Weaning: How to Stop Breastfeeding?


How to stop breastfeeding, and what’s the right way to do it? Read on for effective and essential weaning advice.

Once you’ve become an expert at breastfeeding, this question crosses every mother’s mind – how is your baby going to switch to solid foods a.k.a stop breastfeeding? It can be because your baby’s grown up and starting to enjoy solid foods, or your medications won’t allow you to continue, or anything else.

No matter what the reason is, you must know what is the right way to stop breastfeeding to avoid any complications at all, and I’m confident you’re on the right page.

Breast milk is the ideal source of food for your baby from the time she’s out of your tummy. It’s the first-ever food she consumes and will be her main source of nutrition for nearly a year.

Plus, breastmilk is not just food, it’s a natural comforter if your child is tired or worried. Other than that, it contains immunity-boosting components that increase dramatically in number whenever your baby is sick.

But eventually, all good things must come to an end, and it’s the same for breastfeeding. Although your body’s improbable ability to make milk doesn’t turn off in an instant, there are always signs that pop up when you need to start weaning.

Relevant Post: 6 Signs you’re ready to stop breastfeeding

How to Stop Breastfeeding

No matter when you decide to stop breastfeeding, it is ideal to do it gradually. “Gradual weaning, by phasing out one feeding or pump session every few days, is usually a good way to start,” says Radcliffe.

Stopping to breastfeed in a deliberate and patterned way helps you reduce the risk of breast engorgement, blocked ducts or mastitis. Sudden weaning is an abrupt change that could adversely affect your baby’s digestive and immune systems, and lead to greater discomfort. To stop breastfeeding the right way:

1. Replace Breastmilk with Formula

When you’re just starting out with weaning, your baby is more likely to trust formula than solid foods as a replacement to breastmilk. This is because the taste of the formula is closely alike to breast milk.

Though you cannot switch it completely at once, start with replacing one breastfeeding session every day with a feed of formula. Let’s say you have six breastfeeding sessions in a day, reduce it to five and replace one with formula.

Next week, reduce it to four and replace two with formula. Reduce the required number of breastfeeding sessions over time but also leave time slots for solid food.

Bonus: You can also replace your midnight breastfeeding session with formula as it can be helpful when you want to stop breastfeeding at night.

2. Leverage Baby’s Interest in Solid Food

how to stop breastfeeding

After six months, your baby starts paying attention to you eating solid food and eventually develops a keen interest in it too. The interest heights at 12 months, when a baby can have several varieties of foods.

Use this interest as an advantage by giving your baby solid food instead of breast milk when he’s hungry. Start serving milk-based cereals that the baby can get used to faster.

Make sure your choice of solid foods provide the protein and micronutrients that a growing baby needs.

3. Offer your baby a pacifier to suck

If your baby suckles, it doesn’t really mean your baby is hungry. It could probably be your baby’s sucking reflex. If that’s the case, get a pacifier.

A favorite for both moms and babies for over forty years, The Bib’s Natural Rubber Baby Pacifier allows your child to self-soothe by exercising their instinctive sucking instinct in the most natural way possible, by mimicking both the shape and soft materials of mothers’ breast. 

Pacifiers can safely be used every night and they also reduce the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Pacifiers must not be used as replacements for routine feeds, they should only be used if your baby fancies suckling to sleep at night.

4. Replace Comfort Feeds with Activity

Sometimes, instead of a solution to hunger, breastfeeding is more of a comfort. Cut down on such comfort sessions and see if your baby notices. If he does not seem to be bothered with fewer breastfeeding sessions, continue with them.

Although if your baby gets fussy about cutting down comfort sessions and demands to be breastfed even after a solid meal, distract him with toddler activities.

Reading a book to your baby is a good activity, to begin with. Engaging the baby in different toddler activities helps reduce the baby’s dependency on breastfeeding.

how to stop breastfeeding

5. Make Formula or Solids be the Primary Choice of Food

After you’ve successfully reached a better stage of weaning, try and sabotage breastfeeding completely. The next time your baby is hungry, prefer solid food or formula over breastmilk.

Use baby food to deal with his hunger even when you’re outdoors. This will soon help your baby assign solid food and the formula with hunger over breastfeeding.

# Wrapping up

This is the very right and simple way if you’re wanting to stop breastfeeding. Doing it gradually goes a long way. But this simple procedure is for moms who had a peaceful breastfeeding journey.

There is still a lot to cover in weaning like:
  • stopping breastfeeding before 6 months
  • stopping breastfeeding after 6 months
  • weaning naturally over time
  • what if you need to stop breastfeeding immediately
  • can you continue to breastfeed if you want to get pregnant again

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