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When To Begin Weaning Baby From Breast

Alison Wood |20, November 2012


As your little one begins to crawl, climb and walk she naturally becomes more independent. She is starting to feed herself with her chubby little hands. She is beginning to speak a few words. As you gaze upon your growing bundle, your heart skips a beat.

"Is she ready? Is this it?"

You knew the day would come -- the day she would walk away from breastfeeding and drink from a cup. But is it now? Here are some signs your baby might be ready to give up the breast completely.

Uninterested in feedings.
As you sit down in your favorite nursing spot, she whines, cries and wiggles. She even pulls on your leg when you venture towards the feeding area. She wants to play. She wants to run. The last thing she wants to do is to crawl up in mommy's lap and nurse.

Desires to drink from a cup.
Your family is at the meal table and your child begins to fuss and point at your glass or her big brother's sippee cup. You offer her some solid food, but she pushes it away and points at the cup. This is one way she has made it clear that she wants to grow up and drink from the cup.

Consumes a variety of foods.
If your child is breezing through the solid food stage and is receiving three meals a day, as well as nutritious snacks in between, weaning could be a viable option. Normally, a baby cuts down on the amount of milk she drinks naturally as she begins to consume other forms of nutrition.

Although your little one may be extra fussy recently during feedings, don't assume she is ready to be weaned quite yet. Sometimes babies go on a "feeding strike." This may occur for many different reasons and be completely unrelated to breastfeeding. Perhaps you just moved into a new house, or a loved one passed away. Just as adults' appetites are affected by their emotions, so are babies and children. Wait a few days and observe your child for other signs before choosing to wean. However, if you believe it is the right time, here are some tips to help you and your child adjust more comfortably to this milestone:

1. Start with the midday feeding.
This is normally the easiest for the little one to give up, as they are naturally less hungry at this time.

2. Cut down gradually.
Don't stop abruptly. Your breasts can become engorged quickly and this can be very uncomfortable and can lead to mastitis. Also, the baby may have some insecurity issues if she is pushed away from the breast all at once.

3. Engage in a fun activity during the regular feeding times.
As you take away the feeding times, replace them with a fun activity to distract her from her routine of nursing. Sometimes a baby is reluctant to end breastfeeding simply because of the routine.

4. Choose a different nursing area.
Leave the favorite rocking chair and pick a new breastfeeding spot. This will help your little one comprehend that transitions are taking place.

Medically speaking, doctors still recommend that babies nurse exclusively for 6 months, then begin eating solid foods and juices. Doctors say that around one year of age is the best time to begin weaning from the breast or bottle.

Weaning can be very difficult for some mothers. If you are having a hard time dealing with the weaning process, take joy in the fact that your baby is growing into a toddler. Though the closeness from breastfeeding will end, you can still connect with your child in another ways. Lots of cuddles, hugs and kisses still lie in your future together. Your child is becoming more independent, which is an important part of each child's development.

If you choose to continue to breastfeed, breast milk is still a super-nutritious food. The healthy benefits of breast milk can still have a very positive impact on your little one's health. However, the longer you put off the weaning process the more difficult it is to wean the child. Toddlers and preschoolers tend to have a more difficult time with the transition from breast to cup.

Each breastfeeding mother must make the decision for herself. Doctors and experienced breastfeeding mothers are always good resources for additional direction concerning ending breastfeeding. But in the end, mommies know what is best for them and their babies!

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