Weaning is an important step for not only for the child but also for the mother. Early or late weaning can have a long-term effect on the health, growth and psychology of both. With this article, I would like to throw some light on the when and how to wean.
Intimate bond between mother and child
What is weaning? Weaning is process for when breast-feeding is stopped or reduced and where the baby starts to receive their nourishment from other sources. Weaning is a bitter-sweet moment. However it does not affect the intimate bond between mother and child.
Right time to wean There is no fixed deadline to wean a baby. It is purely up to the mother and baby. With regards to weaning, be wary of advice from relatives or friends. The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends breastfeeding till one year of age or even further if both you and your baby wants to.
Baby-led weaning- This can happen sometime after 12 months. If your baby is getting easily distracted while feeding or shows less interest, it suggests that they could be ready to be weaned. This is a very smooth transition, however, very rare.
Mother-led weaning- If you want to return to work or when you (the mother) feels it is the right time. This approach requires patience as you may experience resistance from the baby. Remember to wean her gradually. Also you may make use of bottles, breast-pumps, iron fortified milk formula to help in the process.
How to wean Weaning always has to be done patiently. Rushing through the process is harmful for both mother and child. You may try these methods:
Skip a feed- Instead you may give milk in a cup or bottle, formula or cow's milk for a child over 12 months.
Reduce nursing time- Depending on age, provide nutrition with other healthy substitutes.
Postpone and distract- This will work with slightly older babies. Try distracting with other things, like a toy or music or a healthy snack.
If nursing is for comfort, then try other methods like music, play or reading a book. Or just hand him over to your partner.
Add healthy external foods in the diet
Gradual weaning will give the child a chance to adjust. Also it won't cause engorging of milk ducts or other complications like breast infections or mastitis.
When weaning gets tough If weaning becomes a struggle, don't lose hope. The timing just may not be right. Maybe your child is simply adjusting to a new routine if you have recently resumed work. Or perhaps your child is illl? Such factors might mean that it may not be a great idea to wean at that time. You can always try again at a later stage.
The process of weaning is also a developmental change for the child and like all other things, it happens gradually. Do not expect overnight results. Try patiently and it will happen.