Weaning Your Breastfed Baby
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
"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."
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 areas.
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