wean from breastfeeding can cause your breasts to engorge. Engorgement is nothing but tightness and fullness in your breasts caused by clogged milk ducts. When more milk is produced by your breasts than you express, the surplus milk blocks the ducts without finding a way to drain. This causes discomfort and pain.
Ibuprofen or acetaminophen helps alleviate the pain. Besides, cold compresses can soothe the breast tenderness caused due to engorgement and give you some relief. You can use nursing pads kept in the freezer for a while or cabbage leaves for the purpose.
When your breasts feel full, the best thing you can do is pump some milk. Use breastfeeding pumps or express by hand. If you can, take a shower with warm water. That helps release some milk and soothes the breasts.
However, note that you should not express all the milk from your breast. If you do that, your breasts will get informed to keep producing the same quantity of milk. On the other hand, leaving some milk tells your breasts that the demand for milk has decreased. This will gradually reduce the amount of milk production.
To wean from breastfeeding is not easy for you or your baby. It is normal to go through an emotional rollercoaster. So, give yourself and your baby time to let the enormous change sink in. Most importantly, do not compare your baby's progress with contemporary babies. Everyone has a different pace. Take it slow and do it your way.