#1: Be Flexible
Weaning is best when done gradually. Child-led weaning is great because you nurse until your child is developmentally and emotionally ready to stop. But child-led is not strictly initiated by the child-moms (and dads) still play a major role in guiding their child through the weaning process.
With child-led weaning, you guide your child to seek out other means of comfort and nutrition besides breastfeeding, all the while taking your child’s pace and feelings in consideration. Drop one nursing session at a time. If your child is overly distraught and is pleading to nurse, let her.
Look for signs that weaning is going to fast for your child. Signs may include clinginess, increased night waking, separation anxiety, refusal to eat, new thumb sucking or use of a pacifier, sudden biting or withdrawal. If you notice any of these signs, slow down and offer the breast.
#2 – Cut Out One Nursing at a Time
Cut out the least important nursing session of the day. You can either forgo it completely and offer your baby a distraction (reading a book, playing, a bottle of water, snack etc.) or work on shortening that session down to nothing. Aim to eliminate one feeding every 3 to 7 days for your comfort. If your child is happy and not too bothered by the decrease in breastfeeding, you know you’ve found your weaning cadence. If your baby is miserable, he might not be ready to wean, or at least not at the pace you’re aiming for.
#3: “Don’t Offer, Don’t Refuse”
Weaning can be hard on a child. Nursing is much more than nutrition-it’s about comfort and relaxation. It feels good for all involved. Therefore, your child may have a hard time with weaning.
“Don’t offer, don’t refuse” is a method of weaning that is based on your child’s needs. This method can take awhile, but your child still gets the benefits of nursing on demand. You don’t offer your breast but you don’t tell your child “no” when she wants to nurse. Many moms naturally follow this method as their children grow older.
#4: Replace One Comfort with Another
If you want to move past the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” stage, try substituting a fun activity for nursing. Some babies want to nurse out of boredom. Give them something else to do. Read a book, give your child a cup or some solid food, go outside, provide some non-nursing cuddle time, play with a favorite toy or go on an outing.
Don’t wait until your child is pleading to nurse before you offer distractions. Try to anticipate it and engage him in an activity before he can tap your chest to nurse. Choose an unimportant breastfeeding session, not one at night or first thing in the morning. Eventually your child will lose interest in nursing (believe it or not).
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