Weaning from the breast starts when the baby is given any food or drink other than breast milk. American Academy of Pediatrics gives the following guidelines:
Birth – 6 months old: exclusive breastfeeding
6 months old: start solids
6 months old – at least 12 months old: solids and breast milk
Important: If stopping breastfeeding before 12 months of age, the baby needs to be given formula. Cow’s milk isn’t recommended for babies before their first birthday.
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least one year!
World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least first two years of baby’s life.
In many cultures breastfeeding normally ends between 2.5 and 7 years old. In many European countries standard maternity leave lasts for up to three years. Most of it is partially paid. No wonder breastfeeding in these countries lasts longer!
An average mother in the US breastfeeds for under a year. This
cultural trend is mostly due to the short maternity leave. One
of the most common justifications for a mother-led breastfeeding finale is returning to work. Read about 10 possible weaning reasons here.
Unless there is a medical or other emergency when breastfeeding should be stopped before your baby turns one, there are absolutely NO unsolvable problems or unmanageable situations.
If at any time your breastfed baby suddenly refuses to nurse, do not interpret it as a true readiness to stop. Your little one may be going on a nursing strike. Try measures listed in that section before giving up.
Every baby weans when the time is right. The timing varies baby to baby depending on temperaments, baby’s needs, personal characteristics and situations.
Although you may find it exhausting and time-consuming to breastfeed when your baby is already a toddler, baby-led weaning is proved to be the least stressful and the most natural.
I am a strong believer that stopping breastfeeding should happen neither too early nor too late – just at its perfect time.
You shouldn't be making promises to yourself
to stop breastfeeding at a certain age before you even start. Go with the
flow. You might fall in love with the process and want to continue. Keep it going for at least a year.
By that time you will learn your baby’s signs and signals. You will definitely see if he/she is getting ready to quit. And this is what a mother must follow. Her instinct….
With the breastfeeding issues my son and I had, I only started enjoying it when he turned one. When he was understanding what was happening, placing his tiny hand on my breast, raising his head a little and looking into my eyes. These moments are priceless. Believe it or not these moments are the ones that make me want another baby.
That’s why on my son’s first birthday there was no way I was ready to give it up. It made me sad when two months after his birthday he started showing signs that he was getting ready…… to go and let me go. Our weaning was easy, painless and stress-free because it was baby-led.
Are you under the pressure of other people saying you are making your son or daughter clingy and dependent? Ignore it. Even my 16 months of breastfeeding seemed too long for some people. You will get a lot of it. But these comments usually come from the mothers who wish they could do that too, and regret they found an excuse not to.
Some misinformed or uninformed outsiders might argue that there aren't any benefits of extended breastfeeding. Here is a list of them.
So the bottom line: watch your baby closely, read his/her signals and let him/her lead. If breastfeeding goes far beyond your baby’s first birthday and becomes tiresome for you and the baby, you may choose to help him/her through a gradual quitting. Here is how.
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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