Lean, Mean, Weaning Machine

I’m not one to tell a mother when she should stop breastfeeding, but there are some simple guidelines to follow.  For example, if your child can walk up to you and ask you for milk, it’s time to wean.  And if this happens during a cub scout meeting, step up the pace, will you?  In just a short amount of time you can become a lean, mean, weaning machine. 

Few moms are ever fully prepared for the emotional process of weaning.  One moment you’re fine, and then at breakfast you’re weeping into your oatmeal.  Like so many other situations in life, the proper attitude can help you peacefully survive. 

A baby is able to drink from a cup at five months old.  If you breastfeed for six months, you can wean from breast right to a CUP, eliminating the need to wean again from a bottle to a cup.  The weaning process is difficult enough – why go through it twice? 

Replacing one breast-feeding per week with a cup will make life easier for you and your baby.  If you try to do too much at once, your breasts will be sore.  One week at a time allows enough time for you and your baby to get used to the new schedule. 

During the first week, start with the feeding that is the easiest for both of you to replace, such as mid-morning.  Have a plan ready for your order of weekly feeding replacements, ending with the bedtime feeding.  Nighttime is the most special bonding time for you and your baby, so leave the toughest for last. 

As silly as it may sound, choosing the right cup for your baby can be challenging. Most cups are only “spill-proof” when they are stationary on the table.  As soon as your baby knocks it over, however, welcome to Niagara Falls! You may have to experiment before you find a cup you and your baby like.  Cups have different spouts, and some are easier to suck from than others. You should buy four cups and fill them all the night before, so you can grab one quickly from the fridge as needed. 

If you do not have a lot of free time, you can buy ready-to-pour liquid formula.  While these bottles are more expensive than powder, the convenience is well worth the extra money.  Sometimes you also have to shop around to find a formula your baby likes.  When a baby is one year old, you can switch from formula to milk.  Dairy is difficult for a baby to digest, so many parents experiment with alternative forms of milk. 

When you switch from formula, don’t continue to heat milk to the same temperature.  That could eventually result in a four-year-old who still wants her milk heated every morning.  Serve milk gradually cooler every week until she finally enjoys it cold. 

If you decide to focus on The Last Supper, you will become an emotional wreck.  Do not worry about your baby; she will have no memory of breastfeeding once weaned.  Even if you imagine your tormented baby wailing as she roots for your breast, she has already “moved on.”  In reality, Mommy is the only one who is upset.   

Sometimes the emotional outpouring will not hit you until several days after you have weaned your baby.  A few days after the completion of weaning, you might cry at the slightest things, such as running out of potato chips.  It’s okay to “grieve” the end of a special time with your baby, but get it all out at once and immediately change your focus.  The end of every stage also heralds the beginning of a new and equally special time.  As your child grows, she will model your attitude and level of excitement about various stages in her life.  After the weaning process has ended, a mom usually feels a surge of energy. Let your liveliness and enthusiasm be a positive influence as soon as possible in her life, even while she is still a baby.

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