A.W. asks from Painesville, OH on May 14, 2007
Weaning - Willoughby,OH
My son is 8 1/2 months old I am planning on having him off breastmilk by his 1st birthday. I know this is a few months away but I was wondering if there is anything I need to start doing now in order for this to happen. Currently he nurses about 4-5 times a day and eats cereal in the morning, we try to have baby food for lunch but we always get baby food for dinner (mainly he eats breakfast and dinner that is not breastmilk). I previously wrote in about my son waking at night to nurse 3-4 times a night. Lately this has been improving however he still nurses at least two times a night, so, what will happen when we are done nursing and he is waking up in the night for it and it is just not there? Any advice on how to prepare for weaning would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!
M. answers from Cincinnati on May 15, 2007
Here's a great resource on all of the different weaning options:
And as far as planning on having him off breastmilk by 12 months, is there any reason you want to do this? In case you've never been encouraged to keep going, did you know that YOUR milk (human milk for human baby) is far more appropriate, healthy, and good for him, even at 12 months or 18 months or whenever you both are ready to wean, than any milk you might wean him to right now at 12 months (say, cow's milk for example, which is cow breastmilk intended for baby cows - the makeup is appropriate for baby cows, much less so for baby humans). Despite what any doctor or well-meaning relative might try to convince you, there is NO reason to wean your baby by 12 months - the health benefits for you (reduction in cancer risk and diabetes risk) as well as for your baby (too numerous to list here) last for as long as you continue to nurse. It is entirely normal, and biologically VERY expected (normal for our species), to nurse well beyond 12 months old if you and your son are enjoying the nursing relationship.
If you are ready to wean him, and you are sure that cutting down on nursing would not be an option you're interested in, you can certainly gradually wean him, though I truly wouldn't start that process until he reaches his 1 yr birthday - the American Academy of Pediatrics even states the breastmilk should be the *majority* of your baby's diet for at least the 1st *year* and even beyond if you and your baby are able and willing. At 12 months, if you want to wean, you can just gradually decrease the length of one nursing session by a few minutes each day until you've eliminated that feeding entirely, and continue to do this until there are no nursing sessions left. That will typically be most comfortable for mom's body (no hugely engorged breasts) and gradual/less abrupt/shocking to baby. However, you know yourself and your baby best - you will find the best way that works for the both of you, I am sure!
And a huge, huge congratulations for breastfeeding for 8+ months - our entire population would be more healthy if all moms committed to doing what you have done for yourself and your baby (and our environment) by breastfeeding! Yay, you!
1 mom found this helpful
A.W. answers from Mansfield on May 17, 2007
When I weaned my son, it was kind of hard. First of all, I would say that you need to try to cut atleast one of those night-time feedings now. All you have to do is when you get him out of his crib at night, don't nurse, just rock him and hold him. It will be hard b/c he'll probably get mad, but after a couple of nights he'll get the idea and stop waking up. I decided that I wouldn't nurse my son unless he woke up after 4:30, and then I would extend the time after he got used to it. This really works and you will be so happy to be sleeping all night!! The other thing that I would reccomend if at all possible is to pump and put the milk in a sippy cup for as long as you can. As soon as my little guy wasn't getting my milk anymore (15 months) he started getting colds ALL THE TIME!! If I had to do it over again, I would have done this to try and prevent the colds. He was so healthy while I was nursing and then...ugh! It was miserable! Good Luck!!
D.H. answers from Cleveland on May 18, 2007
I definatley agree that he needs to be eating more solids and soon i would introduce a sippy cup if you havent already. Having some dilluted apple juice will help with the digestion and elimination of the solids and get him used to self drinking. you can also put your milk in there as well. I did this with my daughter until she was 1 and when she turned one... she got up in the morning to nurse... did so for about 2 minutes , got down to grab a sippy cup and I said that was it. She was showing preference then and I let her make that choice. I was done as of that moment. She never returned and even when I held her the same way to nurse she never wanted it back. She became more independant with self drinking and that helped. I was so happy to get to the 1 year marker.
I hope this helps:)
M.N. answers from Cleveland on May 15, 2007
I also had all kinds of questions on how to wean my son. He is now 2 1/2 and I am nursing my 9 month old daughter and actually getting ready to think about weaning her too. I surfed the web for all and any kind of information that I could find. And one book that was really helpful was How Weaning Happens by Diane Bengson. It is a la lache league international book and really answers questions that I had. Basically, it is a natural process that just happens. You can try to force it, but at the same time that might be more stressful for you. My son did this pretty easy. He started to cut down on the amount of time that he nursed and then just started to cut back on the number of times he nursed. They tell you that you should try to cut back on the day time nursing before you do the bedtime one. And once you have done that, the bedtime routine can change from you nursing to a bottle/sippy cup of milk (if baby is over 1 years old) or water. My doctor suggested that when my daughter wakes up and is not necessarily hungry (she still wakes up about once a night - sometimes due to her teething right now) to give her a sippy cup with some water in it. However I have seen that sometimes she just needs the comfort of sucking to relieve her pain with her teeth.
My best advice is to just let your son lead the way. He is going to know how much he needs or when he has had enough. While it won't happen over night, but it won't take forever either. Good luck!! Let us know how it works out and if you need anything else!!
A.N. answers from Cleveland on May 15, 2007
I would first increase his solid food intake during the day. I wonder if he is hungry and waking at night to nurse. My daugher at three solid food meals at that age in addition to four breastfeedings, and she still wasn't gaining enough on that. I would give him at least three solid food meals in addition to his four to five breast feedings. Then, just increase his solid foods. If you want to wean by his first birthday, you are going to have to supplement with formula until you can give him cow's milk. Good luck!
M.S. answers from Columbus on May 16, 2007
I think a lot of us mentioned this before...he really needs to be eating more solids. By 8 1/2 months, he should be able to eat baby food 3x a day. If he is taking in the calories from the food, he won't need to nurse that much, so he will eventually be weaned. As for waking at night, that would be the reason why. At his age, he should be able to sleep at 6-8 hours straight without waking to eat. Also, introduce a pacifier, which will help with the need of sucking. Does he use a sippy cup or bottle at all? If so, you will be fine, just start giving him regular milk when he is 1 in the cup and/or bottle. If he isn't using a bottle/cup, start introducing it now. I'd suggest pumping your milk instead of always nursing him that way he will be used to taking milk from the bottle/cup, making the transition pretty easy.