How do I wean?
Go slowly, and expect to see signs of frustration from your baby at first. Ease the transition by using these methods:
Skip a feeding. See what happens if you offer a bottle or cup of milk instead of nursing. You can substitute pumped breast milk, formula, or whole cow's milk (if your child is at least a year old).
Reducing feedings one at a time over a period of weeks gives your child time to adjust. Your milk supply also diminishes gradually this way, without leaving your breasts engorged or causing mastitis .
Shorten nursing time. Start by limiting how long your child is on the breast. If he usually nurses for ten minutes, try five.
Depending on his age, follow the feeding with a healthy snack, such as unsweetened applesauce or a cup of milk or formula. (Some babies younger than 6 months may not be ready for solids.) Solid food is complementary to breast milk until your baby is a year old.
Bedtime feedings may be harder to shorten because they're usually the last to go.
Postpone and distract. Try postponing feedings if you're only nursing a couple of times a day.
This method works well if you have an older child you can reason with. If your child asks to nurse, reassure him that you will soon and distract him with a different activity. If he wants to nurse in the early evening, explain that he has to wait until bedtime.
To ease your baby's transition to a bottle, try putting a few drops of breast milk on his lips or tongue before slipping the bottle's nipple into his mouth. You can also try giving him a small amount of breast milk in a bottle a couple of hours after breastfeeding but before he's so hungry that he's impatient and frustrated.
Will my child get enough nutrients?
Even exclusively breastfed infants need extra nutrients that breast milk can't provide, like vitamin D . If you wean your baby before she reaches her first birthday, she'll need to continue to drink breast milk or iron-fortified formula until she's a year old. Then once your child reaches toddlerhood, it'll be necessary to give her a wider variety of foods that offer the range of nutrients she needs to help her grow.
What to do when weaning becomes a struggle
If you've tried everything to wean your child and nothing is working, maybe the time isn't right.
Have you recently gone back to work? Your child may still be adjusting to the new routine.
Is your child sick? Babies often want to nurse more frequently when they don't feel well. And breastfeeding a sick child is not only comforting, but also a good source of nutrition.
Is your household going through a major life change? Events such as a move or divorce can also make weaning more difficult. Even going through a new developmental stage can make it hard to wean.
Try again in another month. Sooner or later, it'll happen.