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How to Wean Your Breastfed Baby with No Fuss

Last night, I breastfed for the last time. This post has been in the works for a few months as I knew that the day was coming, however, honestly I didn’t realize that it would be so soon. I thought I would nurse my son for a little longer and share about how to wean your breastfed baby with no fuss when he was closer to 16 months old. But, as we know all too well as moms, these children have minds of our own. He was ready.

Just two weeks after my son’s first birthday, our breastfeeding journey has come to an end. I’m ecstatic. I’m planning for him to be my last baby, so I’m excited to toss my nursing bras into the giveaway pile and never even look at a Boppy pillow again. I’m also already feeling nostalgic. I know I’ll miss those precious moments holding my littles close, providing them with nourishment, and creating the sweetest bond. I think it’s normal to feel both. If you’re a mom who is preparing to wean your breastfed baby and feeling a multitude of emotions, know that it’s totally normal. You can feel excited that something is over while also feeling a twang of sadness that the chapter has come to an end.

How to Wean Your Breastfed Baby, Black woman/mom breastfeeding her son on the couch while wearing a "supermom" shirt

I nursed both of my children for 16 and 12 months, respectively. Neither of them went from the boob to a bottle. Since they were both eating solids and drinking cow’s milk when I stopped nursing, they went from breastfeeding to drinking 100% from a cup. I followed the same weaning strategy with both of them. Both times, weaning was easy. There were no tears, no clawing at my shirt trying to get to the breast, and no engorgement for me. I have how to wean your breastfed baby down to a science. If you’re ready to end your breastfeeding journey and want to do it with no fuss, follow my step by step method.

Wean Your Breastfed Baby in 4 Steps

Create a daily schedule for your baby

Long before you’re ready to wean your breastfed baby, it’s a good idea to create a realistic daily schedule that includes feeding times as opposed to feeding on demand. I fed both of my babies on demand until they were about 5 months old, so there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. However, as your little one starts to mature, a routine will be helpful for both of you.

This schedule does not need to be super detailed or precise. For example, it can be as simple as “wake-up, nurse, play, solids, nap, nurse, play, solids, nap, nurse, play, solids, nurse, bedtime” and doesn’t need to include specific times. The important thing is that your baby starts to learn when he or she will be allowed to nurse during the day (i.e., I nurse after I wake-up and before I go to sleep). When it’s time to wean your breastfed baby, having this routine solidified will make your job much easier.

Cut out middle of the day feeds first

With your daily routine in mind, the next thing you want to do to wean your breastfed baby is to cut out your day time nursing sessions, leaving the morning and evening feeds. You can either do this all at once, or, you can do it one at a time. During the times that you would usually nurse your baby during the day, you can offer water or a snack.

I began cutting out the middle of the day feeds for my children when they were about 10 months old. By this time, they were both enjoying a variety of solid foods and drinking water as well. They would have solids before nap time, then, after nap time, I would wake them up and offer water and a small snack, like puffs or a teething cracker, before their next solid meal. I found that offering a snack that they enjoyed made the transition really easy. I also distracted them with their favorite toys, TV shows, or activity for the first few days.

Prepare a morning snack to replace the morning feed

Babies usually wake up pretty hungry and are accustomed to nursing as soon as they rise in the mornings. As a result, eliminating the morning feed can be a bit more difficult than taking out those middle of the day feeds. It’s also more difficult for mama as I know many of us are accustomed to bringing baby into our bed to breastfeed first thing in the morning to enjoy a few more minutes of quiet time before getting the day started. Although we all love those sweet morning cuddles in the morning, to wean your breastfed baby with no fuss, you have to cut those out, at least initially.

Combat baby’s morning hunger by preparing a snack to replace the morning nursing session that he or she is used to. I’ve found that a heavier snack like yogurt, a puree pouch, or diced fruit works well to satiate them until breakfast time. You want to have this ready to go as soon as your baby wakes up, which may require that you wake up a little bit earlier to prepare it. If it’s not ready, your baby may want to breastfeed and get fussy, which is what we are trying to avoid.

Have another caretaker take over the evening routine

There is something about nursing your baby right before bedtime that is special. It has always been my favorite feed of the day, which is probably why for me, it’s always been the last one to go. With my son, this feed was eliminated naturally. I noticed that after I followed the 3 previous steps, he just became less and less interested with breastfeeding before bed. His feeds became shorter and shorter. He started handing my books to read to him during the time I would usually pick him up to nurse, skipping that step in our bedtime routine all together. I followed his cues and didn’t have to do much of anything to cut out our final feed.

Contrarily, I did have to be more intentional about cutting out my daughter’s bedtime nursing session. To wean your breastfed baby with no fuss, the easiest way to cut out the last feed is to have someone else handle bedtime for a few days. Have your partner or another caretaker step in to take over the entire bedtime routine for a few days. I’ve found that without you in the room, as long as your baby is full and the rest of the bedtime routine is followed as it usually would be, breastfeeding is out of sight, our of mind. I had my husband takeover our daughter’s bedtime routine, and she didn’t even seem to miss nursing as long as Daddy read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom twice through in his silliest voice before putting her down for the night.

Wean your breastfed baby in 4 steps

How to Wean Your Breastfed Baby with No Fuss – From YOU

Breastfeeding a baby for 12 months equates to spending around 1800 hours with your baby on your boob. That’s a lot of time and a lot of dedication. Nursing becomes one of the most important parts of your life during your breastfeeding journey, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when it’s time to wean your breastfed baby, you may deal with mixed feelings. Know that those mixed feelings are normal – and even scientific. You may experience a hormonal change when you stop nursing as prolactin and oxytocin levels lower. Give yourself grace as you physically, mentally, and emotionally adjust.

You likely won’t deal with too much engorgement if you wean your breastfed baby using the gradual, step by step method explained above. However, if you do find your breasts feeling full and need to release milk, try to hand express if possible. Using a breast pump (unless you want to have pumped milk on hand) is going to signal to your body to produce more milk, and if your goal is to end your breastfeeding journey, you want the opposite. Hand express just enough milk to ease your discomfort and you will notice that your supply will start to even out and, eventually diminish.

My last piece of advice, mamas, is to document memories of your breastfeeding journey as you approach the end. I know that it may feel strange to take photos and videos of yourself nursing, but I love looking back on my time as a breastfeeding mom and remembering with pride how beautiful of an experience I had being able to nourish my babies. Capture the moments and thank your body for serving you and your baby well.

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