A: Congratulations on breastfeeding so successfully! It sounds as if your daughter is already drinking well from a bottle or a sippy cup, and that’s an important first step to weaning her completely from the breast. As long as she’s drinking water and regular milk, you can feel comfortable knowing that she’s getting plenty of fluid even when you’re giving her less breast milk each day. And since she’s eating solid foods well—even if they’re baby foods—she’s also able to get the calories she needs. It’s entirely possible that at this point, she’s nursing mostly for comfort and cuddling time with you, rather than to meet her nutritional needs.
It’s important to make the weaning process as comfortable as possible for you and your baby. If you stop suddenly, you’ll likely experience breast engorgement, and that can be pretty uncomfortable! The less you nurse, the less breast milk your body produces, so it’s helpful to cut down your nursing time and frequency before you completely wean your baby from the breast. You can start by cutting back on the time you allow your baby to nurse on each breast. If she was spending 15 minutes nursing on each side before, you might cut her back to 10 minutes on each side. At the same time, you can cut down on the number of times she nurses each day. If she’s nursing four times a day, you can decrease that to three times a day. If your breasts are uncomfortable at the time of the missed feeding, you can apply cool compresses, but resist the temptation to pump, since that will encourage your body to continue to produce breast milk, rather than reduce production. Once you and your baby have adjusted to this change, you can cut back again on the length of time and frequency, and repeat this process till your daughter is completely weaned. If your daughter refuses to take her sippy cup and tries to insist on nursing at a particular feeding, it might be helpful to have someone else she knows and loves offer her the sippy cup. If you’re offering it to her, she might think she gets to choose between drinking from the cup or nursing, and she’ll probably prefer nursing!
It sounds as if you’re off to a good start in transitioning her to table foods. Yogurt and bananas are nutritious starter foods, and while you work on introducing other foods to her diet, the baby food is providing other important nutrients. Just keep offering her nutritious, age-appropriate table foods, such as mashed sweet potatoes, small bits of chicken, steamed broccoli, or whatever you happen to be eating. When babies see their moms eating and enjoying nutritious foods, they want to try the same things! It’s important to remember that your daughter might not love a particular food on the first taste, but don’t let that stop you from offering it to her again. In three days, she might have completely changed her mind, and love the taste of green beans!
As long as your baby is healthy, and your pediatrician or family physician tells you that her growth, weight, and development are on track, you can feel comfortable knowing that she’s getting enough to eat.