Health & Fitness

Weaning: When and How to End Breastfeeding

There is no unique approach to weaning a baby. Most pediatricians believe that the optimal age to stop breastfeeding is 1-1,5 years. The WHO advises maintaining lactation at least for up to 2 years. However, only a mother can decide at what age to stop giving breasts to a kid.

Weaning Should Pass Gradually

Experts believe that the sudden ending of breastfeeding is not only psychologically difficult but can also be traumatic. A nursing mother may experience milk stagnation because of suddenly weaning which in turn can cause inflammatory processes such as mastitis. It also negatively affects a kid. Therefore, the ending should begin smoothly and gradually, each time reducing the frequency and duration.

The daily number of feeding should be reduced first. When a child gets used to it, decrease the number of feedings before bedtime and after it. Night feedings should be stopped at the last turn. The most effective help in this process could become supplementary feeding. By adding new foods to the baby’s diet, you reduce the need for milk. In case the weaning is caused by physical reasons, you shouldn’t fully replace the human milk with solid food. The reason is that breast milk is still considered the main source of nutrients, so it’s recommended to use toddler formula if a nursing mother is not physically able to breastfeed anymore. In situations like this, the formula serves as the helping element for weaning. However, you should consult a pediatrician first.

The Easiest Way to Wean a Baby

The best way to end breastfeeding is a long-term process based on natural and delicate weaning, which does not injure a child and does not disrupt its usual way of life. It consists of several stages:

  • firstly, it is necessary to step-by-step stop all feedings except for the main meals. Sometimes, babies are so accustomed to their mother’s breasts and can latch onto them on any occasion. Such feedings should be gradually stopped, distracting a kid with interesting games, walks, and other activities
  • the second step is a bit harder to perform, but a necessary one to stop breastfeeding. It’s essential to stop feeding a kid to lull it. Many babies can’t sleep without being breastfed. A fairy tale, a song, or a lullaby could be used instead of breast milk
  • the next one is to end feeding at bedtime. A baby can have a hearty dinner. For a child to fall asleep without any whims, it is good to arrange evening walks and baths with herbs, which will give a strong and deep sleep
  • the final stage will be the cessation of all-night feedings. This stage may occur six months after the first. But by then, a kid will no longer be so used to the mother’s breast and it will be the easiest step

When Should Weaning be Postponed?

If a child is ill, defer weaning because in such a period breast milk can be perfect for a baby by providing it with the needed nutrients thus allowing it to fight the disease easier. Any changes in the care or life of a kid also provide a short break from finishing breastfeeding. Delay weaning in the warm season because at this time it is easier to catch an intestinal infection.

Children usually reach readiness for weaning at different ages. Physiologically, they are ready for weaning after reaching 1-1.5 years, but psychologically approximately in 2.5-3 years. Only you and your little one can decide how long to continue breastfeeding. Experts recommend performing this process when both parties are ready. Weaning at earlier stages is more difficult, but also possible. It is important to take into account the peculiarities of the child’s growth and development.


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