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Health & Baby

From Breast To Bottle: Weaning Your Baby

Moms can slowly and successfully move their baby off a breastfeeding schedule.
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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 Aponte.

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, introduce milk.

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 bottle. 

"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 baby."

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