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How to Wean Your Baby Off Breastfeeding

Learn how to wean your baby off breastfeeding from lactation consultant Melissa K. Nagin in this Howcast video.


There comes the time for every mom and baby to wean. What is usually recommended is that you be a 100 percent sure that you're ready to do it. Many moms say I'm ready to wean because they were having a bad couple of days, and then later come to realize they really were not ready, emotionally, physically. So my recommendation is always to be a 100 percent, know full well I am absolutely ready to do this, the baby is absolutely ready to do this, and then you can start the process.

Ideally, we would have you go very slowly, we would do a gradual weaning. Abrupt weaning is not necessarily recommended. There are cases where we have to be if there is an emergency surgery, you know that you can't do this any longer, if all of a sudden you have to go through some major procedure, there are times where we're going to have to abruptly wean.

But if it's an issue of planning it out, then the gradual weaning is ideal. And usually we start to drop particular feedings, very slowly, we give maybe three or four days in-between, and then drop another, and then we see how our bodies are doing. Usually during this time, depending on how many you have left, if the baby hasn't naturally dropped already, you might need some ice packs once again, because you might end up with a little bit of engorgement, and that's fine, and that's normal.

But usually, when you want to look at which times of the day are going to be easier to drop, your supply peaks between 1:00 and 5:00 in the morning, and it wanes as the day goes on, so those morning ones are going to be a little more difficult to wean than the evening ones. So a lot of times people will say, which is the first one that I should drop, and usually it's a late afternoon one, or an early evening one that will sort of be easiest on, physically for you to be able to drop.

In most cases, the two hardest to drop are the first morning feed, and the one right before bed at night. But it depends on the baby situation, everybody's situation is very personal and very different. During these times, again, you're going to want to use a lot of comfort measure for yourself and for the baby. For yourself, you might need a lot of ice packs. If you are truly ready to wean, a product like Kavo cream, which is a cream that you put on the breast, I wouldn't recommend just for regular old engorgement, but only if you're ready to wean, will help to take the milk supply away. If you want to steep some sage tea, that can help as well. In very desperate cases, we can use Sudafed, but I don't recommend it on the average day, because it is a medication.

So in those cases, the Kavo cream and the sage tea should really help to diminish your supply, and to make you more comfortable. For the baby during this time, we're going to need some sort of transitional object, so whether it's a little bunny, or a little tiny, you know, special something for them to go to sleep with, to be able to carry over, I would start using that soon. Sooner rather than later in order to make the whole process a lot easier on the baby as well.

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