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Weaning 101

Weaning may be a daunting task for many mothers, but the right strategies can go a long way in making an otherwise stressful situation more tolerable for both you and your child.

With modern day life to cope with with mummies returning to work relatively soon after the birth of their child, weaning at an earlier age is becoming more common today. Weaning can be very hard work for parents, especially if the child is not ready to give up that special relationship with the mother yet. Here are some age-specific weaning factors you should know.

  1. 0-6 Months: Weaning for Newborns
    Newborns are the easiest to wean. Many newborns will be content to be fed from either the bottle of the breast, as long as they are being provided with food. However, the Health Promotion Board recommends that newborns be exclusively breastfed for at least the first six months of life due to the superiority of breast milk over infant formula.With this said, weaning should then be postponed until the child is much older. It is understood that breastfeeding is not possible for all women due to many reasons such as comfort level, lifestyle, or specific medical conditions. In such cases, early weaning by feeding the child with infant formula would be the alternative.
  2. 6-12 Months: Weaning for Infant
    Infants may be more difficult to wean as they may have developed an attachment to breastfeeding, and the reasons may vary from the warmth and comfort of the mother’s body to the preference in taste of breast milk over infant formula. To address the emotional aspect of weaning, try to comfort your child by giving extra hugs and cuddles as she weans instead of breastfeeding.Try to avoid weaning your infant by physically separating yourself from him, or in other words, by letting him go ‘cold turkey’. The sudden separation from the mother’s breast and from the mother all at once may cause unnecessary stress for the child.

  3. 1-3 Years: Weaning for Toddlers
    Some nursing toddlers will wean themselves when older. Others, however, who have grown attached to nursing do not even consider it for one second. In such an instance, your toddler may not understand what is going on when you stop nursing him. Therefore, it is important to explain to your toddler on what is about to happen.

Tips for Gradual Weaning

  • Reduce nursing times by decreasing breastfeeding quota from everyday to once every other day. This will help your child get used to the change.
  • Try to limit situations that encourage breastfeeding.
  • Have daddy feed the little one from the bottle during one of the feeding times of the day. This enables the child to not think about breastfeeding and allows important contact time between father and child.
  • Offer other sources of comfort when your baby is upset such as soft toys and songs.

Weaning can be a very big deal for your child, thus empathy is key in being successful. If you are weaning too quickly, you may see tantrums, anger and even sadness in your baby. Be sure to always reinforce that you are always there for him no matter what. This will certainly make a difference.