Weaning a breastfed baby “how to stop breastfeeding”
Breastfeeding weaning is not always that easy!
This page will help give some weaning from breastfeeding advice on how to wean a baby so that the process is bearable for mom and baby.
It is recommended to continue with breastfeeding for at least six months… read here on the benefits of breastfeeding for baby and mom. Child led weaning “BLW” is also recommended…this is when baby weans himself onto other weaning foods while breastfeeding.
Weaning my baby when we are both ready!
If you are feeling pressured into weaning by friends and family, know that it is perfectly normal to keep your baby on your breast until he decides to wean himself naturally. (Read our page on breastfeeding your toddler)
Moms that are returning to work might also feel that weaning baby from breast is required, but you can actually breastfeed and work at the same time by bottle feeding baby your breast milk. (Read our page on working and breastfeeding)
Breastfeeding myths about when to wean baby
- Breastfeeding weaning baby when he starts teething - You do not need to wean baby when he starts teething
- Wean if you have mastitis - You do not need to wean if you have mastitis as weaning will actually make mastitis worse!
- Wean when you go back to work - You do not have to wean when returning to work. You can pump at work or make arrangements to breastfeed at work.
- Wean when you are ill – You can continue to breastfeed when you are ill, as breastfeeding will actually deliver important anti bodies to baby that will prevent him from getting sick... read more on breastfeeding while sick here
- Breastfeeding weaning if baby is ill or is going for surgery – Breastfeeding during these times will actually help baby heal faster.
- You need to wean when you fall pregnant – Breastfeeding during pregnancy can be done and is not dangerous for you or baby
Tips for breastfeeding weaning a baby & toddler weaning
- Always wean baby slowly. This will be an easier transition for you and him and will prevent weaning mastitis. Less demand for breast milk will lead to less breast milk supply. Start by removing one feed a week and then more as you go along.
- Offer baby something as a breast substitute like finger foods or some milk in a bottle. If your baby is under a year old “infant weaning” you will need to supplement with formula. Weaning breastfeeding to formula can be easier if the formula is mixed with some breast milk. Babies that are a year or older can be given cow’s milk.
- When weaning your baby you will need to give him more attention than usual as he might feel a bit vulnerable for a while
- You might need to let somebody else give baby the bottle and leave the room, with you absent he wont be reminded of breastfeeding
- Weaning breastfeeding at night - Leave the before bed feedings for last to go as these will help baby sleep better in the evenings and is a bigger comfort to him.
- If baby is capable of drinking out of a sippy cup, rather offer him this instead of the bottle… as bottle-feeding can also be quite difficult to wean baby from at a later stage.
- It might be easier to wean a nursing toddler onto the sippy cup if the cup contains breast milk. You will then need to continue pumping breast milk for a while just to get baby familiar with the cup. Weaning from breast to bottle will be easier for younger children as they have not grown emotionally attached to the breast like a toddler would.
- Introducing solid foods will be the start of the weaning process, so the more solids baby is eating the easier it will be to wean him from the breast.
Making weaning breastfeeding more comfortable for mom
- Gradual weaning from beast will let your body know that it is time to start producing less milk
- Weaning breastfeeding pain - If your breasts start to feel a little tight, you can always pump them a little for some comfort. Ice packs can also be used to decrease the swelling and pain…if any. Read more on how to handle engorged breasts here
- Cabbage leaf wrapping of breasts can also relieve swelling, but this will not be necessary if breastfeeding weaning is gradual
- Herbs can be taken that are safe during breastfeeding that can help with weaning "weaning herbs"
- A weaning toddler may be difficult to deal with and it would be a good idea to get somebody (preferably dad) to take your toddler out and get his mind off of breastfeeding during the times he wants to be fed.
- Weaning breastfeeding depression - Sometimes moms might feel a bit depressed during weaning and after breastfeeding weaning is over. Moms might have feelings of guilt or feel terribly inadequate. This is normal, but if these feelings do not stop you should seek professional help. Weaning baby from breastfeeding is not just difficult for baby, but is a big transition for mom too.
- Moms might find that their breasts still contain milk after a year of stopping breastfeeding, this is normal. It can take from a few months to two years for milk to dry up completely.
Signs that baby is ready for self weaning “baby led weaning”
- Baby drinks out of a bottle or sippy cup with no problem
- Baby actually drops a few feedings on his own
- Baby is between the breastfeeding weaning age of 2 and 4
Things that you should never do when weaning babies
- Weaning from the breast should never be done abruptly.
- Never put any horrible tasting thing on your breast for weaning off the breast …this will have a bad emotional effect on baby as weaning should be done gradually
- Weaning breastfeeding engorgement - Do not bind your breast to stop milk production as this will cause blocked milk ducts resulting in mastitis
Read more about the benefits of extended breastfeeding here
Other pages on “breastfeeding problems” in connection with breast feeding weaning
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