When should I stop breastfeeding my baby?
When is it the right time to stop breastfeeding your baby? What is the best way to do it? This is a puzzle for most parents, especially if you are a first-time mother. Even after you have established breastfeeding, how long do you continue? Three months? Six months? A year? Or more?
When you stop to breastfeed your baby, it is called weaning. This task is up to you and your baby to decide on the right time. According to the World Health Organization, it is recommended that your baby should be breastfed exclusively for six months. After this period, you should slowly introduce other complementary foods while continuing breastfeeding your baby for two years or beyond.
In most cases, your baby is set to reduce the number of breastfeeds when they begin to digest solid food. Breast milk is not just any other food. It is a natural comforter when your child is tired or worried. It contains immunity-boosting components which increase, especially when your baby falls ill. After nine to twelve months, your baby can be able to swallow and eat solid foods.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is beneficial for the development of your child. Your breast produces colostrum after a few days from your childbirth. Colostrum contains essential ingredients such as immunoglobulin which help build the immune system of your baby.
It has been proven with research that babies who are breastfed within the first six months of their lives are not bound to suffer from severe spells of common childhood diseases. This includes respiratory illnesses, middle ear infections, and gastroenteritis.
When is the right time for babies to stop breastfeeding?
The first step in weaning your baby is by introducing other complementary foods alongside your breast milk when the baby is around six months old. The process of weaning is likely to continue until you replace breastfeeding with other foods. This is the right way for babies to stop breastfeeding.
After the six months, your baby will begin to develop need or higher levels of various nutrients such as zinc, vitamins B and D, and iron. These nutrients are not contained in your breast milk. The solid foods will, therefore, add to your baby’s intake and slowly replace the breast milk. However, breast milk will remain a significant source of nutrients for your baby in later months.
How to stop breastfeeding your baby
When you decide to stop breastfeeding your baby, it is best to do it using gradual and steady steps. In case you stop breastfeeding your baby all of a sudden, they can be at risk of blocked mastitis or engorgement. This can also cause an abrupt change in the digestive and immune systems of your baby. This can also be difficult for you emotionally due to the bond shared between you and the baby. It is the hurdles mothers who want babies to stop breastfeeding have to endure.
Do you need to stop breastfeeding?
It is common for most parents to assume that they need to stop breastfeeding when they don’t. In case your pregnancy leave is over, breastfeeding can be an alternative to maintaining intimacy as you undergo a gradual shift in your lives. You can bottle feed your baby while working. You can also preserve nursing sessions at a designated time during the day.
You can also express breast milk to your baby when you are traveling. In case you fall sick, you don’t need to stop breastfeeding your baby. You can consult a health professional about your health status.
Stopping breastfeeding before six months
In case you are unable to meet the six-month prescribed mark and want to begin weaning by yourself, you can start by reducing a breastfeed a day while replacing it with a bottle of formula. You can start with a mid-day feed. Babies have impeccable sense and can pick up the scent of their mother’s milk close by. This knowledge is crucial when attempting to make babies stop breastfeeding.
In case you want to maintain the health benefits of breastfeeding and intimacy, but still want to cut back, you can try partial weaning. This is when on various occasions you replace the feeds with the formula.
Stopping breastfeeding after six months
When you introduce solid foods to your baby after six months, you will discover that the breastfeeds start to become less over time naturally. After twelve months, your baby will reduce their breasted to several feeds a day, which is complemented with other meals.
In case you want to cut back; further, you can do it gradually while dropping one breastfeed at a time. You can provide your baby with baby formula milk in case they are less than twelve months old. When it comes to cow milk, you should introduce it when your baby is at least one year old.
There are several means to distract your baby from the changes when it comes to their feeding patterns. You can also change your daily routine by playing a game or introducing your partner to share in the experience.
It may take a while for your baby to adapt to the changes, but over time, they are bound to adjust to the environment. In case you are facing challenges with weaning, it is advised that you seek support from a healthcare professional around you who knows a lot on how to help babies stop breastfeeding.
Stopping breastfeeding naturally over time
When you choose to let your baby stop breastfeeding by themselves, the process is bound to be slow and gradual. With months, the baby will reduce the feeds by day and finally lose interest after a while.
In case you are worried about developing engorgement, know that your body will have plenty of time to adjust. It can be an emotionally tough occasion, but you can makeup for it with cuddling and bonding moments. This means that mothers also have to adapt when babies stop breastfeeding.
When to introduce solid foods
Breast milk should be the primary source of nutrition for your baby around the first year of your life. According to healthcare professionals, it is recommended for six months of exclusive breastfeeding before the gradual introduction of complementary family foods. Below are signs that your baby is ready for solid foods:
- Begin showing interest when other people are eating
- Begin making gestures that they also want to be fed
- Stop removing any food put in their mouths as part of the disappearing tongue-thrust reflex
- Begin to hold their heads up and sit down without support
Most babies stop breastfeeding when the exhibit the above signs but others can go on for a while.
Breastfeeding when pregnant
In case you are pregnant, you can choose to continue with breastfeeding, or you can alternatively start the weaning process for your baby. Most mothers choose to help their babies stop breastfeeding when they get pregnant. This is your personal choice. Whether you decide to start weaning or continue breastfeeding, it is essential to always maintain a healthy diet.
It is common for pregnant breastfeeding mothers to reeving different advice when it comes to weaning or breastfeeding. It is possible to breast two children as your body will produce milk which will fit the needs of your baby.
In case you want to continue with breastfeeding while pregnant, you should take advice from a healthcare professional. This is especially if you have experienced a miscarriage, premature birth, or suffered any bleeding.
When you need medical help in conceiving, there are healthcare professionals who will not prescribe various fertility medicine or treatment when you are breastfeeding. You can also discuss all the alternative options before deciding on weaning or helping babies stop breastfeeding.
Does it mean your baby is ready to wean when they refuse to breastfeed?
This does not necessarily mean that your baby is ready to wean. Your baby can go on a nursing strike and decide not to breastfeed. This can be as a result of various causes including ear infection, teething, and the onset of your period, other related illnesses or change in diet or deodorant.
Here are various tips that you can use to recover from the effort to make babies stop breastfeeding
- Create feeding time quiet and unique while trying to limit ant distractions. As your baby grows older, they become interested in staring at other ties happening around them
- Try cuddling and soothing your baby each time possible
- Provide your breast when your baby is feeling asleep or just waking up from a nap
- If it is possible, you can try using different nursing positions, nursing in separate rooms, or alternate sides.
In case you cannot figure out the reason for your baby’s cause of the nursing strike, you can consult your doctor or seek help from a lactation consultant. It is common to feel angry, but it is essential to remember that your baby is not directly rejecting you.
In case this happens, you can be sure to pump your breast milk so that you do not develop a blocked duct or even develop engorgement when babies stop breastfeeding. This will ensure that you continue producing enough breast milk so that your baby is ready to nurse again.
Takeaways from Breastfeeding
When you feel the bond with your child when you breastfeed, you should not feed into the pressures from family and friends to to have your babies stop breastfeeding. It is not unusual for children to continue breastfeeding, even at the age of four years. You can disclose the health benefits comfort and security that you derive from breastfeeding your child to family and friends.