Breastmilk is the purest and the most natural form of food that a mother can give n infant. But there comes a time in ever mothers life when you have to stop breastfeeding the baby.
Though the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends feeding the baby up until two years of age, it may not be possible in all cases. Because of your various commitments, you may have to stop breastfeeding the baby at an early stage.
Most mothers feed the baby until one year. By the time the baby is one, he may be interested in other things like walking and running. Thus, they will be less interested in breastfeeding. This is the right time to start weaning a baby.
Weaning the baby from breastmilk is not an easy task. It causes a lot of discomfort for both you and the baby. Hence, you should have a good idea about weaning so that it causes the least uneasiness for both you and the baby.
When Should You Stop Breastfeeding?
As per WHO, the baby should be exclusively breastfed until six months of age. After that, you can start weaning the baby. When to stop breastfeeding is purely a personal choice. Most of the mothers start weaning during day time and continue with night time feed. This way, the transition can be made easy.
You should watch out for the following signs before deciding to stop breastfeeding
- The baby is not interested in feeding.
- The baby feels hungry even after feeding them.
- The baby nurses only for a short time.
- The baby gets distracted while nursing.
- The baby does not suck the breast instead play with the breast.
- The baby sucks the breast for comfort and does not draw milk.
But there are certain things you should consider while stopping breastfeeding.
- If you are weaning a baby less than one year of age, ensure that the baby gets enough nutrition. If you feel that the baby does not get enough nutrition from food, then you should consult a doctor. They might prescribe multivitamins or other supplements to balance diet.
- You should choose the time carefully. Make sure that you are at ease while starting the weaning process. Skipping a one-time feed can be strenuous for the mother. Thus, make sure that you do not have any stress factors at work or at home.
- Breastfeeding should be stopped slowly and not at one go. If you feed the baby three times a day, make it twice a day. This helps your breast to adjust to the new feeding pattern. Once you have completely adapted to twice a day feeding, you can slowly skip the day time feed.
What Are The Effects Of Stopping Breastfeeding On The Baby?
Stopping breastfeeding brings about a lot of changes both to the mother and the baby. Here are some of the effects of stopping breastfeeding on the baby to consider if weaning early.
- Breastmilk is a protective food that protects your baby from a whole lot of infections. Once you wean the baby from breastmilk, the chances of an infection increase.
- Breastmilk is wholesome food. It provides complete nourishment to the baby. If the baby does not take solid food properly, then there are chances of nutritional deficiency for the baby.
- The act of breastfeeding is very comforting for the baby. Your body scent and delicate touch are very soothing for the baby. Once you wean the baby, the baby is not able to feel you up close. Thus, they might become more irritable and crankier.
- If you try to feed the baby in a bottle instead of offering your breast, the baby might refuse to take milk.
- The baby may not doze off to sleep easily as they used to do while breastfeeding.
- The baby’s bowel movement changes. As long as you breastfeed the baby, the bowel will be soft and less smelly. But once you start giving solid food, the bowel becomes hard and smelly.
How To Help The Baby To Wean
- When it is time to feed the baby, you can offer her a pacifier instead of your breast. This will quench the suckling instinct of the baby.
- For older babies, you can offer any comforting item like a doll or a blanket when you are weaning them. This way, the baby soothes themselves and becomes less cranky.
- If you are feeding the baby in a bottle, you can ask your partner or someone else to feed the baby. The baby is more likely to drink the milk when you are not around.
- If your baby is around two years, you can distract them during feeding time. You can take them out for a walk or to the park to play.
How to Wean from Breastfeeding to Whole Milk?
Till the baby is 12 months of age, it is best to feed the baby, either breastmilk or formula milk. This is because both provide enough nutrients for the baby.
But once the baby is one year old, you can consider weaning him from breastmilk to whole milk.
To start with, you can mix one ounce of whole milk with a bottle of breastmilk or formula. Once the baby takes the drink for a week and if there is no side effect, you can slowly increase the quantity of milk.
How they drink milk is also very important. It is best to feed the milk in a sippy cup or a regular cup instead of a bottle. Similarly, you can move them from a rocking chair to a high-chair and encourage the baby to drink the milk sitting near the dining table.
Always remember that stopping breastfeeding is not easy.
Once you stop feeding your baby, you should spend enough time with the baby so that the baby does not feel insecure.
For babies less than one year, you can cuddle them and give them physical contact. For older babies, you can sing a song or tell them a story along with a lot of cuddling and kissing.
Overall, like all things motherhood, you just need a lot of patience.
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