How to effectively Wean from Breastfeeding/ stop breastfeeding

stop breastfeeding

Wean from Breastfeeding/ stop breastfeeding: You baby is all grown up now. It’s time to say good bye to the precious moments of exclusively breastfeeding. It has been a long journey, yet it was worth it!

But wait, how is it possible to say goodbye to something that seemed so ordinary?

Will my baby stay hungry without breastfeeding? When is the right time? It is normal to think on these types worries.

We have come up with a complete guide on how to tackle the weaning process. Read on to find out!

Topics:

Introduction:

Weaning from breastfeeding can vary from toddler to toddler. The extend of the difference is so much that it varies among siblings.

Breastfeeding a baby gives many benefits. It is nutritious for both physical and mental growth. Unfortunately, breastfeeding has to come to an end for all toddlers at different points. 

Weaning from breastmilk

When is the Best Time to stop breastfeeding?

According to the American Pediatrics, mothers should exclusively breastfeed their baby till the age of six months before you think to stop breastfeeding. Likewise, it is recommended to continue at least till the age of one. After that when to stop breastfeeding is up to the mother and the baby. There is no right age.

Technically, the weaning of the breastfeed starts from the age of 6 months, when the baby starts to take some solids. Around the age of 1, the baby is eating everything and at good quantity. The breast feeding is just for comfort at this point and not to fill up the tummy.

The parents should avoid looking at others and their decision on when to stop breastfeeding. It is an individual decision and no one has the right to tell you to stop breastfeeding.  Some children are ready to wean at the age of one. Others wean off when they are toddlers.

All in all, it is totally up to the mother and the baby to move from breastfeeding to bottle milk and stop breastfeeding.

You might also be interested in reading our article How-To Introduce Solid food to your Baby

What are the Signs to Wean from Breastfeeding?

At initial stage, a mother should be ready to stop breastfeeding. She should be mentally ready to let the baby grow up. It might be the last baby she wants to have or it’s the first baby in the house and she enjoyed breastfeeding so much that it is difficult to let go. Whatever the reason is the mother should be ready to let go.

There are no solid signs to know when to stop breastfeeding or wean off from breastfeeding. It is mostly an instinct. However, there are somewhat signs that the baby is ready to let go off the breast.

  1. Your baby can sit, swallow, and push down the food down the throat.
  2. Your head of the baby has become steady.
  3. You find your baby cries after minutes after having a full breastmilk session.
  4. Your baby has mastered the skill of picking up something and putting it in the mouth
  5. Your baby has developed the interest in the food and keeps staring at it.

Multiple methods of Weaning

stop breastfeeding

A few of the common methods that parents use to stop breastfeeding and wean their baby. 

Child led weaning – This happens when the baby initiates the weaning and slowly stops having breast milk from you. Usually it happens when they are older. And when the child can no longer prefer to be breastfeed. You will not see this kind of weaning happening in young infants.

Slow gradual weaning – This type of weaning happens based on your decision to wean your baby into solid foods. Mostly happens around six months to one year. Or when the mother might have other reasons such as going back to work. Here the weaning starts slowly and this process can take weeks or months and is done gradually 1 feed a week.

Sudden weaning – In very rare cases the flow of breastmilk stops drastically and suddenly and, in such cases, sudden weaning takes place. In sudden weaning all the breastfeed of the baby is drastically stopped and shifted over to other types of food or bottle feed using formula milk.

Temporary weaning – This happens when mothers are temporarily unable to feed their child. It can be for a couple of days or a couple of weeks.  But the feeding would get restarted after the short period. This can also happen when the mother has other health issues that she would have to take care before starting to feed for the baby. 

Now you can choose the method by which you would like to wean your baby from your breast milk and eventually stop breastfeeding as per your convenience. Most of the time it is the gradual method that is used to wean your baby. And in rare cases child-Led methods can also be used which actually is much more beneficial for the baby.

It is recommended that we breastfeed a baby at least partially still around your baby’s 1 year of life. And it is more preferable if it is for 2 years.

You might also be interested in reading our article How – To Ensure Balanced Diet for Your Toddler

Ways to Wean from Breastfeeding?

Reduce the amount Feedings:

Gradually decrease the amount feedings. Don’t let go off the main feedings like the one before sleeping and waking up. These are the called the comfort feedings. They make the baby feel good and you don’t want to disturb these moments during the transition.

This step should go slowly. Cut down one feeding a day. If your baby insists on that particular feed then distract the baby. You could play games or out on a nursery rhyme.

Let go Completely

If you are completely done with breastfeeding, decided to stop breastfeeding just like that. This is a difficult step and requires lots of courage for the mother, especially. The baby will cry and even throw tantrum but it you have to stay solid.

It is important to keep in mind that your baby shouldn’t dehydrate. There are a variety of options out there in the market for sippy cups and bottle. Try them to see what works best for your baby.

It is important to give plenty of water during the day along with one or two feedings of fresh milk. 

Get the baby on Fresh Milk

Pediatrics recommend fresh milk after the age of one. At first the baby will not like the taste of the fresh milk, which is ok.

In order to get the baby, drink the fresh milk, try out different products. For example, maybe honey, chocolate powder, or Pediasure. It is also ok to pump out some breast milk and mix it with the fresh milk. Then gradually decrease these things so that the baby is on original fresh milk.

