How To Wean From The Breast

Nov 25, 2012 No Comments by

Sudden weaning from the breast at a year might not be as physically uncomfortable for the nursing mother as earlier weaning would have been.

Since a toddler takes in more solids, milk production slows considerably at this time, making engorgement a less likely side effect. Still, gradual weaning generally works best for both members for most nursing teams because  it allows mother and child time to adjust to the end of this very special era.

The adjustment will also be easier if you make a concerted effort to give your toddler extra love and attention during weaning. Replace the time you’ve spent together nursing with other one-on-one activities. Don’t show disapproval if your toddler replaces the comfort of breastfeeding with another comfort habit (such as thumb-sucking) or comfort object (such as a blanket or stuffed animal). Children need all the support they can get at this stage.

Weaning Breastfeeding

Weaning Breastfeeding

Weaning now may be relatively easy (If you and your baby are both ready for the step) or relatively difficult (If you’re both still strongly attached to nursing). In either case, the following guidelines will help:

  • Step One: Be sure your toddler can drink fairly well from a cup.
  • Step Two: Choose the time carefully. Don’t begin weaning if your toddler’s going through other major changes (meeting a new babysitter, starting day care, gaining a new sibling) or when he or she is sick or otherwise out off sorts. Wait until all is relatively calm in your toddler’s life before beginning.
  • Step Three: Save the breast for last (except at bedtime.) When your child wakes up in the morning or from a nap or is hungry for a meal, offer a beverage from a cup, or a snack, or a meal of solid food first. When the edge is off the appetite, if your toddler still clamours for the breast, oblige. Gradually, milk intake will decrease, which in turn will reduce your milk supply, making you more comfortable as you wean.
  • Step Four: nurse before, rather than after, the regular bedtime routine (bath, pyjamas, story, snack, tooth brushing, and so on.) Try to keep your toddler from falling asleep at the breast – by playing lively music, talking, singing, having other people in the room – and encourage a self-comforting route to dreamland.
  • Step Five: Cut back on the number of daily feedings. Start with those in which your toddler shows the least interest, usually the midday ones. This process will probably take several weeks. Changing your daily habits, which means taking your toddler to places where nursing hasn’t been routine (shopping, to the playground, or a play group, to a museum, and so on), will make it easier. Eventually cut down to just one feeding the favourite. In most cases, this will be the one at bedtime, through some toddlers are most attached to the first morning feeding. If at any point your breasts become engorged, hand expresses a small amount to relieve the pressure.
  • Step Six: Drop the remaining feeding. One way to make this final stop easier is have Daddy or Grandma put your toddler to sleep for a couple of nights – while you’re out of the house. Or make the switch when the family’s visiting relatives or on holiday; if you’re in a place your toddler doesn’t associate with nursing, he or she may not crave it as much. Distraction – in the form of a new toy, book, CD or special visitor – may also be helpful.

If you’re in no hurry to wean, you may prefer to put his final step off for a while. Many women and their toddlers continue to enjoy one breastfeeding a day for weeks or even longer. (In some cases, however, this isn’t possible because the milk supply quickly dries up because of inadequate demand.


After The Baby Is Born, The Toddlers Year
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