Breastfeeding is an important part of a baby’s development and has a number of health benefits. From preventing any illnesses to reducing medical costs, breastfeeding is good for both, the baby as well as the mother. But at a certain moment, breastfeeding will have to come to an end and you will have to wean your baby. How do you find this right moment? Babies don’t come with a manual, and not all babies have the same set time to divert to other food sources. However, there are some signs a mother can look out for. Let’s go over these reasons and signs that indicate it may be a good time to stop breastfeeding.
Baby isn’t into breastfeeding anymore
Sometimes, a baby will start to self-wean. Indicators may be instances where the baby is more interested in drinking from a cup or is trying to eat solid foods. Typically, babies will not show signs of self-weaning until they are at least a year old. However, while hitting a certain milestone, a baby may show signs of disinterest. Examples are when the baby starts crawling, walking or teething.
Sometimes, disinclination to sit in one place for too long for older babies may cause the lack of interest in breastfeeding. Other reasons include times when the milk supply is low and all that effort isn’t worth the output. If all these reasons can be ruled out, it may be time to start with weaning.
Some moms are able to breastfeed for years while some may want to stop only after a few weeks and pain may usually be a reason for this. Although it isn’t supposed to hurt, sometimes it can. Cracked nipples, blistered nipples, mastitis etc. can make breastfeeding a difficult task. Contacting a lactation consultant to evaluate breastfeeding is a possible decision. There are also certain homemade formulations of creams that, when placed on the nipples will help them to heal faster.
Mom is tired more often
Breastfeeding is an arduous task and may leave the mom feeling exhausted. To support milk production, a mom needs to find enough hours in a day to eat and drink. However, the demands of daily life sometimes make this difficult. Breastfeeding also reduces vitamins and minerals from a woman’s body and moms usually lose bone mass over the course of their breastfeeding. Hence, it is understandable that a mom feels exhausted. When this exhaustion cannot be handled anymore, it may be time to try to get your little one accustomed to other food sources.
Baby is more interested in food
Introduction to solid foods may be seen as an instant reward by some babies. Babies don’t have to work as hard for the food as it is right there in front of them. If while breastfeeding, a baby is more interested in playing than feeding, it may be an indication of self-weaning but only for older babies.
Mom is taking medication
Certain medicines will be excreted in breast milk and reach the baby causing undesired effects on the baby. These include medicines like aspirin, codeine, phenylephrine, and others that have a drowsiness effect on the baby. Also, pseudoephedrine if taken by a lactating mother, may lead to a reduction of her milk supply. Babies cannot tolerate these doses and they will have an adverse effect on the babies’ health.
Also, compared to adults, these medicines will stay in the baby’s system for a longer duration. They are bad enough for the mother and if she is breastfeeding, these medicines will reach the baby too.
Mom is expecting
It is physically possible for a mother to breastfeed while pregnant, however, it may get especially tiring for the mom. Also, tender nipples caused by hormonal fluctuations will make breastfeeding harder than before. It is also a good idea to check in with your doctor if you are going to breastfeed while pregnant. You may need supplements like iron, calcium and vitamin B12. And also make sure to eat enough as breastfeeding while pregnant will increase your caloric requirements.
Weaning can be a pain-free experience for both you and your baby. It is a process that requires anywhere from a few days to weeks. Gradual weaning by reducing one session every few days is usually a good way to start.
If a baby is showing signs of self-weaning and you are ready to give him solid foods, babies will still need baby formula and alternative sources of hydration. Most pediatricians recommend starting cow milk only after a baby is at least 12 months old. The child’s pediatrician should be sought if the mother is concerned about her child’s milk consumption.