Baby Weaning ( My Experience )
Breastmilk is considered the best milk for your baby other than formula milk or any other food for at least one to two years. The Baby’s main source of nutrition is breastmilk till 6 months of age, thatswhy doctors recommend exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months. After 6 months, when your baby starts to have solids, the amount of intake of breastmilk or formula milk decreases a bit, but still, it’s a good source of nutrition for your developing baby. Since your baby is used to your breastmilk since his birth it will be very difficult for him to cut it down completely and make a transition to cow milk. It will take from several days to weeks for your baby to adjust to your routine when you stop Breastfeeding
Pre-Plan To Wean your baby:-
- It is very important for the mother to be ready and prepare herself to stop breastfeeding. Because you will need so much patience, willpower, and also good health to manage your fussy, crying, and angry baby.
- After weaning, you may develop breast-related problems like breast engorgement and clogged ducts. So plan before itself how to handle it.
- It is advisable to talk to your doctor before weaning so that you get all the information based on breast problems and how to handle a cranky baby.
- Get ready to wake up at night times and calm your crying baby.
- You have to be very strong emotionally. You shouldn’t give feed though he cries too much or becomes fussy. If you give your breast again, your baby will think that you will feed him if he cries more and he will continue this when you don’t offer the breast.
- Keep an alternative to your breastmilk, like cow milk, formula milk, or water. So that whenever your baby wants breastmilk you can offer these instead. Buy some good quality feeding bottles which have cartoons on them so that your baby drinks milk in them without resisting.
- Buy some new toys or try new activities to distract your baby from breastfeeding.
When To Stop Breastfeeding:-
It’s a parent’s decision to stop breastfeeding as early as 6 months or as late as 2 years. Since breastmilk offers so many nutrients doctors recommend exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and continue to 1.5 or 2 years. Many parents stop breastfeeding when their baby is 12 to 20 months old. The weaning process all depends on you and your baby. You and your baby should be ready to make this huge transition.
Before weaning check that your baby is growing healthy and you are also ready for so much patience and hard work. Also, consult with your doctor once. He will check the overall development of your baby and tell you if it’s the correct time to stop breastfeeding. Don’t stop breastfeeding when your baby is ill, teething, or going through some major milestones.
According to my experience, the best time to stop breastfeeding is when your baby is 20 to 23 months old. That’s because, for the first 2 years of life, your baby will go through many major milestones like teething, walking, crawling, learning to eat solid foods, and exploring everything. There will also be many vaccinations for up to 2 years. Babies at this age become ill very frequently, like they may get cold very often and fever due to vaccinations or flu. At this time your baby needs comfort and your attachment and you know that breastfeeding creates a very strong bond between the mother and the baby. Also, it gives so much comfort to your baby which is very necessary at this age because babies can’t talk and they can’t express how they feel. It’s our duty to make them feel better always.
How To Stop Breastfeeding:-
When you plan to wean your baby then start by decreasing the quantity of milk that you offer to your baby slowly. Every day try to decrease the amount of milk. Do this for at least one week before cutting off one feed completely. This is very important because breastfeeding goes on with supply and demand. The less you offer, the less milk your breast will produce.
1. Don’t stop breastfeeding all of a sudden, this is going to make the matter worse and your baby won’t stop crying until you give him milk and it will affect his emotions too. You will also face breast-related problems like clogged ducts and engorgement which can be very painful and gets severe if not treated properly.
2. Start cutting off the morning feed first. If you offer the breast after breakfast at nap time then to distract your baby from breastmilk you can walk around with your baby and gently pat him so that he doses off on his own. In the initial days, he may not sleep like that but still make this a routine every day in the morning. If still he doesn’t sleep and gets cranky, offer only some amount of breastmilk and put him back to sleep again. Like this slowly cut off the morning feed and wait for at least one week before cutting off the second feed at afternoon nap.
3. After one week you can start cutting off the afternoon feed which you give after lunch or at nap time. Repeat the same process of walking around with your baby or swinging and singing songs in your lap until he doses off. You can also offer cow milk or formula instead of breastmilk before a nap. This process will be for 4 to 5 days and after that, your baby will understand that walking around with mom or swinging in mom’s lap means it’s time to sleep.
