Weaning: How to get your baby off the breast

  • By Dr. T Deepa Porkodi

Weaning can be an emotional experience for the mom, as breastfeeding helps develop the most intimate bond with your baby. You may take pride in the fact that your baby is now growing up and is closer to achieving another milestone!

Weaning is the process where you gradually stop feeding breast milk and introduce other forms of food to your baby.

When to wean your baby, is a personal decision. All doctors advice a minimum of 6 months on breast milk alone. After that solid foods along with breast milk can be given till the baby is one year old.

The best time to start weaning is when your baby is a year old. It has to be a gradual process, as the baby may not be able to cope up with the sudden changes. Also gradual weaning doesn’t allow breasts to get engorged.
Experts advice dropping one feed per week, till the baby is completely on outside food, as the best way to wean.

Usually dropping the midday feed is the choice for most mothers, especially working mothers.
Another approach to weaning is increasing the amount of solid food. Once the babies get used to the solid food, and their tummies are filled up on that alone, they would start wanting less of breast milk.

Signs that your bay is ready for weaning:

  1. Every time your baby has finished his feed, he wants more! His growing tummy just doesn’t seem to fill up.
  2. Your baby demands his feeds more frequently.
  3. Your baby doesn’t seem to have gained weight, though he is not unwell.
  4. Picking up random things and putting them in the mouth, indicating that he is hungry.
  5. Staring at you while you are eating and understanding what you are doing.

Foods recommended for weaning:

Doctors recommend using pureed or mashed food during the weaning period. This is because your baby hasn’t yet developed teeth to chew. Also mashed or pureed foods are soft and there is no fear of the baby choking on them.

Baby led weaning:

This is a form of weaning where you leave aside the pureed food and feeding the baby with spoons. Here you let the baby eat by himself. Usually well cooked foods that can be grabbed in the fists are what are recommended. This can be a messy process as at first the baby may just play with the food. Most of the food may end up on the floor with almost no nourishment reaching your baby. Baby led weaning is very helpful as such babies are the ones who grow up to be completely non-fussy about food and eat everything that is served to them.