Babies start weaning when they begin consuming foods other than breastmilk. Every baby is different when it comes to weaning and often it is a choice that both you and the baby make. For advice on weaning check out the tips below.
By around six months of age, your baby will be ready to experience a variety of different foods to complement their breastmilk intake.
- From 6-8 months of age, offer your baby breastmilk, before solids so they can continue to receive adequate milk until their intake of solid foods is well established.
- By 9-12 months your baby is likely to be on three meals a day. This is when you can allow your baby’s behaviour to guide whether you offer a breastfeed before or after their solid food.
- Once solid foods are introduced, your baby may start to reduce the number of breastfeeds they require. For example at nine months, this could be a first feed in the morning, around lunch time, late afternoon and just before bedtime
From six months many babies start teething and for their mothers this can take be an unpleasant experience. Babies often start to bite on the breast when they are teething. The first bite is usually an accident. If the biting is a response to a slow let down, expressing a small amount of breastmilk to trigger your let down before you offer the breast may help.
Many mothers successfully combine work and breastfeeding. Workplaces now have greater awareness of the importance breastfeeding and may have work policies that will support you to continue to breastfeed.
- For babies aged 6-12 months, you can consider replacing breastfeeding during work hours with expressed breastmilk, formula and food from a spoon.
- Try introducing your baby to the cup or bottle at least 2 to 3 weeks before returning to work. A baby can feed from a cup from about 7 months of age.
- Express during the work day (either by hand or pump) to ensure your milk production is consistent with your baby’s needs and for personal comfort. You may need to talk to your employer about having access to refrigeration to store your expressed breastmilk.
The best way to wean is gradually over time. As you or your baby reduces the number of breastfeeds, your milk supply will slowly decrease. This reduces the risk of blocked ducts and mastitis. Weaning slowly also gives you and your baby time to adjust.
- Start dropping the breastfeed that your baby seems least interested in. Then cut out one breastfeed every few days, or one each week
- Depending on the age of your baby replace the missed feeds with formula, cows' milk or water.
- For babies aged 6 months this is a good time to introduce solids
- Make sure you still spend plenty of time with your baby and give lots of cuddles.
- If your breasts become engorged, hand express or use a hand pump until you are comfortable. Do not try to empty your breasts as you do not want your supply to build up again.
- No matter how long you or your baby decides to breastfeed, your milk is always nutritious and absolutely right for your baby's stage of development
- You may hear other mothers say that their milk ‘dried up' or started looking 'thin and watery' or ‘wasn’t rich enough'. Breastmilk is naturally bluish and looks thin when compared to other milks.
- If you have concerns about continuing to breastfeeding once you return to paid work, it’s always best to take the advice of your local child and family health nurse, an early parenting organisation like Tresillian or your GP.