Stop Breastfeeding The Gentle Way

Think you or your baby might be ready to stop nursing? Take the next steps slowly to ensure a positive weaning experience for you and baby.

mother feeding baby a bottle

Cut out one nursing session

Wean little by little by simply cutting out just one or two nursing sessions a day. You can replace this feeding session with a bottle or sippy cup (of breastmilk or regular milk if your baby is one year old or older), baby food or a snack.

Start with baby’s least favorite nursing session

Nursing baby in the early morning, later evening or right before bedtime are likely his favorite feeding times, so make sure those are the last to go. Cut out a nursing session that's associated more with nutrition than bonding or comfort for baby -- and substitute it with a bottle or snack. If baby is reluctant to take a bottle from you, encourage Dad to take over this feeding period as baby may already be accustomed to taking a bottle from him.

Stop offering the breast

You may have heard the phrase “Don’t offer, don’t refuse,” when it comes to weaning. This is a perfectly acceptable way to wean your baby (and yourself!). When baby tries to nurse, don’t refuse his needs. However, don’t offer to nurse until baby requests it.

Distract

Many times, baby nurses for comfort versus nutrition. In those instances, try to distract baby by bringing out a new toy, playing some music, reading a favorite book or rocking baby in a glider.

Give baby extra love

Make sure baby does not confuse weaning with a lack of affection on your part, Mom. Give baby extra snuggles and cuddles during non-nursing sessions. Walk baby in the stroller, take him to the park or the library and try to stimulate him in other ways besides nursing.

Take it day by day

Gradually take away one nursing session every week or every few days (use your best judgment depending on how baby) and replace it with cow’s milk, water or solid food. If baby still reaches for the breast after a regular feeding, he may be ready for more solid foods and/or more liquids.

More on breastfeeding

Weaning woes
How long does it take to fully wean?
Breastfeeding and weaning

Tags: weaning


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