Weaning your baby from breastfeeding is part of the breastfeeding experience and something that all breastfed babies will go through. Weaning is a developmental milestone that all babies reach at different times. By definition, weaning is the act of substituting other foods for the mother's milk in the diet of a baby or child.
In order to make the weaning process a more enjoayble experience for both mother and baby, the La Leche League encourages mothers to gradually wean their babies. There is no magical age to begin the weaning process. Your child may wean themself or you may have to initiate the process. Some mothers feel the need to wean after the first six months, while others continue to nurse their babies for the first year of life, or second or third. From the moment you give your baby any other souce of nutrition, other than breastmilk, the process of weaning begins. During the weaning process, make sure that your baby has plenty of water, juice (no more than 3-4 ounces a day) and food. Pump breastmilk and put it in a cup for your child if you are trying to wean from the breast, but still want your child to have breastmilk for nutritional reasons. If your child is old enough, you may offer cow's milk to them in a cup.
While some women do go cold turkey on their babies, abrupt weaning should be avoided for the sake of both mother and baby. A woman's hormone levels drop once breastfeeding stops, which could lead to depression and the breasts will become engorged and sore, which could lead to an infection in the breast. Because the baby relys on breastfeeding as a means of comfort and security, your baby may become fussy and upset if weaning is done to quickly.
While some babies will have no problems weaning from the breast, some babies have a hard time. If you find that your baby is having a hard time weaning from the breast, offer alot of physical comfort to your baby, since that is what he/she is actively seeking. Cuddle your child and give plenty of kisses and hugs. Make a point to interact with only your child during the regular nursing times. Sometimes, the weaning process becomes overly disturbing and stressful for a child. If you notice that your child has a new fear of separation or is withdrawed from you, weaning may be happening to quickly for his level of comfort. Other signs of stress in the child include increased crying, refusal to eat, constipation, stomach ache, night waking and biting. While you do not have to allow your baby to nurse, some mothers allow their babies to nurse once a day, when they notice they need it the most. Some babies simply are not ready to be weaned and the time is probably not right for them.
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