As your little one begins to crawl, climb and walk she naturally becomes more independent. She is starting to feed herself with her chubby little hands. She is beginning to speak a few words. As you gaze upon your growing bundle, your heart skips a beat.
You knew the day would come—the day she would walk away from breastfeeding and drink from a cup.
But is it now? Here are some signs your baby might be ready to give up the breast completely.
- Uninterested in feedings. As you sit down in your favorite nursing spot, she whines, cries and wiggles. She even pulls on your leg when you venture towards the feeding area. She wants to play. She wants to run. The last thing she wants to do is to crawl up in mommy’s lap and nurse.
- Desires to drink from a cup. Your family is at the meal table and your child begins to fuss and point at your glass or her big brother’s sippee cup. You offer her some solid food, but she pushes it away and points at the cup. This is one way she has made it clear that she wants to grow up.
- Consumes a variety of foods. If your child is breezing through the solid food stage and is receiving three meals a day, as well as nutritious snacks in between, weaning could be a viable option. Normally, a baby cuts down on the amount of milk she drinks naturally as she begins to consume nutrition from other sources.
Although your little one may be extra fussy during feedings, don’t assume she is ready to be weaned quite yet. Sometimes babies go on a “feeding strike.” This may occur for many different reasons and be completely unrelated to breastfeeding. Perhaps you just moved into a new house, or a loved one passed away. Just as adults’ appetites are affected by their emotions, so are babies and children. Wait a few days and observe your child for other signs before choosing to wean. However, if you believe it is the right time to begin the weaning process, here are some tips to make the transition progress smoothly.
- Start with the midday feeding. This is normally the easiest for the little one to give up.
- Cut down gradually. Don’t stop abruptly. Your breasts can become engorged quickly and this can be very uncomfortable and can lead to mastitis. Also, the baby may have some insecurity issues if she is pushed away from the breast all at once.
- Engage in a fun activity during the regular feeding times. As you take away the feeding times, replace them with a fun activity to distract her from her routine of nursing. Sometimes a baby is reluctant to end breastfeeding simply because of the routine.
- Choose a different nursing area. Leave the favorite rocking chair and pick a new breastfeeding spot. This will help your little one comprehend that transitions are taking place.
Medically speaking, pediatricians still recommend that babies nurse exclusively for the first six months of life. Then, juices and solid food can be gradually added to their diet. Pediatricians also recommend that weaning from the breast should begin around 12 months of age.
Weaning can be very difficult for some mothers. If you are experiencing reservations about weaning, take joy in the truth that your baby is growing into an adorable, lovable toddler. Though the closeness from breastfeeding will come to a close, you can still connect with your child on a different level. Lots of cuddles, hugs and kisses lie in your future together. Your child is becoming more independent, which is an important step in her life.
If you choose to continue to breastfeed, breast milk is still a super-nutritious food. The healthy benefits of breast milk can have a very positive impact on your little one’s health. However, the longer you put off the weaning process the more difficult it is to wean the child. Toddlers and preschoolers tend to have a more difficult time with the transition from breast to cup.
Every breastfeeding mother must make the weaning decision by herself. Pediatricians and experienced breastfeeding mothers are helpful resources for additional direction and guidance. In the end, you will know when the time is right.
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