When and How to Wean

Weaning is the process of gradually getting a child accustomed to some food other than mother’s milk. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be breastfed for the first year of life – longer if the mother and baby so desire. The following information will help ease the transition for you and your baby.


When the Baby is Ready to Wean …

The following are signs that your baby is ready to wean:

The baby gradually loses interest in the breast. This is an indication that she might be ready for a bottle, cup or even solid foods. Note which feeding she’s least interested in and substitute a bottle or cup for a breastfeeding. Let a few days pass before replacing any additional feedings.

The baby has a nursing strike. This is a sudden, abrupt refusal of the breast, often just a reaction to an outside factor, like a cold or a change in the taste of the mother’s milk. If you’re not ready to wean when your baby strikes, nurse frequently and try different feeding positions. Chances are your baby will go back to the breast.


When Mom Initiates Weaning …

Breastfeeding experts advise nursing mothers not to start weaning if the baby is teething, has a cold or ear infection, or if there’s any upheaval in family life (such as a move or a vacation).

Replace eliminated breastfeedings with expressed milk or formula (if your baby is less than 1 year old) or cow’s milk in a bottle or cup.

Eliminate one feeding at a time. Try eliminating a feeding your baby seems less interested in, one at which you seem to have less milk or one that is during a time when you will routinely be separated.

Wait a few days before eliminating the next feeding. Give yourself and your child time to adjust. Allow three to four weeks to fully wean.

If you feel engorged, express only enough to relieve the discomfort. As your breasts begin to produce less milk, your discomfort will also lessen.