After dealing with soreness, struggling to get into the right position for the perfect latch, or tiring of reaching for a pump, it is understandable when a mom has had enough. And then, a nursing mother can look forward to their little one reaching the age where weaning is possible. Sweet release.
Some moms may lament reducing their feeding sessions with their little one, and helping their baby move on to eating solid foods. Other moms may accidentally push their child into eating solid foods before they are ready. While the idea of allowing a child to lead the weaning process is ideal, it is not always feasible. Sometimes the baby may need a push in the right direction.
However, any first time mom may want to consider some serious dos and don'ts when it comes to weaning the baby. It is far too easy to fall for seemingly well-meaning advice from so-called experts or veteran moms. After all, every mother and her child is unique when it comes to feeding and nursing.
Before a mom decides to throw away the formula, toss out the baby bottles, and reach for the baby food jars, have enough patience to get informed first about weaning. Check out this list for some helpful advice.
22 Do: Take Your Time With The Weaning Process & Have Patience
If there’s ever a time to try to have the patience of a saint, it’s during the weaning process with a baby. During weaning, it is common for a little one to howl with protest, or go for the girls with gusto.
Coping mechanisms such as focused breathing, meditation, and positive visualization during pregnancy may have been used to keep stress levels low. And once again, mom may have to reach for methods to help her stay patient with the weaning process.
According to sources like You Are A Mom, weaning doesn’t equate to the end of the bonding process with the baby. Weaning is a delicate process that should be undertaken with patience and lots of love.
21 Do: Consider Letting Your Child Naturally Start Weaning
Allowing the baby to lead their own weaning process can take the headache out of things for mom. By offering baby small bite-sized finger foods, and letting a little one experiment with different food textures, colors, and flavors, they can better develop their palate and motor coordination skills.
Moms may want to consider some advice per Baby Center, regarding child-lead weaning. When babies are around 4 to 6 months of age they may be less interested in nursing, and more curious about what mom has on her plate.
If a baby seems to be more fussy or disinterested during nursing, they might be signaling to mom that they are ready to start weaning.
20 Do: Find Healthy Alternatives To Nursing Baby To Sleep
When a mother often uses nursing as that magic trick to get baby to fall asleep, the weaning process can leave a mom without a tried and true method to get the baby to settle down.
Instead of giving into a cranky, tired, and sad baby or toddler who wants to nurse to take a nap, mom should be prepared with healthy alternatives to comfort her child to sleep.
According to sources like ABC Kids Inc., consider giving your child a toy to distract them, or another type of comfort item to get them to sleep more comfortably. And if mom mo typically sleeps in the same room as the baby, it is better to give one another some distance so the baby doesn’t feel tempted to nurse in the night.
19 Do: Shorten Feedings And Space Out Their Frequency
One thing that may be helpful for a mom weaning her baby, is to space out how often she chooses to nurse her little one. As children get more adjusted to not looking for mom as a source of nourishment, they may be more accepting of solid foods, a bottle, or sippy cup instead of mom.
According to sources like ABC Kids Inc., skipping a breastfeeding session can help mom and baby gauge how well the weaning process is going to go. If mom is lucky, the baby may be more interested in other things going on to notice that they missed the opportunity to nurse.
18 Do: Wait Until The Baby Is At Least One-Year-Old
Ideally, it may be better to wait until the baby is at least one-year-old to begin the weaning process. Around the one-year mark, a baby can safely consume cow milk and may be naturally disinterested in nursing.
If a mother can commit to breastfeeding their little one up to one year of age, in combination with introducing solid foods around the 4th or 6th month of life, it may make weaning easier.
According to Baby Center, when the baby is at least a year old, it may be easier for a baby to handle a sippy cup and gains a better handle for eating solids.
17 Do: Pass Your Child The Bottle
If a mom still wants to give their child breastmilk but wants to wean the baby off of the girls, it is more than fine to pass the bottle or sippy cup. Offering a child a bottle can help settle them down for a nap, or allows them more independence with their feedings.
When weaning, mom should consider that breastmilk offers a lot of health benefits for a baby beyond the one-year mark. If a mother wants to forego nursing directly, they can pass their child some breastmilk via a bottle or sippy cup when desired.
According to sources like Living And Loving, getting a child accustomed to handling and suckling a bottle can ease weaning off of the girls.
16 Do: Pass Your Child A Comfort Item
Let’s face it, going through changes is very hard, and especially so for a baby or toddler.
When a little one has grown comfortable with nursing for feelings of security, nourishment, and solace, it can be heartbreaking when a mother chooses to begin weaning. If a mom wants to help her child’s transition become a little bit easier, it pays to allow a little one to hold onto a security blanket or soft plush toy for comfort.
