As a mother, you enjoy watching your baby grow and reach important milestones of development. One milestone involves the period when your baby stops nursing, known as weaning. This experience may cause some confusion or distress for your baby and physical discomfort for you. While you might have some mixed emotions about your baby graduating from nursing, your positive approach to the weaning process can ease the transition during this developmental stage.
Pick the Best Time
Although some babies may refuse to breastfeed, making it necessary to begin weaning early in life, others may want to keep right on nursing, regardless of age. Many mothers choose to nurse their infants for the first year of life. Although your lifestyle or work schedule may dictate the best time for you to begin weaning, certain signs can indicate your baby’s readiness. Increasing interests in other foods, as well as the ability to consume a variety of foods, may mean your baby is ready to give up breastfeeding.
Choose a Special Cup
Express some breast milk into a toddler cup. Choose a spill-proof cup with handles on both sides. A cup with bright colors and pictures may help hold your baby’s interest. Encourage him to drink from his cup right before your regular nursing time. This may help him nurse less, allowing your breast milk to decrease gradually.
Cut out a single breastfeeding session, substituting another type of food, such as soft cereal or mashed fruit. Feed him before he gets very hungry and fussy. This solid food can make him feel full and help cut back on his intake of breast milk.
Change Your Habits
Eliminate habits that signal breastfeeding time is near. Avoid sitting in your regular breastfeeding location right before naptime. Instead, involve your baby in a different activity during the normal breastfeeding time. For instance, put him in his stroller and explore the neighborhood, rather than cuddling up in your favorite chair for a nursing session.
Ease Your Discomfort
While your baby may quickly adjust to weaning, you may experience some discomfort. Express enough milk to relieve feelings of painful pressure and fullness. Place cool compresses over your swollen breasts to ease soreness. Wear a bra that offers sturdy support, without binding or compressing your breasts. Gradually decreasing the frequency and length of your breastfeeding sessions can help minimize feelings of breast tenderness during the weaning process.