I love breastfeeding my baby. Breast milk contains nourishments that are needed to promote and develop healthy growth for my baby in the first six months. Majority of us mothers, enjoy bonding with our babies during breastfeeding and continue doing so for as long as possible.
Breast milk is the most important source of nutrients and food for a baby during the 1st year. Some mothers decrease the number of breastfeeds when their babies start taking solids foods.
Table of Contents
- So What are the Breastfeeding Benefits?
- 5 Signs Show that It’s Time to Stop Breastfeeding
- When Is the Right Time to Introduce Solid Foods?
- How Do you Stop Breastfeeding and Start Weaning
So What are the Breastfeeding Benefits?
During the first few days after birth, your breast produces colostrum. Colostrum is a substance that contains vital ingredients that are beneficial to the baby. They are cells or immunoglobulin that help to build the baby immune system.
Many babies who are breastfeeding well in the first six months keep away from childhood illnesses like middle ear infections and respiratory infections. The ingredient in the milk help to keep the baby health and promote development.
However, it is necessary to stop breastfeeding at the right time when the baby start to ingest solid foods, usually until 10 to 12 months. According to the World Health Organization, it is appropriate to breastfeed a baby for the first six months, then gradually as the baby develops mother can introduce solid foods while continuing to breastfeed for more than two years.
Phasing out breastfeeding gradually, prepares you and the baby to get used to the idea. Stopping gradually will help the mother avoid mastitis and engorged breasts with milk.
A mother should be on the lookout for early signs of self –weaning. Sometimes a baby starts to cut down on nursing and practice what experts call self-weaning. The baby shows interests of solid foods or drinking from a cup.
Remember, breastfeeding provides one on one cuddling several times a day to baby. Ensure that the baby receives the same nursing and extra cuddling during the weaning transition.
This will help them feel safe and secure and realize that lack of breast milk and breastfeeding does not mean lack of care and attention.
Nevertheless, as the breastfeeding period nears the end, mothers start to look for ways to make the transition for the baby and the mother easy.
5 Signs Show that It’s Time to Stop Breastfeeding
1.Your Child is Almost One Year Old
A mother should keep in mind that not all babies self-wean. Some early weaning could be related to nursing strike which later translates to illness, stress or teething. However, if your baby is more than 12 months it is a good time to wean.
2.Mother’s Milk Supply is Drying Out
Low milk supply is always a frustration to many mothers and babies. There are different methods and techniques that can increase a mother’s milk supply.
They include- offering the baby both breasts when feeding and increased nursing. In some cases, a mother fails to take good care of herself resulting to milk drying up. In such cases, a mother is advised to eat healthy meals, take plenty of water and getting enough sleep.
Still, at times the body simply cannot supply enough milk. However, if the baby is healthy and past one years you can keep off stress by weaning.
3.The Baby is More Interested in Solid Foods
Sometimes, a baby may find solid food as ‘instant gratification’ away from breast milk. If breastfeeding has suddenly become a struggle then it is understandable that the baby is self-weaning. Self-weaning where a baby shows interests in solid food when breastfeeding is not working on them.
While it’s okay to start weaning if the baby is past six months, the baby still requires breast milk and any other sources of hydration. Most pediatricians don’t recommend giving the baby cow’s milk not until they are 12 months
4.A Mother is Taking Medications
Some medications are known to be excreted in breast milk and could potentially harm the infant. When the mother is taking certain medications like aspirin, breastfeeding is a no-no. Some of the medications can make the baby to be sedated or lead to an adverse decrease in breast milk to the mother.
If a mother is not breastfeeding, she is able to take these effects of the medicines but for a baby, the results could be adverse to take. If a mother may consider weaning to prioritize on the medication, then a lactation consultant should give advice on weaning.
Also, drugs like heroin and cocaine ought to be avoided as they can pass through the mother’s breast milk and harm the baby.
5.The Baby Requires More Iron
Just like a mother, a baby requires enough iron to build new blood cells in order to carry more oxygen. At times the baby could have been born prematurely before attaining 6.5 pounds and the body did not have ample time to build iron stores for the first months of life.
In this case, breast milk may not be sufficient to supplement the baby iron needs. However, there are alternative feeding options- liquid iron supplements or incorporation iron formula into baby’s feeding.
Babies who are not born prematurely and breastfeed well in the first six months are less likely to have anemia. There is a need for you to strike a balance and avoid too much iron.
When Is the Right Time to Introduce Solid Foods?
As long as your baby shows signs of readiness from four to six months, then it is appropriate to introduce solid foods. Until then, breast milk and formulas provides all the nutrients that your baby requires for optimal growth in the first six months of their life.
