Are you weaning this Halloween?! LOL! See what we did there? But, in all seriousness, weaning can be rough for both you and baby. So, it never hurts to begin weaning with some helpful tips in your back pocket. The suggestions below may help with your weaning strategy, but it’s important to remember that every mom, baby and breastfeeding relationship is different. What worked for your friend, your sister or your mom, may not be what ultimately works for you.
When is the Best Time to Wean?
This is the age-old question. And thankfully, there is no right answer. Every mama must make a decision that works best for her, her baby and her situation. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics is a little ambiguous on when the right time is. Their recommendation is to breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months of life and then to breastfeed along with solid foods for at least another 6 months. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for 2 years. Ultimately, breastfeeding itself, as well as weaning, is a personal decision. Every mama should make the call on what feels right.
Is it Best to Quit Cold Turkey or Gradual?
Most mamas find that it is easier to gradually quit rather than cold turkey. It is gentler on the baby and avoids painful engorgement for mama. Sometimes mamas do have to quit breastfeeding suddenly for various reasons – like a new medication that would pass through to breast milk – so of course, it can’t be done. But, if you’re able to do a more gradual approach, you will probably have a more positive experience overall.
Is There a Time to Avoid When Weaning?
It’s definitely not a good time to begin weaning if there is anything out of the ordinary going on at home. If you are moving or changing child care or anything that may add stress to a small child. It’s also a good idea to postpone weaning if you or your child is ill. It may be difficult for either of you to handle the transition if you’re not feeling up to par.
What are Some Effective Methods for Weaning?
Give Up One Feeding at a Time
Begin by eliminating only one feeding. Choose a feeding in the middle of the day or a time not near napping or sleeping. Avoiding times when your child seeks comfort will help the transition. Follow your new breastfeeding schedule for a few days to a week or once your child has adequately adjusted to it. Then eliminate another feeding and do this for the next week. Continue doing this until you’ve eliminated all feedings and effectively transitioned your child to a bottle or cup. The last feeding you give up should be the most important one to you and your child.
Don’t Offer, But Don’t Deny
As you’re eliminating feedings, the gentlest way to approach it is to just not offer a feeding. If your child asks for it anyway, allow it. This will definitely slow the process down, but will allow your child the desired comfort when needed.
As you’re trying to eliminate feedings, you can offer your child a distraction to help. Substituting a favorite snack is a great way to help in the transition. A sippy cup of milk or something else nutritious will help them to get used to getting their nutrients from other sources. You can also distract your child with a favorite activity – a trip to the park or time with a new toy. Cuddling up with a new book might also be a good distraction, as well as provide a new source of closeness and comfort.
Shortened Nursing Sessions
If eliminating nursing sessions seems hard for you or your child, try instead to begin by shortening nursing sessions. You can gradually cut the amount of time the child nurses until the session is eliminated.
What Can You Do to Ease Engorgement?
If you’re gradually weaning, you shouldn’t experience any engorgement. But, sometimes moms do have to quit breastfeeding abruptly. This can lead to engorgement. The discomfort shouldn’t last very long, but if you do experience it, there are several things you can try to get relief. Many mamas swear by putting cold or frozen cabbage leaves in their bra. The cabbage leaves help to relieve the inflammation and decrease milk supply. A bag of frozen vegetables also works well.
What Can You Do to Help Baby Cope?
There’s no doubt that abruptly stopping breastfeeding will be hard for your baby. You may have to use a little trial and error for a method to best help your baby cope. If your child is older, you can explain things on their level, for example “Mama’s milk is all gone.” Try implementing other methods of comfort for your child like rocking, reading or snuggling. It may help to help to have your partner handle some of the comforting or bedtime for a few days.
Not Quite Ready Yet?
Perhaps you’re not quite ready to wean yet, but only need some added comfort. Preggers Nursing Bra, Sleep Nursing Bra and Nursing Tank are all seamless and super soft providing the ultimate in comfortable support during your breastfeeding.
Weaning can be hard, but try not to stress. If you can, take it slow and make the best of it for everyone. We wish you luck in your endeavors this Hallow-“Wean” or whenever you choose to wean your little one.