In the United States, women continually receive conflicting advice when it comes to weaning their child from breastfeeding. WHO and UNICEF both recommend weaning from the breast after two years is completed, but The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends after a year. When a mother chooses to breastfeed for an extended amount of time, this is her decision and it shouldnʼt be made by a health care professional. Weaning your child from breastfeeding is a personal decision, and shouldn’t be made by anyone but you.
The Weaning Process
Weaning down a child could take days, weeks or even months. Many find that weaning a child from breastfeeding is better to do before you want to do so, rather than later. It can take a long time to wean, but this all depends on your child. The change in your patterns of breastfeeding can begin as early as 6 months, the same time youʼre giving your child solid foods. Some children want other forms of comfort and nutrition around a year old, making breastfeeding not their top choice.
How Long Does It Take?
When a mother starts the weaning process, take all the time you have and go slow. Tapering down slowly is best, and should be done over the course of weeks or months so a motherʼs supply will gradually diminish rather than cause any discomfort by engorgement. Keep in mind that your child will be attached the longest to morning feedings and night time feedings, as these will be the last to drop. If it feels right for you and baby, drop the afternoon feeds and continue to feed at night.
Concerns You May Have:
- A change has occurred at home
Youʼll want to avoid weaning if there has been a change in your childʼs home life. Your child will look to breastfeeding as their comfort, and abruptly changing something you can avoid isnʼt a good idea. Postpone your weaning until a less stressful time.
- Youʼre worried about allergies. When a mother exclusively breast-feeds for more than six months, research shows that this could delay eczema, an allergy to cows milk, and wheezing.
- Your child doesnʼt feel well. If your child is experiencing a time in life where they arenʼt feeling well, postponing weaning might be best. You will be best at handling a transition when you and your child are both feeling well.
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