The Right Time
For me, weaning my daughter from the breast was a piece of cake. At the tender age of 1 month, she stared me in the face, began howling, and refused to take my breast into her mouth. The howling didn't stop until a warm bottle appeared several minutes later.
A year later, the child who so willingly gave up the breast is significantly more reluctant to give up her beloved "bah," so much so that she's flung six sippy cups from her stroller and into the path of various speeding cars -- there's $30 I won't be getting back.
As you may have guessed, breaking up with the breast or the bottle can be hard to do, and for good reason. The breast has been the main source of nutrition for baby's entire life. And let's not discount the security, comfort, and warmth a child derives from snuggling up close to another warm body.
These transitions have quite an impact on a parent as well; there's not a mother out there who doesn't feel a pang or two every time her little baby takes on a new big-boy or big-girl task. It's inevitable: Every parent has to wean her child. But it doesn't have to be painful -- and you can continue to snuggle as much as you want!
Saying Goodbye to the Breast
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers breastfeed their babies for a full year. It's a wonderful goal, and more power to you if you can reach it. Unfortunately, it's not possible or practical for everyone.
One of the most common reasons for weaning is returning to work. Other women simply want their body back. "I felt like I spent all of my time manipulating my boobs," says Margie Smith, of Columbia, South Carolina. "It was easier to bond with Amy when I used the bottle -- I felt like I had more control."
Whatever your reason, "don't let anyone judge you," says Katy Lebbing, manager of the Center for Breastfeeding Information and a certified lactation consultant at La Leche League International. "The most important thing to do is to wean gradually and with love." Here's how to do it, step by step.