What's the best way to wean my baby?

I am thinking about weaning my baby and have heard you should not do it cold turkey. How do you suggest weaning? How long should the process take to make it the best for the baby and the easiest on me, too?

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The introduction of any other food source, whether solid foods or other liquids, is the beginning of the weaning process. So whether you realize it or not, you may have already begun weaning. Weaning, without noticing it, is probably the easiest and most gradual way.

As your baby becomes more interested in solids and liquids from a cup, interest in breastfeeding will decrease. Usually, up until about 9 to 12 months of age the breast should be offered before any solids since it will continue to be the more important source of nutrition until your baby is about one year of age. (Your milk is more calorically dense and digestible.) Liquids offered by cup at mealtimes also decrease your baby’s interest in breastfeeding. This enables a gradual reduction of your milk supply that is comfortable and hardly noticeable.

Weaning before your baby is ready for solid foods would involve gradually offering a breast milk substitute (i.e., formula) by bottle or cup. At first you should offer this alternative to complete a feeding that was started on the breast. Over the course of several days, shorten the breastfeeding, thereby increasing the amount your baby will take via the alternative. Your breast comfort and your preference should determine the pace at which you proceed.

If you want or need to speed up the process, wean from two feedings simultaneously, at different times of the day (10 am and 6 pm). After these feedings have been eliminated successfully and your breasts are comfortable, select two other feeding to discontinue. Try to avoid deleting two feedings in a row until the process is almost completed. Some mothers are able to decrease the length of breastfeedings relatively quickly while experiencing some extra fullness without severe pain.

Significant pain means you are moving too quickly and you should either slow down or substitute some pumping if it is important to get your baby off the breast quickly. Applying a cold, wet washcloth or an uncooked green cabbage leaf to each breast can reduce tissue swelling and discomfort that may occur while you are decreasing your production.

The risks of weaning cold turkey include breast inflammation, pain and an unhappy baby. Keep in mind that as you wean your baby from your breast, you don’t want to wean your baby from you. Use the time to develop additional ways of interacting and soothing your baby. Some mothers incorporate baby massage as a way to replace some of the skin-to-skin contact. You don’t want to avoid spending time with your baby now. Although separation would make your breast less available, it may make your baby’s need for breastfeeding temporarily greater.

 

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