During your child’s first few months, you get to confront a lot of questions as a parent. The answers to some of these are more obvious and will come naturally. At the same time, you may encounter other questions, which take a little, or a lot, of research to answer. Whether your baby is self-weaning or not is a question whose answer may not come naturally to many parents. So here are some signs you can watch for to let you know your baby has begun to self-wean:
1. Less Interest in Feedings
Most babies will let you know if you are even a moment late once you establish a feeding schedule with them. If your baby was this way but has become disinterested in nursing, this is the first sign. Your baby growing disinterested will often happen gradually.
At first, they will just be easy to distract from nursing. At which point, you may find yourself needing to take them to a quiet calm space to feed after a while. Slowly this will turn from distraction to complete disinterest in nursing altogether. When you reach this point, you will know your child is engaging in self-weaning behavior.
Quite a few parents misinterpret this sign and think their child is not hungry, but this may not be the case. They may be hungry but also interested in getting their nutrients from new sources now. Be aware when your baby is starting to lose interest in scheduled nursing and instead eat more solids offered to them.
2. Baby Nursing for Shorter Periods
A typical sign of your baby beginning to self-wean is they begin to cut their typical feeding times short. What you expect to be a typical feeding time will slowly decrease when they are in this stage. The typical time they spend nursing will become less and less before ending completely.
When this happens, it could be a sign that it is time to begin introducing new sources of nutrients. Doing so can give insight into whether they truly are self-weaning or not. The reason for this is that you can see if it is self-weaning or another issue.
Other issues can also cause them not to want to feed as long. These can include situations like teething or digestion problems. So, it is not always weaning that can lead to shorter nursing sessions. Adding it all up, along with other signs, and can sum up to a sign of self-weaning.
3. Baby Eating More Solids
Eating more solids is a sure sign they are self-weaning. The reason being that they are beginning to get nutrients they need from new sources. Which means they will need less and less milk. When they get to this point, they will be content with less milk. Your baby is happy with less will lead them beginning to cut scheduled nursing times short.
Cutting feeding short is a natural progression that every child makes when they switch from one nutrient source to another. So, a sure sign of self-weaning is when your baby becomes more interested in eating solid foods than nursing. You should provide this choice to them by offering solid foods, but not force it on them. Let them decide when the time is right within reason.
4. More or Less Independence
While you may be used to have attached to your hip, slowly, this will change. If your child begins to self-wean, they will likely begin to withdraw from you in other areas too. They will not need to be constantly carried around and will enjoy the time more on their own exploring their world. This is another natural progression and something you should not stifle.
While it may be difficult for a new mother to let go as quickly as the child, it needs to be done. You may find your child crying to be put down into a playpen or crib often. If it happens frequently, then you may be stifling their independence by over-coddling them. It is time to cut the cord again and let them spend some time not physically connected to you. Or, you may be completely ready for some personal space and treasure they’re seeking more independence. In either case, it is a sign that they are, or soon will be, self-weaning when they act more independently.
5. Turning Away, Saying No, or Biting
One of the more obvious signs you may encounter is when they turn away from your breast when offered. If you pay attention, then they will show that they are ready to move on to new nutrient sources. Your baby turning away from your breast instead of latching on is one of these signs. Another sign is them vocalizing their disinterest by saying, “no.” These are both signs that they do not wish to continue to nurse.
They might simply want to begin to be offered more solid food options. If you provide them with other options, and they gladly accept, then you know it is self-weaning. Although there are other options and might display these behaviors, so pay attention to other signs as well. A final sign that they may not be interested in nursing anymore is biting. Unluckily, this is a painful alternative to them turning away or saying no.
If they begrudgingly accept a chance to nurse, be on the alert for biting, because it could be the next step. Again, there are other reasons this may be occurring, such as teething, so consider their overall behavior. If they act in these ways repeatedly over time, it is surely a sign of self-weaning.
Just be aware that anyone of these signs can have another reason and meaning. So, make sure that you rule out all these other options before committing to weaning. You should pay special attention to make sure the time is correct and your baby is ready.
Other Signs Are Possible
These are just five of the possible signs of self-weaning. You should consider these but base your final assumption on a sum of many factors. These factors can include age, maturity level, their sudden interest in solid foods, and there are others. There are more than these five signs, but they can be a good clue your baby has begun self-weaning.
Whatever their overall behavior means is up to your interpretation, but you should take all these and remember them. By adding all of them up, when the time comes for weaning, you will be more aware of what is happening.