However, it is recommended by Pediatrics to give Pediasure if the baby’s weight is low. An opinion from the pediatric of the baby would be the right thing to do.

You might also be interested in reading our article How-To Make Picky Eaters to Eat More Food

Ways to make weaning easier

Side view of baby boy in high chair drinking and mum facing him smiling.

We have outlined below a few tips that would help you to wean your baby easily and eventually stop breastfeeding.

  1. Plan your approach and method by which you are planning to wean your baby in advance.
  2. List out the feeding schedule of your baby and mark the ones that you are planning to wean out. Start with just one feed a week. The more gradual the process is, the better and easier it is both for your baby and yourself.
  3. Take help of your partner or your caregiver to help you with the feed that is to be weaned out. Your baby is more receptive to drink from a bottle if it is given by anyone else but you.
  4. As soon as the baby is fed by your partner or caregiver you can take the baby up for a bit of a rocking or cuddling or burping the baby so that your baby does not miss the bond, they have with you.
  5. By the age of 1 year a child is eating almost all the food that you eat. By this stage your child is also more distracted by other food that they will be ready to wean away from you.
  6. While it is beneficial for the baby from a health standpoint to be breastfed partially till about two years of age. But when your child gets used to the breastfeed, they might insist that they need it and can also start becoming adamant and demanding about it.
  7. Give your baby alternate comfort soft toys or blankets so that your baby is comfortable during the process of binning.
  8. It is better that you start weaning from the feed in the afternoon as both you and your baby are more active. And the baby really would not miss the comfort of breastfeed.

You might also be interested in reading our article

10 Effective Ways To Reduce Temper Tantrums in Kids

Why is my Baby Crying? Tips to calm your crying Baby

How to Bond with your baby easily?

How to Handle the Physical Pain?

Now that the baby is off your breasts, it is time to face the consequences. Why? Because it is a routine for the milk ducts to let the milk supply out. So, the milk ducts were constantly producing more milk. Now the milk has nowhere to go. As a result, you will feel breast engorgement.

 The bursting pain of the breasts can be quite fist wrenching. However, this pain is temporarily. It will ease as the days go by of not breastfeeding.

Although the gorging pain of the breasts will eventually settle by itself, there are some tips to give you temporarily relief.

Tips:

  • Do cold compresses of the breast might give you some relief.
  • Wear comfortable and supportive bra.
  • Pump out some of the excessive milk.

How to dry up the Milk?

It is a natural process of breast milk to dry up. It happens by itself gradually, but there are some tips to dry it quickly.

  1. Apply Cabbage leaves: Applying cabbage leaves for 20 to 30 minutes directly on the breast will dry up the milk. The most effective way is to keep repeating several times. 
  2. Sage Tea: Physicians recommend the drink of Sage Tea to dry up the milk supply. It has been proven very effective and mothers won’t have to take it more than 3 days!
  3. Estrogen birth control pills: Taking Estrogen hormonal birth control pill has been proven to have an effect of drying up the milk supply in women.

Warnings:

It is important to note down some warnings when weaning you baby from breastfeeding.

  • Some skin is sensitive to sulfa and cabbage. With this said, do not use the cabbage leaves to reduce the gorging pain of the breasts.
  • Remember not to use the cabbage leaves on cracked skin.
  • Also, take the process of decreasing the milk supply gradually as it can cause breast infection known as mastitis.

When to consider delay in weaning

You can consider delaying weaning for the following reasons:

  1. You have a family history of allergens. One of the best ways to overcome this is to continue breastfeeding your baby as you introduce foods that have potential allergens to your baby in very small quantities. Breastfeeding maintains the health and immunity that your baby needs to overcome any issues that might arise due to these allergens.       
  2. Your baby health or weight is not normal. For your baby is not feeling well when you have planned to wean your baby. Then it is better that you continue with breast feet then introduce foods which are new to your baby. Nurse them to good health and then after a couple of weeks you can think of starting the weaning process.
  3. You will have to consider a delay in weaning if your baby is not cooperative to solid food introduction or refuses to feed from the bottle.
  4. Sometimes it is better to breastfeed if your baby is having tooth cavities or and they are overfeeding or gaining too much weight when they are having other food than breast milk. 
  5. It is a good practice to breastfeed your baby when you are going through a stressful situation or a change in your normal routine. Breastfeeding gives assurance and security needed for your baby during these times of change. The change can be that you are starting to go to work or for leaving your baby to day-care etc. In such times it is better that you breastfeed your baby in the time you get with them so that they do not feel the lack of attention all of a sudden. Thereby causing them to become very anxious. Thereby causing them to become very anxious.

Conclusion:

Weaning is both mental and physical process. The baby should show signs of readiness and the mother should be mentally prepared to let the baby change into a big kid.

This milestone can be smooth or difficult. It is a different journey for every child.  You might have a smooth transition with one child but then the second baby of yours can give you a tough time.

It is important for every mother to know all the facts and tips of weaning a baby from breastfeeding. Every weaning phase from breastfeeding is unique.

From a mother to another mother, God Bless!!

Thabitha David

Mother, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Friend. She is a MBA Graduate specialized in Human Resources. She is a very proud mother of 3 Kids. (2 Teens & 1 Tween). She is a keen Observer of Life and is a blogger. She writes these articles based on her experience (Success and Failures). She does this with hope to help and ease the pain of at-least one parent as they face the challenges of parenting. Read more from the About Us Page

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