So, you have met your breastfeeding goals, or maybe you are going back to work and can’t or don’t want to pump, or maybe you are just ready to stop. First, congratulations on giving your baby a most precious gift! In the process, you have made yourself healthier as well but what is the safest and easiest way to wean?
Certainly, there is no one right time for everyone. Whatever your mother-in-law, sister, friend or neighbor says, it is YOUR choice to decide when the time is right for you and your family. So be sure that you are weaning for the right reasons.
Let’s distinguish between two types of weaning:
Baby/child led weaning: This occurs when the toddler no longer needs or wants to breastfeed. It is rare for a child under 18 months to self-wean. More likely, it is a temporary nursing strike and will pass in a few days.
Mother-led weaning: more commonly, this is when Mom decides that she is ready.
If this is the case, it is important that you:
1) Consider baby’s needs and feelings and go SLOWLY. Sudden abrupt weaning will be traumatic for baby and unhealthy and painful for Mom. Stopping one feeding each week is really the safest way to proceed. Start with eliminating a daytime nursing; as your child is less likely to miss these instead of nap or nighttime nursing. By using this gentle method, it should take you at least 4-6 weeks to gradually wean your baby/child. “Don’t offer don’t refuse” is a good policy.
2) Substitute other comfort measures for the missed nursing: cuddling in your lap with a sippy cup, perhaps with your freezer stash of breast milk in the cup, or reading a book may satisfy your child’s need for your closeness.
3) Enlist help and support from your partner. Have another loved one pitch in for bedtime as that will be the last nursing session to go!
We truly hope that you enjoyed your breastfeeding experience, and we are delighted to be a part of your journey!