Weaning your baby from breastfeeding can be a difficult experience for both mommy and her little one.
While some toddlers successfully wean by themselves, you definitely can have a strong-willed toddler who refuses to self-wean.
Well, what if I told you that there are simple steps that you can take to make weaning your little one a little less stressful?
Don’t believe me?
Well, you don’t have to take my word for it!
This post, full of practical, actionable tips, comes from my friend Evelyn, the mommy behind Mommy Stroller.
She’s provided us with some amazing, realistic tips that you can begin to implement right away!
So, if you’re at your wits end with weaning your little one, or simply not sure where to start, this is the post for you!
Even something as beautiful as breastfeeding must come to an end.
Unfortunately, kids don’t suddenly stop wanting your milk and your body doesn’t just stop producing it overnight.
If you want your child to stop breastfeeding, you need to start the process of weaning.
In most cases, this translates to tear-filled drama, but if done right, it is completely possible to make it a stress-free journey.
In a nutshell, weaning is the process of reducing the supply of breast milk that your child is consuming and replacing it with other sources of nutrition like formula milk or solids.
If you’re one of the lucky few, your child will wean off breastfeeding of their own will.
But the reality is, most mothers choose to end the breastfeeding relationship because of reasons like work.
Mother-led weaning becomes a challenge when the child is an unwilling participant.
Ideally, the weaning process should take a few weeks which is enough time for your child time to adjust to the new diet.
Keep in mind that for your child, breastfeeding is not just about getting nourishment, it’s also a form of bonding with you.
So where do you start with weaning your child?
How do you make it a little bit easier?
We have some tips that will make your weaning journey more bearable.
1. It Starts With Making A Commitment
You have to want it.
While the freedom that comes with finally being able to wean your child sounds very tempting, it’s going to be quite an emotional journey too because you will inevitably lose some closeness with your child that you had.
Make sure that you are prepared for that loss.
Try to think of other activities that will keep you and your baby connected.
Of course, there is probably nothing in the world like breastfeeding, but at least you will have something else that will continue to strengthen your relationship with each other.
For me, I made use of my jogging stroller more often as a way to stay connected with my little one.
Going out for a walk or even a short jog every evening was something I look forward to everyday.
2. Explain The Process To Your Child
Imagine having someone take away something important to you without leaving any kind of explanation.
That’s simply rude, right?
Don’t underestimate your child.
Even at a young age, they can already comprehend a lot of things.
It is important for you to explain the weaning process that he or she won’t feel like you’re just taking away something unnecessarily.
You can start by explaining how they need more solid food because their bodies are starting to become bigger.
This is also a good time to let them know about the importance of eating well and having a balanced diet.
3. Shorten Your Nursing Sessions
Ideally, as your child’s intake of solids increases, his or her need for breast milk decreases.
However, a lot of kids like to spend time on the breast because they find it comfortable and relaxing.
Try to slowly shorten your nursing sessions for a few minutes per day.
Understandably, your child will get upset.
Make sure that you are ready to offer a substitute or a distraction that will help lessen the drama.
4. Keep Your Child Distracted With Other Activities
Does your child start nursing as soon as you put him or her on a baby carrier for breastfeeding?
Maybe it’s about time to introduce new activities.
The world expands as your child grows bigger.
Keep your child busy and distracted so that he or she won’t think about nursing out of boredom.
Introduce your child to simple finger games or you can start teaching songs with a lot of movement and action.
If you want, you can also introduce a “comfort toy” that your child can play with whenever there’s an urge to breastfeed.
5. Make Sure That Your Child Is Neither Hungry Nor Thirsty
Breast milk is packed with nutrients.
Make sure that when you take away the breast milk, you offer nutrient-dense food that will still help your child grow and develop.
If your child is under one year old, formula milk is necessary, but when your child is a bit older, fresh milk and nutritious solid food could provide sufficient nutrition.
As always, it is important to check pediatrician before making any drastic changes.
6. Create A New Bedtime Ritual
For a lot of babies and toddlers, sleeping time is associated with breastfeeding.
Studies also show that breast milk helps babies sleep at night.
You might want to create a new bedtime ritual that will replace the breastfeeding habit.
It could mean reading books, drinking a glass of milk, or playing a simple bonding game before you hit the sack.
When things get a bit too hard, reinforcement might be necessary.
You might want to assign your husband/partner/mother/mother-in-law/anyone else to help you with putting your child in bed.
Of course, you will eventually play a part in it too, but it’s better to wait until your child has adjusted to going to bed without breast milk.
Yes, It’s Possible To Wean Your Child Successfully
Again, here are our six steps for weaning your child minus all the drama:
1. Make a commitment
2. Explain the process to your child
3. Shorten your nursing sessions
4. Keep your child distracted
5. Make sure your child is neither hungry nor thirsty
6. Create a new bedtime ritual
Every mother-child relationship is different.
Depending on the personality of your child and your needs as a mother, you might find a completely different approach more effective.
In the end, mother knows best.
You get to decide what works best for you and your child. Don’t be afraid to follow your instincts.
Have you successfully weaned your child from breastfeeding?
We’d love to hear your tips, too!
Evelyn is the person behind Mommy Stroller.
The blog was started by Evelyn and her husband, Paul, who both decided to blog about baby gear after the overwhelming feeling they experienced when trying to pick out their first stroller.
Both of them enjoy spending time with family and friend, live music, and going on jogs with their kids (in a stroller).
For detailed baby gear guides, stroller reviews and anything and everything stroller related, check out Mommy Stroller!