Weaning is a hot topic in breastfeeding today. Why? There are a lot of opinions on acceptance of breastfeeding, as well as how long in a baby’s life is it acceptable. Of course, there is no right or wrong answer, but everyone seems to feel their opinion is right. Being there are so many mixed opinions, I did some research and found that they (MayoClinic) say it’s important to breastfeed until at least 6 months exclusively, and mixed with solids until a year. It’s actually recommended to continue breastfeeding as long as you are comfortable. That said, a time comes when you may want to wean, or need to wean. That’s why I’ve put this article together on weaning a breastfed baby to help ease the process.

It’s often easiest to start when baby initiates

Baby being breastfed with breastmilk

There is a natural weaning that usually starts around 6 months when solids are introduced. The full weaning will vary child by child. By age 1, children are eating a variety of foods and are getting a good amount of nutrition from something other than breastmilk, though some children will continue breastfeeding naturally until they are toddlers and get antsy.

Tips to ease weaning a breastfed baby when not initiated by baby

1. Cut back gradually

Whether or not you or baby are initiating, cutting back gradually will ease the weaning process. Reducing the time at the breast, frequency of feedings, and how long baby spends feeding each day will gradually and naturally reduce your milk supply and preventing engorgement. Typically it is recommended to drop a feed during the day because you can usually tie it to a meal time and distract them from wanting it after lunch.

Baby eating, baby led weaning foods

2. Don’t refuse feedings when baby wants to nurse

If you refuse baby’s desire to nurse, it’ll cause them to focus on it more. To reduce the feedings, try to distract them with new toys, foods, and activities. If you can keep their mind off nursing, it’ll help you cut the feedings out and make the process of weaning smoother and easier.

3. Try weaning to a cup or bottle

If you want to ease the transition and baby is under the age of 1, try giving them a bottle or cup depending on their age. You can pump and give them breastmilk in a bottle or sippy cup and slowly transition it to cow’s milk or other plant-based milk after the age of 1. Typically baby might be fussy with a bottle or cup right away, so it’s recommended to try this when they aren’t extremely hungry.

4. Set aside time for cuddles

Many babies use their nursing time as time for closeness with mom. Making sure to do some snuggle time with baby either in a rocking chair or just holding them. You could read a book or just snuggle, but make sure to keep that closeness.

5. Be prepared for unexpected

Although not common, sometimes an illness or injury can cause a sudden weaning to occur. If you can keep a stock of frozen milk it can help ease the process of weaning for baby.

Mom and baby bonding

Weaning a baby under the age of 1

If you choose to wean from breastfeeding prior to 1 year of age, make sure you transition to bottle feeding baby breastmilk or iron-fortified formula. Baby may not want a bottle from mom, so if you experience issues, try having someone else feed the bottle and you leave the room. Do not give your infant under the age of 1 cow’s milk or other plant-based milks. Only use formula or breast milk unless otherwise directed by your child’s pediatrician.

Moms, it’s okay to feel sad or emotional about this process

Breastfeeding isn’t just comforting to baby, but moms get that closeness to their child through this process. Knowing you’re providing your baby comfort and the best quality nutrition possible is something that moms feel a lot of pride about and the idea of cutting that out can be sad. While it’s okay to be sad, think about all the exciting times to come. Your little one is growing and blossoming into a busy toddler and you will have many other experiences to enjoy.

Should you consider waiting to wean a breastfed baby?

Teething or Illness

If your child is ill or teething it could make it difficult to wean. It’s suggested you wait until after this time to wean so both you and your baby are feeling better. A healthy rested baby and mom are more likely to handle the situation better.

Concern with Allergens

If you are concerned about allergens, it’s suggested to wait until baby is 1 to wean. if you continue breastfeeding while introducing allergenic foods and other allergens to baby there is a a lower chance of baby developing allergies later in life.

Stressful Situation or Major Changes

Did you move? Did baby just start going to daycare or have a change in daycare? These situations may stress baby out and weaning with this may add additional stress that you can avoid by waiting to wean.

Tips for mom weaning a breastfed baby

If you are dealing with engorgement when you cut out a feeding or if you end up abruptly weaning, make sure you express enough milk to get relief. Don’t pump or if you do, don’t pump much because it will signal your body to produce more milk.

Related Posts

Baby Starting Solids FAQ
Breastfeeding 101: 10 Reasons To Breastfeed

How did weaning go for you? I’d love to hear how your journey went.


* Sources