This is quite a sensitive topic among mothers, mostly because every mother has a different opinion regarding it. Even so, know that despite what people tell you, ultimately it’s your decision when it comes to starting to wean. Keep in mind that there’s no pressure, no deadlines and nobody looking over your shoulder and judging you for not doing it the “correct” way. So take things nice and easy – no need getting riled up over the smallest of things. However, if you’re still confused about the correct time to begin weaning, know that the American Academy of Pediatrics states that you can safely start it after a year of breastfeeding. Even so, if you want to breastfeed for a longer period of time, that’s totally your call.
How to Stop Breastfeeding
Start bottle feeding your child
Before you can prepare yourself, it’s your child that has to be prepared for the weaning process. Slowly, start introducing a bottle or a sippy cup before you start weaning. This will ease your baby’s transition.
Helpful tip: If the baby is resistant in the beginning, you can put a few drops of breast milk on the nipple of the bottle in order to make your baby feel more comfortable switching to a bottle.
Decrease your nursing time
If you breastfeed him for, say, 7 minutes, then bring that down to 5. Next week, bring it down to 4. Every week, keep bringing down that number so that your nursing time eventually becomes a bare minimum for you.
Reduce the feedings
Now this has two advantages. First, the baby gets accustomed to drinking lesser milk from your breasts every day. Second, this allows your body to adjust its milk supply, decreasing it gradually. This in turn considerably reduces your chances of getting mastitis.
Take a day off
Sometimes, taking a day off is all that you need. Now we’re not saying that you do this on a regular basis, but once every 15 days is not going to harm anybody. Of course, your baby has to cooperate too because the both of you should work together on how to stop breastfeeding.
I know you want to be your baby’s side 24x7, but cuddling and the baby’s crying often end up in breastfeeding. Let your baby sleep in his or her own bed. If you think doing this out of the blue will be tough for the baby or you, then begin by sleeping 2 days a week separately, then 3, then 4… so on and so forth.
Giving your child sufficient nutrients
Most mothers believe that breast milk provides adequate nutrients important to their children’s growth, and unfortunately, they’re wrong. While breast milk provides a LOT of nutrients, it doesn’t provide ALL of them including vitamin D and iron. This is why it becomes important that when you start weaning your child, you start feeding them formula that is rich in nutrients especially vitamin D and iron.
Having said that, here are some foods to try if you’ve decided to keep your child on a formula free diet after 6 months or more of breastfeeding:
Baby rice mixed with milk;
Fruit puree. This can include fruits like pears, mangoes, bananas, apples, papayas and even avocadoes;
Vegetable puree. This can include veggies like parsnip, potatoes, cauliflowers, sweet potatoes and carrots.
Since the baby’s digestive system is still developing, it’s best to keep them on a semi-solid diet as it puts very little pressure on their system.
From purees, you can gradually progress to mashed fruits and veggies. And when your baby gets their teeth which help them easily chow down on lumps in mashed food, you can increase the range of foods for them.
What to Do When Weaning Becomes a Difficulty
When your baby doesn't cooperate
If that happens, simply take note of the following solutions:
Maybe your baby isn’t adjusting well because they may be sick. Babies often tend to want more breast milk/nursing when they’re sick because it comforts them.
Be patient. That’s because you have NO other choice. Don’t take your frustration out on your child – you baby doesn’t know any better.
If your baby doesn’t like the new foods you’re offering, no problem. Keep feeding them whatever they like till they tire of it.
Keep introducing new foods in the morning. This is the time your child is most hungry and has maximum energy, meaning they are more likely to be receptive of new foods.
If your baby doesn’t like green veggies, no problem. Feed them veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes or cauliflowers. They have a subtle flavor that won’t overpower their taste buds.
Things mothers have to keep in mind
Now that we’ve discussed the most common problems babies put up, it’s time you focus on yourself and the issues that you may face while learning how to stop breastfeeding:
If you want to go cold turkey when it comes to weaning, then it’s best to take a few days of leave from your office. Your breasts are going to hurt and movement is going to become tough.
If the pain persists, do not shrug it off. Immediately take over-the-counter pain medicine, or talk to your doctor about how you can decrease the pain.
To try a natural remedy, wash and dry a couple of cabbage leaves. Then put them inside your bra pads. It might sound disgusting, but it actually helps relieve the pain you’re experiencing.
Keep movement around the nipple area bare minimum. The more the movement, the more friction will be produced. This in turn signals your body to produce more milk, which is exactly the opposite of what you want.
Remember to wear the correct bra when you’re weaning. Opt for either nursing bras or sports bras. Underwires are a strict no.