When it’s time to move on from breastfeeding
Breastfeeding your child is a wonderful time of loving closeness, which may last for a few days or several years, but eventually comes to an end.
Authorities recommend breastfeeding for the first two years and beyond. There is no upper age limit, but it is important to introduce other foods when your child is ready, generally around 6 months.
So when is the right time to stop breastfeeding?
There are a lot of myths about the ‘right’ time to stop breastfeeding. It is not necessary to stop feeding if you are going back to work, if you are unwell, if your child is unwell, if your child starts solids or has teeth or if someone else suggests that you should. Rarely, on medical advice, you may be advised to wean for serious health conditions in mum or bub, but, in most instances, the right time to wean is when you (and bub) decide it’s time.
- If you don’t have a deadline, weaning over a few months can make the transition easier for you and for baby.
- Drop one daily feed at a time. Commonly the feed before bed or the first feed of the day is the last to go, but choose what seems easiest for you and bub. Sometimes it is bub who loses interest in one feed and then another over time.
- Drop every second feed for the first few days.
- If your breasts become engorged, express, but only enough for comfort. Cold packs can help reduce discomfort and swelling.
- Drop the remainder of the feeds in the next few days.
- Do give your baby lots of love, cuddles and reassurance.
A new stage
Weaning can be a very emotional time. Some mums are relieved to “have their body back”, while many mums also feel emotional or grieve the end of breastfeeding. Be kind to yourself, and congratulate yourself on the wonderful, loving parenting you have given your child so far.
As one door closes, another door opens to the next chapter in your parenting journey.