When it was time for me to wean my children, I was desperate for tips to help me. In talking with other women and recalling my own experiences, here are some tips that I hope will be useful.
Do NOT Go Cold Turkey!
This may seem like a given, but it is not for many new Moms. I was weaning a baby that was 6 weeks old and wanted to continue to give breast milk from a bottle for as long as possible. So prior to returning a rented breast pump, I gathered as much milk as I could. Then without being aware that I should gradually stop breastfeeding, I quit the day after I returned my pump. The result was painful and stressful for my body. Regardless of the age of your baby, ALWAYS slowly decrease your feedings. What worked for me with future children was to drop one feeding every few days.
Ease Your Baby Into the Substitution Milk/Formula
As I transitioned my 6 week old to formula, I slowly introduced it into the bottle. I started with ¾ parts breast milk with ¼ part formula. I did that for a day or two. Next, I used ½ breast milk with ½ formula for the next few days. Then, I used ¼ breast milk with ¾ formula for a couple of days. Finally, we used 100% formula. This seemed to be the best way for my baby to get accustomed to the change in his diet. Also, you may have to try different bottles with different nipples to find one that your baby prefers.
My son had a hard time adjusting to whole milk as I began to wean him. It was heart-breaking for me. I would give him a sippy cup of milk and he would promptly throw it to the ground, cry and give me the baby sign for nursing. Since he wasn’t drinking a lot of milk, I put it in his baby cereal. (I also made smoothies with it and he drank those.) It took about a week but he got over it and now even LOVES his cow’s milk.
Don’t Feel Guilty
Regardless of the age of the baby, most Mothers seem to feel a sense of guilt or sadness when breastfeeding comes to an end. This is usually due to hormonal factors and the closeness that nursing creates between Mothers and babies. Try to find something else that your baby loves to do (reading, singing, etc.).