Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Is it time to wean yet?

by Holli Shiro

When you’re ready to start weaning, weaning can be mother-led or baby-led, but often it is a combination of both, with the mother watching for cues that her child is ready to be nudged a little closer to weaning completely from the breast. Some moms may be ready to wean completely, others may be feeling overwhelmed by the number of nursing sessions in a day, but aren’t quite ready to wean completely. Cutting down on nursing sessions can help bring some balance back to her life. It is generally not advisable to wean abruptly since this can be traumatizing to the child and cause mom to be susceptible to plugged ducts and mastitis.   

Common weaning strategies
Nursing is about more than just nutrition for mother and child. For the child, it is a source of comfort and love, and as many experienced moms know, a quick nursing session can soothe an upset child, calm down an over-stimulated one or serves as a no-fail way to get their baby to sleep. When you are taking away this experience at the breast for your child, it needs to be replaced with something that conveys the same message of love and comfort.  

1.  Don’t offer, don’t refuse: you can stop offering nursing sessions, but at the same time, nurse if her child requests it or clearly needs it.

2.  Use distraction or substitution: if child asks to nurse, offer a snack or to read a book or play a game instead. You can also change parts of your daily routine to eliminate a predictable nursing time.

3.  Use delay:  if child asks to nurse, tell her you’ll do it after you finish the dishes or fold the laundry, etc. The child may forget about nursing by the time you are finished.

4.  Limit nursing sessions. You can set limits, such as only nursing at home, not in public or nursing for the duration of a song or to the count of 10. 

5.  Involve dad or other family member in distracting child from a nursing session you want to drop. Can be especially helpful at bedtime or first thing in the morning.

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