The first step in weaning your baby is getting him used to a cup. If you haven't introduced one yet, now may be the time.
Start by giving your baby a sippy cup with a spout-he is less likely to spill, and he'll still get to enjoy the comforting sucking action. The cup should be made of plastic, so it's less likely to break, and one that's weighted is less likely to tip. Some babies prefer cups with handles-especially those who like to hold their own bottle-but others do not, so be prepared to experiment.
Fill the cup with only a very small amount of liquid. Hold the cup to your baby's mouth and let a few drops trickle in. Then give him a few moments to swallow. Don't force him to take more than a few sips at a time at first-you don't want the cup to become the object of a power struggle! And if he tries to grab it and do it himself, you can certainly let him.
While the first few attempts are easier to clean up if the cup is filled with water, you want to get your baby used to the idea that all beverages-breast milk, formula, and juice-can come from a cup. To ease the transition to weaning, once your baby starts to enjoy the cup, give him breast milk or formula only out of a bottle. And allow him a month or so to adjust before beginning the weaning process. Otherwise, he may view the cup as more of a punishment than simply a new way to drink.
A good way to start the weaning process is to cut out the midday feeding, since babies usually eat the least at that meal and are not as emotionally dependent upon it. Replace the feeding with a snack or a meal, including a beverage from a cup. The first and last feedings of the day-the ones best loved by most babies-will take longer to give up. But as long as they don't replace meals and you are both enjoying them, there is no rush to eliminate this soothing ritual.
Weaning gradually-cutting out one feeding at a time and waiting a few weeks before eliminating the next-should prevent engorgement. But if you do get it, express just enough milk to relieve the pressure. (More will stimulate your breasts to keep producing milk.) Within a few weeks of weaning your baby entirely, your breasts will be basically empty-although you may be able to express small amounts of milk for up to a year. It will also take time for your breasts to return to a shape and size close to what they were originally. They will probably end up slightly larger or smaller and will usually be less firm.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.