I am a first-time mother of a son who is almost one year old. He has nursed wonderfully since birth and started solids nicely when he was five months old. I am tired of nursing and don't want to do it anymore. My son accepts a bottle, but he prefers nursing. How can I wean him without feeling totally guilty every time that he cries?Question:
Nursing is a partnership. If one partner is no longer happy, changes need to be made. When that partner remains unhappy, it will negatively affect the relationship. Since you feel ready to wean your baby, you have a right to wean him without feeling guilty!
Weaning is easiest when it's gradual. It's easier for you, and for your baby. At one year of age, you don't need to substitute a bottle for the breast unless your baby enjoys that substitution. If he isn't interested in a bottle you can serve his drinks in a sippy cup. Most babies this age can do very well with a cup -- with a few spills, of course. Make sure that as his feedings are decreased, he is getting the nutrition he needs from other sources.
To wean your little guy, decide which feeding will be the easiest for him to let go of. Be firm in your resolve, and keep him busy during that time. It may help to schedule your day more tightly than usual. Go outside and take a walk together, visit the library, or a friend. If you and your baby are busy and having fun, he will be less likely to miss nursing. Staying home may be harder for you both. He knows you can sit down and nurse him, and he may ask to nurse if he's bored. When you go out during his missed feed, wear clothing that is very difficult to nurse in, and explain to him that he will need to wait until you get home.
Cut out one feed every four days or so. Give him lots of your time and your love as he weans from your breast. Remind him with your hugs and your touch that you will always be there for him. Even though you'll be weaning him, he will still need to be held, and cuddled and loved -- maybe more than usual as he makes this transition. Best wishes for a guilt-free weaning!