Tips on Weaning From Breast-feeding

Just as the decision to wean a baby may depend upon the individual baby, how a baby is best weaned may take some trial and error. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast-feeding exclusively for your baby’s first 6 months of life, then slowly weaning your child at a time that works best for you and your baby. Weaning your baby is not as simple as making the decision to do so.

Make Weaning a Gradual Process

A “cold turkey” approach to weaning can prove harmful for both you and your baby. Your breasts can become engorged with milk, which can lead to breast hardening, abscess or infection, according to Breastfeeding Basics. This also can cause emotional trauma to your baby as breast-feeding is a comforting practice.

Instead, you may wish to gradually cut back the number of breast-feeding sessions you and your baby engage in daily. For example, replace one of your regular feedings with a bottle. La Leche League International recommends beginning with the feeding even if you have difficulty getting your baby to feed. If your baby will not drink from the bottle with you, have another family member attempt this instead.

Employ Creative Distractions

Distracting your child from noticing her regular breast-feeding time may help to improve the weaning process. For example, take your child out for a walk or give her a bath during your typical time.

Another form of distraction is to make real food appeal to her. Parents.com recommends taking her grocery shopping with you and allowing her to select a special cup for milk that is only for her. Making foods into fun shapes, like a smiley face, also may help to grow your child’s affinity for big-kid foods.

Find New Ways to Spend Time

Beyond being a practice that satisfies hunger, breast-feeding serves as a time for you and your baby to be together. If she reacts in anger or frustration when you are weaning her, this also could be because of separation anxiety, according to Parents.com. This means you should find other opportunities for you and your child to be together. Read an extra story or have an especially long cuddling session–both of these can help to ease the transition. You also can get dad involved. Make feeding time with dad something that is fun for your little one and you will find yourselves closer as an entire family.

About this Author

Rachel Nelson is currently a managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. A writer for more than six years, she has written for the Associated Press and “Charleston,” “Chatter” and “Reach” magazines. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in public administration from the University of Tennessee.