10 tips for weaning a breastfeeding toddler

The most important thing a mother should know regarding weaning a breastfeeding toddler is that there are numerous methods for doing it.  It may take trial and error to find a method that works.  Gradual weaning is the method that will likely work best for both mother and baby.

10 Tips for Easier Weaning

  1. Ending breastfeeding should be done gradually and in stages whenever possible.
  2. Start by only breastfeeding upon the child’s request.
  3. Depending on the age of a toddler and their level or understanding, moms can gradually begin telling him or her that “Mommy is running out of milk”.
  4. It’s easier to end daytime feedings because moms can distract their child with other foods or beverages instead of breast milk, or with an activity.
  5. Eliminating one feeding a day over several weeks can make weaning easier.
  6. As daytime feedings are eliminated, work towards nursing only prior to naps or when the baby truly needs soothing or comforting.
  7. Begin to shorten the length of time spent for each feeding.
  8. Work toward nighttime feedings only.
  9. Eventually nurse only to put the baby to sleep at night.
  10. Finally, substitute a story, a song, or some other relaxing activity for the nighttime feeding.

Weaning too fast could lead to engorgement, clogged milk ducts, or mastitis.  Engorgement (when a mother’s breast fills with too much milk too quickly) can be relieved by expressing milk with a breast pump, or if necessary weaning at a slower pace.  Clogged milk ducts (which causes pain and restricts milk flow) can be remedied by massaging the breast, taking a warm shower, or applying a warm compress then expressing milk.  Mastitis (an infection caused by clogged milk ducts) may require antibiotics.  If at any point during the weaning process a breast becomes painful or swollen, the mother should seek medical attention.

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The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.


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