What is weaning?
Weaning is the term used to
describe the process of switching a baby from:
- Breast-feeding to
- Breast- or bottle-feeding to a
- Breast- or bottle-feeding to solid foods.
Your baby will go through one or more of these weaning
processes. All types of weaning usually work best when they are done
gradually—over several weeks, months, or even longer.
baby from the breast is a big change for moms as well as for babies. Besides
affecting you physically, it may also affect you emotionally.
Some moms feel a little sad to lose some of the closeness that
breast-feeding provides. But you will also have more freedom, because others
can feed your baby. Don't be surprised if you feel both happy and sad that your
child is becoming more independent.
How do you know if your baby is ready to wean?
Signs that a baby is ready to wean often appear after the baby has
learned to crawl or learned to walk. Your breast-feeding baby may suck a few
times and then stop nursing. He or she may just start to lose interest in your
Bottle-fed babies who are ready to wean may start spitting
out the nipple or throwing or hiding the bottle before it is empty. Your baby
may show more interest in drinking from a cup.
When is the best time to wean?
When to start weaning mostly depends on how ready you and your child are to start weaning.
Some breast-feeding moms aren't ready to give up the closeness
that breast-feeding brings. So they may delay weaning, even though their child is ready. Other moms are ready to wean sooner or have
responsibilities or life changes that make it necessary.
There is no right
or wrong time to start, and there's not a certain amount of time to take, except that it's best to wean your baby from a bottle by 18 months of age. Also, try not to start weaning when your child or your
family is under stress. Stress can range from cutting a new tooth to moving to
a new house or starting a new day care program.
What is the best way to wean a baby?
weaning is best for both babies and moms. Look for signs that your baby is
ready. When you are both ready, try dropping one feeding every 5 to 7 days.
This will help give you and your baby time to adjust to new ways of feeding. If
you are breast-feeding, gradual weaning helps keep your breasts from becoming
too full, a problem called
How do you meet your baby's nutrition needs while weaning?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the
- Breast-feed your baby for at least a year and as
long after a year as you and your child desire.
- Feed your baby breast milk or iron-enriched formula until he or she is 12 months of age. Be sure to meet the vitamin and mineral needs of children.
- Begin to introduce solid foods at 4 to 6 months of age to complement the breast milk or formula.
- Do not feed your baby cow's milk before 12 months of age.
You can also give your baby breast milk from a cup or a
What if your baby does not want to be weaned?
Sometimes a mother wants to stop breast-feeding but her baby seems to
want to keep it up. If you can, keep breast-feeding a while longer. Try
offering your milk or formula in a cup or bottle before you breast-feed or between
breast-feedings. There are also different bottle nipples you can try.
Some babies grow attached to the bottle and do not want to give it up.
Don't let your baby crawl, walk around, or go to bed with a bottle. Nighttime
feedings are often the hardest to give up. Try replacing that feeding with new
habits, such as reading a book or looking at the stars together.
Frequently Asked Questions