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May 22, 2024

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How to Start Weaning Your Baby

You personal weaning journey is a story of your baby and you — and getting Baby the ample nutrition his growing body needs.

Weaning your baby is a personal decision you can only make on your own. Early on, I decided I wanted to nurse my son until he turned 1. At the time, that was the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). And if you decide to go longer, good for you!
    I started the weaning process when my son, Townes, turned 1 on April 1, 2022 and we ended on June 5, 2022 just before I read the announcement that the AAP now was recommending breastfeeding until your baby is 2 years old. Sigh. Even so, I felt good about my decision to wean at age 1 for three main reasons:

Weaning Your Baby

— I was ready to have some bodily autonomy back. As much as I cherished the bonding that came with breastfeeding, I was ready to move on. I was ready for a life with Townes that came with a bit more independence.

— He was getting ample nutrition from all the solids he was already eating. He was such a good eater, and I’d also stocked up on frozen breast milk for him to continue enjoying.

— I didn’t want to wait until he had a harder time with the separation. At age 1, Townes was fairly distractible. I felt that if I waited longer it may have been more difficult for him to break away from our feeding sessions. I’d seen that happen with other moms who breastfed longer, and I wanted to avoid it.

I feel so lucky to have breastfed for as long as I did. Many moms have difficulties outside of their control with their milk supply. Others cannot breastfeed because of work-life obligations that make it unsustainable. It’s also perfectly fine to decide that it isn’t the right choice for you for any reason whatsoever, in my opinion.

weaning your baby

How We Weaned:

— I dropped a feeding every five days. You’ll read recommendations that say it is best to drop a feeding every three to five days. For Townes and me, five days seemed to work well.

— I dropped the feedings that would be the least difficult for my baby first. If your baby is really attached to that just-before-bedtime feeding don’t start with that one. And if you are still nursing your babe to sleep for naps and bedtime, slowly move away from that before you start weaning.

—  Though I was dropping feedings, I continued to pump once a day to to help my body adjust. If you find your breasts getting really full or uncomfortable, use your pump. The idea with this was to get Townes used to being away from the breast, but also having some of mama’s milk handy in case he wanted it.

Our Schedule:

That “midnight snack” — he was already starting to skip it, anyway.

4 p.m. dinner feeding — he was already really focused on solids during this time of day.

The morning feed around 5:30 a.m.  we were already kind of skipping this when he slept through it (praise be).

Noon feeding

Bedtime feeding — by this point, I had gotten away from feeding him to sleep, so it wasn’t so painful for him.

8 a.m. morning feed — When he first saw me in the morning upon waking, he would definitely want that closeness and nourishment, so that’s why I saved it for last. And I vividly remember that last feeding just before going to a local festival. We were going out for the day, and as I fed him, I really reflected on this last time being such a special moment, and what a privilege it was to feed my baby the way I had.

Was I Sad Afterwards?

I tried to focus on the perks of moving past breastfeeding, and I can honestly say Townes and I got through the process with minimal emotional pain/physical discomfort. He was always a baby who could easily skip a feeding without getting very fussy, which is why I really had to stick to a schedule to ensure I was feeding him every four hours when he was an infant. For weaning, I think having a plan like this one was helpful for us, and I hope it assists you in your own weaning journey!

 

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