The timeline of how long you should continue to breastfeed your baby is not set in stone. While WHO recommends breastfeeding for at least two years, some mothers continue to breastfeed way after that, and others stop after a year. You are the best judge of when to stop breastfeeding, because that decision rides on your personal circumstances, your health, your baby’s requirements, and so on. Irrespective of when you decide to take that leap toward weaning, the transition is going to be challenging. Finding the right answers to the all-important question of how to stop breastfeeding will help you make headway in the right direction.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to stop breastfeeding:
Don’t Stop Abruptly
Unless a medical condition or an emergency warrants it, it is not advisable to pull the plug on breastfeeding abruptly. Not only will this sudden change be too overwhelming for your baby but can also have potential health complications for you – breast engorgement, blocked ducts, and mastitis, to name a few.
Introduce Alternative Food Options before Stopping Breastfeeding
In case your baby has been exclusively breastfed, it is important to introduce alternative food options before you stop breastfeeding, so that your baby continues to get due nourishment. Fruit and vegetable purees, gluten-free cereals, clear soups made from lean meats and lentils are a good option to start with.
Skip One Feed at a Time
The one thing to know about how to stop breastfeeding is that phasing it out gradually is the healthiest and most natural process of weaning. Start by skipping one feed every few days, preferably starting with your baby’s least favourite feeding time, and keep up with this practice until your baby is completely off breastfeeding.
Decrease the Nursing Time
Along with skipping a few nursing sessions, decreasing the nursing time for every session is a key trick to learn when you are learning how to stop breastfeeding. So, if you have been feeding your baby for an average of 15 minutes per session, try to bring it down to 10 minutes, and then 5, and so on.
Make Use of Distractions
Distractions play a crucial role in the weaning process. Your child is bound to get cranky if denied a feed as per an established schedule, especially when you are trying to cut back on the night-time or pre-nap feeding session. Instead of getting frustrated over how to stop breastfeeding, keep your cool and make use of distractions. During daytime, you can try to engage your baby in a gameplay or take them out for a stroll in order to take their mind off the need to breastfeed. At night, singing lullabies, playing soothing music, giving your baby a light massage, or even rocking them to sleep may help.
The process of weaning your child off breastfeeding is not going to be easy. While it plays out differently for every mother, if there is one standard take away from the how to stop breastfeeding question, it is the need for patience. Hang in there, allow your baby and your body to adapt to this change, and this too shall pass.