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You are here: Home > Baby > Starting Solid Foods

When to Wean Baby from the Breast

by Alison Wood | June 9, 2013 12:00 AM
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Breastfeeding creates a natural bond between mother and child. The bond reaches beyond nourishment; it connects the baby and mother on a different level. That is why is so difficult for some mothers and babies to begin the weaning process. But, when do you actually need to begin this process and will it be heart-wrenching?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a baby be breastfed exclusively for the first six months, and then consume other foods as well as breast milk until the age one.

Your child is naturally becoming more independent and this behavior may begin to carry over into his eating habits. This is your best case scenario. If the weaning process is child-led the transition occurs much more smoothly. However, it is mother-led there may be very little corporation and the process could take longer than expected.

What are the signs that your little one is ready to begin the process of weaning?

Pushes you away and fusses during feeding times.

If you are constantly trying to get your munchkin to settle down and breastfeed, then that is a clear sign that he is outgrowing this source of nutrition. Do not force your child to breastfeed if he is consuming enough nutrients for a healthy, balanced diet from other foods and drinks. Take this opportunity to begin the process of transitioning from breast to cup.

Cries for a cup.

Even though a little one this age cannot speak his desire to wean to his mother, he sure can give you the clues! If he motions and points to cups at the table, take those little signs as an opportunity to give him milk in a cup. Have a soft-spout sippy cup ready for this transitional phase.

How long does the weaning process last?

The duration of weaning a baby from the breast to a bottle or cup can take only a few days or last as long as a couple of months. Again, child-led weaning tends to have quicker results.

When should I not wean?

If you are planning a big move or even changing a lot of d├ęcor around the home, wait until these projects are completed before beginning the weaning process. Change is difficult for little ones and too many changes at one certain time can render undesirable results. Even changing a child from a crib to a toddler bed is a gigantic change for little ones. To adults small changes are no big deal. To little ones, it can be a catastrophic event. Time your weaning process wisely and pick a dull, mundane week to begin introducing this new phase in your life.

If your child becomes ill you should consider waiting until your little one is healthy again Your baby needs loads of comfort and security during sick days, and many babies find that comfort in their breastfeeding sessions with mom. After he or she recovers, then you can begin the process of weaning form the breast.

Risks of Starting Solid Foods Too Early

When your child shows signs of wanting to wean, how do you begin the process?

If you are initiating the weaning process, you may want to start with daytime feedings. Most babies struggle with giving up the nighttime feeding, so work on the daytime feedings first. Offer your child a new sippy cup with some whole milk. You may want to serve it luke-warm in the beginning and gradually change over to cold milk.

As you introduce your little one to the cup try distracting him or her from anything that could remind them of breastfeeding. Stay away from your special nursing spot and cuddle in a different area. If he or she becomes fussy, use the art of distraction. Take your bambino outside for a walk, turn on some music and play or watch a new DVD. Any new and entertaining activities can make the process move smoothly along.

Beginning Solid Foods: How to Do It Right from the Start

Don't try to take away any other items of comfort during the weaning process. Just focus on weaning from breast to bottle or cup. If your bambino wants his or her binky, give it to him. If he wants his blanket to squeeze and hold, don't keep it away. Children adjust better to changes when the changes are individual and not all grouped into one big transition.

During this time of weaning, take care to show your little ones loads of affection and attention. Spending extra time with your child will give assurance that you can still bond, just on a different level and in a different way.

Alison Wood is a stay-at-home mom of six and freelance writer and blogger. She enjoys raising her six children and desires to share her experiences to help other mothers.

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