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How to Stop Breastfeeding or Weaning Without Whining

How to stop breastfeeding and transition to regular meals and foods

Wonder how to stop breastfeeding in the least painful way and fully transition your baby to regular foods?

The most natural way of weaning is a baby-led one. If you decided to initiate the process read these 10 possible weaning reasons first. If after that you still think that weaning time has come, here is how to stop breastfeeding gradually:

Important: Do NOT start weaning during your child’s life-changing events, like moving to a new day care, starting a day care or when you go back to work.

  • Substitute one nursing session for a bottle or a cup.

Start with the least favorite feeding. Morning and bedtime feedings are usually the last to go.

Continue for a couple of days until your baby gets comfortable.

Let someone else give your baby the bottle. In your baby’s head you are connected with the breast. He/she may accept the bottle more willingly from someone else.

Important: If your baby is under 12 months old, you will need to introduce a bottle with formula or your previously pumped milk. If your baby is older than that you can wean directly to a cup and whole milk. A bottle introduced at this age tends to linger. But weaning from the bottle is recommended by 18 months.

  • Reduce your milk supply.

Leave the remaining milk unpumped. Make sure your breasts are not overfilled with milk to prevent engorgement and clogged milk ducts.

When there is “unused” milk in the breasts the body gets the signal to produce less and supply decreases. Here is more on how to reduce your milk supply.

  • Substitute another breastfeeding session for a bottle or a cup.

Continue for 4-5 days or until your baby is comfortable.

Your baby may want to go back and forth with the feedings. Be flexible and ready for a step back. That is why the key to learning how to stop breastfeeding is to do it gradually.

Sickness, hurting himself/herself, discomfort may call for a nursing.

Make sure to be staying close to your baby. Substitute a nursing with your love, attention, touching, hugging and kissing your baby. Let your baby know that even if there is no breast this time, mommy still loves him/her.

Good to Know: As your milk supply decreases, milk composition changes. Your milk starts to look more like colostrum. The less often your baby breastfeeds the less he/she wants to due to changed milk taste.

  • Substitute morning feeding for a bottle or a cup.

At the times of day when there used to be a breastfeeding session avoid places, situations, chairs, nursing pillows and anything else related to breastfeeding.

Think of a fun activity for this time to make up for the breastfeeding time not spent together.

If your child is asking for a nursing, try distracting him/her.

Postponing a breastfeeding for even a little bit may shift your child’s attention to something else.

Make your breasts less accessible by the clothes you are wearing.

Important: Do NOT be tempted to send your child to his/her grandparents for a couple of days if you never did it before. Weaning is stressful on its own, don’t add separation anxiety to it.

  • Substitute another feeding for a bottle or a cup: nap time or night time – whichever is easier.

Start a routine before bed time to substitute for a nursing. Do something that your child loves.

Do not offer the breast. Your baby may get busy with something interesting and forget to even ask for it. But do not refuse if your child needs a nursing.

To help weaning from bedtime nursing, let your baby’s father put him/her to sleep. Make sure you have enough cuddles and hugs with your baby before that. And then escape leaving the very last moment to the dad. This method proved very effective.

If you are weaning a toddler you can plan a weaning party with him/her. It can simply be a play date devoted to your son’s/daughter's weaning. Your child will find it exciting to help you plan it and will feel that weaning is a cool thing to do.

  •   Substitute the last nursing for a bottle or a cup.

This one may be tricky.

If you are planning a vacation try to remove the last feeding there. Children better accept changes within changes. Make sure you make up for it with cuddles and attention.

Be ready to be asked for the breast once you return to your usual “breastfeeding” environment. Regress is normal.

A variation of learning how to stop breastfeeding gradually is by reducing the duration of a feeding and the volume of breast milk consumed.

Give your baby solids (if older than six months) before the nursing. Then gradually increase the amount of solids and decrease the amount of milk. This approach ensures problem-free milk reduction, but it may take longer to completely wean.

How to Stop Breastfeeding Abruptly

Baby-led weaning is ideal. If you need to initiate the process, follow the gradual approach. If due to a medical problem weaning should be fast or immediate, here are some additional tips:

  • Eliminate nighttime feedings, especially if your baby doesn’t wake up himself/herself. This is the fastest way to reduce your milk supply.
  • Don’t let your breasts get overfilled with milk and get uncomfortable. Express some milk to relieve fullness and prevent breastfeeding problems. By not removing milk completely from your breasts you give your body a signal to produce less.
  • If your child is old enough to understand, explain to him/her what is happening and why there is no more breast every time he/she asks for it.
  • Peppermint, sage, parsley and pseudoephedrine are known to help reduce milk supply.*

* Source: "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" by Diane Wiessinger, Diana West, and Teresa Pitman

There are many ways to show your love and devotion to your kids and to win their trust. Breastfeeding is the most natural one.



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