Simple Tips for Weaning
1. Try to avoid beginning the weaning process during an illness or developmental milestone or when your baby’s schedule is disrupted.
2. Eliminate one nursing session every two or three days to allow your milk supply to decrease slowly.
3. If your baby is younger than a year, you may have to substitute the nursing session with a bottle or cup. For older babies, you may substitute other foods or drinks, or even just a cuddle session.
4. Enlist the help of the child’s father. Have Dad do bedtime or nighttime duty when your baby wakes up, if she associates nighttime waking with breastfeeding.
5. Keep an eye on your baby’s response to the weaning process. If your baby becomes upset and cries or does not seem to be responding well to your attempts at weaning, it’s okay to back off and try again in a few weeks or months. Ideally, weaning should be done with gentleness and respect for your baby’s emotional needs, as well as your own.
6. “Don’t Offer, Don’t Refuse” is a reliable and time-tested way of accelerating the weaning process. Breastfeed whenever your child asks, but don’t offer or encourage it.
7. Change your daily routine. If you have a certain time of the day or favorite chair that your baby associates with breastfeeding, change your usual routine so that your baby will not be reminded to nurse as frequently.
8. Offer substitutions and distractions. When your child asks to nurse, offer a glass of water or snack, or even reading a book or playing a favorite activity.
Remember that weaning doesn’t have to be “all or nothing” – many mothers choose to wean just during the day or just at night. If nursing at a particular time of the day is getting you down, it’s okay to eliminate breastfeeding at those times and continuing at other times.
Kerry Luskey is a lactation counselor, OB nurse and herbalist living in Arizona.