All babies wean eventually. Some have to be weaned early because of circumstances beyond control. Some wean by themselves. In cultures where breastfeeding is the normal way of feeding a baby, many children nurse until 3 or 4. Some tandem nurse when a new baby is born. Different circumstances may bring up different issues for mom or baby.
When baby weans or must wean suddenly, and mom still has milk, the goal is to reduce milk supply comfortably and safely. Some measures are well known such as wearing a supportive but non-binding bra, using cool packs such as disposable diapers that have been wet and then frozen, cabbage leaves that have been crushed and placed on the skin of the breasts and changed out when limp. Hand-expression or very short pump sessions can be used to gradually reduce milk supply. This may take a week or more. When in the shower, stand with your back to the shower. Only express milk if absolutely necessary. Herbal remedies for drying up milk include peppermint, sage, oregano, lemon balm, chickweed and black walnut. Sudafed is an over the counter medication that has been shown to decrease milk production in mothers 6 weeks or more past delivery. It can take months for breasts to completely involute. Once breasts are comfortable, avoid hand-expressing “just to see”, as this may stimulate additional milk production for some women.
If baby did not choose to wean, but weaning is necessary, and she is 6 months or under, consider paced or baby-led bottlefeeding to allow him or her to be in control of the feeding as much as possible. See my printable <> for instructions on this method of feeding. For older babies, try a sippy cup without the spill-proof valve, a straw cup etc, These may be preferred. If you are using formula, see my printable <> for safe handling of formula.
If your baby is older and you are preparing for weaning at a later date, start by limiting your feeding locations to a special area or chair. If you are nursing your baby to sleep at night, begin to develop a bedtime ritual that can be continued after weaning. Turn on white noise, rub his back and rock after you take him off the breast. If possible, as you get closer to planned weaning date, start the back rubbing and take him off the breast but hold him close as he falls asleep. Trust your instincts. The biggest hurdle is to have clear in your mind why you want to wean and when you want to wean. Start a bedtime ritual that can be transitioned to not include breastfeeding as soon as you feel it is helpful. Every child is different.
The Relationship Goes On
The close relationship you have started with breastfeeding can easily transfer to other activities that will provide comfort through your child’s senses. Touch, warmth, soothing sounds can all happen with you, even when breastfeeding is over. And the benefits of a strong immune system will last as long as he lives!
For Helpful Information on Introducing Solids –
Check out this website: http://www.babyledweaning.com/