Sunday, April 03, 2005

Weaning Your Baby

Whether you have been breastfeeding your baby for only a couple of months or for as long as two years, you probably won't be able to wean your baby in one or two days. Weaning your child will take patience, but it doesn't have to be difficult for you or your baby.

When your baby is just an infant, your milk supply may not have completely regulated itself. Breast milk production is based on supply and demand. The more you nurse your child, the more milk you will produce. As you gradually lessen the amount of time you breastfeed your baby on a daily basis, your milk supply will adjust itself. This is the key to weaning.

Many women decide to wean their children because they must go back to work. While some mothers are able to pump while they are at work, thus keeping their milk supply at about the same amount as if they were nursing during the day at home, others can't pump or don't want to. Some mothers don't want to completely wean their babies, but instead they just want to drop a couple of feedings. The premise is still the same. The less you nurse, the less milk you will produce.

To begin weaning your baby, or at least cutting back on the feedings, you will want to drop one feeding every five to seven days, before you drop the next feeding. Instead of nursing your child during that feeding, you will want to offer him a bottle. Now, if he has been exclusively breastfed, he may put up quite a battle with the new nipple of a bottle, and you may have to experiment with a variety of nipples before you find one that he will take. It may be necessary, also, for you to let someone else give your baby the bottle the first few times, since he is only use to nursing when he is with you.

Once you have dropped one feeding successfully, you can go on to drop another one using the same procedure. You will need to be as consistent as possible and try to stick to a schedule of nursing and bottle feeding, so that your baby will become use to a routine. As you continue to drop a feeding, you will find that your body is producing less and less milk.

If you want to continue dropping feedings until your child is completely weaned, you should still plan on waiting five to seven days between each dropped feeding, and be sure that you substitute the breast with a bottle of formula or milk, depending upon your child's age. Most pediatricians recommend that babies be given formula until they reach one year of age. If your baby is eating more and more solid foods, you may find that it isn't necessary to give your baby the breast or bottle quite as often. You'll need to check with your pediatrician to determine how much milk your baby still needs.

The morning and evening feedings should be the last ones that you drop. If you still want to nurse your baby a couple of times a day, you can plan to nurse only in the morning and evening. Your body should still produce enough milk for you to be able to do this if you consistently nurse twice a day. Weaning your baby doesn't have to be unpleasant for you or your child. It will take patience, but eventually you can wean your baby totally, or you can reduce the amount of times you nurse your baby during the day.

By Susie McGee

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