Learn fool-proof ways on how to wean from breastfeeding to formula or milk! Find out which feedings to start with and how to stop breastfeeding smoothly.
I was finally ready—I was done wearing nursing tops and bringing my pump to work every day. I looked forward to having others feed my baby instead of being the only one who could.
But how exactly do you stop something you’ve done for months? I wondered if my baby would resist, or not transition well to formula or milk.
How to wean from breastfeeding
You might be further along than one year and dealing with a toddler who resists the change. Or you’re ready to stop because of stress, work or preference.
No matter your reason or timing, below are useful tips on how to stop breastfeeding.
Drop the least favorite feeding first (or the one where a caregiver offers a bottle).
Introduce the bottle or sippy cup of formula or milk during the least favorite feeding. Typically, this is one of the feedings during the day.
If someone else is giving your baby a bottle (like a day care provider), start with that feeding first. Your baby is already drinking from a bottle or sippy cup. You’ll have an easier time introducing milk or formula.
Replace breastfeeding with either formula or cow’s milk. Your baby will still drink at his regular time, but with formula or cow’s milk instead.
Keep offering the alternative for that feeding for a few days. Then, do the same with another mid-day feeding. Once you’ve eliminated all mid-day feedings, continue with the morning feeding. Finally, save the bedtime one for last.
To recap, eliminate the feedings in this order:
Mix breast milk with cow’s milk or formula.
Instead of offering formula or cow’s milk completely, mix it with breast milk a little at a time. Let’s say you want to start with the six ounce mid-day feeding. On the first day, offer a bottle with one ounce of milk or formula and five ounces of breast milk. Do the same the next day, but add two ounces of milk or formula and reduce breast milk to four. Keep doing this until the whole bottle is milk instead of breast milk.
As you reduce the breast milk you’re offering, also lessen the time you pump. Your body needs to adjust to the change as well. Decreasing the time you pump signals your body to lessen milk production.
Weaning from nursing.
So your child has now weaned from mid-day feedings and all his bottles are now milk or formula. Next up? Weaning from nursing sessions.
Try two tactics:
- Method 1: Nurse at the same time you normally do, then halfway through, offer formula, milk and even solids. Your baby will still get the calories he needs but in a difference source. Meanwhile, your body is decreasing production slowly (which avoids engorgement).
- Method 2: Offer your baby a bottle or sippy cup of milk or formula and don’t nurse at all. Then if need be, express breast milk only enough to relieve engorgement. Try not to pump or stimulate milk production and instead rely on cold compresses.
In both cases, give the bottle or sippy cup in a different position than your usual nursing sessions. You might want to place him in a high chair or sit him in an infant seat, for instance.
Wean by starting with bottle or mid-day feedings before eliminating mornings and bedtimes. Introduce new flavors by mixing milk or formula with breast milk. Then, reduce nursing sessions to help your body adjust as well.
Weaning from breastfeeding can feel bittersweet. You’re finding more time for yourself, but you’re also saying goodbye to a stage in your life. Everything has its pros and cons. The best part though? Weaning doesn’t mean you can’t bond with your baby anymore. You’ll just find new and different ways to spend time together.
Get more tips on how to wean from breastfeeding and other parenting topics:
- Do You Feel Guilty for Not Breastfeeding? Don’t.
- Moms, We’re All in This Together
- I Don’t WANT to ‘Cherish Every Moment’: What I Won’t Miss about Parenthood
- Do You Feel like a Confident Mom?
- 25 Milestones of Motherhood
Tell me in the comments: What are your best tips on how to wean from breastfeeding? Did you look forward to weaning or did you hang on to breastfeeding?
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