How To Wean | Introduction
By now you’ve read all about weaning and when to wean, now it’s time for some tips on how to wean your baby. Weaning your baby can be tough, especially when you are already stressed about going back to work or have other big events happening in your life. This is particularly true for bottle weaning – when mums would like to stop breastfeeding for lifestyle or other reasons. Below I have provided all the tips and information on how to wean your baby that have helped other Aussie mums, and what we hope will help you as well!
At the outset, it’s important I say that we haven’t provided a step-by-step guide on how to wean your baby. Trying to do that would be extremely difficult to write, would make this topic 40 pages long and most importantly, would be doing you a disservice. This is because of how weaning is so subjective, and methods and tips are so interchangeable with other methods and tips. With this in mind, I have basically spelt out all the information you will need on how to wean in the most simple and understandable way so you can find what’s right for you and your baby.
How To Wean | General Tips
- Baby-led or Mother-led
At the end of the day it depends on what you want. If your bub starts reaching for your food at 5 months, then go for it, if not and you want to wait until 6 months, then do that. It’s important you do your own research and get medical advice on which way you’re thinking of going, especially if you’re thinking of plonking a pork chop in front of your bub and seeing if he likes it, like some baby-led weaning advocates say to do! Do what you feel is right – listen to your intuition. (See this great site if you are interested in finding out more about baby-led weaning: http://www.babyledweaning.com/ )
- Breast milk or formula until 12 months
Keep giving breast milk in-between solids (and formula if you like) as long as you can. The best way to do this if you are busy back at work or otherwise can’t nurse, is to express. Otherwise, formula is fine.
- Take it Slowly
Most baby healthcare professionals say the slower you undertake the weaning process, the more chances you have of success. In many cases where the baby rejects the bottle it’s because mum has needed to wean the baby quickly. That’s not to say that it is impossible to wean your baby in a few days, but it certainly makes it easier if you can afford to do it over a period of time. Think incrementally and the less ‘shock to the system’ the better. Do things like dropping one feed for a bottle, then slowly increase it after a few days to 2 feeds, and so on.
- Keep Trying
Research says that many babies need up to 10 times before they will try solids. Same goes with a bottle, so don’t give up because it’s all part of the process!
- Baby Food
What to feed is also up to you, but most doctors and healthcare professionals say start with soft pureed foods like pureed fruit or vegetables, and infant rice cereal and breast milk. Then you can slowly move onto more solid foods. To see what to feed your baby and when, see our age by age feeding guide HERE!
- Milk Supply
If you have been breastfeeding exclusively then your milk supply should be flowing well when you are ready to wean. This means that if you just suddenly stop, your breasts will fill up with milk and can become swollen and sore. This is called breast engorgement. You should never just totally stop breastfeeding and go straight to solids anyway (unless medically necessary , but if for some reason you are forced to, to avoid breast engorgement, you need to continue to express milk. Don’t worry to much about your milk drying up, but it is something to be conscious of. See tips on expressing milk HERE.
- Try Nursing Pads
When you start weaning your baby your breasts may fill up with milk if you are not feeding or expressing, this can cause milk to drip out of your nipples. You may want to try nursing pads to stop wet patches forming on your new shirt!
- Buy a Baby Spoon
Buy a proper baby spoon, and make sure it’s soft, round and shallow.
Introduce each food group with a 2 day gap between each. This is to help more definitively notice if any of the food groups cause any allergies, and to not overwhelm your bub.
- No need for additives
Babies have four times as many taste buds as grown adults, so if you find yourself reaching for condiments to spruce up your newborn’s meal, slap yourself. You’re flirting with health issues doing this with newborns!
- Keep the Bond
Touch, be physical and extra affectionate while you wean. This relieves stress and maintains the emotional bond between mother and baby otherwise derived from breastfeeding, and which the baby can get withdrawals from. Talk to him, sing or hum and stroke him on the forehead.
- How is Mum feeling?
Often mums forget about themselves in this process. After all, it’s how to wean your baby not how to wean mum! BUT, you need to be conscious of yourself and your own feelings too. It is normal for you to feel down if you wean completely off the breast quite suddenly. Just remember it’s a natural feeling and just know that it will pass. Ask for help through your doctor if you are concerned.
How To Wean | Breast To Solids
For baby-led weaning, it’s quite simple. Put some food on your bubs high chair in front of him, and see what he does. If he eats it, let him eat it! If not, then try something else. Also see this page for more in depth baby led weaning tips: http://www.babyledweaning.com/
For mother-led weaning start by replacing one feed with a solids feed when you are ready, and if she likes the food, then do the same the next day. The day after, introduce another food group and away you go. After a week or so, you can try dropping another feed for solids. Once she is enjoying a few solid feeds a day and eating multiple food groups as a part of a balanced diet, you’re doing well!
How To Wean | Signs To Look For
- Good head control - your bub needs to be able to hold his head up straight to be ready for solids;
- Staring at your food with keen and curious eyes;
- Grasping for your food;
- Growing appetite and weight gain.
How To Wean | Tips On Introducing The First Solids
- Think in stages and slowly. First try some infant rice milk cereal and breast milk, or some pureed vegetables to start with. Then go to pureed fruit and other soft foods. Some mums say start with a teaspoon on day 1, then go to two teaspoons in day 2, then 2 tablespoons on day 3 and increased by 2 times thereafter. It doesn’t need to be this regimented, but taking it this slow is good way of making sure you avoid any possible issues. Make sure you introduce a new food group every 2 days.
- Give them a soft, rounded and shallow spoon to get use to. The earlier you introduce them to self feeding the better!
- Watch for allergy symptoms such as vomiting diarrhoea or rashes.
- After 12 months, your bub should be ready for normal cow’s milk and most family foods. CLICK HERE for our age by age feeding guide to see what to feed him at each age of development. Always check with your healthcare professional about what foods to offer if you’re unsure, as some are choking hazards at a young age.
How To Wean | Breast To Bottle
We hope you enjoyed this page on how to wean! If you’re done, please leave us your own tips on how to wean in the comments section below! Otherwise please continue on with our About Breastfeeding Centre by clicking NEXT below!
Although the information on this page includes well thought-out, educated opinions, and all care has been taken putting it together, it is intended to be a guide only, and is NOT intended to be medical or other professional advice. The information contained herein is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, and you should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional on all issues relating to you, your baby or otherwise. We, any of our related entities, the author, or any other person or entity associated with the creation of this page or website does not accept any liability for any loss of any nature whatsoever arising out of them, and none of those parties shall be held liable to any extent whatsoever for any such loss.