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gentle weaning


Weaning, a very common and emotional subject amongst mothers. When is the right time and how do you stop? In this article I am going to talk about what the scientists recommend however please note that weaning is a fully personal decision for every family. I will also touch upon the ways that you can wean to make the process as smoothe as possible! Read on if this is for you ….

When to wean from breastfeeding?

This is a fully personal decision to make however to share with you the scientific evidence here it is;

American Academy of Pediatrics recommends nursing for one year. This is based on the fact that at one year old the baby’s nutritional needs change and no longer physically need the breastmilk. Please note that this does not mean that breastmilk is not beneficial for them however they would be able to do without it by then.

World Health Organisation and UNICEF recommend breastfeeding until 2 years of age.

This advice is conflicting in itself, what we do know is that around 15months of age children enter a new cognitive phase and begin to make strong associations and attachments. Breastfeeding starts to become more of a comforting thing and therefore weaning definitely becomes more difficult to do. Again this does not mean that you need to wean before 15 months but I wanted you to be aware the changes that your child is going through and how it can affect weaning.

How to wean ?

I want to start saying that weaning done in a transitional phase normally satisfies both mother and baby. This means not deciding to stop from one day to another. The body of evidence shows that this can be a shock to both mother and baby and even though it can be considered efficient it normally can be very difficult for both emotionally. Transitional weaning means that one day you breastfeed, another day you don’t and maybe another day you may need to breastfeed again if your baby is not happy. It is like a dance together and it takes time to master and be ready for it.

How do you wean in a slow manner?

If you are weaning before 12 months it is best to wean from breastfeeding and replace it with a bottle or a sippy cup. I wish you luck on that one as it was a real challenge for me for my daughter to take a bottle! This is very normal behaviour and it is an obstacle we can go through together!

Get them on a loose schedule

This means starting to let go of the specific time  that you normally breastfeed but maintaining the routine rater. If you breastfeed right after the baby wakes you can continue doing it but without keeping a strict time schedule. 

If you breastfeed before bedtime or throughout the day the same would apply as well. 

Choose what feed you want to remove

Usually one of the nursings in the middle of the day will be the easiest to remove and normally bedtime and morning feeds are more difficult to phase out.

The first few days that you take away those feedings you will want to change the routine a little bit and have food and a drink in a cup ready to go. The best is to really distract them with something else, this of course will not work every time and this is where the transition comes in!

Wait 3-7 days before removing the next feed

Once you eliminated the first feed wait between  3-7 days before you take away another feed. This all depends on how slow or fast you want to go and it is important to listen to yourself while doing this.

Continue until you have only a morning feed and night feeds

This is the hardest one to tackle. Between the two I would say that the night feeds are the hardest to tackle. The mornings are easier as you can have breakfast ready so your baby can eat right away.

Leave the longest space before you tackle the night feeds

I say this because you may be feeling lots of emotions and so will your baby. Taking away that feed will be the end of your breastfeeding journey so you want to make it the slowest transition. If you are feeling very ready to stop breastfeeding you could be waiting just up to 3-7 days just like the other feeds.

to summarize…

  • Take away one feeding at a time
  • Eliminate the easiest feedings first
  • Offer a meal instead of nursing.
  • Give a cup at each meal, and place either breast milk or cow’s milk in the cup.
  • If you decide to replace it with cow’s milk the first time you give cow’s milk, mix it with a 25-50% blend of breast milk. This will help them adjust digestively and to the taste. After a day or two of successful consumption, you can continue to add less and less breast milk until it is straight cow’s milk or toddler formula, if you choose.
  • Prior to weaning, give your baby water at each meal, which will help them get used to having a drink.

Overall don’t feel rushed, watch for your child’s acceptance and adjustment. You may be emotional, this is normal. Make sure you are feeling comfortable with your decision and try and zone out from other people’s opinions!

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célia ponzo

 I support couples to fully enjoy parenthood from pregnancy🤰to first year with baby 👶🏻🤱 empowering them with scientific knowledge, emotional guidance and deep relaxation techniques.

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