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When you become a mother, you start breastfeeding your baby. Everyone tells you the importance of breastmilk for your baby and for your health as well. However, no one tells you when to wean off your baby or stop breastfeeding your baby. Well, there are no seconds thoughts that breast milk is one of the most essential sources of nutrition for your little one but there comes a time when the transition needs to be made from breast milk to other sources of nutrition because once your baby turns six months of age, your milk will not be enough to provide your baby with all the vital nutrients that may be required for your baby’s optimum growth. So, does that mean that you should begin weaning off at this stage or should you keep feeding your baby as long as he is comfortable? Do not strain yourself as this article will provide you with all the necessary information on when to stop breastfeeding your baby.
When Is the Good Time to Stop Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding your baby strengthens the bond between the two of you. Apart from bonding with your baby intently, breast milk is also the solitary source of nutrition for your baby, which keeps him going. So, before you decide to wean him off you must know when is the right age for that. Breast milk is the main source of nutrition until six months of age or until you start giving solids to your baby. However, you should not only let your baby be on external sources of nutrition and wean off from the breast because breast milk may still be the prime nutrition source for your baby. When your baby turns one, you can consider weaning. But not always, weaning your baby also depends on how ready you and your baby are to give up breastfeeding.
Why Mothers Quit Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is a blessing for your baby; however, you may have to discontinue this practice because of the following reasons:
1. Inadequate Milk Production
You may consider weaning your baby if you are not producing ample milk for your little one. Improper latching position too may lead to inadequate milk supply. Therefore, you should pay heed to your baby’s latching position and ensure that your baby latches on to the areola or the dark part of your breast. If he does not and you are unable to produce milk, then you may wean your baby.
2. Discontented Baby
Sometimes you may produce milk, but it may not suffice your baby’s milk demands. This may leave the baby discontented and irritable.
3. No Interest in Breast Milk
4. Increased Nutritional Requirements
As your baby grows, breast milk may not fulfil his increased nutritional demands, and thus you may have to make the transition to solid foods.
5. Mother’s Health Condition
Sometimes due to mother’s ill health, she may not be able to breastfeed her baby and thus sometimes may be required to wean off abruptly. Sometimes due to certain prescribed medication also you may be required to stop breastfeeding your baby.
6. Resuming Work
If you are a working mommy, then you may be required to resume work after your maternity break gets over. This may either reduce the frequency of your feeds or you may wean off completely.
7. Too Much to Handle
Some mothers may not be able to succumb to the demands of their baby’s breastfeeding requirements due to emotional, social or physical reasons. Thus such mothers may stop feeding their baby.
8. Baby Bites
Sometimes more than suckling on your breasts your baby may be more interested in chewing your nipples. This is very normal, especially when your baby starts teething, thinking that your nipples are a chew toy. This may lead to cuts, bruises and sore nipples, causing extreme pain and in some cases infection, which may make you stop breastfeeding your baby.
How to Stop Breastfeeding a Baby
In order to stop breastfeeding your baby, you can use some of the following methods to stop breastfeeding:
1. Get Formula Milk to the Rescue
If you wish to wean off your baby, you need to look out for alternate methods of satiating your baby’s hunger and formula milk is the second choice that is closest to breast milk. You should make the gradual transition by replacing one feed and then gradually replacing the subsequent feeds. Formula milk is heavier than breast milk and thus may keep your baby feel fuller for longer. Introduce solid foods to your baby if your baby is over six months of age.
2. Distract with Activity
Sometimes a baby may not suckle on your breast because of hunger, he may just need closeness or comfort from you. However, when you try to wean, refrain from offering your breast for comfort. Try and distract your baby and indulge him in some activity that he may enjoy doing.
3. Get Your Baby’s Focus to Solid Foods
Your baby will be ready for solid food by six months of age, and this readiness becomes prominent as he grows. Therefore, whenever the hunger pang strikes, try feeding some solid food to your baby. Starting with gooey, soft and smooth textured food, which may be milk-based, as it may make the transition process faster and easier.
4. First Choice – Formula or Solid Food
If your baby seems hungry, do not offer breast milk rather go for either formula milk or any solid food. Your baby may act a bit grumpy for the first few times but when you keep giving him these options, he will associate them with his hunger and may shift his focus from breast milk to these options.
5. Give Pacifier
Babies are born with innate sucking instinct, and it may take them a bit of effort to let go of that instinct. Therefore, not because of hunger but just to satiate this instinct babies may sometimes opt for suckling. However, if you are in the process of weaning off, you can use a pacifier instead.
If you have been on a lookout to find how to stop breastfeeding naturally, we suggest that you try some of our above-mentioned tips to stop breastfeeding.
