I want to stop breastfeeding. When and how can I do it without a hustle
Have you made up your mind about weaning your baby off breast milk? Good for you! After all this is a vital step in the growth and development of your little one. However, it may not be as easy as it sounds. It's normal to feel emotional, but that doesn’t mean that you should halt your plans. If anything, remember that if you have come to the decision to stop breastfeeding it’s coz it has become evident to you that you need to. Keep reading to find lots of useful information to help make the process easier and comfortable for you and baby.
When can I stop breastfeeding?
The first thing to remember is that every parent is different. As such, there is no specific age that’s preferable or recommended for initiating the weaning process. It all depends on your specific needs, preferences, and circumstances. Some parents initiate the weaning process because they have to go back to work. In such cases, it can be quite difficult for baby to receive all the nourishment they need from breast milk. As such, mothers make the decision to introduce baby to other foods and gradually wean baby off breast milk. In other cases, moms have a challenging time during breastfeeding because they don’t have enough milk supply regardless of all efforts to increase their milk production. Such scenarios make breastfeeding quite stressful for both mother and baby, making formula or weaning a comfortable option (depending on baby age).
All factors constant, however, pediatric nutritionists believe 6 months to be a good age to introduce baby to other foods. Not only is baby growing bigger, but their little bodies start needing more nutrients including zinc and iron. As such, introducing them to other foods at 6 months (recommended age by HSE to start introducing solid foods) promotes healthy development in baby and makes weaning even easier.
Can’t wait to stop breastfeeding
Generally, most mothers start the weaning off breast milk process somewhere within the first year of their baby’s life. If for whatever reason you feel like you just want to stop, remember that it’s okay. You don’t have to feel guilty for any reason. Check out the list below for some of the common reasons mothers stop breastfeeding: your reasons could be in there as well.
- Having to go back to work or school
- Baby’s satisfaction depending on more than just breastmilk
- Initiation of a medical process that could affect baby, for example, taking medicine that could be unhealthy to baby if passed on through breastmilk
- Experiencing discomfort or irritation during breastfeeding sessions
- Some moms experience inadequate milk supply, which makes it necessary to supplement breastmilk with formula milk/ other baby foods
- When nursing, its vital for mother to ensure proper latching, but some babies have a hard time with latching, which besides preventing baby from getting adequate feeding and nutrition from lactation alone, causes discomfort to both mother and baby
- Some babies lose interest in nursing, sometimes driving mothers to stop breastfeeding
- Some cultures have norms and practices that dictate what age to stop breastfeeding
How to stop breastfeeding at night?
Night weaning hugely depends on your baby’s night-time feed. If baby nurses for only five minutes, you can simply stop breastfeeding and re-settle them with your preferred settings techniques. It’s utterly obvious that baby will throw tantrums, but you can reassure them by talking to them quietly while cuddling and soothing them with gentle rhythmic patting, stroking, or rocking. Do this until baby calms down or goes to sleep.
If baby’s night-time feeding sessions are longer, however, it is important to cut down the duration of sessions gradually over 5-7 nights. Follow the procedure below for effective results.
Step 1: Time the duration of your baby’s night-time feed.
Step 2: After every two nights, reduce your baby’s lactation period by 2- 5 minutes.
Step 3: Resettle your baby after each shortened feeding to reassure and console them.
Step 4: Once you hit the 5-minute or less feeding mark, stop the night nursing sessions altogether.
Note that at the beginning, both you and baby will require a few nights to adjust to the new routine, but it’s important to keep at it. It will help you both, but especially your baby, to get used to the change. This technique works when weaning off toddlers too: use it to stop breastfeeding your 2 year old.
When does breastfeeding stop being beneficial
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of your baby’s life and continue baby reaches 2 years. You can keep breastfeeding your baby even after two years as long as it’s comfortable with you and baby. Although there’s limited evidence of additional nutritional benefit beyond the age of two, the decision on when to stop is solely your own depending on whether or not you are ready.
As always, we'd like to emphasise that the contents of the article is not a substitute for medical consultation.