Weaning without help: tips for when you are on your own

Weaning without help: tips for when you are on your own

How can you wean and stop breastfeeding without anyone’s help? When talking about weaning, we always recommend two things: first, get informed on the process, and second, try to get some help and company to carry it out. Weaning is part of the breastfeeding journey, and just as with the beginning of this journey, you will need similar ingredients at the end. But what happens if one of these ingredients fails? What happens if you face weaning without help?

Whatever your reason, maybe your partner is unwilling or unable to help, maybe you are a single mother, or maybe you just have decided to do so: weaning without help is possible, but it is also challenging.

Why is weaning alone a challenge?

For babies, weaning means that they have to change many of their habits and routines, and this means that you have to propose distractions and changes. Doing this alone is an extra challenge because you will have to apply all these tricks that distract a baby and reduce the demand for breastfeeding. When you are weaning, and you have the help of a partner, this would give you moments to breathe; the partner can distract your little one more easily, and you can even apply the father/partner method at night.

I don’t have a partner, only family/friends

Well, this would be an option to consider. Sometimes, mothers are embarrassed or even ashamed to ask for help from family and friends, and we think we have to do it alone as this is our duty as mothers. But in most cases, if you ask someone close for help, they will do so. For weaning, the person who helps needs to know the child well, and the child also needs to know this person very well. This could be a grandmother, a sister, or even a friend. If you trust this person, they will help you do this. It’s probably not easy, but it can be done!

I don’t have anyone, or I don’t want to ask family/friends

Of course, everyone knows their own circumstances, and sometimes it’s not easy. You can definitely wean and stop breastfeeding by yourself; you just need to know the basics to make it as “easy” as possible.

How do I start daytime weaning with a baby under one?

If your baby is less than one year old and exclusively breastfeeding, the main difficulty is to get your baby to accept a bottle and formula. What are the tips and tricks to do that?

  • First, try to offer your own expressed breast milk so that your baby accepts the new feeding method first.
  • If you’re going to use a bottle and your baby is having trouble accepting the plastic teat, let them practice a little. Find a time when they are relaxed, not too hungry or sleepy. Try to offer the bottle with your baby sitting on your lap and facing away and forward so they can’t turn their face to look for your breast.
  • Warm the plastic teat a little: sometimes, this helps.
  • In the first few days, your baby may not accept it, so be patient and repeat.
  • If there is no way after a few weeks, try another method to give your baby milk other than the bottle; you can find some options here.
  • To stop breastfeeding and wean at night, there is no other choice but to refuse the breast. Your baby will have to learn how to fall asleep without suckling and will need extra cuddles and patience to fall asleep.

What if my baby is over one year old?

If your baby is over one year old, here is a list of tips and resources:

  • It would no longer be necessary to offer a bottle. You can offer milk in a cup or a beginner sippy cup if it is at night. Now, you can also offer your child cow’s milk, goat’s milk, and so on, or a calcium-enriched vegetable drink; choose the one with the lowest proportion of added salt and sugar, depending on your preferences.
  • Try to make access to your breasts a little more complicated, for example, with clothing that does not give easy access to your breasts. When they are over one year old, they already know where to find your breasts and know how to access them best.
  • Try to change other habits. Sometimes, you need to spend more hours outside in the playground or out of the house to look for interesting distractions that can attract your child’s attention and lower the demand for breastfeeding.
  • Also, try to change your habits at home to avoid those places where your child usually asks to breastfeed.
  • If you refuse your child to breastfeed at night, it is possible that your little one may get desperate and protest a lot. You can follow the same advice we used for the father/partner method. Remember that your child will be very angry and will let you know that. Always accompany these moments of frustration with emotional rather than physical comfort (use your voice rather than hugging).
  • If your child is between one and two years old, it may be difficult for them to accept the food or drink you offer as a substitute for breast milk. Cow’s milk has a different taste, and children are not usually passionate about it. Sometimes, other dairy products are better accepted.
  • You should know that everything your child will do to ask for breastfeeding will make you very nervous; expect a baby who cries, screams, or tries to undress you to get to the breast; your little one will make your heart race and your blood pressure to go up, and it will be very uncomfortable.
  • If your child is between one and two years old, there are also other more drastic methods you can use to encourage them to give up breastfeeding. And although they have a bad reputation, only you know how you are doing and how much you can handle.

Do you have more questions?

If you want to talk to our experts, you can find them in the consultation channel of our LactApp app, which is free to download for iPhone and Android. There is also a lot of information about motherhood, breastfeeding, and weaning.

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