Breastfeeding is the best liquid nourishment a mother can provide her baby. It is no doubt a most gratifying experience for most of the mothers, but breastfeeding indefinitely might not be a good idea. Once your toddler starts solid food, milk production gradually decreases. Weaning a baby from breastfeeding can sometimes be easy and sometimes extremely difficult for the baby as well as mother. This transition might be easier you give your toddler extra attention, love and more one-on-one activities.
Suddenly weaning a baby from breast can be physically uncomfortable for you as well as your baby. Gradual weaning generally works best for both mom and the baby. If you wait until you child decides to move to solid food completely, you may be in for a long wait. Though there are some babies who usually stop breastfeeding around the completion of first year, others will never stop until you explicitly make him or her stop. If you are ready to wean your baby, start initiating the process yourself.
A mother can breastfeed as long as she likes. Doctors also encourage mothers to continue breastfeeding for as long as they can. Some mothers are excited to breastfeed way past the child’s first birthday, whereas some mothers might like to stop breastfeeding past the first year (there can be many reasons for this!). It is a mother’s right to decide for how long she wants to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is extremely beneficial for a baby or a toddler. It is best to keep breastfeeding while introducing solids. So your baby gets the best of both worlds.
There are some crucial factors you need to consider before weaning a baby from breastfeeding. This list can help you make your decision making process easy and smooth.
Factors to Consider Before Weaning A Baby
How old is your toddler?
Weaning a baby at one year mostly easy. This can be because the toddler has not yet learnt to be stubborn in his own ways or set in his own ways. Generally when the terrible twos set in the child tends to be less cooperative and less understanding. Another perspective is that the memory at year is less retentive than at 2 years or later. Memory is less retentive and hence they can be easily distracted with something which is much more interesting. Weaning your baby at one year makes it an easy process mainly because of distraction techniques.
Is your toddler sitting yet?
When your baby has learned how to sit on his own without support, start by introducing small finger food which is easy to digest. If you see that toddler is interested in trying out new food, it is a good time to start introducing solids to your baby. Consequently a good time to initiate weaning a baby by slowly reducing the frequency.
What does your toddler’s body need?
A toddler’s nutritional requirements change by the end of the first year. At the same time the content of the breast milk cannot completely meet the required nourishment after the first year. If you choose to breastfeed your baby even through the second year, think of it as a secondary source and not as primary source of nourishment. Weaning your baby from breastfeeding will be a good idea in case you have mostly shifted your baby to solid foods.
If your baby sleeps and nurses, then there is a risk of ear infection or choking while feeding. However continued feeding after the first year might reduce the chances of allergies.
Is it hurting your toddler’s appetite
Breastfeeding can reduce your child’s appetite hence curbing his interest for solid food. Baby’s food intake depends on appetite. In the second year a baby needs solid food for healthy nourishment. Make sure you nurse at time considering time difference between solid foods. The second year makes it an ideal time for weaning a baby from breastfeeding.
Toddler’s oral health
The baby tooth decay problem is more common in case of bottle fed babies, but now a days tooth decay problem is seen in breastfed babies too. This risk of decay is caused by breast milk being present in babies mouth for a long time. For example, if your baby has a habit of night feedings or has a habit of feeding while going to bed, then there is a high chance of tooth decay. If you decide to nurse through the second year, please make sure you stick to day feedings and cleaning the baby’s teeth after each feeding and giving them a little water.
Weaning a baby because of hints of excessive dependency
Breastfeeding brings a mother and baby close to each other. This closeness can turn into dependence. Mom depending on the baby and baby depending on the mom. This dependency might make it difficult for mom to stay away from the baby or give the baby’s responsibility to other family members. Similarly baby might not be overly excited about being with anyone apart from mother. Dads also need to spend time with the baby to establish a connection with the child. Poor dads cannot breastfeed right!! So you can reduce breastfeeding frequency a little and add in the solid food time with daddy.
Weaning a baby becomes necessity to increase mom baby interactive time
Breastfeeding does not really need you to do anything else with the baby to establish a connection. It is really magic which only you can provide for your baby and the baby knows that too!! Sometimes while focusing on breastfeeding you might tend to miss out on other interactions like reading books, cuddling, going on play dates etc. If you are nursing past the first year make sure you make time for these other activities as well. If you are weaning a baby from breastfeeding, add more activities with your baby and increase the frequency of time you spend together.
Delay in learning how to comfort himself
If your baby is breastfeeding during the first year and comes to you for breastfeeding as comfort in cases were he is hurt or sad, then it means your baby might find it difficult to calm himself down at times when you are not around. Your child needs to learn the art of self comfort. It will help him a lot in future. Make sure you turn to other arts of comforting like kissing it better, turning into magician or hugging kind of tricks rather than breastfeeding to comfort your baby.
Is it affecting your relationship with your partner
In India Co-Sleeping is highly common. In such cases around the first year if you are still breastfeeding your baby at nights during it might be a little difficult for your sex life! Intimacy with husband with the child around is impossible. Moreover just suppose you are in between something and the child demands breastfeeding, how will you handle this? Sex and intimacy mostly becomes rare once you have a baby, due to a lot of reasons. The first year is very important, but the second year is the time to choose to give a little more importance to your partner too!
Weaning a baby because it affecting your routine and your health
If you are breastfeeding through the first year, you will know that breastfeeding at night times can be so tiring. Lack of sleep can lead to other health issues, irritation etc. Moreover Tiredness becomes a part of your daily life. You cannot really focus on yourself. There is no routine. This can be avoided by changing the feed timings and adjust your child’s feeding time to be only during the day. In the second year you can continue nursing and start solid food as well. This can help you make time to take care of yourself and give yourself some “ME TIME”.
Watching your baby move from one phase of life onto another phase is always a bitter sweet experience. It makes moms happy to see their baby grow up and makes her sad to lose the closeness. The process of weaning your baby itself is very emotional for most of the moms. It is likely that you will miss the physical connection you had with your baby. It will feel a lot more because of the hormonal imbalance triggered by weaning. It will gradually reduce over the next few weeks or within a couple of months. See this as an opening for host of activities you can do with your child (hugging, cuddling, snuggling, tickle fights etc).
Weaning can be very difficult for your baby. Support your child at all times. Help them move on by spending more time with them, finding a new comfort object (like a teddy bear or blankie !!). Give your child more ATTENTION and lots of LOVE!!