The mother should only stop breastfeeding after the baby’s 2 years of age and in order to do so, she must reduce breastfeeding and its duration, to gradually start the weaning process.
The baby should exclusively breastfeed until 6 months, not receiving any other food until this stage, but the mother should continue to breastfeed until the child is at least 2 years old, as breast milk is ideal for good growth and baby development. See other incredible benefits of breast milk .
Although it is not always easy to stop breastfeeding for the mother or baby, there are some techniques that facilitate weaning, such as:
1. Decrease feedings and play with the baby
This care is important because, by decreasing the number of times the baby is breastfeeding, the production of breast milk also decreases at the same rate and thus the mother does not have heavy and full breasts.
For this to be done without harming the mother and baby, it is possible, from the baby’s 7 months onwards, to replace a feeding schedule with a meal.
Example: if the baby eats the baby food for lunch, he should not breastfeed during this period, neither an hour before nor an hour later. At 8 months, you should replace the snack, for example, and so on. Normally, from 1 year of age the child can start eating the same meal as the parents and, in this period, the mother can start to breastfeed only when the baby wakes up, before the baby’s breakfast and when the baby baby goes to sleep in the afternoon and at night.
2. Decrease the duration of feedings
Another good technique to end the breastfeeding period without trauma is to decrease the time the baby breastfeeds at each feeding.
However, the baby should not be forced to leave the breast, it is important that the mother keeps the same time as before to continue to give attention to the baby after the feeding, playing with him, for example. So the baby starts to associate that the mother is not only for breastfeeding, but that she can also play.
Example: if the baby is around 20 minutes on each breast, what you can do is let him breastfeed only 15 minutes on each breast and, every week, decrease this time a little more.
3. Ask someone else to feed the baby
It is normal that when the baby is hungry, it associates the mother’s presence with the desire to breastfeed. Thus, when the mother has difficulty feeding the baby, instead of the breastfeeding, it may be a good option to ask someone else, such as the father or grandmother, to do this.
If the baby still wants to breastfeed, the amount of milk he will drink should be less than normal.
See also how the introduction of new foods for the baby should be .
4. Do not offer the breast
From the age of 1 the child can eat almost everything and, therefore, if he is hungry he can eat something else instead of breastfeeding. A good strategy to facilitate weaning is that the mother does not offer the breast or wear blouses that facilitate the baby’s access to the breast, breastfeeding only in the morning and at night and, when she is close to 2 years of age, only offer at these times if the child asks.
Example: if the child wakes up wanting to play, the mother does not need to take her out of the crib and breastfeed, she can leave the child playing in the kitchen while preparing her baby food, but if the child looks for the breast, the mother should not refuse it abruptly, trying to distract the child first.
When to wean
The mother can choose when to stop breastfeeding, but it is better for the child to be breastfed at least until the age of 2 and should only stop breastfeeding from that age.
However, the number of feedings during the day should gradually decrease from the baby’s 7 months onwards to facilitate weaning and the complications that may occur, such as stone milk and mastitis, and the feeling of abandonment that may arise in the baby.
In some cases, the woman may have to stop breastfeeding in order not to harm the baby’s health as in the case of having chickenpox, herpes with lesions in the breast or tuberculosis. Read more at: When not to breastfeed .
When to stop breastfeeding at night
Generally, the last feeding of the day, which happens before the baby goes to sleep, is the last to be taken, but when the baby learns to sleep alone and no longer needs the breast to calm down, it is a good time to stop offering the breast before to sleep. But this is a process that can take months before weaning is complete. Some babies can go up to 2 or 3 days without breastfeeding and then look for the breast, staying only a few minutes. This is normal and is part of the baby’s development, what should not be done is saying ‘no’ or fighting with the child.
Another mistake that can harm weaning is to want this process to happen very quickly. When the baby suddenly stops breastfeeding he may miss the mother and feel abandoned and this can also have unpleasant consequences for the woman because the milk accumulated in the breast can cause an infection.
How to feed the baby who stopped breastfeeding
Usually the baby starts to eat solid foods between 4 and 6 months of life, and up to 1 year of age, he can go on eating his baby food intercalated with the feedings or the bottle. Here ‘s what to give your 6-month-old baby to eat .
After 1 year of life, the baby can breastfeed or bottle only when he wakes up and before going to sleep at night. At all other meals he should eat vegetables, fruits, lean meats and dairy products, as long as he has no food allergies or intolerances. See how the baby should be fed from 1 year .
If the baby suckles up to 2 years of age, at this stage he should already be used to eating everything, making meals at the table, with the same food as the parents, and therefore when the breastfeeding ends, there will be no need supplement, only taking care to always offer healthy and nutritious food so that the child can grow up healthy.