PICK THE PERFECT TIME
"When to wean?" It's a question that's top of mind for nursing mamas. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding exclusively until your baby is 6 months old, then serving a combination of solids and breast milk until she's 1 year old. But know that weaning is ultimately a personal decision and should be based on what's best for your family -- perhaps you're returning to work and need the flexibility of bottle-feeding, for instance. Most mothers choose to wean their baby off the breast when she's 4-7 months old, according to the AAP.
Surefire Signs Your Baby Is Ready
Telltale signals your baby is ready to start solids? He holds his head in an upright position, sits with support, or expresses interest in what you're eating. In addition, his active tongue-thrust reflex has disappeared -- or is in the process of disappearing. He may also act indifferent or cranky during routine breastfeeding sessions.
Set a Schedule
Check your calendar -- pinpointing a specific date by which you want to wean can help you strategically plan. Then allow yourself a full month to successfully complete weaning-- this gives you and your baby a little extra breathing room should you experience obstacles and setbacks along the way.
Know When to Play the Waiting Game
Planning a move? Starting a new job? Did your little one just start teething? You may want to hold off for a month or so, because stressful situations don't
work well with weaning. Another timing consideration: Your baby will be more apt to cooperate when she isn't overly tired or hungry. And if she's not cooperative? Try again in a few
Settle into a Plan
Easing into a weaning routine allows you and your baby to more smoothly adjust to the change. For instance, you may omit one breastfeedin session a week -- probably the most inconvenient feeding for you or the one your baby's least interested in -- and gradually drop feedings until he's solely using bottles or cups or eating solids.
Switch Up Your Routine
Let Dad, Grandma, or another caregiver assist with weaning. If your baby resists a bottle from you, La Leche League International recommends seeing if your baby will accept a bottle from someone else while you're in another room -- chances are, he'll do better in your absence at first. Or if you're the one serving the bottle, change up your routine -- if you nurse in your bedroom, try nursing in the living room. Consider holding him in another position. If this doesn't work, revert back to your old routine, then try again in a few weeks.
Weaning Older Babies
f your baby is 9 months or older, it's best to wean directly to a cup so you don't have to deal with getting her off the
bottle in a few months. And if your baby is older than 1 year old, wear complicated clothing -- such as a dress with a zipper down the back or a buttoned-up shirt -- to help her wean. Limit her
nursing time and regularly comfort her with your undivided attention.