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Breastfeeding is a beautiful journey; an emotional and stressful one at the same time. Motherhood is full of ironies and the biggest one is related to breastfeeding: initially babies don’t wish to latch on and breastfeed and when they finally start feeding, it seems like it’s time to wean off!
Many mothers ask me, what is the right age to stop breastfeeding? To all those mommies, there is no right time and no right age. You need to decide what is best for you and your baby. This article is for those mommies who have some practical problems like sore nipples, health issues, no milk production or are determined to stop breastfeeding because they can’t continue it any longer.
For everyone else, please enjoy this beautiful journey as long as you can. Please continue breastfeeding for at least 6 months and after that gradually introduce solids to fulfil nutrition and calorie requirements. WHO and UNICEF recommend mothers to continue breastfeeding till 2 years of age for health benefits.
I reiterate again, that breastfeeding gives lots of health benefits to your lil’ one. So continue it as long as you can but if you have decided to stop breastfeeding, make the change gradually. Do it in phases. Gradually lower the number of feeds in a day. I started from 5 feeds at 1.5 years of age to just 1 feed at bedtime at 1.7 years of age. This phase was easy. But it didn’t stop after that.
I observed a reverse cycle whereby my son wanted to feed more frequently in spite of me producing nothing. I knew that my milk supply has drained out and my son is attached to me for just emotional reasons. He wanted to be latched on throughout the night. His top feeds also reduced drastically and all he wanted was my milk, which wasn’t coming. That was the toughest phase. I saw my son starving and I was panicking.
It continued for a week and then I stopped denying him breast milk. I offered him whenever he wanted it and started the weaning journey all over again. I had read somewhere that after 1.5 years of age children enter a new cognitive phase and make some strong associations. The failure can be attributed to this fact. So this time, I decided to turn it into a strength and keep it at the core while planning complete weaning.
This time, the weaning was more structured and well planned.
Weaning is a very emotionally and physically taxing journey for all mothers. Please decide to eliminate the last feed when you have support at home. The support should be available day in and day out. He/she should be close to the baby and should understand his gestures and unsaid words.
In addition to the above points, I have also tried applying the red cough syrup, bitter neem and talking to him to make him understand that now he needs to leave breast-feeding now. It didn’t work. I found that my son was scared and clung on to me even tighter. So please don’t play with your child’s emotions. Don’t add to his anxiety. In all the emotional trauma he would want you more.
So go slow and distract him. Make him forget the breastfeeding naturally. Give him loads of hugs and kisses and enjoy the transition to the new emotional bond you two will share for a lifetime.
First published at author’s blog
Image via Pixabay
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