We’ve all heard it, breast milk is the recommended source of nourishment by pediatricians as it provides the ideal nutrition for infants and it comes in a form more easily digested than infant formula. Breastfeeding can reduce the baby’s risk of allergies, asthma, ear infections and gastrointestinal diseases. The American Academy of pediatrics recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for six months and then gradually introduce them to solids while still nursing for at least 12 months and thereafter for as long as the mother and baby desire.
So know you know the medical stance, how do you decide what’s right for you and your little one? Choosing to breastfeed your baby is a very personal decision. When to stop breastfeeding is also a very personal decision some mothers stop earlier then the recommended guidelines and of course we’ve all seen the headlines, some moms continue way beyond the 12 month recommendation. Regardless of when you chose to stop nursing the process of weaning can be challenging for both you and baby. Here are some quick tips which will hopefully make the transition easier for both of you.
- Slow and steady! Make the switch gradually. Depending on your child’s age and need to suck, slowly reduce the number of breastfeeds. You can start off with the time of day that he is the least interested in breastfeeding. Then, on day two substitute 2 breastfeeds with two bottlefeeds and on day three substitute yet another and so on.
- Engorgement of the breast- Doing the above strategy of gradually weaning should help immensely with avoiding the pain of engorgement. However if you still experience engorgement you can try relieving the pain with ice packs and wear snug supportive bras.
- Allow for help- Since the baby most likely associates you with nursing, it can be confusing and stressful for him. So go ahead and allow dad or someone else to give him the bottle. This can be especially helpful with the nighttime feedings which are usually the hardest to wean.
- Skip the bottle- this one depends on the age of the child. But if he is around the age of 1 or older you may just want to skip the bottle altogether and introduce him to the sippy cup. As most babies will eventually need to be weaned off the bottle this would save you another headache in the future! J Let him pick out his new “special “cup and offer it to him during the feeding times you chose to cut out breastfeeding. This cup could be one of his favorite cartoon characters as toddlers are usually infatuated with them.
- Courage- when weaning a child is normal to be presented with resistance. Don’t be discouraged if your toddler is cranky. Help him handle his emotions by offering some gentle distractions such as a story time! Remember that a little crying is a normal part of being a toddler and it causes him no harm! In fact not bowing to your child’s every desire will help him develop essential coping skills. J
- Cuddle time- Regardless of when, why and how you begin weaning, be sure to make bonding time with the baby a priority. Give him plenty of cuddles and kisses. This will help relieve feelings of anxiety for both you and him.
After all they do grow up so fast!
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