When to wean your baby

The first year of a newborn’s life is the most important in its development; the body learns to exist independently from the mother’s body. Therefore, breastfeeding from the first days of life throughout the year is an important aspect of proper and healthy growth.

Often mothers think about how to wean their baby from breastfeeding at 1 year. By this time, the child has 8-10 teeth in his mouth, he tries new foods a lot and with pleasure, and begins to do many actions independently.

Many babies forget what breast milk is exactly in the period from one to 1.5 years. Although for some children it is not so easy to give up their favorite habit, especially if the newborn is used to sleeping next to his mother. The child has already switched to adult food, during the day he doesn’t even remember milk, but before bed he demands his mother, and otherwise refuses to fall asleep.

When the child is 2 years old, the situation may not change, and therefore parents are often concerned with the question of how to wean their child from falling asleep with the breast. At this age, children should sleep separately from their mother and not wake up all night. Sucking breast milk is no longer a necessity, but rather a pleasant habit. It’s still not possible to come to an agreement with the baby, but it’s also becoming more and more difficult to wean him off.

According to many pediatricians, 3 years is the deadline for a baby to forget about breast milk. Growing up, going to kindergarten, having all the teeth and expanding the variety of children's menus should affect the baby's attitude towards breastfeeding and help wean him off it. Some mothers allow the baby to breastfeed at this age as a reassurance, for example, if the baby has fallen or hit himself. This mistake will become a serious obstacle in the process of weaning the growing toddler.

Elena, 34 years old, mother of 8-year-old Lisa and two-year-old Bogdan: “When my first daughter was born, I did everything for the first time and, of course, made a lot of mistakes. I did not consider it necessary to wean Lisa off the breast, thinking that she herself would sooner or later refuse. But when the question of kindergarten arose at 2.5 years old, we had to take drastic measures so that our daughter would stop falling asleep while breastfeeding. Therefore, after giving birth to Bogdanchik, I decided to do things differently. After he turned one, I began gradual weaning measures by limiting his breastfeeding. And in 3-4 months we managed to completely stop breastfeeding.”

Ways to quickly wean

There are life situations when it is urgent to stop breastfeeding. For example, the onset of a new pregnancy less than a year after the previous birth, infectious or purulent diseases in the mother, a sharp decrease in lactation. If you need to wean off breastfeeding very quickly, then, as a rule, they resort to unconventional methods that were invented by our ancestors.

  • Termination of lactation by applying a pressure bandage to the chest. Natural fabrics of large sizes are used as “stretching”. Most often, cotton sheets are used, which are tightly tied in several layers to the area of ​​the mammary glands for the whole day. It is recommended to remove the bandage at night. At this time, the child is transferred to artificial feeding and is separated from the mother for some time.

Important! Compression of the mammary glands leads to a decrease in lactation, but some of the breast milk stagnates in the ducts. This can lead to inflammation and mastitis.

  • Another way to wean your baby off the breast quickly is to smear the nipple area with irritating substances. Mustard, adjika and other hot sauces are suitable for this. This method is used extremely rarely for the reason that it can cause diseases of the baby’s digestive system or provoke an allergic reaction. In addition, such weaning is extremely stressful for a newborn.
  • The most traumatic and stressful way to end breastfeeding is to separate mother and baby for a while until the baby weans the breast. This is an incorrect and far from painless method, but if life circumstances require it, then it’s worth a try.

Why wean your baby?

Understanding how difficult and lengthy the process of weaning off breastfeeding can be, many mothers doubt whether to start. You can often hear the opinion that parents are not going to take any measures, because sooner or later the child will get tired of his mother’s breast, and he will refuse it himself.

However, many factors speak in favor of the fact that after a year the child needs to be weaned from this habit. Among these nuances are:

  1. The maximum value of mother's milk for the health and development of the child lies in the first six months; further benefits begin to decline.
  2. After 12 months of breastfeeding, mother's milk has virtually no value for the child's development, and can interfere with the adult's consumption of healthy foods rich in essential vitamins and microelements.
  3. Waking up at night and sleeping next to the mother will not give the child the opportunity to fully rest without waking up. After a year, the baby should learn to sleep all night on his own.
  4. Falling asleep near the breast and waking up at night exhaust the mother, whose body is also significantly exhausted after the first year of the child’s life. Separate sleeping will be beneficial for all family members.

The famous pediatrician Evgeniy Komarovsky names another compelling argument why after the child’s first birthday it is time to wean him off breastfeeding: “A woman who breastfed her child for a year after birth has fulfilled her maternal duty one hundred percent. And he can “indulge” in the implementation of social tasks.”

Gradual cessation of breastfeeding

It is more physiological and correct to stop feeding gradually, as lactation decreases and the baby weans from the breast. This situation is only possible if the child is instilled with the correct nutritional system from the first year of life. From the moment complementary feeding is introduced (5-6 months), the baby is transferred to five feedings a day:

  • The first feeding immediately after waking up in the morning.
  • 2-4 feedings form breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • 5 feeding - at night, before bedtime.

