Whenever possible, the WHO (World Health Organization) recommends exclusively breastfeeding up until six months of the baby’s life. However, breastfeeding can be extended according to the mother’s wishes. But, it is during this phase (the sixth month) that many women need to end their maternity leave and go back to work. Other factors such as tiredness and the beginning of the process of introducing solid foods into the baby’s diet can influence the decision of whether or not to begin the weaning process. In some cases, when the baby begins exploring other foods, they can become “uninterested” in breastfeeding, even though it brings comfort to many of them.
Whatever your situation is, know that the weaning process should be gradual so as to cause the least amount of impact in your daily routine. BabyHome advises: don’t feel guilty during this period. Face breastfeeding as a beautiful and significant experience in yours and the baby’s life. It was important, it served to strengthen your bond and will now stay in your memory forever. Now it’s time the two of you to gain some autonomy: you in the sense of having more freedom and, for your child, to try new foods and start eating alone.
It’s not recommended to abruptly stop breastfeeding. In the beginning, mix it up with bottle feeding either with your own milk or formula. As the baby begins eating solid foods, the time in between feedings will increase, as they will feel more satisfied for longer. The father or even grandparents should jump into action to help distract the child and offer a bottle or some other food whenever they want to breastfeed.
Even though the child cannot yet comprehend it, start talking to them about the change. Explain that they are growing and, therefore, can start drinking milk in a sippy cup or bottle. As you verbalize the situation to your child, you transmit safety and tranquility – not just for them, but also for yourself.
The milk production will stop naturally. As the baby breastfeeds less, less milk will be produced and your body will start adapting to the end of the breastfeeding process. The breast, however, is still synonymous with comfort, tenderness, affection and love. Therefore, try to find other ways to express your affection and satisfying your child’s need for affection: hugging them, playing, singing, massaging, etc…
In case the child finds it difficult to wean such as by rejecting other foods or if you feel sad and anxious with the end of this cycle, do not hesitate to try and find help from a pediatrician and/or a psychologist or family therapist.