Weaning Strategies: A Smoot...

When it comes to weaning your baby off of breast milk, it isn’t usually as difficult as it sounds. More importantly, the steps to weaning your baby aren’t etched in stone and there are no hard-and-fast rules. Sometimes your baby will initiate the transition by either not wanting the breast or not eating very much at each meal. Other times, it’s the mother who wants to wean the baby, but both methods are a lot easier than you think.

A Few Basics to Remember

Babies should be breastfed or bottle-fed until they are one year old. You can start giving them solid foods at around six months, and at one year, you can start them on whole milk that you can put in a sippy cup. Babies under one year old cannot tolerate milk, so it shouldn’t be started until that time. If you stop breastfeeding before the baby turns one, you should switch them to formula until they are ready and able to drink milk.

As far as learning toddler weaning tips, it’s really simpler than it sounds. You can start by feeding them formula instead of breast milk for one meal a day. Do this for three to five days and then replace a second meal with formula. After three to five days, continue with this method until all of the baby’s meals consist of formula and not breast milk. Give yourself those three to five days in between changes so that both the baby and your body can acclimate to your new schedule.

If you’re wondering if you should pump at the time your baby is getting the formula meal, that’s up to you. If you replace just one meal for three to five days at a time, your breasts can probably adjust, especially if the baby is close to one year old. On the other hand, if your breasts are so full that it’s painful, you can go ahead and pump, but try to pump only until you start to get a little more comfortable, not until the breasts are empty.

A Practical Way to Wean Your Baby

There are a few other things you can do when your baby is transitioning off breast or bottle. If you’ve been giving the baby formula since Day One, and once they turn one year old, you have to do things a little differently than the suggestions made earlier.

Here are some methods that you can use when you’re trying to wean your baby:

  • Try to postpone your feedings. Extend the wait time in between feedings by 30 minutes, and if the baby gets hungry, give them solid foods, formula, or whole milk if they have already reached one year of age.
  • Try to shorten each feeding. In this method, you’ll shorten each feeding time by several minutes. Just like when you’re weaning from breastfeeding, you can shorten the time continuously for three to five days each time and make the feeding shorter each time. If they get fussy, give them formula, breast milk in a bottle, or milk for older babies.

While some things are the same whether you’ve been breastfeeding or feeding the baby formula, some things are a little different. Choosing to shorten your feedings, postponing them, or eliminating one meal per day until they’re no longer breastfeeding are considered the basics of weaning, but keep in mind that every mother is different and therefore, the way you do it might be different from the way other moms do it.

Is Weaning Ever Difficult?

When it comes to different weaning techniques for toddlers, many mothers are concerned about babies who seem to resist weaning, but even this situation doesn’t have to be complicated. The fact is that both you and your baby have to make adjustments when weaning time comes.

For instance, if the baby gets sick, they might revert back to breastfeeding and you may have to start all over again once they get well, but it shouldn’t be a problem. Eventually, the baby will learn and understand what you’re doing and will go along with it, even if they don’t want to in the beginning.

What should you do if your child refuses to go along with the weaning process? Unfortunately, you have to keep going. Taking your time helps, but remember that at some point, you must wean the baby or toddler. They might resist at first, but they won’t resist forever, so keep going, be consistent, and eventually your efforts will be successful.


Weaning is not a huge mystery or secret, and it also doesn’t have to be complicated. Replacing one meal per day with a bottle of formula, then waiting several days before replacing a second meal, seems to work best. That being said, each baby and each mom are different, so your method may look a little different than the ones mentioned here. If you’re having more problems than you feel are normal, you can talk to your doctor or organizations like La Leche League.

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