Breastfeeding Complications: How the heck do I wean?

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If you’ve reached your breastfeeding goal, you may be wondering how to wean without any negative side effects. There are different weaning methods for children over 1 years old. Child led weaning and parent lead weaning typically occur between the ages of 2 and 4 years.. For an infant it is a little more involved.

Self led, or child led, weaning, it normally happens when your child (over 1 years old) does not feel the emotional need to continue to breastfeed. This point happens at all different ages. Nutritionally this is very safe because they will still be getting their nutrition through the foods they are eating. They have reached a huge milestone in their lives and developmentally are ready to focus on other things.

Parent led weaning is a little different. It is not to say you need to stop offering the breast cold turkey, it’s more a gentle and gradual push towards being fully weaned. If you are flexible with your weaning goal, then your child will usually adapt with little to no protest. The flexibility helps cushion the blow, if you will. A lot of children love to breastfeed even if it is only once or twice a day because of routine and emotional connection. Try to substitute the emotional connection of breastfeeding by spending some time with your child. Maybe doing an activity together during the time you would normally breastfeed.

If the gap of physical and emotional closeness is not filled, or if your child feels they are having something they enjoy removed without any rhyme or reason they may experience some emotional upset.  They may being to act out of character in “negative” ways.

What about weaning an infant?

The reason I think it is more difficult to wean an infant is your body will still want to produce all the milk the baby was drinking despite you wanting to wean. There is no set way to do it. The concept is to still release milk to avoid discomfort but to not “empty” the breast. For example:

  1. For the first 3-4 days switch 2 feedings from breast milk to formula or bottled breastmilk you had saved.
  2. When your baby is eating the formula or previously saved breastmilk you still want to release some breast milk to avoid engorgement.
  3. The following 3-4 days switch another 2 feedings from breast milk to formula or bottled breastmilk you had saved.
  4. When your baby is eating the formula or previously saved breastmilk you still want to release some breast milk to avoid engorgement.
  5. Continue until all feedings are formula.
  6. If your baby is eating a variety of solids you can still offer the solids however you were before you started weaning.

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