Additionally, a mother should make sure to spend ample time with their child to replace the time no longer spent bonding while nursing.
15 Do: Talk To Your Doctor About Food Allergies
When it comes to scares over food allergies and introducing a young one to solids, it makes sense for any concerned mother to consult a child’s pediatrician.
There have been endless debates as to whether it is safe or prudent to offer little ones solid foods which may present an allergen risk. Moms may be understandably wary about offering their kids eggs, shellfish, peanuts, or other items which could inadvertently cause an allergic reaction.
When in doubt, it is helpful to offer small amounts as a mother feels is comfortable for her child. Make sure to keep the pediatrician or hospital’s phone number on file just in case.
14 Do: Embrace Your Feelings And Get Help If Needed
Moms really need to have a lot of patience when weaning. The whole transitional period of getting acclimated to gaining nourishment from solid foods, and moving away from nursing can be stressful for both baby and mom.
When in need, it is essential for a mother to get help from other moms at a support group, or consult caring friends and family. A mom can feel like she is under a lot of pressure when weaning the baby, in addition to juggling daily responsibilities of work and home.
It’s no wonder that sources like ABC Kids Inc., recommend that a mother be patient and avoid weaning during a difficult or stressful time.
13 Do: Be Patient With Your Little One And Brace For Protest
It can be difficult putting up with a petulant baby’s incessant cries to get at mom to breastfeed. While weaning, it is equally important for mom to be patient with the baby’s progress, and find healthy methods to comfort the baby.
Moms should make sure to spend time picking up the baby, preferably in areas where the little one is not accustomed to being nursed. According to Web MD, moms who spend time cuddling their baby, offering them physical reassurance, and spending time bonding unrelated to nursing will enjoy a smoother weaning process.
It may come to pass that a baby will become fussy at times and protest the weaning process. However, it is critical that a mom not give up.
12 Do: Introduce Solid Foods Gradually And Offer Variety
If a mom was selective about her diet, she may not be having a difficult time getting her little one to try new fruits and veggies. Thankfully, a growing baby in the womb can thank their mom for their dietary choices which help shape their palate and preferences.
When introducing solid foods to the baby, it is critical that a mom offer a wide array of choices to give the baby the chance to experience new flavors, textures, and nutritional benefits. Moms need to have patience, introduce foods gradually, and let their child partially self-direct the process of weaning.
Offering a variety of foods can help reduce the chance of an allergic reaction.
11 Don’t: Try Weaning When Major Life Event Going On
Even a mom has had it up to here with nursing her babe, if there are major events going on at home or work, the weaning process can wait.
Weaning is not something that will happen overnight, as the baby will need plenty of time to get used to no longer looking to mom directly for sustenance. It can be stressful for mom and baby if the baby snubs new foods, makes an extreme mess, or protests frequently not being given access to the girls for some breastmilk.
When weaning, mom will need to schedule out a block of time to get started and keep things going.
10 Don’t: Wean The Baby When Little One Is Sick
Considering that breastmilk contains immune-boosting properties, it would make sense to not start weaning when the baby is sick. When the baby is feeling a bit under the weather, having to undergo the stressful process of weaning and a change in routine can really be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Moms who were in the early stages of weaning the baby, but then the baby becomes sick, can choose to offer pumped breastmilk via a bottle to give baby immune-boosting benefits.
If a mom is up to giving in to the whims of her baby for comfort and improving health, it is okay to wait to wean the baby until they are healthy and feeling 100%.
9 Don’t: Pass The Cow Milk To A Baby Under One-Year Old
Similar to consuming honey, it is best for a mother to wait until her tot is at least 12 months of age before offering any cow milk.
Despite well-meaning friends and family with advice, cow milk is not a suitable substitute for human breastmilk or formula. Although most cow milk may be pasteurized and treated, there still may be the risk of the baby contracting a food-borne illness or having other health problems.
If mom is in the process of weaning the baby and they are under 12 months of age, it is still important that the baby consumes breastmilk or formula to ensure proper nutrition.
8 Don’t: Rush Giving Baby Solid Foods To Compensate
Sitting the baby down at the dinner table with mom and dad is a great way to encourage a baby’s curiosity about eating solid foods. However, a mom does not want to rush their baby into eating solid foods before they are ready.
During the weaning process, and naturally, as a baby develops, a little one might snub breastmilk, toss solid foods or purees, and be generally fussy about changes to their diet. If a mom is concerned about whether their little one is getting sufficient nutrition on a daily basis, they should consult their child’s pediatrician and not try to overcompensate with over-feeding or forced feeding.
