Weaning out your breastfed child is supposed to be easy. You just follow your child’s lead and wait until he’s ready. But, what can you do when you basically have been ready to stop breastfeeding yesterday, but your baby is not ready to stop anytime soon?
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Breastfeeding is known to be monumental to a child’s development. Some of the benefits of breast milk are:
- It gives the right balance of nutrients for your baby
- It is easier to digest than commercial formula
- The antibodies in breast milk boost your baby’s immune system
- It might help you lose weight after the baby is born
What Do The Experts Recommend?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends to breastfeed children for the first 6 months of their life, and to continue breastfeeding in combination with solids foods until at least age 1. The introduction to a variety of food at 6 months may be the trigger that begins the natural weaning out process for some children. Weaning out is an easier transition if you allow your child to lead the process. However, some children do not show signs of being ready to stop breastfeeding until they are well into their toddler years.
When Is It A Good Time To Stop Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding is a personal choice for families and some of us may be ready to stop before our children show any signs. It is important to keep in mind that whatever your reasons may be, you shouldn’t feel guilty about your choice either way. Some signs that demonstrate that you are ready to stop are:
- Your child is looking for other forms of nutrition and has cut back on the number of nursing sessions
- Your child is at least one year old
- You personally are not interested in breastfeeding anymore
Is There a Bad Time to Consider Weaning Out?
Although the decision to continue or stop breastfeeding is entirely up to the mother, it is also important to keep a child’s needs in mind. Some things to consider are:
- Do not wean out a child who is sick. Breastfeeding may be a source of comfort
- Do not wean out if you suspect your child has any food allergies
- Do not set a schedule. Children are individuals and for some, weaning out can take anywhere from a few days to as long as a few months
The best approach is to take it slow and progressively stop breastfeeding instead of stopping suddenly. Sudden changes may upset your child and cause stress. Sudden changes may also cause engorgement, which is the painful overfilling of the breasts with milk. This is usually caused by an imbalance between milk supply and infant demand.
It is best to start by eliminating a few feedings and/or amount of feeding in the middle of the day. The first and last bottle should be the last to go since children usually get most attached to these feedings.
Although for some families, the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the sacrifice, nursing and weaning are personal choices. Be patient and try to slowly shave off feedings. This will make the weaning process easier for you and your baby.