However, solid foods at this age are a complement to breast milk. Your baby can start with formula, pureed vegetables, pureed fruits or semi-liquid cereals.
Weaning is the gradual process of introducing solid food to an infant while withdrawing breastfeeding. It is the first time that you introduce solid food apart from breast milk while nourishing your baby in a different way.
You can choose the right time that you feel your baby can start weaning. After six months, that is the appropriate time to start weaning. Anticipate that your breast ducts will become clogged with milk as the baby transitions to solid foods. Regularly, you can breastfeed the baby to avoid infections. If the plugged ducts occur frequently as a result of breast milk, treat with gentle massage and warm compresses.
There Are Two Types of Weaning
Weaning is easy when the baby starts to lose interest in nursing and that happens around the 6th month when you start introducing solid foods. Some babies are more interested in weaning than breast milk around the 12th month after they have tried varieties of food.
That is the time they can also feed on a cup or a sprouted beaker. If your baby is fussy, less interested in nursing or very active and hardly still when breastfeeding, then that’s an early sign that they are ready for weaning.
A mother may start weaning if it’s the right time or they are going back to work. When it is your decision, it requires patience and time for the baby to adjust. Abrupt withdraw from breastfeeding can cause breast infection or plugged ducts.
In case you returned to work, breastfeeding the baby only once per day compared to five or six times is advisable. They will gradually adjust to the change.
Weaning is the transition of a baby from breast milk to solid foods in a gradual process. Experts recommend that you should let your baby breastfeed until they stop naturally. Or when they reach the age 3 years. Still, there are scenarios that will always come up you will have to stop breastfeeding.
3 Stages that Will Help
- Stage one: Let your baby finish breastfeeding and then offer small portions of solid food. Experiment with different textures and flavors to find the one they prefer. Still, continue with breastfeeding as the milk offers vital nutrients for growth.
- Stage two: Once you notice the baby is feeding well- you will find out with their poo, alternate by first giving them solid foods before breastfeeding. Then gradually offer them something to eat first before breastfeeding.
- Stage three: Offer your baby milk in a sprouted beaker instead of breastfeeding. This may go on from one to six months depending on how well and quickly your baby adjusts.
How Do I Wean?
- Shorten nursing time: Shorten and limit the time that the baby in on breast milk. If they stay for ten minutes allow them only five minutes. Still, follow up with formula or milk to complement the breast milk until they are 1 year old.
- Postpone breastfeeding: If you are nursing a couple times per day, try and postpone nursing. This method works well when there is someone else to distract the baby. If the baby is used to nursing early evening postpone until bedtime.
You can also put breast milk in a bottle and have the baby feed on there. Later as they get used, alternate with cow milk. However, cow milk is suitable for babies over 1 year.
- Skip a feeding: Skipping nursing for a few weeks give your baby time to adjust. You can replace breast milk with cow’s milk but only if the baby is more than a year. Your milk supply also diminishes without clogging your ducts.
- Keep them busy: Also, you can introduce both outdoors and indoors exploring as a way of distracting them. If the baby is not kept busy, they will want to breastfeed and connect with the mother. To avoid this, allow them to stay focused and explore outdoors as part of their growth.
Will the Baby Get Enough Nutrient from Weaning?
The answer is yes. However, before weaning, ensure your baby will have an adequate and sufficient supplement from breast milk. A baby under the age of one needs to supplement breast milk with formula for the majority of the calories. Babies under one year require 50 calories per pound of body weight per day. They will need to get these nutrients from a formula as they cannot digest cow’s milk
While babies over six months start experiencing with solids foods, it is only preparing them for transition and generally, do not provide all the required nutrients.
After the age of one, you can introduce cow milk and continue with the solid foods. A baby between the age of one and two requires 1,000 calories a day. Primarily, half of those nutrients should come from fats and proteins while still supplementing breast milk.
You may be ready to stop breastfeeding, but your baby resists all attempts to wean. You may find the time is not right to wean and that could be the reason. If you have recently gone to work, your child might still be adjusting to the routine.
Still, you may find the child is sick. Babies nurse more often when they are unwell. Breastfeeding is comforting and also provides a vital source of nutrition.
Between 8 to 10 months when your baby starts asserting their independence, you will find that they will want to hold the spoon. To make meals more relaxed, allow the bay to hold another spoon while you are feeding them.
Remember:It is up to the mother and the baby to decide when to stop breastfeeding. Aim to breastfeed your child for six months then gradually introduce solid food while still breastfeeding.