From Breast To Bottle: Weaning Your Baby
Moms can slowly and successfully move their baby off a breastfeeding schedule.
Tips to Help You Wean Your Baby
To help your baby feel more secure and less upset by
the lost of breastfeeding, try these tips from Aponte:
- Cuddle your baby often
- Make eye contact with your baby
- Coo at your baby
- Generally keep your baby close to you
Your baby may have problems learning to suck on a
bottle (babies suckle at the breast, a different mouth action). If so, you
might proceed directly to a sippy cup, suggests Aponte. This is an easier
transition for some older babies.
"There is nothing magical about a bottle," says
Aponte. "Very often going right to the sippy cup is a good solution. They are
amused by the cup and somewhat entertained. Often babies who just refuse a
bottle will take very well to the cup."
If your baby is a toddler already eating solid food,
then you can skip the bottle altogether. Your child won't miss it, says
Physical Changes During Weaning
Expect some physical changes that often take place
once you wean your baby. Most noticeable is a change in the consistency and
frequency of your baby's bowel movements.
"They will likely have fewer bowel movements on
formula than they had when breastfeeding, and usually somewhat harder or more
solid stools -- this is normal," says Aponte.
Hodge adds that you can also expect some minor
gastrointestinal upsets. "Depending on the age of the baby, there could be some
cramping and gas when you start to wean, particularly if they are between 6 and
12 months old," says Hodge.
To avoid these problems, Hodge suggests you give your
child formula -- not milk -- until your child is older than one year.
Once your child's digestive system is more mature, after the first birthday,
If you stop breastfeeding before the first year of
age, experts say you can also expect some fussiness and tears now and again as
your baby makes the physical and emotional transition from breast to
"Again, the answer here is to spend as much time with
your baby as possible, to cuddle and have more body-to-body contact," says
Hodge. "This is highly recommended so the child won't feel rejected and mom
herself will continue to feel the much needed closeness with her
How Long Should You Wait Before Weaning?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics,
breast feeding should continue for at least the first year of life and beyond
for as long as mutually desired by mother and child.
In fact, prolonged nursing may have some important
benefits beyond maintaining a strong emotional bond. In studies conducted in
Western Kenya, Africa, researchers found that breastfeeding for at least two
years had a positive association with growth, particularly in impoverished
Other studies show that the longer a baby breastfeeds,
the greater their brain development. In fact, some evidence shows the longer
the baby breastfeeds, the sooner they accomplish "milestone" tasks, such as
walking and talking.