Are you looking for information on the best ways for wean your baby?

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Answered by: Heather, An Expert in the Best Products for Infants Category
What is Weaning? How to wean your baby?

You have spent countless months mastering the art of breastfeeding and now you have decided that is time to wean your baby. Weaning basically means you are slowly transitioning baby from breastfeeding to either a bottle or a sippy cup. Not only will you be weaning them from breast to bottle, but you may be weaning them to another form of milk. Most people commonly switch to cow’s milk, but there are other options as well. A baby's age will also be a factor in how you go about weaning them. This transitioning period does not have to be stressful or difficult if you are prepared.

Preparing to Wean:

When you decide that it is time to stop breastfeeding, you will want to be prepared with a few things to make the transition much easier. If baby will be using a bottle, pick out a bottle you think your baby may like. Pay attention to the size and shape of the nipple. Before you run out and purchase 12 Avent bottles, make sure that particular bottle is going to be preferred by your baby first. If you will be switching to formula, do a little research on the different types of formula. Formula is quite expensive, so make sure you figure that into your weekly budget. Most pediatricians will suggest a particular formula that they believe is best. So, if all the different options seem confusing, you can rely on your pediatrician’s advice. If you will be pumping breast milk, you will need to rent or buy a good breast pump. Research the different brands on-line and ask around to find out what pump moms suggest. WIC offers a High quality pump that you can rent for minimal costs even if you are not a WIC client. If you are certain that you will be pumping for an extended period of time, it might be more economical to purchase one. You may also want to look into breast milk storage bags or freezer containers specifically made for freezing breast milk. If you store it in the refrigerator, it is only good for approx. 8 days. If you store your milk in a deep freeze, it will stay good for approx. 6 months. Being prepared will decrease the stress you may have when you are ready to start the weaning process.

Weaning a Small baby 0-6mo:

You may have decided that you are planning to go back to work. You need to wean your small baby quickly so that he or she is adjusted to the bottle before you are working those 8 hr. shifts each day. If you enjoy the benefits your baby is receiving from your breast milk, but don't have the option to breastfeed from work, you do have other options. You can either rent or buy a nice grade breast pump. I would suggest a Pump in Style by Medela or one similar to it. It's important to get a breast pump that is comfortable, especially if you will be using it frequently. You can start weaning your infant from breast to bottle slowly each day. Start by pumping 1 to 2 feedings a day and let baby get used to the nipple of the bottle. Try to pump once or twice more than your baby feeds each day, so that you can begin storing milk in your freezer. Before you baby is ready to nurse each time, pump and feed by bottle until he is drinking consistently from the bottle. This is a great opportunity for Dad or siblings to be a part of the feeding process. Try to get a routine of pumping established before you go back to work, so it is less stressful for you and baby. You can take the pump with you to work and pump your milk regularly throughout the day. Pumping is a great opportunity for your baby to still receive that nutrient rich breast milk yet allow you the freedom to work. You can still breastfeed baby in the evenings if you so desire. If you decide that pumping is not something you are going to do, then you will be weaning baby from breast milk to formula. Talk to your pediatrician about which formula they suggests. If your baby is experiencing excess gas or throwing up, they may need a special kind of formula that is gentler to their tummies. Just like finding the bottle they like, you will have to figure out which formula their bellies like as well. It might make the transition a little easier if you mix breast milk with the formula until they are digesting the formula better. Remember that every baby is different and what works for one person, may not be what works for you.

Weaning at 6mo. and up

If your baby is 6mo. old and you are still breastfeeding, pat yourself on the back! If you have decided that it is time to wean from breast milk to formula, start out slowly. Your breasts and your little one are used to a regular flow of milk all day. If you decided to stop suddenly, you will become engorged and it will be painful and unnecessary. If you aren't planning to pump your milk, then start substituting formula at one feeding each day. Slowly, but surely your milk supply will decrease with each feeding missed. Taking the time to transition slowly will make it more comfortable for you and baby. At 6mo. old you can also start introducing your baby to a sippy cup. This is also something that will take time. Don't expect him to be drinking exclusively from a sippy cup at 6mo. old. You can start off by introducing them to water or milk in their cup, but just as practice. Do not count this as the amount they require for their daily consumption. In a few months, they will be eating baby food and will not need as many ounces of formula, but at 6mo. of age they do. Some older babies may be resistant to weaning and may require more patience and time to wean them completely. Just remember that breastfeeding is something they have been doing for a while now and it may be their comfort tool. Don't expect them to accept and take it to it instantly. You may discover that your infant will drink from the bottle much faster than when they breastfeed. It takes much less effort to suckle a bottle than it does the breast. If he becomes noticeably gassy from eating too fast, you can try using mylicon gas drops to break up the gas bubbles in their belly. You may in fact need to burp frequently now because he will take in more air than with breastfeeding. Take the time to cuddle and give them that one on one attention they were getting when they breastfed. In time, they will learn a new way of eating and adjust just fine.

Deciding when to wean your baby is completely up to you. Many moms choose to do it for very different reasons. When the time comes that you are ready to wean your baby, take your time. Allow your baby and your body the chance to adjust to such a change. Expect that you will run into some challenges that will require a little patience. From the time your little one was born, your life has revolved around when they eat and now that you have the perfect routine, its changing again. It's okay to feel frustrated and even a little bit sad that you will not be breastfeeding any longer. It's such a wonderful bonding time that only you and your baby have been privileged to. Now that your baby is growing, those bonding experiences will grow as well. Sitting on the floor and playing is a wonderful way to connect and still feel that love and nurturing from you. Don't let the small changes interfere with your relationship with your precious little baby.

There is not one person who knows your child better than you do. You have to trust your instincts that you will know when the right time is to wean. If you are just feeling frustrated and exhausted (which is completely understandable) then, you may want to take a step back and talk to someone about what is going on. There are a lot of support groups on-line that can answer questions you have or give you that encouragement to keep going a little bit longer. If your friends or family are not breastfeeding, they will not be able to empathies with you like a breastfeeding mom will. If you decide that now is the time, don't let other people’s opinions make you feel like you are doing something wrong by not continuing to breastfeed. You have probably already learned that when you are a parent everyone has an opinion on how to do things the "right way". Take the suggestions you feel to be appropriate and use them how you want. Before you know it, you will be receiving advice on how to potty train the "right way".

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