When to stop breastfeeding, and what’s the right time to do it? Read on for practical and necessary weaning advice.
Once you’ve grown to a pro at breastfeeding, this question comes across every mom – how long should you continue? three months? six months? one year? or several years? If you, just like, every other great mother, are finding the answer to when to stop breastfeeding, I’m confident you’re on the right page.
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Breast milk is the best source of food for your child from the moment she’s out of your womb. It is her first food and will be the major source of nutriment 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
The World Health Organization (WHO) and other health bodies recommend that babies should be fed entirely on breast milk for their first six months of life and continue having their mother’s milk alongside other foods – known as complementary foods – until at least the age of two.
Anthropologists guesstimate that the natural age for mothers to stop breastfeeding is two. Some even say it could be two to four years looking at factors like body weight, tooth development, comparison with other primates and historical evidence.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding completely until the baby is at least six months old, and then gradually adding solid foods while continuing to breastfeed until the baby is one year or older.
Who do you follow? Who do you listen to? Let’s find out.
When to Stop Breastfeeding and start Weaning your baby?
Weaning is the transition in the baby’s and the mother’s life from “breastfeeding” to “not breastfeeding”. The first move towards weaning is adding complementary foods alongside your breast milk around the age of six months.
“After six months, your baby starts to necessitate higher levels of certain nutrients – such as iron, zinc, and vitamins B and D – that she can’t get from your breast milk or her own reserves alone,” explains the UK health visitor and nurse Sarah Beeson.
“But solid food will only complement your baby’s milk intake to start with and replace it gradually. Breast milk will remain her major source of nutrients for many months to come.”
An average seven-month-old still gets 93% of her daily calories from breastmilk. Even at 10 to 16 months, breast milk may still provide around half of her daily calorie intake.
Mothers tend to think that breast milk isn’t so crucial once their toddler starts eating solid foods, but in fact, there’s no better energy source than milk for her, however old she is.
Indeed the entire weaning process can take as long as the mother and baby want it to. “When to stop breastfeeding” is always gonna be your choice. Never feel pleasured by what your mom friends are doing or what family members or even strangers say.
All that matters is what feels right for you and your baby!
How to stop Breastfeeding?
- Replace breastmilk with formula
- Leverage your baby’s interest in solid food
- Replace comfort feed with activity
- Give a pacifier at night
- Let formula or solids be the first choice of food
Whenever it is that you choose to start weaning your child off breast milk, do your best to make it gradual. “Gradual weaning, by phasing out one feeding or pump session every few days, is usually a good way to start,” says Radcliffe.
Weaning from breastfeeding in a measured and steady way can help avoid engorged breasts and also reduce the risk of clogged ducts or mastitis (an infection of the milk ducts).
Stopping breastfeeding suddenly is an abrupt change that could affect your baby’s immune and digestive systems. It also can be difficult for both the mother and the baby emotionally.
# Wrapping up
The crucial reason behind this article was to give you an idea of when to stop breastfeeding and I feel I’ve covered it up for you. There are many more questions about weaning which require your undivided attention.
I’ll be covering these topics in the next article:
- How to stop breastfeeding (explained thoroughly)
- Stopping Breastfeeding before six months
- What if you need to stop breastfeeding quickly?
- Can you continue breastfeeding if you want to get pregnant again?
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