Despite what friends, relatives, or even strangers may say, there’s no right or wrong way to wean your baby off the breast.
You can choose a time that feels right to you, or let your child wean naturally when he or she is older.
To get a general feel, we asked mums on our online platform on when and how they got their little one to stop breastfeeding and these are some of the interesting suggestions that were floated.
Jane Ndendwa said “When my baby was 2 years 5 months, I covered my breast with Elastoplast 🙂 🙂 and told her “oouchy!!”… I had packet of Elastoplast’s, it worked for me we are in baby class now.”
“1yr 23 months now….I just tell her I have applied chilli we are at day 5 of no nyonyo.” Susan Mueni
The “Pilipili tip was shared by many mums.
“11 months and we good. I just ensure she’s full before bedtime”. said Nancie James Kahunyo
And then there was also the tip of taking the baby to a close family friend or grandparent for a couple of days or weeks, with the hopes that once they are back, they have forgotten.
There are many tricks you can try, below we would like to share with you a few tips as well to ensure the transition from breast is a surefire success.
Settle into a Plan
For instance, you may omit one breastfeeding session a week — probably the most inconvenient feeding for you or the one your baby’s least interested in — and gradually drop feedings until he’s solely using bottles or cups or eating solids.
Wean with Love
Just because you aren’t comforting baby at the breast doesn’t mean you can’t nurture her in different ways. Spend quality one-on-one time with activities that keep her emotionally stimulated during this transition — cuddle together while reading a book or singing a lullaby, romp around together at the playground, or massage her back.
Switch up Your Routine
Let Dad, Grandma, or another caregiver assist. If your baby resists a bottle from you see if your baby will accept a bottle from someone else while you’re in another room — chances are, he’ll do better in your absence at first. Or if you’re the one serving the bottle, change up your routine — if you nurse in your bedroom, try nursing in the living room. Consider holding him in another position. If this doesn’t work, revert back to your old routine, and then try again in a few weeks.
Prevent — or Soothe — Engorgement
Another reason to take it slow: Rapid weaning off the breast can cause engorgement. Why? Your milk ducts miss the memo that they need to reduce milk production — and all that milk has nowhere to go. If you’re engorged, soothe the pain with cool ice packs or reach for your trusty breast pump — you can serve the pumped milk in a bottle or mix it with your baby’s cereal.
- Go slowly, and expect to see signs of frustration from your baby at first.
- Skip a feeding. See what happens if you offer a bottle or cup of milk instead of nursing. You can substitute pumped breast milk, formula, or whole cow’s milk (if your child is at least a year old).
- Reducing feedings one at a time over a period of weeks gives your child time to adjust. Your milk supply also diminishes gradually this way, without leaving your breasts engorged or causing mastitis.
- Shorten nursing time. Start by limiting how long your child is on the breast. If he usually nurses for ten minutes, try five.
- Bedtime feedings may be harder to shorten because they’re usually the last to go.
- Postpone and distract. Try postponing feedings if you’re only nursing a couple of times a day.
Getting your baby off the breast doesn’t necessarily signal the end of the intimate bond you and your child created through nursing. It just means you’re nourishing and nurturing him in different ways. For example, if you often nursed your child for comfort, you’ll have to find other ways to make him feel better. Read a book, sing a song together, or play outside instead. If your child protests, try to stay calm and be firm.