6 Tips for Weaning Your Baby From Breastfeeding

nursing toddlerLet's talk about weaning your baby. A lot of moms believe in "self-weaning." That's where you let your baby decide when she's finished breastfeeding. It's a beautiful, gentle process that honors your child's own timetable.

And then there's the rest of us.

I swear to God, if I hadn't weaned my son, he would have kept breastfeeding up to the first grade. Some babies (kids? whatever ...) need more of a nudge. So what, do you just cut your child off, cold turkey? Here's some weaning wisdom we collected from parenting experts around the web.

1. Decide when. There is no one perfect time for everyone. There just isn't. I mean, the American Academy of Pediatrics says to nurse exclusively for the first six months and nurse with solids at least until the first birthday. Other organizations around the world say keep nursing for two years. But it's up to you and your baby.

2. Take it slow. Everyone says this. Gradually decrease the amount of time you spend nursing, and how often you nurse. The process can take weeks, even months. This is as much for the baby as it is for you -- quitting abruptly can cause swelling, discomfort, and even lead to breast infections.

3. Decide on "priority" feedings. Most babies feel the most emotional attachment during the first and last feedings of the day, so cut the other feedings out first before ending those. Some moms cut the bedtime feeding last.

4. Change your routine. Cutting those feedings is easier if you also change your routine. You might want to keep your baby distracted with new activities.

5. Find new ways to comfort. Most of us know breastfeeding isn't just about food -- it's about feeling loved and secure. This is the time when you need to find other ways to help your baby feel that way without nursing. Be especially cuddly and especially sensitive to your baby's social cues during this transition.

6. Expect mixed feelings. Moms feel all different ways about weaning. Some are relieved, others feel sad or guilty -- most of the time, it's a combination of conflicting emotions. That's totally normal.

When and how are you planning to wean your baby?


Image via Mothering Touch/Flickr

breastfeeding, natural parenting


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nonmember avatar FarmersWife

#1; educate yourself on how long the natural duration of breastfeeding is. (2+ years)

#2; decide if the natural route is for you (child led weaning) or if you plan to lead the weaning process.

Not knocking anyone for whenever they choose to stop, but some people stop at a specific age just because they think its normal. Only to find out that both parties would have been happier with full term nursing.

tuffy... tuffymama

IMO, babies shouldn't be weaned from the breast. Toddlers or older, yeah. I'm still nursing my punk. I sometimes wish he'd quit (I'm waiting for him to wean so I can do a heavy metal detox), but he's ASD and he is gaining obvious benefits from our nursing relationship.

Teal Chastain Blacksten

My mom got lucky w/ a ll three of us. We all weaned ourselves by about 10 months. I always thought it would be very hard as a mom to have to wean your baby.

MomOf... MomOf2winsPlus1

My daughter is going to be 2 1/2 in May.  Still BFing.  She is going to wean on her own time.

wishf... wishfulgal

I waited until my daughter was 13 months before weaning. She was okay with it but my hormones went completely out of whack for about 3 weeks post-weaning. I went into a depression and thought I was losing my mind. I had no idea this could even happen. I was relieved to see that it was a real and legitimate possibility when I googled to figure out what the heck was going on. It was no fun at all.

Mary Vance Nasvik

My daughter breast fed for 20 months -- exclusive to 6 months, supplemental to 13 months, then only at night. At 20 months, she started visitation with her Dad and that was the conclusion to breast feeding. No pain, no fussing, gradual!

Linda Cisneros-Ramos

I weaned my son at 2 1/2 cold turykey by spraying myself with bitter apple. I expained to him well ahead of time that the milk was going to "spoil" soon. He tried once during the day and once at bedtime. Done. I am now nursing another son 2 yrs 2 mos thus far. I am cosidering letting him self wean. May have to pull out the bitter apple.

Shannon Marie

I am nursing a 20-month old and that picture is actually a typical picture of my day. He can nurse in any position and sometimes his position is quite awkward. Anyway, I try to reduce feedings but I stay at home with him and be bfs maybe 15 times a day. He definitely does not want to wean and I am hoping he weans on his own.

schlis schlis

I was planning on two years but my daughter self weaned at 16 months. I was a little sad, but a little relieved as well, as I was 4 months pregnant at the time and my boobs were very sore.

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