Many mothers wonder what is the best time for weaning from breast feeding. The breast feeding relationship is wonderful, but most mothers understand that there comes a time when the baby needs to be weaned. While they realize this, most mothers are not sure when that time is.
Two Weaning Theories
Child-led weaning from breast feeding is a popular way that many mothers choose to wean their babies. Child-led weaning means that the mother allows the child to decide when to stop breast feeding. Many children around the age of two or three years old will decide for themselves that they no longer wish to breast-feed, and will self-wean. They will begin to gradually refuse the breast, which leads to a gradual decrease in supply in the mother. This is a great think for mom because she will avoid the engorgement that occurs with abrupt weaning from breast feeding. However, some children will not choose to self-wean. If this is the case, the mother needs to choose an age when she will begin to wean the child from breast feeding.
Some mothers choose to guide their child into weaning from breast feeding themselves, rather than wait for the child to lead the process. Perhaps they choose to wean because they are expecting another baby, or must head back to work. Whatever the reason, there is no perfect age for weaning. It is entirely up to the mother. The important thing is to wean gradually to avoid engorgement and negative psychological effects on the baby.
The Weaning Process
Some believe that weaning from breast feeding is easier when the mother introduces a cup rather than a bottle. The baby can learn to drink expressed [tag-tec]breast milk[/tag-tec] from a cup as early as six months old, allowing them to get used to the fact that liquids can come from somewhere besides mom. Then mom can begin the weaning process by substituting one feed a day. If the baby refuses to eat when mom offers the feed, she may have to enlist the help of another person to offer the food.
To continue the weaning from breast feeding process, continue removing one feed at a time, until the most favorite feed. This is often the most difficult feed to eliminate, as babies gain a lot of comfort and security from nursing. Eventually the baby will realize that mom still is there to comfort and take care of him, and this will make the weaning process much easier on the baby. Once the baby is over one year of age, it is appropriate to substitute [tag-ice]nursing[/tag-ice] for formula or whole milk. Until then, do not use cow’s milk as it can cause allergies in babies under a year.
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