Whether you've breastfed your baby for 12 months or 2 years, starting the weaning process can feel daunting. Some moms advocate letting a child self-wean, but many initiate or encourage the weaning process themselves. If you're wondering how to begin and complete a parent-led weaning process, we've rounded up eight helpful tips from Circle of Moms members who've been through it.
1. Gradually Eliminate Sessions
One of the most common weaning tips moms recommend is eliminating feedings one by one over time. While the AAP suggests eliminating a feeding every 2-3 days, many Circle of Moms members recommend a longer timeline, waiting 1-3 weeks before eliminating a second feeding. As Shauna, a member of the Breastfeeding Moms community, shares: "I heard you should drop a feeding every 2-3 days too but that was not enough for me. I needed at least a week, but I found a week and a half to 2 weeks to be better."
2. Drop a Midday Session First; Replace with a Meal
Wondering which feeding to drop first? Many moms advise that a midday feeding day may be the easiest. As Shauna shares: "Drop the middle of the day feedings first and supplement with formula or milk, and then the morning and bedtime feedings the last. I am on the bedtime feeding right now and can't believe I've made it this far."
If your child has started solids, many moms recommend swapping in a meal when an eliminated feeding would normally have taken place. Sarah M. recommends: "My suggestion is to start solids and let a meal at a time replace breastfeeding."
3. Limit The Length of a Session
Before cutting out a feeding, some moms recommend tapering down the amount of nursing time of that feeding. Brooke A. explains: "For a few days before totally eliminating the feeding, I limited her time nursing. The first day just by a minute or two, then by the last days [I] only allowied her to nurse for a minute or so. She had no problem with this."
4. Sippy Cup Instead of Bottle
To avoid the difficulty of yet another weaning process, some moms also recommend transitioning to a sippy cup rather than bottle. Sarah M. explains: "You don't have to go to a bottle at all. My son went straight to a sippy cup. One less thing to wean him from."
5. "Don't Offer, Don't Refuse"
An alternative to gradually eliminating one feeding at a time is the "don't offer, don't refuse" method of weaning, in which you wean your child by only breastfeeding when the child wants to. Jenna H. explains: "If she wants to nurse, so be it, but otherwise just go about your daily business and do meals and snacks in her seat." (Not all kids want to give up the breast, so this method can be slow.)
6. Hide Temptation
"You have to make sure though that they do not see your breasts (including low cut shirts) until they are used to the new schedule," Karla D. wisely notes. "All it will do is frustrate them because they know you are denying them their favorite snack :)."
7. Pay Attention to Breast Pain
Breast pain during the weaning process is typically the result of a too-sudden change in the nursing schedule. Hot showers can help your body ease into the change, but as Breanne L. warns, "If your breasts start to hurt a lot, make sure to get them checked by a doctor!" Mastitis, a breast infection, may be the culprit.
8. Be Prepared for Some Resistance
It's natural for moms to encounter some resistance from a child being weaned. Breanne L. recalls: "I started by replacing one breastfeeding session with a sippy cup filled with whole milk and did that for about 3 weeks. My son gave me a lot of resistance on that one and was mad at me for quite awhile! ... By the time it came around to getting rid of the bedtime feed, my son transitioned like nothing, and he didn't even get mad!"
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.