Weaning means stopping a child from breastfeeding and introducing new foods. The decision to breastfeed your child for how long is a very personal one. Each mother will have different ideas about what is best for her and her kid, and the decision to quit breastfeeding may differ significantly from one child to the next. It’s good when you know exactly how long you want to breastfeed and when you’re ready to quit. However, the decision isn’t always easy or obvious.
Many things may come into play, including your own feelings, your child’s needs and moods, and the opinions of others, which aren’t always appreciated. As they transition to solid foods, some babies reduce the number of breastfeeds they receive. The first foods are primarily educational in nature, and only a small amount of food is consumed. They begin to acquire the nutritional benefits of solids and rely more on them for their growth and development once they’ve established themselves on solids and are taking three solid feeds each day (around 9 months).
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, mothers should give their newborns solely breast milk for the first 6 months of their lives, then gradually introduce acceptable meals after that time while continuing to nurse for another two years or longer. After that, it is entirely up to the mother and child to decide how long they want to continue. Friends and family have strong opinions about when you should stop breastfeeding; however, in the end, it is a very personal choice. You and your child are the only ones who know what is best for the two of you. Your child may decide on her own after nine to twelve months that she no longer wants to nurse.
Why might you want to start weaning?
Breastfeeding may be discontinued for a variety of reasons, including:
- A business trip or other extended departure from home.
- A return to work. You can, however, continue to breastfeed once you return to work. Request a more flexible schedule from your job, or get advice from your doctor or a lactation consultant on how to pump and preserve your milk.
- Another pregnancy is on the way. You can, however, continue to breastfeed during your pregnancy.
What is the average weaning age?
It’s difficult to determine an average because weaning is a process. If you decide to breastfeed your child through the toddler years, remember that it’s perfectly acceptable. According to the AAFP, the natural age of self-weaning, meaning weaning determined solely by the kid, is around 2.5–7 years old, based on anthropological data. Obviously, not everyone wants to nurse for so long, but it’s comforting to know that it’s a prevalent practice around the world.
How to start weaning gradually
The ideal approach to cease breastfeeding painlessly is to do so gradually. Gradual weaning is usually a good place to start when one feeding or pump session is phased out every few days. You can also shave a few minutes off each feeding by cutting back on a feeding every three days or so. The frequency of decreasing feedings varies from mother to mother, but weaning from nursing in a gradual, regulated manner can help avoid engorged breasts and lessen the danger of clogged ducts or mastitis, an infection of the milk ducts in your breast.
Start the weaning process by cutting your child’s least favorite feeding, keeping in mind that the first feeding of the day and the final one before night will most likely be the last to go. It also helps to divert your youngster at his regular feeding time when weaning. Feed him something else to keep him satiated during his typical nursing period, and snuggle with him somewhere else than his usual feeding spot.
What happens to the body when I stop breastfeeding?
When you stop breastfeeding, your body will go through a lot of changes. Expect variations in:
- Size and form of the breasts. Although it may take several months, your breasts will most likely shrink again. They may end up being slightly smaller or denser than they were before you were pregnant. If they seem engorged or overfull, try releasing a small amount of milk with your hand or a pump.
- Fertility is a term that refers to the ability to reproduce. If you just give your infant breast milk, your chances of becoming pregnant again are slim (but not impossible) during the first six months after your baby is born or until you resume your period. When you stop breastfeeding, your chances increase. If you don’t want to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about when you should start using contraception again.
The Emotional Side
It’s critical to think about your emotions. Some women yearn to reclaim their freedom before they start breastfeeding. When their children refuse to nurse, some mothers feel guilty, depressed, or lonely. They miss the bonding time they had with their babies when they were breastfeeding. Keep in mind that your child will still require your attention when she has finished breastfeeding. Weaning marks the start of a new phase in your unique connection. Speak with a friend who has just weaned a child to help you sift through your feelings.