6 Tips on weaning your baby

The weaning process may take several weeks to several months depending on the number of feeds you are giving. We take a look at weaning babies 9 months and under, weaning babies 9 months and older, breast care, weaning from a bottle and what to do if your child won’t drink milk from a bottle or sipper cup.
The weaning process may take several weeks to several months depending on the number of feeds you are giving.

We take a look at weaning babies 9 months and under, weaning babies 9 months and older, breast care, weaning from a bottle and what to do if your child won’t drink milk from a bottle or sipper cup.

6 Tips on weaning your baby


1. The ins & outs of baby weaning

Weaning from the breast is most comfortable for mums and for babies when it is done gradually.

Sometimes rapid weaning is required, usually if mum needs unexpected medical treatment or some other urgent reason that she needs to be separated from baby.

Because of the hormonal involvement in milk supply, it can take some time after baby’s last ever feed for milk supply to dry up completely.

Rapid weaning can cause breasts to become full, engorged and there’s the potential for mastitis.

If rapid weaning is required, women may need to take medication to speed the cessation of milk supply, to aid their comfort.

Whether you need to wean your baby to the bottle because you’re returning to work or you have decided to wean your baby or toddler for personal reasons, give yourself plenty of time to complete the process.

Both mum and baby need time to adjust emotionally and physically to ending breast feeding.

The time it takes to fully wean your baby can vary from several weeks to several months, depending on the number of feeds you are giving them.


2. Weaning babies 9 months & under

Depending on your baby’s age, they may be having an average of 5-8 feeds a day.

It’s easiest to keep the first feed of the day and the last feed of the day in place until the end of the weaning process. The reason for this is that babies generally enjoy and are more attached to these two feeds than to others during the day.

Begin by replacing one of the morning or afternoon feeds with an alternative.

For babies up to 7 months this may be a formula feed. For babies 7 - 9 months, you may replace the breast feed with a sipper cup of water and a snack.

Replace a breastfeed with an alternative feed at the rate of one feed every 3-4 days. If you have more time, you may choose to replace one feed per week.

By reducing breast feeds gradually, you allow your body time to reduce the volume of milk at a comfortable rate.

When you are down to the last two feeds, cut out the morning feed and then finally the evening feed.


3. Weaning babies 9 months & older

Some babies 9 months and older can be more determined about when they want to be fed, some may be dedicated milk-aholics and they can sometimes be very demanding, pulling on your clothing or trying to lift your top.

With older babies and toddlers you may need to apply some different strategies to wean them.

These can include:
  • Don’t offer the breast but don’t refuse it
  • Shorten up the feeds
  • Sit in a different chair than the one you would normally use to feed
  • Use distraction to delay the feed
Babies 9 months old or older need around 3 milk feeds a day or approximately 500-600ml of dairy products.

When you have successfully whittled your baby down to a morning and evening feed, replace the morning feed with breakfast and a sipper of water (or a cup or bottle of formula/milk).

Wean from the evening breastfeed last as this is often the one where babies/toddlers like to snuggle up for a cuddle and feed.

From 9 months onwards a child may take formula from a sipper cup or bottle. If they are not keen on the bottle, cut out this step and move straight to a sipper cup.

For a child 10 months plus you can introduce a sipper cup instead of a bottle.

4. Breast care

After the final feed, your body will still continue to make milk. If you have weaned gradually, the effect of this on your breasts will be minimised.

If you are feeling full and uncomfortable, express a small amount. Express only until breasts are softer (no more than 30-50ml). You may need to do this periodically for a few days while your breast feeding hormone level reduces.

Don’t over stimulate your breasts by expressing as you will encourage them to produce more!

If you have discomfort, take regular pain relief 4 hourly for a day or two.

Using a cool compress or good old cabbage leaves in your bra can help reduce fullness.

If your breasts feel lumpy, jump in the shower and let the hot water flow on your breasts for a few minutes. Massage around your breast with the heel of your hand in a clockwise motion. This action will help reduce the lump.


5. Weaning your baby from the bottle

If you have been bottle feeding your baby from birth or have switched to bottle feeding after weaning from the breast, eventually you will want to wean your child from the bottle also.
The easiest way to wean a child from the bottle is to gradually reduce the volume of milk in the bottle by 20ml-50ml at a time.
If your child is resistant to the reduced volume, water down the milk but offer the same overall volume of fluid in the bottle. For example, start with 75:25 ratio of milk to water, then 50:50 and so on. Then gradually reduce the volume.
Young children still require 500ml-600ml of dairy product up until age 2.

They do not need to have their milk in a baby bottle though. Transfer the milk to a sipper bottle or sipper cup. Many young children will happily drink from a vessel with a “Pump” water bottle type lid.


6. What to do if your child won’t drink from a bottle or sipper cup

It is common for an older baby or toddler to refuse to drink milk once they have been weaned from the breast.
Children older than 8-9 months and up to 2 years old require approx 500ml-600ml of milk and or dairy product.
The 500ml-600ml volume is an ‘all inclusive’ total. This means your child may have milk, yogurt and cheese incorporated into their daily total.
For non-milk drinkers, you can ensure they get enough calcium by adding milk or formula to porridge or cereal, making cheese sauce or custard, or offering them yogurt (1x150mg tub of yogurt = 1 milk drink).

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Source: This article was written by Baby & Beyond – Baby Sleep Consultants.
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