Weaning – When???

Hello beautiful mommies and mommies to be,

There is a real hot topic at my house right now and I wanted to share it with you. It’s the issue of WEANING! Who would have thought that a simple question such as when to wean would be so complex! My son is 15 months old now and prior to his birth my husband and I had agreed that I would breastfeed him till he was 2 years old. Now, having watched the movie Grown Ups 2, where this little boy breastfed up to 4 years old (eyes opened wide) and also witnessing my younger brother a couple of years ago, sit my mother down at a public function for his feed then jump up and say,

Thanks mom, can I have some Fanta now?

I started to think that maybe 2 years old is a bit late to still be breastfeeding… Research has shown that most members of the medical fraternity encourage exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months because mom’s milk is packed with nutrients baby needs to grow and perfectly suited for foodhis or her delicate digestive system which is then ready between 4-6 months for a gradual introduction of solid foods. Experts advise that baby still gets plenty of breast milk up to about 12 months at which point he or she is having 3 square meals and 2 odd snacks a day. This is the common thread of advice that you will receive out there.

Now, if you Google “When to wean”, you won’t get a nicely packaged, 1, 2,3 answer and this is because the professionals do not believe there is a hard and fast rule about it simply because every child is unique and develops at his or her own rate which affects the weaning process, a lot! Here is what they do advise though…

Baby Led Weaning

This is when your child begins to show less and less interest in breast feeding and this is usually round about the time they are learning to crawl or walk. The excitement about their new found mobility turns their attention away from feeding, towards exploring. They are also less willing to sit still during feeds and this is a good sign that they are ready to be weaned. This has not been going particularly well for me as my son loves his ncanca (milk) and will drop everything at a moments’ notice to pull me to the feeding chair, sit me down and drink from one side while holding the other just to make sure it does not go anywhere!

Gradual Weaning

This is when you as a parent decide that it’s time to wean and moms do this for various reasons, be it returning to work or because of societal pressure, gawks and stares that you get because of breastfeeding a grown man (or woman). I will say though that you shouldn’t feel judged or pressured into weaning your child because you decide what’s best and what works for you and your baby. Gradual weaning should not be done at a time of social or developmental change for your child such as teething, moving house or starting daycare because the change may be unsettling and the baby may need a feed for comfort. When they are sick is also a bad time to wean as their eating habits may be disrupted and they therefore need plenty of milk and love, which they get from your feeding sessions.

It is not advisable to go cold turkey as this might cause a disconnect between your child and you

The process may take between 6weeks and a few months because it is not advisable to go cold turkey as this might cause a disconnect between your child and you and can be frustrating for you and feel like rejection for baby. I know a lot of Zimbabwean families will advise that you send the child away for about a week or 2 so that they forget about milk and while it has worked for thousands of moms (although the effects of the mother and child relationship has not been studied, anyone want to fund me ? hahaha) it did not work for my mom as baby boy would come back and as soon as he saw her he would request a feed. Others advise that if you cannot take him to gogo’s (grandmother’s house) which is usually where they go, put chili on your nipples and your baby will associate the breast with an unpleasant burning sensation in the mouth and not want to feed. Plenty mothers swear by this, me on the other hand, I’m not so sure…

The international medical community advises that you gradually drop one feed at a time starting with the afternoon feed as it is easier to plan ahead of time by preparing a snack and a distracting activity before your child requests the feed and repeating this daily until baby no longer requires it. It’s winter now but quite hot in the afternoons so strap your young one into the stroller and go for a walk, this will be a good distraction and a breath of fresh air for you both. Also avoid sitting in your feeding chair, if your child is like mine then avoid sitting down all together as my son associates me sitting down with feeding and will jump onto my lap and fish out the merchandise if I do. Once you have successfully dropped the afternoon feed, repeat the process with another feed until eventually your baby does not request the breast at all. They say that once baby is no longer breast feeding, they begin to sleep through the night… oh, how lovely that would be!

I wonder what process or strategy I will use when the time comes to wean my little handsome… Things that make you say “Hmmm…”.

Do share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below. We can all learn from each other. Thank you!


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