4. Now comes the night feed which is very very hard for every mother to stop breastfeeding. There will be times when you cannot sleep. Your baby will continuously cry for one hour thinking that you may offer him breastmilk. At this stage, you have to be very very strong and patient. At night times if your baby wakes up more than 3 to 4 times then you have to start cutting off one feed by continuously decreasing the amount of breastmilk you give to your baby and wait for one week for your baby to adjust. Then go on with the second feed. The main problem comes when you stop the last feed. Your baby may cry and you may feel like your a bad mother and you may also start crying. Take your partner’s help or any other member of your family to comfort your baby because if he is with you, he can smell your breastmilk and demand more.
5. Some parents give pacifiers to their baby when they demand breastmilk which will also help a lot as babies just want to suck for comfort.
All this process of weaning will go on for more than one week. Your baby will get up every night crying and you will be roaming around with your baby and comforting him until he gets back to sleep on his own. Your hard work will be a success soon. You and your baby will have a peaceful night’s sleep after completely weaning, which is very good for both of you.
Nighttime weaning was the toughest for me, my baby used to wake up every night for breast and cry for one hour. I used to pat him, comfort him, walk around with him but still, he doesn’t stop crying. Before bed, I used to give him one glass of cow milk so that his stomach will be full and he doesn’t wake up, but I was wrong, Babies want breastmilk only for their comfort. There was one night where he continuously cried and at last vomited all the water which I gave him to drink. I was not able to see him like this so at last gave him my breast for 5 min after 5 days off weaning. My baby felt very happy and slept peacefully.
I forgot to tell you that after weaning my right breast started to become full every day, I used to pump some milk out, but again it became full the next day. For some women, this may not happen as they produce little milk. I didn’t understand what to do. That night when I offered my baby some milk from both my breast, My breasts were comfortable. From the next day onwards I again started to comfort him, pat him, swing him in my arms, and walk around when he wakes up for a feed without giving breastmilk. Since he was very sleepy he used to sleep after a few minutes. This continued for one week. And now he doesn’t wake up at all. Sometimes he wakes up crying due to teething and sometimes because of separation anxiety. If I am near him he would hug me tightly and go back to sleep or he will start to cry.
I can’t tell you how frustrated and tired I was during night weaning but hard work pays off and now my 21-month-old baby sleeps happily throughout the night. I didn’t offer him formula milk or cow milk at night when he woke up because I thought if I offer him milk whenever he wakes he will get used to it and again start to wake up for outside milk.
How To Handle Breast-related Problems After Weaning:-
The best way to stop breastfeeding without any pain is to wean gradually, which means decreasing the amount of breastmilk slowly when you offer it to your baby, This will help you to stop breastfeeding completely without any breast-related problems. Breastmilk is produced based on supply and demand. The more your baby drinks milk, the more milk is produced by your breast. If your baby is drinking less milk, your breast will start making less milk and like this when you stop breastfeeding your breast will slowly stop making milk.
You may have lumpy breasts after weaning for 4 to 5 days. If your breast becomes hard express some milk out with your hand. Your breast will become normal after 5 days. Don’t pump your milk completely, this will make the breast make more milk.
For some women, the milk supply is more and it doesn’t stop even after weaning. At that time doctors advise taking certain tablets which reduce the milk supply.
Never allow your breast to be sore, red, hard, and tender. It will cause mastitis which can be very painful and you need complete treatment for it. It can cause fever, chills, red hard breasts. For some women after weaning completely, the milk present in the breast will form into hard lumps and doctors have to do an operation to remove those hard lumps from the breast. Check here to know more about breast-related problems.
Why does a mother stop breastfeeding her baby:-
- If she is pregnant again she has to stop breastfeeding or else the growing baby inside the womb won’t get nutrients needed for healthy growth.
- If the mother is ill or with some health problems, or if she is taking some medications which can harm your baby through breastmilk, it’s better to stop breastfeeding.
- If the mother has planned to go to work again after her maternity leave, she may stop breastfeeding as she cannot offer her breast every 3 to 4 hours or when the baby demands as she is working outside.
- If the baby has reached 2 years or older and is growing healthy, it’s the correct time to stop breastfeeding.
- If the mother gets some serious disease like AIDS, Cancer, or diseases that are transmittable, then she should not breastfeed her baby as there is a chance the baby may also come in contact with the disease.
- If the mother is not producing enough milk, you can wean off. Mothers don’t produce enough milk due to the poor latching position of the baby. If your baby drinks milk only through your breast nipple your breast may not produce enough milk. You have to make sure they suck the milk through the dark area around your nipple to latch properly and produce enough milk.