For some mamas, the end of breastfeeding is a light at the end of the tunnel they are sprinting towards, while other moms absolutely dread it and tear up even thinking about the end of breastfeeding. No matter how you feel, every breastfeeding mama will eventually need to wean their child. It can seem overwhelming and frankly scary to do so, but these weaning tips for breastfeeding mothers will help you get through it with relative ease.
When Should I Start Weaning My Child?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding up until six months of age, then breastfeeding along with solid foods until age one. Breastfeeding is recommended as long as mom and baby wish to continue. Some moms stop before a year, some right at the one-year mark, and many others wait two to three years or longer to discontinue.
No one can tell you when to stop. That’s something you and your baby will need to decide together. That being said, it might be best to wait to wean if you are concerned about allergens, if your child is ill, or if a major stressor or change has occurred like moving according to the Mayo Clinic.
What To Do When Your Baby Won’t Take a Bottle
If you are weaning a baby who is under one year old, La Leche League recommends having someone else feed the baby while you are not present. Let the baby have a few days to get used to the bottle during one feeding a day, then bump it up to a second.
If you breastfeed up until your child is one, you may never need to introduce one. It’s generally recommended that babies do not use bottles past their first birthday. So skip the bottle and switch to a sippy cup of milk instead!
11 Weaning Tips for Moms
Weaning your baby can feel very bittersweet, so take the time to plan out the process and give yourself time (and permission) to grieve if needed. Ending breastfeeding is a natural, good thing at the right time, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier emotionally or physically. Thankfully, these weaning tips for breastfeeding moms are full of ideas to implement to make the process a little bit easier.
- One of the best weaning tips for breastfeeding mothers who feel emotional about the process is to just wean down to one or two feedings a day, rather than cut them all out. Try to only breastfeed your baby in the evenings before bed, or just keep morning feedings in until you are ready to quit altogether.
- Find a picture book to read with your baby about weaning in the days leading up to it. There are several cute ones out there like this sweet animal-themed book.
- Explain to your little one what is going on. Share with them that breasts are for babies and he or she is now a big kid that doesn’t need them anymore.
- Expect your child to be emotional. Your baby won’t quite understand what’s going on, so expect that he or she will need to express his or her frustrations. It will get easier with time…hang in there!
- Offer your child plenty of extra physical affection during weaning. This will help both of you keep connected during what could be a challenging time.
- Keep covered up. The sight of your breasts will cause your child to want to nurse according to this article. Take a break for a few months from low cut tops until your child is fully weaned.
- If it’s important to you that your child continues to receive breastmilk, plan ahead before weaning to make sure you build up a stash in the freezer.
- Find alternative ways to offer comfort to your child outside of nursing—you can speak soothingly or rub their back.
- Ask your partner to help. Have him put the baby to bed at night or for naps by himself to make the transition a little easier since the baby isn’t expecting to nurse.
- Create a substitute for your baby to enjoy. The hot frothed milk recipe in this post might be the answer to your prayers!
- Make sure your baby is still getting enough nutrition. There are many ways for him or her to get the calcium outside of breastmilk including whole milk, non-dairy milk, yogurt and cheese.
9 Ways to Stay Comfortable While Weaning
The key to staying comfortable during the weaning process is to do it gradually. If you don’t, you are risking painful infections like mastitis, or clogged ducts. While it can be tempting to rush the process and get it over with as quickly as possible, slow and steady is the way to go when it comes to comfort!
- Start by just dropping one feeding or pumping daily. Give your body three to four days to adjust and then drop another. Keep repeating until you are fully weaned.
- You can also keep the same amount of feeds or pumps per day, but do it for a shorter amount of time. This will help your body slowly make less milk.
- Try taking a warm shower or using warm washcloths on your breasts if they feel full. Express a little breastmilk by hand if you need more relief.
- Another weaning tip for breastfeeding mothers if your breasts feel engorged is to pump enough just to make yourself feel comfortable. Remember, you do not want to pick up an infection or be in pain
- You don’t need to grit your teeth and suffer. Use Ibuprofen or another pain reliever to help tone down any soreness or pain as needed.
- Cabbage leaf compresses are an old wives tale that actually works! They are said to help decrease engorgement and reduce milk supply—use large cabbage leaves and wrap them around your breasts.
- Get a birth control pill containing estrogen from your doctor. They have been linked to low milk supply and a shorter duration of breastfeeding, even when supply has already been established.
- Sage can be a powerful aid in the weaning process. To use dried sage, take 1/4 teaspoon of sage three times per day for up to three days. You can mix it into juice, sprinkle it on a salad or hide it in some peanut butter. Some women even like to make tea out of sage leaves.
- Pamper yourself. Go enjoy a pedicure or grab a coffee with a friend. You have worked long and hard to sustain your child, and you deserve a little self-care.
At the end of the day, the breastfeeding journey is a small part of the relationship you have with your child. Enjoy your newfound freedom and your child’s new independence. You’ll do great, mama!