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In this case, the diagram of the painless process of weaning a child from breastfeeding is as follows:

AgeFirst feedingSecond mealThird mealFourth mealFifth feeding
5-6 monthsMother's milkPorridge + supplementary feeding with breast milkVegetable puree + breast milk supplementationMother's milkMother's milk
7 monthsSamePorridge + fruit pureeVegetable puree + fruit juiceMother's milkSame
8 monthsMother's milkPorridge + fruit pureeVegetable puree + minced meat + fruit juiceFermented milk products (kefir, yogurt, cottage cheese) + supplementary milkMother's milk
9 monthsMother's milkSameSameBaby cottage cheese + yogurt or kefirMother's milk
10 monthsSameMulti-component grain milk porridge with pieces of fruitVegetable puree + meat or fish balls + fruit juiceChildren's kefir (cottage cheese) + children's cookiesSame
11 monthsFermented milk baby drink (or baby formula) + breast milk supplementationSameSameChildren's yogurt with pieces of cookies + cottage cheese + breadMother's milk
1 yearFermented milk baby drink (or baby formula) + breast milk supplementationSameBoiled or stewed pieces of vegetables with steamed meat cutlet + fruit juiceChildren's cottage cheese with pieces of fruit + children's cookies + kefirFermented milk baby drink (or baby formula) + breast milk supplementation
1 year 1-2 monthsTransition to a common food table with three meals a day. Gradual complete replacement of breastfeeding in the morning and at night with fermented milk products or infant formula, followed by their abolition.

With this approach, the woman’s lactation gradually fades away on its own, and the child receives more nutritious and tasty foods, which provokes breast refusal over time and weaning on its own.

Important! It is better to wean your child off breastfeeding gradually, with the least amount of stress for him. The correct feeding system in the first and second year of life will help with this.

Contraindications to weaning

Parents who decide to help their baby grow up and give up some habits should know how to properly wean their child from breastfeeding. There are situations when this is not worth doing, and the beginning of the process can harm the health of the baby. Such cases include:

  • a child’s illness or the presence of an inflammatory process in the body - it is undesirable to change anything in the baby’s life;
  • period of active teething - breastfeeding can calm the baby well;
  • hot summer period - deprivation of additional fluid can harm children's health;
  • carrying out routine vaccinations and several weeks after it - you should not deprive the child’s body of additional immune protection.

The described contraindications are temporary and can only delay the start of the weaning process. When the acute period passes, you can begin to make changes in the child’s life.

Natalya, 28 years old, Nikita’s mother: “Nikita was born in July, and when he turned one year old, we thought about stopping breastfeeding, because before bed he could hang on me for 30-40 minutes without letting go. But after consulting with a doctor, we decided to wait a couple of months until the fall, so as not to harm his health during the heat. Breast milk became an important liquid for him, although we also actively drank water. And in the fall, when it started to get colder, I took the weaning process seriously, and we quickly forgot what breastfeeding was.”

Quick weaning methods, their pros and cons

There are situations when it is necessary to quickly wean a child, for example, a serious illness of the mother, the need to go to work, or other force majeure circumstances. In this case, methods of rapid weaning are justified, although not without risk to the health or psyche of the baby. How to quickly wean a child from breastfeeding? Chest tug

An ancient method passed down to us from great-grandmothers, when a mother tightens her breasts and tells her baby that there is no more milk. Due to tight compression, the formation of milk in the mammary glands is suspended, and over time it stops altogether. This method can be used if the child is 1.5 or 2 years old. Usually by this time the amount of milk in the breast is already small, which minimizes the risk of complications.

The advantage of this method is that after a few days there will really be no milk, and breastfeeding will be over. But this method has several serious disadvantages:

  • The child’s lack of understanding of the situation and the sudden change in his contact with his mother. The baby may become whiny, restless, and may even develop fears or phobias;
  • The first time after pulling, milk will continue to be produced, and this can lead to an increase in the mother’s body temperature, the formation of lumps and the likelihood of developing mastitis.

Important! Based on these disadvantages, this method should be used only in extreme cases!

Modern ways to properly stop breastfeeding

Medicine does not stand still, and special drugs have now been invented to artificially suppress lactation in a nursing mother. A special hormone, prolactin, is responsible for the formation of breast milk. In a nursing mother, it is secreted in large quantities and stimulates the formation of mother's milk in the acini of the mammary glands. Modern medications suppress the production of prolactin, which sharply reduces lactation. When sucking, the baby realizes that there is not enough milk and is forced to make up for the lack of energy with breast milk substitutes or regular food.

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Of course, this method is no less traumatic for the baby, since weaning occurs abruptly and unexpectedly. However, unlike suppressing lactation with pressure bandages, the drug method does not provoke lactostasis, which means there is no risk of developing inflammation and suppuration.

The use of special tablets

The use of medications to stop milk production is a common method because it is best suited to the mother's body. The tablets eliminate the possibility of lumps in the mammary glands and mastitis.

