Weaning Your Infant
When a baby is making a transition from milk to other forms of nourishment it is called weaning. This can be an emotional time for both child and mother and it is important to remember that there is no one-way to wean your child from the breast. Every mother’s decision to wean can vary, from obligations at work to considering the health of the child. Timing and readiness can be crucial to success of weaning. This isn’t a process that occurs over night and all mothers’ can expect to become frustrated at some point. There are several suggestions that can be beneficial to any mom trying to wean their nursing child.
Some organizations, like the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend feeding breast milk to children only for the first six months of their life. Others use a child’s first birthday as a marker for the best time to begin weaning, due to the fact children are more mature by this point. By the time a child reaches the age of one, he or she is eating more solid foods, which will naturally take up more of the child’s interest than nursing. As the demand for breast milk dramatically decreases, mothers will experience a decrease in the production of milk.
Sometimes, weaning takes time and patience. It is a phase every child and mother goes through with the decrease of breastfeeding. Depending on one’s personal preference, some mother’s choose to breastfeed during the day, while weaning at night. There is no correct answer and sometimes adapting to your own personal schedule can be best for weaning. A child will often surprise its mother by weaning itself earlier than expected, while others will oppose weaning long after their first birthday. As a mother, try to be adaptable and conscientious of the needs of your child. Nothing needs to be rushed, or forced and the more relaxed the weaning process is, the better it will be for both mother and child.
The key to successful weaning is to proceed with caution. This can be an unpleasant experience not only for your child, but also for you. Mothers are at risk for developing engorgement as well as mastitis. Mastitis is a painful condition in which pain, hardness, and redness occur in your breast. In generally only afflicts one breast, but can cause fever and flu-like symptoms. It is also important to minimize feeding to once a day over a period of weeks. Start by eliminating the nursing session that is least important to your child’s emotional state.
Giving your child a substitute for the best can be important to the weaning process. Formula may be necessary for children still needing the nutritional value of milk. A bottle can be exactly what a child needs to get to sleep at night. This is a valuable tool in helping your baby rely on something besides your breast. If your child is over one year old, ensure that he or she is eating a wide assortment of foods and is drinking plenty of fluids.
Giving your baby extra affection during this stressful time is also important to comforting your child during the weaning phase. Your child feels vulnerable and stressed at this time and needs the love and support of its mother. The best way to show your support of your child is by keeping him or her entertained with excursions to the park, or coloring together. This will keep their attention on something else besides the weaning and will help relax them.
Remember, you are making as many adjustments as your child during the weaning phase. If any problems occur, consult your doctor immediately to help address the problem. You are responsible as a mother for your child’s health and although this time can be stressful, it can also be a great bonding time for mother and child.
Sarah Danielson is a writer for Nursing School Scholarships where you can find jobs, scholarships, and nursing career descriptions.