How to Make Weaning Less Traumatic for Baby and Mama
Breastfeeding is an incredibly special way for new mothers and their babies to bond. In addition to the nutrition benefits, the snuggling and closeness that comes from breastfeeding has numerous advantages for both mama and baby.
There comes a time, however, when either mom or baby decides that it’s time to transition from breastmilk. This could mean moving on to formula, expressed breastmilk, or cow’s milk, depending on the family’s preference and the baby’s age.
In many ways, weaning can be a tough transition for mom and baby, both physically and emotionally.
Here are 3 tips to help make the transition as smooth as possible:
#1. One Thing at a Time
There are potentially two new things to introduce during the weaning period – a new drinking method and a new drink. It’s easiest to introduce one at a time, if possible.
For example, first give your baby warmed, expressed breastmilk out of a sippy cup or straw cup for a week or two. The cup will be new, but the flavor and consistency of the milk will be familiar.
Once your baby is doing well with the new cup, start to slowly add in either formula or cow’s milk, just an ounce or two at a time. Gradually readjust the proportions until your baby is drinking 100% formula or cow’s milk from the new cup.
#2. Slow and Steady
When it comes to transitions for babies, slow and steady is always best. For weaning, this means dropping 1 feed at a time and giving baby a week or two to adjust before dropping another feed. This also helps mom’s body slowly readjust to a decreased demand for breastmilk.
To make the transition as smooth as possible, try eliminating the feedings that baby is less attached to first. For many babies, these are the feedings in the middle of the day. Some moms are able to just breastfeed twice a day - first thing in the morning and right before the baby goes to sleep – and keep this up for a couple of months. Once you’re ready, these will be the last two feedings to wean from.
#3. New Ways to Bond
The end of breastfeeding isn’t the end of bonding! Make sure your baby gets as much opportunity as possible to snuggle up close, particularly during the times of the day when he or she is used to breastfeeding. This is a great opportunity to read a book together or sing a few favorite songs.
One popular technique to help baby feel connected while moving from breastfeeding to a bottle or sippy cup is a blanket. Choose something soft and warm, like a Baby Minky Blanket, and use it to cuddle with during breastfeeding for a few weeks or months before weaning. Then, once the weaning starts, give baby his or her familiar blanket when it’s time for the bottle or sippy cup. Your baby will associate the blanket with comfort, protection, and the smell of his or her mom, helping to ease the transition.
Choosing when and how to wean from breastfeeding is a very personal decision that every mama needs to make for herself and her baby. However, by taking your time to do it slowly and making sure that baby isn’t missing out on any special bonding time with mom, it can be a smooth and enjoyable transition.
This is not medical advice. Please contact your doctor for any questions and concerns you may have.