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Deciding When to Wean Baby

For breastfeeding moms, especially those first-timers like myself, it can be hard to know when to wean baby from the breast.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months and continuing until at least the first year of baby’s life.  However, everyone has a different preference and every baby is different.  So how do you know when it’s the right time to wean?

Here are a list of different scenarios of when mothers have decided to wean.  Maybe one is similar to yours and will help you make your decision of when is best for you and your baby.

  • Self-weaning:  Some babies end up weaning themselves from the breast.  For one reason or another, they lose interest in the breast and, depending on their age, opt for the bottle or sippy cup.  The great thing about self-weaning babies is that you can stop breastfeeding guilt-free and follow your baby’s cues.  However, if baby weans earlier than you’d like, you can always continue pumping until reaching the age you desire.
  • 6-months:  The 6 month milestone is a common age parents wean baby.  By 6 months, baby is ready to start getting a greater source of nutrition in solid foods.  However, remember that breastmilk or formula still needs to be a large source of their nutrition at this age and beyond. 
  • 12-months:  As mentioned earlier, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding during the first year of baby’s life, and beyond if you so choose.  At 12 months, baby can also switch to drinking cow’s milk.  The one year mark seems to be a very common goal for breastfeeding mothers to reach.  At one year, baby reaches the toddler stage, which marks the beginning of a whole new independence for baby.  Many moms choose to wean at this big milestone. 
  • Teething:  The onset of teething is often a breastfeeding deal-breaker for mothers.  At some point, most likely, you’re going to get bit.  And if you’ve ever had it happen to you, you know it might be enough to call it quits. 
  • Returning to work:  For those re-entering the workforce, continuing to breastfeed becomes a whole new challenge.  Pumping can be a real drag, especially if you work somewhere that doesn’t have a facility specifically for the purpose.  If you are returning to work and you know pumping isn’t for you, don’t feel guilty.  That time you had at home with baby to breastfeed, whether 6 weeks or 6 months, was beneficial health-wise and financially. 
  • Vacation:  Whether going on a vacation with or without baby, some mothers use this time to wean.  Some mothers find it easier to use a bottle when away from the home.  And if baby isn’t with on vacation, many would rather not mess with having to pump and store.  In fact, it might not even be an option.
  • Drying up:  For whatever reason, whether it be stress or simply normal functioning of the body, some women’s milk dries up.  If you don’t want to mess with restoring your production, it may be time to call it quits.

No matter when or how you decide to wean baby from the breast, don’t let another mother’s opinion sway you from what you know is right for your particular situation.  The important thing is to do what is right for you and your baby.

How do you/did you decide to wean baby?



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