Happy and Healthy Weaning

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happy-healthy-weaningWeaning doesn’t have to be hard. Oh, the horror stories you have probably heard about mothers trying to wean their babies from pacifiers, the breast, or a bottle. In many cases, a calm parental disposition can make all the difference. To be honest, while weaning brings with it many conveniences…it also means your baby is growing up. That, in and of itself, is enough to make any mom or dad weepy enough when considering weaning.

One important step in the weaning process is to know your goals. Some parents want or need to be breast, pacifier, or bottle free by the one-year mark. Others may not have any particular schedule in mind. If you have the goal to wean by a year – then your best bet is to start early. Around 8 months of age, your baby will not have the presence of mind to realize that just because something is out of sight – it still exists. Parents who want to wean early should capitalize on this developmental weakness by eliminating daytime uses of the breast or bottle. Make the switch to sippy-cups. You can continue to give a bottle or breast at nighttime if you so choose. This helps bring your child down in the likeness of a step down process.

You will find that this process can be pretty painless, especially if started early. Waiting past the year mark or beyond to begin weaning will mean that your baby will be more resistant to the change – because they KNOW that the bottle is somewhere in the house. However, most kids can be weaned in a week’s time as long as the parents stick to their guns.

Starting later can be more difficult. You should still use the step down process to wean, and save only the nighttime bottle or breast. This is normally the hardest for your child to go without. If your baby is older, resist making any other monumental changes in their life during this time. You will find that older children often see the lack of a bottle or breast as a graduation of sorts into being a grown up. Some kids frankly like being babies. (And what’s not to love?) Instead, be nurturing and look for replacements for the bottle or breast. At nighttime, this could be reading a book together, a back massage, or something else that your baby enjoys. If you are trying to wean from the breast – realize that a child clinging to your shirt is emotionally difficult to handle. Find someone else to take your place for a few days so that you are not put through the heartbreak.

The biggest consideration in weaning is readiness; yours and your baby’s. Some babies seem ready to wean themselves, while others due to their personality will cling to the breast, bottle, or pacifier. If you don’t have to rush weaning, then don’t! Just because a friend – or a book said your baby should be weaned by 18 months, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. In fact, extended nursing has been proven to boost a child’s immune system. Likewise, as long as they aren’t suckling on a bottle all day, a nighttime bottle of water (no sugary drinks or milk are advised) won’t wreak irreparable havoc on your child’s dental health.

Once you commit to weaning, follow through. You can use a reward system or anything else that seems to work for your child. Be consistent. Be patient and be kind. If your child just doesn’t seem ready, then put the idea on hold for a week or two. Remember that while in the moment it may seem like the hardest thing you ever faced, there are very few (if any) elementary and middle school students who still take a bottle or pacifier to school. Time will work it all out.

What do you think? Happy and Healthy Weaning

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16 comments

  1. Avatar of mommy nhoj mommy nhoj says:

    The pedi did told to us to wean our baby at 12 months, at the most 15 months. He said it is bad for the teeth. I also noticed that baby demands more milk at night at 3hr or so interval. She becomes cranky whenever I wont give her the bottle. I am trying to give her water but she will only sip a little. I think she’s not even drinking a total of 2 oz per day. I hope I can do some behavior modification

  2. Avatar of Marilyn Marilyn says:

    I hope it’s easy to wean my babe lol

  3. Avatar of LuLu9 LuLu9 says:

    I have been finding it hard to wean. This is truly helpful, very good info. Wished I would’ve read this earlier but better late than never :)

  4. Avatar of ChrisS ChrisS says:

    Thanks for the advice. This will help me a lot!

  5. Avatar of Brittani Brittani says:

    This is helpful. I’ve been trying to get my daughter off the bottle for awhile now. She is 2 1/2 years old and only wants a bottle at bedtime she wants her sippy cups all day long but at night I’ve been having trouble getting her away from it. I think I might be getting closer but only time will tell.

  6. Avatar of nina85 nina85 says:

    sorry i meant from breastfeeding my daughter.

  7. Avatar of nina85 nina85 says:

    I hope im not going to have a hard time when i have to wean from being breastfed

  8. Avatar of RubyRae RubyRae says:

    This helped alot! My son is 17 months and is still breastfeeding. At first I wanted to wean by 18 months, which is now 8 days away. But he started daycare maybe a little over a month ago because I got a job, and it seems to be a little difficult for him. He actually regressed and is breastfeeding more than he did befor he went to daycare. Reading here that it is okay if they breastfeed longer just makes me feel better about it!

  9. Avatar of brandy brandy says:

    i would have longer but had complications

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