Step-by-step Weaning For A Healthy Baby

By: Gen Wright


The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers continue to breastfeed their babies throughout the first year of life. This is a great goal, and mothers who can achieve it should be proud. However, the fact is that a variety of factors tend to get in the way. Work and other responsibilities can be disruptive to the breastfeeding routine, and in many cases babies may voluntarily give up the breast before reaching that one-year point.

Whether your breastfeeding routine ends at six months, one year, or later, you will inevitably reach a point where it becomes necessary to wean your baby off the breast and transition to the bottle. Depending on baby temperament, weaning can be simple and fuss-free, but other babies need some convincing and loving guidance.

Step 1: Deciding it is time to wean.
For some babies and mothers, weaning is a natural, effortless process that just sort of happens. The baby may become more comfortable drinking from the bottle, which may cause the mother to naturally produce a smaller quantity of milk, which in turn leads to more bottle feeding.

However, it is not always this easy, especially when the mother decides or is forced by circumstance to give up breastfeeding when the baby is not ready. Some women make this decision simply because they are ready to have their bodies back, while others choose to wean because it has become too time-consuming or hard on the body. In any event, it is always a good idea to consult your doctor before making the change.

Step 2: Create a plan.
Weaning is rarely as quick or easy as it may sound. For the mother, stopping cold-turkey can lead to breast irritation and even sickness when the milk has nowhere to go and the ducts get clogged. This can cause a buildup of bacteria, which can lead to a breast infection called mastitis.

On the child's side, it is important to remember that the child gets all or most of her nutrients from breast milk during the breastfeeding phase, and during weaning it is the parents' job to make sure the baby gets all the nutrition she needs during the transitional time. Baby formula is crucial, and for babies over 6 months old, weaning is a good time to begin introducing healthy solids.

Step 3: Transition.
No amount of planning can account for the difficulties that may arise during the weaning process. If your baby does not take it well, then it may mean that you need to slow down the process. The first step in any weaning process is to start feeding the baby with a bottle two or three times a week. It may take the baby a few bottle sessions to get used to it, but he should come around eventually. If the baby seems to prefer the breast to the bottle, give her time to get used to the new feeding method before increasing bottle frequency.

Step 4: Adjust.
Many mothers choose to continue breastfeeding on occasion, especially before bedtime, for a few months after the bottle becomes the primary feeding method. The before-bed feeding helps maintain a feeling of closeness, relaxes the baby, and continues the strong mother-baby bond that was established through early breastfeeding.

Some babies are more stubborn than others. The key is to guide your baby gently through the process without disrupting your baby's health or nutrition. To make the transition as smooth as possible, continue breastfeeding regularly until the baby takes bottles without fuss. When the baby is comfortable with the bottle, then it is up to you to decide how quickly or slowly to cut out breastfeeding entirely.

By Lisa Pecos

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Lisa Pecos, is a very well known writer on natural remedies and natural approaches to infants acid reflux. Many of her articles are recommended by parents and are valued by families all over the internet. Learn more at BabyCareJournals.com.

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