How I wean my baby off breastfeeding

I’ve just successfully weaned my toddler (17.5mo) off breastfeeding a few days ago. I wouldn’t say it was easy, but it was not that difficult either. It does need a little planning and a lot of patience to make this transition as smooth as possible for both my baby and I. Here I would like to share with you my experiences in weaning my babies off breastfeeding.

For a start, you must be ready.
I have been talking about weaning off the boy since he turned 1 year old but each time I couldn’t bring myself to do it because I truly enjoy the special bond that it gave me and my little one. I especially find it difficult to refuse his request to nurse with his cheeky yet extremely endearing way of asking. (He would say “plea(se) in his sweetest voice and then a cutest ever smile when I agree. Ohh…*heart melting*) So you see, you will need to be ready to have the commitment to make it happens.

Once you are ready, pick the right time to do it.
Don’t pick a time when your baby is sick or there are some changes in your family (like a move, new routine etc). It will only going to stress you out and when you stressed out, the baby will be stressed too.

Give yourself a target. Doing it gradually and slowly.
For both of my children, my target is always to wean them off by the time they turn 18mths old.
So, I would start trying to wean them a month before I want to stop breastfeeding entirely. First I started to stretch the nursing time as long as possible. E.g. instead of nursing every 4-5hourly, I would try to stretch as long as possible – say every 6-7hourly.

Then I would cut one daily feeding session at a time, starting with the least important nursing time (usually the afternoon feed). I would do this over a period of a few days to a week, depending on the clues from my baby. If he asked to be nursed during the feeding time that I have eliminated, I would try to distract him with other food or activities. If he clearly wants to be nursed, i.e. cannot distract him with anything, it is ok for me to nurse him. I just need to make sure that I stay on track the next day. The benefits of weaning off slowly – it will be less traumatic to the baby and easier on the mother (i.e. less battle of wills, more manageable discomfort from engorgement etc).

While I know Pediatricians recommend offering sippy cups to baby if you haven’t introduce bottle and to wean baby off bottle at the age of 12-18months if you have. But I find that it is easier to transit from breasts to bottle. Think about it, isn’t the closest thing to our breast a milk bottle tits? If we can’t offer the real thing, why not give them the best next alternative i.e milk bottle. I’m not saying you cannot offer a sippy cup, but if your baby doesn’t take much milk from a sippy cup (like mine) or refuse a sippy cup, then I think bottle is the way to go. Besides, with a bottle, you can actually cuddle him the same familiar way you do when you breastfeed him while he drinks the milk from it. And that is really comforting to the baby and he will be more likely to accept the transition.

Regarding bottle feeding, some babies will take a bottle right away, while others need a little extra encouragement and/or some of our brain power to outsmart them. Because I breastfed both my children right from the start, both refused to take the milk bottle and we (DH and I) had to figure out how to outwit them introduce the bottle to them.

With the girl, she didn’t give up her night feeding till she turned 16 months. So, what we did was to dream feed her. We gave an oz of milk at a time in the middle of the night and she just sucking away without any struggle. By the third night, she would down 4oz bottle while still sleeping. A week later, we started introducing her the bottle when she was wide awake with no problem too. I guess even with dream feeding, she was still aware of what had happened to some extent.

As for the boy, we tried the same dream feeding method on him but failed. He would cry bloody murder every time we put the bottle in him. So we had to re-think our strategy again. Because he loves to do what his sister does, we needed the girl to demonstrate to the boy on how to drink from a bottle. It worked for a few times, but we were still unable to get him to drink more than 1oz and to give up on the breasts. So, I had to “force feed” him a little (because he would refuse bottle the first few instances), and then cuddling him like I did when breastfeeding him and let him touch my tummy (For some reasons, my children had ‘special feelings’ for my wrinkly tummy. *roll eyes*) Surprisingly, it worked!

To SSSF, this is basically what I did to wean my babies off and I hope you will find this sharing useful. Good luck!

4 Responses to “How I wean my baby off breastfeeding”

  1. […] Here’s how I wean my babies off breastfeeding. Hope it will help you. Good […]

  2. Hi, blog hop from LZmommy’s site.

    I am planning to wean off my son when he turns two (another 3+mths) and I’m really glad I chance upon this post!! Thanks for sharing and i’ll work out my ‘strategies’ from here! πŸ™‚

  3. Thanks a million…… CM….. U should see my face light up when I read this post. It’s like some kind of SOS for me……

    My aim is to stop when she turns 24 mths…which means 4 more months to go. Actually I dun mind if I can wean her off earlier than that.

    Thanks for sharing…….. will update u once I wean her off my neh neh ……..hahaha πŸ˜‰

  4. You are most welcome, SSF and Eileen!
    Good luck to both of you. πŸ˜‰