The bond between a mother and her baby is formed the second after birth. As soon as their baby is born, mothers are encouraged to have skin-to-skin shortly followed by breastfeeding. It has been shown that breastfeeding strengthens the mother-infant relationship as opposed to formula fed babies. With that said, it can be difficult to start the weaning process from breastmilk to formula and solid food for both mother and baby. At some point, it will be clear that both mom and baby are done with breastfeeding and ready to move on to alternative forms of feeding. Whether it will be for health reasons or lack of production, weaning can be a positive experience with patients and ensuring that you are giving lots of love during the process. With that in mind, here are some ways to help wean your baby off breastfeeding.
9 Start Off Slowly
Usually when you try to do anything new you always want to takes things one step at a time. Quitting cold turkey can be risky for mom and be the cause of a cranky baby. Being patient is something that can be difficult to do, especially if your baby is crying for the milk. But, keeping calm and taking things slowly will keep the tantrums down and help baby ease into the change. If mom is stressed then baby is stressed, and no one wants that. If you're noticing that you and your baby are ready to start weaning off breastmilk, start off slow by replacing one feeding a day with a bottle of formula. This should be a gradual process. As baby gets used to fewer breastfeedings per day, continue to increase the amounts of formula feeds until breastmilk has been weaned out completely.
8 Start Feeding Half And Half
Breastmilk is in every way meant for babies to drink. It is easy to digest and is packed full of all the necessary nutrients. Some babies have a hard time digesting formula after months of drinking breastmilk. Suddenly including formula into their diet might cause constipation, which can be a nightmare for both baby and mom. Formula is denser than breastmilk and takes longer to digest. Introducing formula mixed with breastmilk might make it easier for baby to digest while also getting used to the taste. You can start mixing your bottles with less breastmilk as your baby gets used to digesting the formula, and is happy with their feeds.
Exclusively breastfed babies are used to the warmth of their mother's body. It's not necessary for babies to drink warm milk but some do prefer it. Try to think of it as drinking a glass of warm milk to help yourself fall asleep at night. Of course, you won't drink it at cold, or room temperature because it's not as soothing.
Although it won't taste the same, warmed up formula will be a familiar element during feedings. If you don't have access to you a bottle heater, a bowl of warm water works just fine. A weaning baby is going through changes and any familiarity will make the process more comforting.
7 Start Pumping Less
For mothers, it's is a known fact that the more you breastfeed, the more milk you will supply. It's not uncommon for mothers to leak through to their shirts even while wearing a breast pad. At some point, you're going to have to slow down on your milk supply. You will feel less obligated to feed your baby breastmilk if it's not on hand, and you will also be more comfortable. If you do 3-4 feedings/pumping sessions throughout the night, try to cut back by at least 1 a week so that your supply starts to decrease.
6 Shorten Feedings And Space Out Frequency
Controlling how often your baby is feeding will aid you in the weaning process. Gradually adding more time in between each feed and shortening how long they feed will help baby adjust to starting solid foods and formula. It might be a struggle at first, but once baby gets used to the new schedule, they will likely cooperate. Have a schedule and sticking with it is the golden rule! Don't give up!
5 Introduce Solids In Baby's Diet
After about 6 months, babies need more nutrients than just formula or breastmilk. Eating solid foods will distract the baby from missing a feeding session if they are ready for it. According to Health link BC, it's time to start introducing solid foods when baby can sit with support, has good head control, goes from a sucking reflux to a swallowing reflux, and shows curiosity in your food while you are eating.
4 Relieve Engorgement
During the weaning process, you will be feeding your baby less breastmilk and might be engorged. This can be uncomfortable, and cause some unsightly leaks. It can also be discouraging to the whole weaning process. If you let your breast become too engorged, you may be at risk for mastitis.
Try hand expressing your breasts or pumping just to relieve the pressure. Do not pump to the equivalent of a feeding because that will cause your supply to sustain, or increase. Eventually, your supply will lower and this will be less of an issue.
3 Make Time To Hold Baby Close And Cuddle
For babies, breastfeeding gives them a sense of security, nourishment, and comfort. The weaning process can be particularly hard for them to cope with if that time with mom starts to decrease throughout the day. It's important to give your baby lots of love, especially during this time. Taking time to hold and cuddle them will ensure that you are still having that bonding time. This will nice for mom as well, for weaning off breastfeeding can be an emotional time.
2 It's Ok To Feel Emotional
It's no secret that the whole pregnancy thing is emotional and it's no different for postpartum and breastfeeding. The hormone oxytocin is released when your milk is let down and when you are breastfeeding. It has been shown to "increase bonding between you and your baby." According to Psych Central, "During weaning, the oxytocin levels in your body drop significantly and so, your body can experience [...] an increase in anxiety, stress and in severe cases, feelings of detachment or distance between you and your baby." So, with that said it is completely normal to feel emotional during this period of your life as a mother.
1 It's Ok To Miss It
Weaning can be a difficult time for both mom and baby. There will be temper tantrums, crying, and an all-new feeding regime. However, after breastfeeding for a number of months, it's completely normal for mothers to miss it after the weaning process. Although through breastfeeding you and your baby form a strong bond, it is not something that is meant to be done forever. It can be hard to adjust to the change but just remember that your relationship with your baby isn't any less loving. Just because you are no longer breastfeeding, does not mean you have any less of a bond.