Marie, I want to start gradually weaning my child from breastfeeding and was wondering what the best way is. Can you help? Marie-Chantal
Excellent question! There is no ONE way to wean a child. There is only YOUR way.
When you say gradually wean, this will help you and your baby experience this transition better.
When possible, it’s always best to go gradually. You can start by removing one breastfeeding session per day (always the same one) to reduce your milk production and avoid engorgement. Do this for 1-2 weeks, then remove another session, and so on.
If you want to wean faster, you can remove a session every 2-3 days. When your breasts feel lighter, remove another session, and so on.
We also frequently suggest waiting until the end of the weaning process to remove sessions at bedtime and when babies wake up. This allows the baby to maintain contact with you and feel safe. During the rest of the day, remove sessions one at a time at your own pace.
Why not continue breastfeeding in the morning and night, even if you work? This is a milder form of weaning, and when your milk production becomes minimal, the baby will gradually become disinterested and stop breastfeeding on its own. This kind of weaning is excellent because it’s the baby who decides when the time is right.
Don’t forget that if you stop breastfeeding before your baby is 9 months old, you need to give them infant formula. If you stop after 9 months, and they are eating from all food groups, and are growing and developing well, you can go directly to 3.25% milk.
Some babies will categorically refuse anything but their mother’s breast and milk. In this case, weaning because problematic and heartbreaking. Weaning becomes an added stress for mothers in addition to returning to work. You should expect that it will take 3-4 weeks for the baby to adjust, so don’t wait until the last minute!
Fathers provide essential support when it comes time to wean a baby. It’s easier for fathers to feed the baby, and it helps the baby quit the habit of being close to mom while breastfeeding.
Depending on the baby’s age, you can wean using a bottle or a cup.
Marie-Chantal, I hope this helps you plan out your weaning process.
The Baby Expert