7 Don’t: forget to give Baby Formula If Weaning Under One-Year Of Age
Although a baby might be very interested in eating solid foods around the 4 month or 6 month mark, it doesn’t meant that a mom should stop offering formula to the baby if weaning under 12 months of age.
Unless a baby is getting pumped breastmilk, during weaning, consuming formula in addition to solid foods will help ensure that the baby enjoys a more balanced diet with sufficient nutrients and vitamins. If the baby is showing signs of distress or disinterest in the dietary choices mom is offering, it is better to consult the baby’s pediatrician to make sure everything is okay.
6 Don’t: Ignore Signs Of Irritation With The Girls
When a mom is weaning and puts a halt to nursing, dealing with sore and tender girls can be an unwanted event. Instead of ignoring signs of possible infection or engorgement, it is important that a mother utilize a breastpump as necessary to gradually reduce to the production of milk and clear her ducts.
If the ducts within the girls become infected or blocked, it could lead to redness, fever, pain, and possible mastitis. Left untreated, a mom could have more serious problems on her hands than a disgruntled baby who is upset they no longer nurse.
To better reduce swelling, pain, or tenderness, applying cool lettuce leaves, ice packs, and massage may help.
5 Don’t: Wean The Baby Because Of Peer Pressure
It’s bad enough that some mothers choose to be actively vocal about how they feel other moms should raise their baby. Some moms are militant about nursing via the girls and are completely anti-formula. Other mothers may raise a fuss about how long a mother chooses to nurse.
Yes, it may seem a little odd when a mother chooses to nurse her child beyond the toddler years. However, when and how a mother chooses to wean her child is a matter of personal choice, the baby’s personality, and lifestyle.
One thing a mom does not want to put herself through is unnecessary stress caused by giving in to peer pressure to wean the baby before she is ready.
4 Don’t: Get Rid Of Your Pump Just Yet
Although a mom may want to rejoice and toss out the nursing pads, nursing bra, and breastpump materials once she begins weaning the baby, she might want to pause for a moment. When weaning the baby off of the girls, the milk supply does not immediately dry up.
Some mothers may experience leaks and milk production at a lower level for weeks after weaning. To better reduce any pressure on the girls, alleviate the chances of engorgement, and keep milk ducts clear, it is helpful for mom to use the breastpump when needed for her comfort.
Additionally, while weaning, if mom still wants to offer her breastmilk to her child via a bottle or sippy cup, that breastpump is going to come in handy when the baby isn’t nursing directly anymore.
3 Don’t: Forget To Spend Time With Baby In Place Of Nursing
When spending time breastfeeding a little one, the bonding experience may be something that both mom and baby look forward to during the day. When a mother decides to start weaning the baby, it is essential that a mother schedules in time to spend bonding with her baby, without relying on nursing.
The baby may put up a fuss, but gradually both mom and baby can adjust to no longer bonding over breastfeeding. Spending time reading to the baby, singing, and playing simple games can prove a good distraction for the baby, and helps improve the stimulation of developing motor coordination and language skills.
According to sources like Web MD, moms should make an effort to use healthy eye contact with the baby, cuddle the baby often, and maintain patience during the adjustment period.
2 Don’t: Force Feed The Baby (And Offer Variety Of Foods)
Whenever possible, it may be a more stress-free weaning experience when mom allows the baby to lead the weaning process.
According to sources like Parents, offering the baby solid foods should be done so gently. Even if a mom is worried about whether her child is getting sufficient nutrition and calories, she should not give into the idea of force- feeding the baby.
Learning about new foods and getting to touch them, pick them up, and place them in the mouth is half the fun for a baby. So is throwing food and making a huge mess while sitting in a high chair. Patience is of the essence when weaning the baby and offering new foods.
1 Don’t: Hang Around In Places You And Baby Nurse
OMG, if there is one super important thing that any weaning mom needs to remember, it’s to never hang around with the baby in places that you used to nurse. Just don’t do it, seriously. Don’t even tempt fate.
Babies are creatures of habit. And as lovely and angelic as they can be, when a mom brings them into a comfortable and familiar environment where they used to bask in mom’s girls to nurse on the regular, they will lose their crap crackers if they can’t nurse in said formerly-designated nursing area.
So, if a mom is serious about kicking the baby off of the girls, she better steer clear of all those places she fondly bonded with the baby while breastfeeding.
References: Breastfeeding Basics, Todays Parent, Web MD, Very Well Family, The Bump, Medical News Today, Parents, You Are A Mom, ABC Kids Inc., Web MD, Todays Parent, Kelly Mom, New Scientist, Living And Loving, Baby Center