How to Stop Breastfeeding at Night
When you try to wean your baby, you might experience more challenges during the night weaning sessions. In most cases, a woman’s body is capable of producing more milk during the night time or early mornings. Therefore, in order to facilitate your baby’s transition from breast milk to other food options, you can offer high-calorie diet to your baby during the daytime so that your baby feels full towards his sleep time. Also, you may concentrate on offering breastfeeds in the afternoons, or early evenings only, that is somewhere from 1 PM to 7 PM.
How Long Can an Infant Take to Stop Breastfeeding?
Although it depends from baby to baby, on an average a baby may take weeks to even a couple of months to wean off completely. It may also depend on how consistent you may have been with your efforts and how effectively your baby copes up with the weaning process.
What If Your Baby Still Demands Breast Milk?
Where some babies may happily shift from breast milk to other food options, on the other hand, some babies may still cling on to their mommies and demand to be breastfed. This may be a tricky situation for you and sometimes may become troublesome. However, you may make use of any of the following tips to deal with the situation:
1. Try Changing the Food or Formula Options
Just the way you may relish or despise some food items, your baby is bound to do the same too; this may be because of your baby’s taste preference. It is quite possible that the solid food options or formula milk that you may be giving your baby may be the reason for these aversions. We recommend that you try changing the options and see if that helps.
2. Change Your Approach
Changing your approach may help too, this means that if you offered formula milk or solid food for lunch to your baby, you might offer it as a dinner option the following day. Experiment and try different combinations and see which one your baby accepts and settles with.
3. Seek Your Partner’s Help
Sometimes you may struggle to feed solids to your baby, but if someone else does it, there are chances that he may accept it. This is because your baby may associate you with someone who breastfeeds and thus he may be reluctant to take any other form of food from you. Though the transition will happen, it may be a good idea that someone else begins it.
4. Make a Routine
Sounds strange, but babies like to follow a routine. This is because anything that is not usual or abrupt may create aversion or a feeling of discomfort in babies. If you set a routine, ie., if you feed your baby at a set time every day, this may give your baby an idea of what he may expect during that time and slowly he may accept the change.
What Happens When You Stop Nursing
It is not only your baby who may experience difficulty when you begin weaning off, but you may also experience a few changes. Here’s what may happen to you:
- Once you start weaning off your baby, the hormones in your body start changing, too. The levels of oxytocin and prolactin may drop substantially, leading to hormonal imbalance. This hormonal imbalance may cause symptoms of depression and excessive mood swings, too.
- Your breasts may become tender or sore to touch; this may happen due to milk accumulation in the breasts. In some cases, breast engorgement may occur, which may be an extremely painful condition. For this reason, it is suggested that weaning off should be a gradual and not a sudden process.
- If you did not have periods while breastfeeding then worry not because soon you will have those four days of the bloody show. Many breastfeeding mothers may not have their periods until they stop breastfeeding their babies, this condition is called temporary infertility or lactational amenorrhea. Therefore, you may begin menstruating soon after you wean off your baby.
- Most women tend to put on weight after they stop breastfeeding their baby. This may happen because of extra calorie intake that happens during the breastfeeding days and which may not go down the moment they wean off their baby. However, this may be controlled with strong willpower, but still, it may take a few days or few weeks time to cut down on the calories.
A mother always knows what is best for her baby and thus it is very important to listen to your instincts when it comes to weaning off your little bundle of joy.
Most women may have tons of questions related to weaning. If you are one of those, too, we have few of your frequently asked questions answered in this section.
1. Can I Resume Breastfeeding After Weaning?
Seeing your baby struggling with the discomfort of weaning off may make you feel bad. You may wonder whether you did the right thing or could you have waited for some more time and nurtured the sweet, intimate bond with your baby. It is very normal for both mommy and baby to experience the withdrawal symptoms. However, if you wish to resume breastfeeding, you may do so, and it is called re-lactation. But it may be effective only if it is started soon after the weaning. Also, it may be easier for you to get your milk supply going if your baby is less than six months of age. In the case of babies older than a year, it may take a lot of effort on your part. In most cases, your milk supply may not be the same as before. We recommend that you should plan to stop breastfeeding your baby when you are physically and mentally prepared to do it only.
2. When Will My Breast Milk Dry Up After Quitting Breastfeeding?
Your milk supply may diminish considerably within a few days after weaning. However, it may take weeks and in some cases even a year or two, for your breast milk to completely dry up. Even when you stop breastfeeding your baby, you may notice occasional drops of milk oozing from your nipples. However, if you experience any kind of secretions a few years after stopping, which may be accompanied by pain or any other symptoms, it surely may be a cause of concern. Get yourself thoroughly checked for the same.
Babies grow really fast, and soon you may have to think about other ways of meeting your baby’s nutritional needs and wean him off the breast milk. We have made efforts in bringing you some of the best possible options that may help you in doing this tedious task with ease. Happy weaning!
Also Read: Tips to Night Weaning a Baby