The weaning process for your little angel starts the moment you feed something other than the breast-milk. It may be mashed banana or an infant formula. The moment you introduce outside food items to your baby is the moment you start weaning him/her from breast-milk. The breast milk is supposed to remain a baby’s primary food until six months of age. Hence, the natural process of weaning is not supposed to start until your baby reaches this age. However, there is no hard and fast rule regarding this age. You are the only person capable of making the right decision as you understand your baby’s behavior better than anyone.
When do babies naturally wean?
If I speak from my personal experience, then I shall give three instances to show how babies behave differently. I joined my current profession when my child was 11 months old. I started the weaning process at that moment; however, my little girl refused to let go till she was 2-1/2-year-old. My child was ingesting formula milk for four months of age. Despite this fact, it was not easier for me to wean my child off the breast-milk. It became a habit for her and she refused to let go of this habit which brought her comfort at bedtime. Hence, my baby weaned off breast-milk at 2-1/2 years of age. It was natural for her.
For second and third instances, I may use my sister’s experience with her two children. My sister’s eldest refused to consume breast-milk after only four months of age. Hence, my niece’s natural weaning process happened at four months of age. The weaning age for my sister’s younger child was at one year of age. My nephew started feeding on the formula milk when he was six months’ old; however, he was fully weaned off the breast-milk at one year of age.
These examples show that the weaning age for children differs based on their personal inclinations. The introduction of formula milk may or may not have any influence on the weaning process. However, it is essential to avoid abrupt weaning, as it may affect a child’s physiology and psychology. And every child psychologist attests to this fact.
Gradual Weaning Process
I had to follow the gradual process of weaning since my child refused to stop nursing. If you face the similar problem, then the tips mentioned below may help you wean a child off the breast-milk. It is a time-consuming process that may bring discomfiture for the children. They may become fussy and show tantrums. My little girl threw tantrums with screaming and crying. Hence, it is essential for the mothers to have patience throughout the weaning process.
The infants can have outside food items, such as soft fruits or cereals, after 6-8 months’ age. This change in food habit may lead to natural weaning of the breast-milk. However, my child refused to go through this natural weaning process. Hence, I decided to skip the feeding. It is the first step towards mother-led weaning process. My little girl received breast-milk only during bedtime after she was 11 months old. At first, she had a problem going to sleep without breast-milk. However, she accepted the fact after one or two months’ time.
You can start feeding your child formula milk or cereal formulas instead of breast-milk. It also brings variety into a child’s feeding time and your baby may wean off breast-milk on his/her own. You may even introduce a fruit or home-cooked meal to a child after he/she becomes one year old. It is essential to follow a pediatrician’s instructions when you first introduce your child to outside food items.
Shortening Feeding Time
Alongside skipping major feeding times, I also shortened the nursing time for my child. I started doing this skipping the breastfeeding for two weeks. It gave my child another jolt towards the weaning. My little girl used to nurse for 15 minutes at a stretch. I shortened the nursing period to 10 minutes’ time for the first two months and I further reduced the nursing time to five minutes after that period. This relaxed process helped my child cope with the entire weaning process.
Separate Sleeping Arrangements
Apart from shortening the nursing time, I took another important step which yielded an excellent result. I could not sleep without my little girl and this led to bedtime feeding. I could not wean my child off the breast-milk due to this habit despite the steps. Hence, I decided to maintain a separate sleeping arrangement of my little girl. It was not an easy task, as the transition was hard on both of us. However, my child could sleep without me at least for a few hours after a few months’ efforts. This decision put an end to the bedtime feeding and I could completely wean my child off the breastfeeding.
Distraction & Reasoning
It took my little girl 2-1/2-years to let go of the habit of nursing. It is a late time for a child to start weaning, as the natural weaning process is supposed to start at six months of age. However, some children refuse to continue nursing until three years of age. This habit may become a nuisance for mothers. My friend’s wife experienced a similar situation with their little girl. It was troublesome for them to travel with their child, as the girl refused to sleep without breastfeeding. In these scenarios, the parents may try to reason with their children. The kids develop a sense of reasoning as soon as they start understanding the meaning of the words. The reasoning ability of the kids may vary; however, it usually starts from 1-1/2-years of age.
The parents of a toddler may start explaining why it is important for him/her to wean. You may even distract your child with something that piques your kid’s interest. You may even promise to reward your child with her favorite treats to motivate her towards weaning. The renowned child psychologists attest to the effectiveness of the weaning processes. My friend’s wife followed the distraction method upon the suggestion of a psychologist. She started distracting her little girl whenever she nagged at her for nursing. She used her favorite games or TV shows as the prop for distraction. In the beginning, the thought of nursing left the child’s mind for a few minutes. This duration started to extend after a few months’ time. This little girl was finally able to stop nursing at 3-year-and-5-month of age.
Doctors and nutritionists declare a child fit for weaning at six-month to one year of age. Hence, this period is considered ideal for the natural weaning process. However, the scenarios prove that the time for weaning varies from one child to another. It is hard to predict a perfect weaning period for every mother. I could determine the proper weaning period for my baby and you can predict the same for your child. However, it is prudent not to let a baby nurse for more than two years. It becomes problematic to wean a child after that age.
According to child psychologists, it is equally essential to refrain from weaning during the major lifestyle changes. You may change the household or pursue separation from your partner during the weaning process. These changes work as psychological stressors in a child’s life. The weaning process may add to this stressor. It may lead to tantrums or depression in a child. Hence, it is prudent not to continue weaning during major lifestyle changes. My cousin went through the similar situation after the separation. Her child’s pediatrician suggested postponing the weaning process for a few months to bring some comfort to the child. This judicious decision kept my nephew calm during this change in his life. Hence, you may consult with your child’s pediatrician to determine the ideal time for weaning.