Weaning Your Baby - Tips

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So you’ve decided it’s time to start weaning your baby from breastfeeding, and you’re thinking – “now what?”  Each Mum, with each baby, will decide at one point that it’s time for her to discontinue breastfeeding her babe and will begin the process of decreasing the number of feeds per day over time.  Whether it’s because you’re going back to work, taking medication that is contraindicated in breastfeeding, or another of the many reasons for weaning, here are a few things to help you through the process.


First, a note on breast pumps:

If you’re going back to work - the breast-pump doesn’t have to replace the breast when a Mum returns to work.  Some women aren’t that great at pumping.  Don’t be worried that if you don’t pump during your working hours you won’t have enough milk for nursing time – as soon as the baby compresses it, your breast will produce milk.  Also, milk isn’t “stored” in the breast throughout the day – suckling produces fresh milk – so there is no need to worry that your babe is getting old milk.  Work out a system that is good for you – the decision to pump or not is strictly up to you.


A few rules of thumb to follow:

1. don’t take away breastfeeding suddenly – sudden change is difficult for the majority of us, least of all your new babe.

2. cut down over a period of a few weeks, until you’re down to two feeds per day.

3. while you are decreasing the number of feeds, two home remedies that really work to reduce the swelling in your breasts are ice and cabbage.  Full leaves of cabbage can be placed between your bra and your breasts throughout the day. Crunch the leaves a bit in your hand to release some of the juice before putting them in there. Most women like the leaves cooled, so keep them in the fridge.

4. when they’re feeling swollen, ice your breasts every ten minutes (or as often as possible if you’re at work).

5. once you’ve reduced to one or two feeds a day, it can sometimes be difficult to wean off that daily feed.  Women all over the world use the following method to train baby that breastfeeding is over – place some oil, like olive oil, with a bit of black pepper on the nipple area.  This changes the taste of the milk to one that baby will not like.  If your child is loved and taken care of, it’s the best way to get baby to understand that nursing is coming to an end.  Baby will make the decision on his/her own to stop breastfeeding, rather than you taking it away.

6.  one of the best parts of breastfeeding is the intimate time you get to spend as just the two of you.  While weaning and after you’ve stopped breastfeeding, be sure to carve out time every day to spend cuddling with your little one. 


Best of luck!


Dr. Kali MacIsaac HBSc ND

Naturopathic Doctor