10 tips to make weaning your baby easier

The last stop in your breastfeeding journey is weaning. Weaning can be hard for you and your little one, therefore it needs to be done at the right time properly. In this article, I will share the most common questions moms have about this experience, with the relevant answers and solutions so that you wean your baby from breastfeeding in an easy, and stress-free way.

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Sally Al Beer
Published on:Oct 30th 2022 |Updated on:Jun 10th 2024
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When can I start weaning my baby from breastfeeding?

We can’t set a time or an age for weaning. It is always recommended to continue to breastfeed if the mom and the baby are comfortable and willing to continue. The longer you breastfeed your baby the more benefits you both get. It is usually recommended to keep breastfeeding until age two when the baby’s immune system is fully developed. Sometimes moms need to wean at an earlier age because of pregnancy, or any other medical or social reason.

Is weaning difficult?

There is a cliché image of suffering, tears, and pain associated with weaning. But after much research, I found that weaning your baby is difficult only when you do it wrong. Here are the most common mistakes to avoid when you want to wean your baby:

- Sudden weaning

It is to stop breastfeeding your baby suddenly. Mothers do this sometimes due to extreme fatigue, caused by the baby wanting to feed all the time because he is going through a growth spurt. During such times moms become tired and frustrated so they decide to just stop breastfeeding. This causes a huge shock to the baby that can sometimes affect his skills and abilities. It also takes a toll on the mother who might suffer from clogged milk ducts and a breast infection that can be severe to the extent it might require surgery.

- Not emptying the breast

There is a very common belief that while you try to wean your baby, you can’t empty your breasts, to completely stop the milk flow. This causes the mother a great deal of pain and congestion that can be easily avoided when following proper weaning advice.

What is the proper way to wean a baby?

The best way to wean a baby is to do it gradually, by following these steps:

1 - Gradually reducing the feeds, eliminating one feed every five to six days. Start with the least important feeds, and leave the important feeds like the bedtime feed, leave this one till the last stage of your weaning journey.

2 - Changing the breastfeeding routine, by not offering the breast and not initiating feeds, waiting for the baby to ask, and don’t refuse.

3 - Delay the feeding when the baby asks for it, don’t breastfeed him right away. Tell him you will breastfeed after you shower, or after I finish what I am doing. This delay will increase the gaps between feeds and decrease the milk flow.

4 – keep your little one busy while you wean him so that he doesn’t ask to breastfeed out of boredom.

5- Keep the baby well-fed and well-hydrated, and make sure he is getting enough solid foods and water, so he doesn’t miss breastfeeding.

6- Add restrictions to breastfeeding, breastfeed only while you are at home. The more restrictions you ass the less feeding you, which will decrease the milk supply.

7- Don’t give a full feed, stop before the baby completely empties the breast, this will help decrease your milk supply.

8- Have someone else assist with the bedtime routine, this will help stop the bedtime feed.

9- Spend quality time with your baby, and give a lot of hugs and skin-to-skin, so that the baby doesn’t associate weaning with physical disconnection from you. And talk to your little one about the process, explain to him that he doesn’t need to breastfeed anymore, and explain the process to him.

10- Do breast compressions when you feel engorged, don’t empty your breasts just enough until you are comfortable, to avoid clogged milk ducts and infection.

The need for formula milk

It is noteworthy that if you wean your baby before age one, you need to supplement it with formula milk. However, milk is not necessary if you wean after your baby turns one.

Is medication needed for weaning?

There is no need for any medication that dries up your milk without a doctor’s recommendation. Such medication may stop your milk from suddenly causing a shock to your baby.

How long will it take to wean a baby?

There is no time limit to complete weaning, it might last a few weeks. So be patient, don’t rush it, and be flexible. No matter how well you planned to wean, surprises might happen, and you might be thrown off track due to the baby’s illness and teething.

Check out Breastfeeding and going back to Work: what no one told you before

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Sally Al BeerBreastfeeding Counselor & Newborn Care Specialist

Sally graduated with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Sharjah. She moved to Ontario Canada where she worked as a pharmacist for several years. Meanwhile, she had two children and received great support from breastfeeding consultants. She enjoyed the breastfeeding journey which drove her to volunteer to help new mothers in this journey as well. She found her passion in the field of mother and baby and continued to volunteer after returning to live in the UAE, until she became an accredited breastfeeding specialist providing support to hundreds of breastfeeding mothers, by helping them overcome the challenges of breastfeeding.

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