How To Safely Wean Your Baby Off Breast milk
Welcoming a baby is a big blessing, it comes with learning, unlearning and relearning a lot in a short time. One of the many things a new mom would learn is how to breastfeed, oh yes!!! To successfully breastfeed a baby, one needs to be ready to learn the craft of breastfeeding. You’ll also need to learn when to wean and how to wean the baby off breast milk.
Most times, moms believe that breastfeeding comes naturally to all women and therefore they would not struggle with it.
I felt that same way too… Now, I laugh at myself. Lol.
You’d be shocked to know that this phase is silently known as the Fourth Trimester.
It does come with a huge shock.
The best bet is to be prepared for this phase of motherhood.
Except of course you have made up your mind not to breastfeed your baby.
The World Health Organization (WHO) however recommends exclusively breastfeeding a baby at least for the first 6 months of life?
So, don’t get shocked when a midwife asks you “madam what are you doing??”
A quick peep into the act of Breastfeeding; We would be looking at the totality of breastfeeding.
What are the most common Breastfeeding positions?
1. The Cradle Hold:
Lay the baby lengthwise across your abdomen, using one hand to support his head and the other his bottom.
2. The Football Hold:
Place the baby beside you face up and lengthwise.
Lay him along your arm and guide his head to your breast.
For a mom who just had a C-section, you may find this hold more comfortable.
3. The Side Lying-Down:
Hold the baby next to you in bed, with you on your right side, he on his left.
His mouth should be at the same height or slightly lower than your nipples.
With your free hand, adjust the baby’s mouth toward the nipple closest to the bed and circle your other arm around him.
For how long should I breastfeed my baby?
You are in the best position to determine how long you’ll like to breastfeed your baby.
But as stated above, the World Health Organization promotes exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.
After which you can gradually introduce water and another baby formula/puree.
But trust me, mamma, you would be shocked at how much you would enjoy breastfeeding that you might actually struggle with weaning the baby off.
Most mothers set the target for 3/6 months but along the way found themselves going for as long as 12/24 months.
I know, because I fall into this category of moms.
Now that you’re a pro, this would be the best time to start the process of weaning the baby off breast milk.
Trust me, Mamma, it’s not as easy as it sounds.
You need to be mentally, emotionally and also physically ready for this.
Here we go, let’s do this:
How to wean your baby off Breast Milk
Like I mentioned earlier, it’s quite an uphill task trust me, but as always, some people have it as easy as it comes.
Whatever it is for you, it is not impossible.
I’m here for you, Mamma.
Let’s do this together. ..
1. Reduce breastfeeding sessions slowly:
You may be tempted to just quit and wean your baby off breast milk.
If that is your intention, then you are signing up for breast engorgement, nipple pain, and psychological distress for you and your baby, I do not think you would need that.?
An easier strategy is to reduce breastfeeding sessions slowly over several weeks.
Start with the session that seems least important to the baby or the one in which the baby eats the least.
Give the baby a few days to adjust before stopping the next feeding session.
Repeat the process to eliminate each feeding session, up to the last.
The last remaining feeding session, usually an early morning or evening feed, is often the most difficult to give up.
Allow time for the baby and themselves to adjust.
You can choose to keep this final feeding session going for several additional months.
2. Find a suitable replacement for breast milk:
You can replace skipped sucking time with a glass of milk, water, or snack depending on your baby’s age.
Even feeding your baby pap (6 months and above) is not a bad idea at this point.
Although, be careful not to add sugar to the pap. At an early age, babies don’t need refined sugar.
Instead, use pure honey in little quantities once the baby turns a year old.
3. Let someone feed your baby on your behalf:
It’s okay to allow your partner or another caregiver to give your baby a bottle.
The child may be more likely to take a bottle from someone other than you.
If you have a nanny or a household for this job, then that’s fantastic.
Oh! Of course, your older children can help too, if any.
4. Introduce solids:
Moreso, start giving solid foods at 6 to 9 months of age.
During this time, some children will become more distracted and ready to wean.
Introducing solids also help to keep babies fuller thus having no room for extra breast milk.
5. Help your little one find another comfort:
You have to provide comfort to your baby as breast milk is more than a source of nutrition.
Breast-feeding also offers baby’s comfort when they are stressed or afraid and many babies fall asleep while feeding.
Some strategies for comforting your baby during weaning include:
- holding baby in skin-to-skin contact
- offering a pacifier
- distracting a baby who wants to nurse by playing, singing songs, or going for a walk
- rocking the baby
- establishing a new bedtime routine that helps the baby fall asleep
6. Night weaning helps too:
You can also choose to wean your baby at night.
When babies are between 6 months and 1 year old, they tend to feed less often during the night.
This process, known as night weaning, can help mothers get some much-needed rest.
It may also mean that women can sustain breastfeeding for longer as fewer nighttime feedings can help mothers nurse comfortably during the day.
7. Use a pump:
Breast-feeding operates according to supply and demand.
When a baby drinks more milk, or a woman pumps regularly, her body will keep producing milk.
But moms are likely to experience engorgement and generalized discomfort during this time.
One way to alleviate discomfort is by pumping a small quantity of breast milk.
Try not to pump lots of milk, as that can increase supply.
Instead, try pumping for 2-3 minutes, to reduce the pain.
You can give this pumped milk to your baby at a later feeding session.
This pumped milk means that you will not have to breastfeed the baby at the later session.
As a result, your supply of breast milk will reduce faster as the baby eats less.
Please remember to store expressed breastmilk in the freezer and not in the fridge.
Also, keep it away from any fresh/frozen food that can contaminate it.
Once frozen breast milk is defrosted, you would need to feed the baby with it and dispose of any leftovers.
Please keep in mind that as a baby gets older, weaning him/her off or breast milk becomes much more difficult.
A toddler may be much more reluctant to give up breastfeeding because it’s comforting to him.
Here you go Mamma, I hope you found this useful. If you’re in the process of weaning, try these and drop me a comment to let me know how it went.
I’m rooting for you.
Remember, motherhood is a journey made easy when we have the right people in our corner. ?
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Keep being #fabulous ?
Love & Light
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