The disadvantage of this method is the psychological state of the child, because from the first day of taking the medicine he cannot be given mother’s milk. He will cry and be capricious, not understanding what has changed in his relationship with his mother, and why he cannot fall asleep with the breast as before.

Weaning a child from its mother

Some families make a drastic decision to wean the child from breastfeeding, in which the baby stays with dad or grandmother, and the mother moves to another place for a few days. The advantage of this method is that the child does not see the mother or hear her smell, that is, it will be easier for him to switch to other foods and activities than if she were nearby.

A mother who lives separately for several days can also take medications to help stop milk production so that the process is painless and without negative consequences. A significant disadvantage of this method will be the psychological state of the child. Indeed, often until this moment, children have not been separated from their mother for a single day, starting from birth. Separation from a loved one and the inability to soothe oneself with breastfeeding can become a serious psychological trauma for the baby. An adult who remains with the child during this period will have quite a difficult time withstanding his condition.

How to wean your baby off breastfeeding

Many mothers simply “rent” their babies to grandmothers for three days. There are children who wake up in the middle of the night, do not find their mother with boobs nearby, and then calmly fall asleep. But there are others, they scream for two or three hours in the middle of the night and demand their way. Personally, I covered my nipples and areola with adhesive tape (just make sure it is easy to remove). She told her daughter that her breasts were sore and for some reason she bleated for convincing: “Bee.” Veronica liked my animal cry, and then I had to demonstrate my sore boobs ten times a day with the inevitable bleating in order to at least please my daughter with something. But at night it was not easy: the child demanded the breast in any form! But I was already taking medications to stop lactation. Now I’m gradually moving on to the second way to combat breastfeeding.

Traditional weaning methods

A generation of mothers and grandmothers can give advice on how best to make sure that the child does not want breast milk. Among such recommendations may be: smear the breast with brilliant green or cover it with an adhesive plaster. Usually a child in this situation is told a story about how a cat bit her mother’s breast, now it hurts and no longer gives milk. The baby feels sorry for his mother, and although he wants to return to his favorite habit, he realizes that this is impossible.

It is also worth using such methods in the most extreme cases, if gradual weaning does not produce results. Still, slow and gradual methods are the most gentle for both mother and baby.

As the French philosopher and writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau said: “The greatest mistake in education is excessive haste.” Everything must come in its time. And weaning ourselves from something that has brought so much benefit to a child and given him so much strength as he grows must also be done gradually.

Sequence of smooth weaning

In order not to traumatize the child’s psyche and not risk the mother’s health, it is better to make every effort to wean the child off breastfeeding smoothly and gradually. You can start doing this after the baby’s first birthday, and after 5-6 months the habit of breastfeeding will be forgotten.

Sequential weaning consists of the following stages:

  1. Including more and more adult food in the child’s diet so that breast milk ceases to be the baby’s main food. By the age of one year, the child’s diet should include almost all foods, provided that the baby’s mouth has teeth. Meals are provided 5-6 times a day, consisting of first and second courses, milk porridges, fruits and vegetables. Feeding your baby is the first step towards stopping him from demanding his mother's milk. Breastfeeding is gradually becoming a soothing pre-bedtime routine.
  2. Putting the baby to the breast only before daytime and nighttime sleep. This is easy to achieve if the child is fed, healthy and active. Walks, games and activities at home, following a routine - all these factors will help distract the baby from childhood habits and not ask for mother's milk.
  3. After falling asleep, transfer the child to his own crib and practice separate sleeping. Often at night, the baby wakes up for a few seconds and is able to fall asleep later without eating or consuming liquids. But after waking up, he feels his mother nearby, hears her smell and, out of habit, reaches for his chest. Having moved him to a separate bed, his parents will continue to get up to him for some time, but gradually there will be fewer awakenings.
  4. Calming your baby if he is upset or crying without using the breast. As the child ages, it helps to be distracted from the situation that caused his upset. If he falls or hits himself, it’s worthwhile to “scold” the object that caused him pain together. Distractions by other objects, such as birds in the sky or a walking cat, also help redirect his attention. It is unlikely that it will be possible to replace breastfeeding with other methods the first time, but the mother’s constant attempts and persistence will yield results.
  5. Replace night feedings with a cup of water, insistently offering it every time the child wakes up to drink. It’s better for dad to do this, because the baby hears mom’s smell and may not agree to anything other than breast milk. If parents are sure that the baby is not hungry and is asking for the breast out of habit, they should continue to offer water. At first, you can do this from a bottle with a nipple, and then switch to a cup.
  6. Accustoming to the ritual of falling asleep without a breast, bathing, reading, songs and conversations to distract the baby and not give him what he is used to. At this stage, you can ask dad to help, because if he puts the baby to bed, the process will be easier and calmer.

A gradual reduction in the number of breastfeedings will have a positive effect on the mother’s health, because milk will also be produced less and less if there is no need. But the main thing is that with a smooth weaning, the child will feel better, calmer and will also gradually get used to the changes in life.

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