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Weaning Your Baby Off Breast Milk

We’ve all been to that dinner party where the host has insisted on plopping a generous serving of a rather tasteless-looking side to our plate.

“No, thanks,” you think.

But of course, you can’t say that. Instead, you accept this sweet token of suspicious nosh with a polite smile and a head full of regret. Only then, do you realise that this tragedy of a side is actually quite tasty?

It’s just the same when you move your baby from breast to bottle. Only, you won’t be received by a gentle smile and an air of acceptance. No, no. Your baby will make it amply clear that this transition isn’t what she had in mind at all. You’ll be challenged to cower down and withdraw this bizarre new phenomenon called the bottle. But hang in there, new momma. Weaning your little darling is an enduring process that will take time to master. Here, we give you a collection of tips and ideas on how to make the move as smooth as possible.

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Understanding Weaning

Weaning is the process of moving your baby from the breast entirely to alternative nutritional sources. The process marks a significant milestone for you and your baby and means that your baby’s dependence on you will reduce as a result of weaning.

Types of Weaning

Weaning isn’t governed by a sacred, inviolable timeline. Knowing when to wean your child should be based on cues that let you know that your baby is ready. Typically, doctors recommend new moms to breastfeed at least for the first year, after which they can make a decision about whether to continue. Weaning happens in two ways: baby-led weaning and mother-led weaning.

Baby-Led Weaning

Your baby will organically reach a stage where she begins to favour alternative nutritional sources. This will likely happen around or after the time you introduce your child to solid foods, anywhere between the four-month and twelve-month marks. Toddlers who are still on breast milk may exhibit restlessness while nursing, possibly because their energy levels are far higher than they used to be. This is a surefire sign that your child is ready to graduate from the breast to the bottle.

Mother-Led Weaning

Perhaps you’ve exhausted your quota of maternity leave and are headed back to work, or maybe you’ve got something else on your mind nudging you towards weaning. Either way, if you feel obliged to wean your baby before you notice any evident signs, it’s up to you to make the transition as gradual and easy as possible for your child.

Process of Weaning

Slow and steady, wins the baby. These methods should hold you up.

Wind Down Your Feeds

Reduce the number of breastfeeding sessions in a day gradually over several weeks, winding down the number little by little. Instead, give your baby expressed milk in a bottle or a beaker. If your baby is over a year old, you can even swap breast milk for regular cow’s milk. Avoid making the change an overnight one; your baby may not be ready.

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Reduce the Length of Feeds

Introduce your child to the idea of shorter feeds and end every feed with a healthy supplementary food source, like a bowl of mashed banana or a beaker of cow’s milk. This end-of-feed food will depend on your child’s age. Speak to a lactation consultant on Cloudnine to understand the range of foods you can give your child at the conclusion of a feed.

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Use Distractions

Once you’ve wound down your number of feeds to only a few times a day, you can resort to using distractions to postpone these feeds. Offer your baby alternatives like a cup of milk or a healthy snack. It’s also worthwhile to flavour your baby’s lips with a few drops of breast milk at the beginning of every bottle feed.

Making the transition from breast to bottle doesn’t have to be like that side on your dinner plate. By moving slowly, you can acquaint your little one to a world of nutrition easily and effectively. When you do, you’ll see that the move turns out to be easier on the palate than you thought, just like that unsavoury side you once wanted out.

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