Interestingly, the word “wean” means “passage,” as in a passage from one relationship to another. It doesn’t mean the loss of something. Weaning doesn’t mean you’re taking something away from your baby, or forcing her to go through something traumatic. It just means your arrangement is going to change.
Weaning should be a gradual, baby-led change that begins when you offer the first food that isn’t your breast, and ends when you officially stop nursing. It’s not an all-or-nothing, cold turkey situation.
Here is how you’ll know your baby is ready to wean.
1. After baby is one year old.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend that mothers exclusively breastfeed their children at least for the first six months, but ideally until they are one year old. You can continue nursing for as long as you like afterwards, but I truly feel that first year is important. The benefits are just too great to miss out on.
2. When baby is interested in your plate.
It’s easiest to wean your baby when she leads the way. At some point your child will become interested in what’s on your plate. She’ll wonder why you get to put things in your mouth when you’re always taking things out of hers. If the food is appropriate, let her try (keeping in mind the risk of choking). Once she begins to experience flavors, she’ll insist on grown up food and might even wean herself without realizing.
3. When baby has the necessary coordination.
There’s no tell-tale sign for this, so you’ll have to investigate yourself. Your baby should have the necessary skills to manipulate her mouth to actually swallow the food. Sure, there’s going to be some mess at first, but she should have some idea how to make things work. She should also be able to sit up reliably on her own for ten to fifteen minutes and hold her head steady.
4. She’s well and not teething.
If the weaning has to start for reasons out of your control (perhaps you have to back to work so baby needs to learn to feed from the bottle), you’ll want to make the transition as smooth a possible by doing when other stress-inducing factors aren’t present. If your baby is sick or experiencing teething pain, she’ll want the breast for comfort and security. Try to pick a different time.
Guest Blog by Sandy Clark, Inventor of San Diego Bebe Eco-Nursing Pillow
San Diego Bebe® was designed by San Diego native Sandy Clark, a passionate breastfeeding advocate and mother of twins. Clark was inspired at a San Diego beach one day where she witnessed a young mother unsuccessfully nursing her baby. As the mother struggled to keep a blanket across her shoulder for privacy while her baby wailed from heat and hunger, Clark vowed then and there to design a product that would help resolve the issue of discretion while nursing in public. San Diego Bebe® was born that day.
After Clark read a recent Duke University study on toxic chemicals in baby products, she sent her nursing pillow to Duke to be tested and reviewed. Duke University Chemical Scientist Dr. Heather Stapleton, the nation's leading fire-retardant research specialist, and a new mother herself, said, “It's wonderful to find a nursing pillow on the market that is not treated with chemical flame-retardant additives in the filling material. San Diego Bebe® Eco-Nursing Pillow is not only a very supportive pillow with amazing features for discreet nursing, but is also free of flame-retardant chemicals that have been shown to cause adverse health effects in animal studies. I applaud this manufacturer for taking steps to produce high quality products that meet the same flammability standards without using these chemicals.”
San Diego Bebe® Eco-Nursing Pillow is the healthiest and most innovative nursing pillow on the market. Made with virgin Eco*Loft™ fiber, a non-toxic and hypo-allergenic foam-alternative, it’s void of harmful chemicals. It’s also recyclable and eco-friendly. San Diego Bebe® is available in two versions, for nursing one baby or twins. The entire line is baby-safe, and is covered with deluxe plush fabrics including organic cotton.
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