Visit our foundation to give a gift.
View Locations Near Me
Main Campus – Hartford
Connecticut Children’s – Waterbury
Urgent Care – Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Danbury
Connecticut Children’s Surgery Center at Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Fairfield
Search All Locations
Find a doctor
Find A Doctor
Request an Appointment
Amenities and Services
Who’s Who on Care Team
Getting Ready for Surgery
What to Expect—Picture Stories
Pay a Bill
Understanding the Different Fees
Pricing Transparency and Estimates
Raytheon Technologies Family Resource Center
Family Advisory Council
Legal Advocacy: Benefits, Education, Housing
Electronic Health Records
Share Your Story
Pay a Bill
Login to MyChart
Clinical Support Services Referrals
About the Network
Join the Network
Graduate Medical Education
Continuing Medical Education
MOC/Practice Quality Improvement
Educating Practices in the Community (EPIC)
Learning & Performance
Meet our Physician Relations Team
Request Medical Records
Join our Referring Provider Advisory Board
View our Physician Callback Standards
Read & Subscribe to Medical News
Register for Email Updates
Update Your Practice Information
Refer a Patient
Find and Print Health Info
Health Information For Parents
Weaning is when a baby moves from breast milk to other sources of nourishment. Weaning your baby is a process that takes patience and understanding from both you and your child.
When to wean is a personal decision. A mom might be influenced by a return to work, her health or the baby’s, or simply a feeling that the time is right.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends feeding babies only breast milk for the first 6 months of life. After that, the AAP recommends a combination of solid foods and breast milk until a baby is at least 1 year old. Then, babies may begin drinking whole cow’s milk.
Most experts agree that breastfeeding should continue for as long as it suits mother and baby. Many women choose to wean after their baby’s first birthday. At this age, babies are starting to walk, talk, and eat more solid foods. So they may naturally lose interest in nursing.
Other moms breastfeed longer than a year (this is called extended breastfeeding). Extended breastfeeding is a healthy and reasonable option for mothers and children who aren’t ready to wean. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that moms breastfeed for the first 2 years of a child’s life.
Weaning does not have to be all-or-nothing. Some women choose to wean during the day and breastfeed at night, depending on their work situation and their schedules.
Whenever you decide to wean, your child may have another time in mind. Some children wean themselves earlier than the mother intended and others resist weaning when the mother is ready. Those wean later in life tend to be more resistant. For example, a 2-year-old toddler may be more attached and less flexible about giving up breastfeeding than a 12-month-old baby. At times like these, it’s important to take it slow and be sensitive to each other’s needs.
Some kids are content to nurse indefinitely. But others will give moms clues that they’re ready to begin the process of weaning, such as:
To let both mom and baby adjust physically and emotionally to the change, weaning should be done over time.
One approach is to drop one feeding session a week until your child takes all the feeds from a bottle or cup. If you want to give your child pumped breast milk, you’ll need to pump to keep up your milk supply. If you are weaning your child off breast milk, slowly dropping feeds can help avoid engorgement.
You might begin by stopping the midday feeding because it’s usually the smallest and most inconvenient — especially for working moms. Many mothers let go of the bedtime feeding last because it’s still a special part of bonding.
Some moms leave the decision of when to wean up to their child. Children who are eating three meals of solid food a day (plus snacks) often breastfeed less and less. In that case, a mom’s milk will dry up from lack of demand and she’ll need to pump to keep the milk flowing. If your child is breastfeeding less, make sure he or she is getting enough iron-fortified formula or milk. Check with the doctor about how much your child should get.
If your baby weans before 1 year of age, or you find that you’re not making enough milk, you will need to give your baby formula. Check with the doctor to see what formula is right for your little one.
Weaning is easier if a child has also taken milk from another source. So try giving an occasional bottle of breast milk to your little one after breastfeeding is well-established. Even if you continue breastfeeding, this can ease weaning later. It also lets other family members feed the baby and makes it possible to leave your child with a caregiver.
Remember that infants over 6 months should have solid foods as well as breast milk. After 1 year, breast milk alone does not provide all the nutrients a growing child needs. So solid foods must become a regular part of the diet.
As you start to wean, remember that your child needs time to adjust to drinking from cups. Be patient as your little one begins exploring the world of food.
Here are some more ways to make this change easier:
Many moms make the decision to wean with mixed emotions. Weaning brings more freedom and flexibility, and the proud realization that a child is reaching a milestone. But nursing is an intimate activity that fosters a strong bond between mother and child — and some women find it hard to let that go.
So expect a wide range of emotions, and understand that your child may have them too. Also remember that there will be countless other ways to nurture your child in the days ahead.
Here are answers to some common supplemental feeding questions – from when to introduce solids to offering breastfed babies formula.
Find out what the experts have to say.
If you’re a new mom, breastfeeding your baby can feel like a challenge. Check out this article for information on common nursing positions, proper latching-on techniques, and how to know if your baby is getting enough to eat.
Transitioning a baby from a bottle to a cup isn’t always easy, as babies can become attached to their bottles. These tips can help parents make the switch.
These guidelines on breastfeeding and bottle feeding can help you know what’s right for you and your baby.
Toddlers have little tummies, so serve foods that are packed with the nutrients they need to grow healthy and strong, and limit the sweets and empty calories.
Whether you’ve chosen to breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby, your infant will let you know when it’s time to eat.
Is your baby is ready for solid foods? Learn how and when to get started.
Find answers to common inquiries about introducing solids and whole milk to formula-fed babies.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.