As a mother, there will surely come a time when you want your baby to stop breastfeeding. Weaning is a personal decision as per the requirements of the family. It also depends on your baby’s moody reactions and temperament. There is no such fixed rule or approach for a smooth transition from breastfeeding to weaning but the switch from breast to bottle can be well taken care of with a few steps:
Steps to wean a baby
1) Know when your baby is ready: So, keep a tab on how your baby behaves. If they put their head in an upright position, try sitting up with support or show interest in eating all kinds of foods you like, it simply means that they are ready for weaning. Another sign is that during cranky breastfeeding sessions, they may act distant or their active tongue-thrust reflex will disappear.
2) A weaning schedule is good: To actually deal with obstacles and setbacks, mother and baby should allow themselves a full month to successfully stop breastfeeding. Also, keep in mind that weaning will not be successful if you carry it out during teething, beginning daycare or moving homes. Babies find it difficult to cope when they are tired or hungry. So, start weaning when the time is good.
3) Begin patiently: You need to adjust to changes as soon as you ease into a weaning routine. How can you start? Start skipping 1 breastfeeding session weekly or drop of the most inconvenient feeding which your baby does not require much. If your baby has already crossed 9 months or so, it is best to wean directly from a cup so that you do not have to worry about getting them away from the bottle in a few months time. The motive behind going slowly is that you shall start producing a lesser amount of milk and weaning will become a more comfortable process for you. Coming to the baby, weaning will become a more pleasant experience as they will gradually be adjusting more to drinking from a bottle or cup and move away from the process of nursing.
4) Emotional Comfort is required: Babies are extremely used to and adore close physical contact with their moms, so weaning is the process when you should start providing comfort to them in a different manner. Activities include quality time to keep them emotionally-stimulated, you could cuddle together while reading a book or singing a lullaby or simply massaging their backs.
5) Let your baby lead: Another of the ways could be that you can ask your baby to lead at weaning. When babies are in control, they will drop off hints and express interest and moms will not need to initiate it. It might not be the quickest weaning strategy but the needs of your baby will definitely be met as per their wish.
6) Switch your feeding routine: If your baby does not accept a bottle from you, they might accept the same from your dad, grandma or perhaps a babysitter. So, if you are the one with the bottle, then try changing your routine or perhaps try nursing in the living room or hold the bottle in a different position. Try doing this for a few weeks and weaning is not that hard!
7) Resistance will happen: Normalize that babies will definitely resist weaning. It will take them a day or two for getting detached from breast milk and getting used to eating solid foods & drinking liquids from a sippy cup without issues. Also, remember that healthy babies will definitely crave food when hungry and hence will not specifically look for a source of nursing.
8) Prevent swelling or engorgement: When the process of nursing takes place early, you can experience swelling or engorgement. This can happen when you slowly switch to weaning. Soothe the pain with the help of ice packs or acetaminophen. You can also serve your pumped milk in a bottle by reaching out for your breast pump or you can also mix the same alongside your baby’s cereal.
9) Partially stop breastfeeding: There are a lot of moms who go for the process of partial weaning. The mom allows a caregiver to feed her baby during the day and she nurses during the night. There are two strategies which are in play at this time:
- Nursing & formula-feeding: This is when the mom is with the baby but gives her formula feed. So, she has to nurse right before she leaves at night and as soon as she is back for prevention of swelling. Again on weekends, you can supplement with formula if your milk supply is less.
- Nursing & Pumping: Working moms pump even at work in order to give their caregivers breast-milk to put into the milk bottles. You should pump as often as your child requires nursing, which is perhaps three 15-minute sessions per day.
10) Control your emotions: All breastfeeding mothers will relate with the feeling that the shift from breastfeeding to weaning can be tough. It will leave them feeling emotional and nostalgic due to the gradual missing attachment or physical contact with their babies. Hence, it is not only your babies who adjust to the weaning process but you have to take care and get hold of your emotions as well. Embrace the independence of the babies as well as the entire process.
Published on: 09th September 2021