How to Wean a Baby from Breastfeeding, by Moms Who've Done It
Whether you do it after a month or a year of nursing, weaning a baby off breastmilk can be tough. The process of transitioning a baby from your own body's milk can be tricky to navigate — practically, physically, hormonally, emotionally and mentally.
Every experience will look a little different, but we understand that moms who are about to wean may be looking for some guidance and advice. We turned to lactation consultant Lauren K. Olofsson for some, and here's what she had to say: 'My most important tip to moms is to keep their child's personality and your breastfeeding relationship in mind when creating a plan to wean. If you have a very sensitive, clingy, or routine child it will likely be a longer process. Be ok with that and don't put too much pressure on yourself or your child to wean quickly (unless there is medical necessity). Wean daytime feeds first and employ the support of other family members or caregivers if possible.'
We didn't stop there: We also enlisted a group of new mothers to share their best tips to address both the practical and emotional side of weaning, and we hope they'll help you get a handle on what can be a pretty tricky process.
Take it one feeding at a time
'Breastfeeding is a beautiful way to bond with your babies and it can be hard to let this go. It helps to wean one feeding at a time, and do it at your own pace. With my twins, I saved the night time feeding as the last feeding to wean, which helped my body adjust too. Stay positive and look forward to a new chapter with your babies by incorporating new ways to bond, like snuggling and
Find other ways to bond
'Finding other ways to bond makes the transition from breastfeeding easier. One of the best things for me about breastfeeding my daughter was the alone time that we got to have when I was nursing. I try to have that same quality time when I am giving her a bottle. I also try to make more of an effort to connect with her in other ways. It can be playing with a toy, or snuggling on the couch, but making a point of having that physical closeness makes it easier to give up the bond of breastfeeding.' - Talya K., @themotherfix
Consider spacing out the process over time
'Give your body as much time as possible to adapt. You have been providing nourishment to another human being, it will be a physical transition as much as an emotional one. I advise taking about a month to fully wean. Start by cutting one nursing/pumping session. Every 3-4 days cut another session until your baby is fully weaned. This allows both your body and the baby the time they need to adjust to the change, as opposed to shocking either by just cutting it out.' - Talya K., @themotherfix
Embrace the cuddles...and the cabbage
'Make sure to add in a lot of cuddle time. Your little one has been cuddling with you for their first year and is use to your one on one time. Make sure to keep that up. Who doesn't want to cuddle ? Also, cabbage was my friend! I put cabbage in my bra and it REALLY helped dry me up.'
Don't compare your experience to anyone else's
'Whether you nursed for one day or one year, you tried your best and that's what matters! Don't become down on yourself, or let others judge your journey. We have formula and women in past times used wet nurses, family members, or animal milk if the mother could not breastfeed. Don't get down on yourself because you feel like your body failed you, or you didn't do something that you could have to help your supply.' - Stacy, @thecrazyoutdoormama
Trust your instincts
'You will know when the right time is to wean. Every child is different. When you are ready you have to commit to it. You have to be firm and make sure not to confuse your little one.' - Erica, H., @organicmomentsphotography
Consider commemorating your nursing journey
'Before you decide to wean make sure you have a picture of you breastfeeding for a keepsake (a good one, so do your hair!). I know that sounds superficial, but you can always look at it and be reminded of the special bond. Buy something for yourself to remind you of the connection and the sacrifice, I wear a B charm necklace every day and it always puts a smile on my face.' - Kate M., @katemcgowanrd
Remember why you're doing this
'If you are struggling with your supply, and you feel you've exhausted all methods of increasing it, weaning can be a great stress relief as a mother. When you wean, you'll spend less time being worried about your supply, or being frustrated at your baby when the endless nursing sessions happen (due to you not having enough milk).' - Stacy, @thecrazyoutdoormama