Weaning is when you stop breastfeeding your baby or toddler. It is a natural process that all developing children go through, but it may sometimes be a difficult time for mother and baby. The weaning process is different for everyone. While breast milk is better for most, there are mothers who cannot or choose not to breastfeed for various reasons. If your baby is already purely bottle fed , you can still follow most of these tips for transitioning from milk formula feeds to solids.
Breastfeeding is not an all-or-nothing process. You can always keep one or more feedings per day and eliminate the rest. If you wish to begin feeding your baby formula in addition to breastmilk in the early months, your chances of success are greatly increased by exclusively breastfeeding for at least the first weeks, then slowly weaning from some of the nursing sessions. Most moms find that they can wean down to a few feedings a day or even just one and maintain their supplies at this level for extended periods of time. In established lactation, milk production depends primarily upon milk removal — if milk is removed from the breast, then the breast will continue to make milk. Breast refusal due to flow preference is probably a greater danger to the breastfeeding relationship than too-low milk supply. Frequent use of bottles increases the possibility that baby will become frustrated with the slower flow of milk at the breast, and this may lead to breast refusal and an earlier weaning than anticipated.
Weaning is a change from one type of food to another. However, the decision about when to wean your baby is a personal one, and it's really up to you. While some women begin to wean right away to prepare to go back to work, others may wait until their children are toddlers before fully weaning. Sometimes it's the mom who chooses when to start weaning, and sometimes the baby leads the process.
Most parents consider weaning to mean completely stopping breastfeeding. Still, many mothers have mixed emotions. Prolonged breastfeeding, whenever possible, is good for your baby.