Breastmilk: Every little bit helps

While the media occasionally broadcast stories about a malnourished, breastfed baby or an unusual dependence between a mother and an older nursing child, these are by far the exception, she said. And usually there are other contributing circumstances.

Both La Leche League and professional consultants get questions about how to know when it's time to stop breastfeeding a child. La Leche League says that weaning starts when solid foods are introduced at around six months, Tantilla said. But the more final weaning can take place at any time, whether it be baby-led or mom- led. Although every child is different, the signs pointing to Matthew's weaning are that he leads a very active life and that he has replaced most of the nursing with food and other beverages, Tantilla said. Sibly-Macken agrees with that approach. "If the baby is less interested the mother needs to follow," she said. One indication of disinterest is if the child is consistently more interested in playing than nursing.

But consultants also recognize a need for some mothers to initiate weaning -- upon return to work, for example. If the mother is ready first, the most important thing she should do is be consistent and gradual in her approach, Sibly-Macken said.

Allowing three to four days for each feeding that is dropped gives the body a natural time to reduce the milk supply and helps the baby adjust, too. The Good Samaritan lactation pros suggest their patients call them for advice two to three weeks before they plan to wean.

Source: Chicago Daily Herald

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