A Guide to Weaning Breastfeeding Methods
Find Out How Long to Breastfeed and How to Wean Your Baby
Studies show that breastfeeding has huge health benefits for you and your baby and so the longer you nurse your baby, the more benefits they’ll receive from your nourishing milk. Babies who are breastfed generally experience fewer illnesses, and that means fewer trips to the doctor, fewer prescriptions, and a lower volume of pharmaceuticals consumed. Read further to learn more about baby weaning methods to ensure optimal health for you and your baby.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has this to say about how long to breastfeed your baby:
“Pediatricians and parents should be aware that exclusive breastfeeding is sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months of life and provides continuing protection against diarrhea and respiratory tract infection. Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child."
Certainly, breastfeeding can be difficult, especially in the first few weeks as you’re getting use to the process and working with your baby to find a routine and system that’s functional. Experts caution against giving up at this point as there are many disadvantages to early weaning:
- Unless you’re expressing and storing your breast milk, your child will not benefit from the amazing nutrition your breast milk can provide.
- Weaning your baby too soon may result in frequent illnesses and an increase in tantrums and sleep challenges.
- Babies feel safe and comforted when nursed, and a strong bond with your child will sooth them and give them confidence.
- Though weaning frees you from breastfeeding, you’ll still have a child that requires regular and frequent feedings. In many ways, a weaned newborn is no easier to feed than a breastfed newborn.
In the end, when you choose to wean your baby should be a family decision dependent on your circumstances and preferences. When the time comes, you’ll experience many benefits of weaning to formula and solid food. In particular, after weaning, you’ll be able to free yourself from the feeling of being trapped by leaving your child with a caregiver for longer periods of time.
But as you determine when to wean, you’ll also want to think about how to wean your baby. There are several types of weaning you can try, with much advice online for those interested in exploring the various options.
Weaning your baby to formula commonly takes place somewhere between 6 months and 1 year for your baby through a carefully planned and slow removal of the breast from your baby’s diet. It is generally recommended that you don’t abruptly stop nursing your baby (unless medically necessary) as this can be traumatic for your little one. To guide you through the process, here are several expert sources for information:
- Breastfeeding Made Simple - Nancy Mohrbacher
- How Do I Wean My Baby? - La Leche League
- How Weaning Happens - Diane Bengson
- New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding - American Academy of Pediatrics
- Weaning your baby from your breast - Baby Centre
Baby led or natural weaning
As the term suggests, baby led weaning, or natural weaning as it is also known, is the process by which you allow your baby to set the pace for weaning from the breast. These experts explain the process and give you advice on how to make it work:
- A Natural Age of Weaning - Katherine Dettwyler
- Baby-led Weaning - Gill Rapley
- Child Led Weaning - The Lactivist
- Child-led Weaning - Breastfed.com
- I Can Feed Myself! - Gill Rapley
- Natural Weaning - The Natural Child Project
- Weaning With Love - Breastfeeding.com
- What are the benefits of breastfeeding my toddler - La Leche League
- What is baby-led weaning? - Baby Centre
As you wean your baby to formula, make sure that you are buying natural and organic baby formula.
1 Policy Statement - Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk . (2005, February 2). Retrieved May 18, 2010, from American Academy of Pediatrics: http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;115/2/496
2 Would Weaning Make My Life Easier? (n.d.). Retrieved May 18, 2010, from La Leche League: http://www.llli.org/FAQ/wean.html