It is recommended that mothers strictly breastfeed their babies for the six months after birth. Around this time they will begin to be introduced to new foods and by one year of age, they will typically be getting all the vitamins and nutrients they need from solid foods. It is around the one year time that mothers may begin to wean their baby from breast milk to stop breastfeeding altogether. However, how to wean from breastfeeding can be a more difficult process than that most mothers expect. Keep reading for some helpful tips and tricks to make the process easier for you and your baby.

Tips to Wean from Breastfeeding


Reduce feedings

When trying to wean your baby from the breast, you want to offer the milk in a bottle or cup. You can still use your pumped milk or formula and if your child is at least one year of age, you can even offer whole milk. By gradually reducing the number of times you offer breast milk, you not only help wean your baby off of it, but it also lets your milk supply to gradually diminish. This method will be more comfortable for mom because the breast will not remain as engorged or cause mastitis.


Reduce nursing times

You can also try to shorten the time you allow them to nurse. If your baby will typically nurse for ten minutes, reduce this time to five minutes. If they are over six months, old do this and then offer them solid foods or give them a bottle of formula. The only time this will be more difficult is with evening feedings just before they go to bed. Try using a timer to help reinforce the time limits as well so your child knows when it is time to stop nursing.


Distract your child

For older children who are still breastfeeding. this method can work well if they constantly ask for the breast. When your child wants to breastfeed, try distracting them so you can postpone feedings. Have activities to occupy their time or give them a reasonable explanation why they cannot feed right then.


Respect your child's preferences

How to wean from breastfeeding doesn't have to be a constant battle. Breastfeeding can be difficult for children to wean from, especially as they get older, but some feedings you may want to continue for a while longer. It can be hardest to wean a child from their first morning feedings and their bedtime feedings. If you see your child is having a harder time weaning from these feeding times but is OK not nursing during the day, consider keeping these feeding ups for a few more weeks.


Give your child lots of physical contact

When a baby breastfeeds, there is not just a physical connection that they associate with breastfeeding, but also mental feelings like comfort and security. When weaning your baby from the breast, it is important to maintain this physical contact even though you are not offering them your breast. You still want to offer the skin to skin contact and snuggle with them through the process of weaning.


Don't offer

While you don't want to constantly refuse to allow your child to nurse when they really want to, you should never offer them the breast. Unless they are particularly persistent about wanting to nurse, try to avoid having to breastfeed as an option. 


Have your partner help in the process

It can be incredibly helpful if the father takes an active role in helping out in the weaning process. Encourage him to make your baby breakfast or get them ready for bed instead of the mom. If dad is in charge of these feedings, your baby will be less likely to think about nursing.


Find a suitable replacement

Until children are one year old, they are unable to consume cow's milk, which means you will most likely need to replace breast milk feedings with formula. How to wean from breastfeeding will require you to find a suitable formula which you can ask your baby's doctor for recommendation.

When to Start Weaning

Weaning your baby from breastfeeding is something that you decide when you feel it is time. While it is recommended that you breastfeed until they are a year old, it is also encouraged to breastfeed longer if both mother and child are willing. Many people will have an opinion as to when you should start weaning but the decision is yours. You can choose to let your child breastfeed well after they are a year old and gradually wean them; or you can allow them to wean themselves off breastfeeding at their own pace. There is no right or wrong time to start weaning.

When Shouldn't You Wean?

You might want to consider holding off weaning your child in these situations:

  • If you have been exclusively breastfeeding for six months, at least you might be concerned about allergens. Exclusively breastfeed can prevent or reduce the risk of eczema, milk allergies and wheezing which is why you might want to wait a little longer to wean.

  • If you or your child is ill, you won't want to begin weaning them until everyone is feeling better.

  • If there has been a major change in your home life, you'll want to postpone weaning. Moving to a new home or a change in who is caring for the child on a regular basis can all make the weaning process more stressful for you and the baby.

Should You Refuse Feedings During the Weaning Process?

How to wean from breastfeeding doesn't mean you need to outright refuse to let them nurse. When you refuse to breastfeed to you child, this can only cause them to want to breastfeed even more. It is better to allow your child to nurse if they want to but also use the distraction method to help keep their mind off of breastfeeding. Try to offer them other foods or play a game with them instead of immediately letting them nurse.


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