Weaning is a normal developmental milestone for all children, but it can be a difficult time for your child – and for you, especially if you have been breastfeeding. It’s important to remember that every child is different, and even siblings can differ widely in how well they adjust to weaning, and at what age. There’s no right answer, and no ‘normal’ – some kids will happily self-wean, while others will take a little persuading.
After all, breastfeeding has significant immune system and nutritional benefits for your child, not to mention the emotional security and comfort it offers.
If you feel the time has come to wean your child, then the following advice may help:
Don’t have too fixed a schedule
There’s no rush and no absolute age by which your child should be weaned. You’ll know when it feels right for you and your child. If you encounter particular resistance, or your child seems unduly upset by this change, you can always backtrack and try a few days or weeks again later.
Have an alternative to hand
Take a break from the old routineMixing up a child’s routine a little can help here, as they will be distracted and may be too busy adjusting to being too upset about the change. One useful tactic is to have the child’s father put them down to sleep each evening – by definition, these moments then no longer include the possibility of breastfeeding.Start with non-essential feeds
It may be jarring to stop naptime feeds suddenly, but you can start by no longer breastfeeding at ‘non-essential’ times during the day, and save breastfeeding for when it counts the most, to aid sleep or comfort an upset child.
Maintain the bond
Weaning can be tough for moms too, as you may feel that you are losing something of that special relationship with your child. Substitute massages, foot rubs or extra hugs instead so that your child feels secure in your love for him or her.