Personally, I was a little stressed moving into the weaning process knowing that after a year I was quite ready to be done nursing, but I couldn’t stand the thought of refusing my daughter. I decided to adopt the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” approach: don’t instigate nursing, but give it to her if she “requests” it. I was pretty fortunate that the last time she asked was on her 1st birthday! (Finally, something easy with this kiddo!)
The Transition “Back to Normal”
The thing I found most surprising and difficult was how much discomfort I felt after she stopped nursing. I had no idea that it would take as long as it did for my body to stop producing milk. I would think I was fine, and then 3 weeks after she last nursed I’d leak all over. I didn’t even leak that much when my milk came in! I got a few really painful plugged ducts, so I ended up having to do warm, moist compress (hot washcloth), massage, and pumping just enough to get the duct cleared out. That was enough for me. Watch out for red and hot-to-the-touch spots, though, to avoid possible mastitis (a painful infection accompanied by fever). If you experience this, contact your doctor.
When Does Weaning Really Start?
Technically, weaning begins once we start introducing any food besides breastmilk or formula. So when you start introducing solids to your baby, you have started the process of weaning. Don’t worry, it is a natural process. Just always try to introduce solids for fun at first and after nursing or formula so your baby doesn’t get too full from food instead of nutritious breastmilk/formula.
A baby’s main source of nutrition should be breastmilk or formula for their first year of life. Everything else is just for fun.
There seems to be a lot of debate over when to introduce solids (I’ve heard anywhere from 4-9 months), but I kind of felt like our daughter told us when she was ready. We started by sitting her in her highchair with a toy, and once she was engaged enough and acted like she wanted our food, we let her try her own. She happened to be around 5 months, had some teeth, had good hand to mouth coordination, was able to sit up on her own and roll around, etc.
I did purees first because that’s what I was most comfortable with, but I know lots of moms who tried baby-led weaning (the process of skipping purees and letting baby discover food with their fingers on their own, starting with soft foods they can mash up themselves with their fingers/gums/teeth). So when the time comes for you to introduce solids to your baby, try what works for you and your family. I do think it’s a good idea to introduce one new food at a time, spaced a few days apart, so you can give baby’s digestive system a chance to learn something new and also to watch for bad reactions.
Peace of mind here: No child has ever died from an allergic reaction to a food they’ve had for the very first time.
What about Allergies?
You should be on the watch for allergic reactions (obvious swelling or hives, rash, etc), but you don’t have to worry about a severe reaction with the first trial. Since your baby has never had a food that is high allergy before, their body won’t know to fight it and so cannot go into anaphylactic shock until it’s had it at least once. If your child seems to have had a concerning reaction with a new food, be careful about trying it again. Have Benadryl handy if you’re concerned.
What if my Child Doesn’t Like the Food that I Offer?
Don’t worry if your child doesn’t like a particular food the first time. It’s new and weird, so don’t force it. You can try it again the next day or the day after, and they might love it. Kids can be weird. We were either lucky with our daughter because she always preferred veggies or she learned to like healthier options because that was her only choice. You can be the judge of that. 🙂
It’s About to Get Messy!
Feeding your baby or toddler will be messy. There are some products that can help with this though, like the Easy pouch Independence which helps your child not squeeze the food out of food pouches, or this amazing full sleeve Bib by Bumkin. It’s easy wipe clean up and machine washable when it comes to that.
If your child is bottle-feeding and you are trying to figure out how to wean them from the bottle, we found these few tips to help:
- Progressively dilute your breastmilk/formula with water. For example, we did this with her last nighttime bottle of breastmilk by starting with 5 oz of breastmilk and 1 oz of water for a while, then 4 oz breastmilk and 2 oz water, and so on until we ended with just an oz of breastmilk and 5 oz + of water. After that it was just water.
- During the day, if your child is drinking formula or breastmilk from a bottle, start to replace that with a sippy cup. Some kids are super picky about skippy cups and that’s ok – that’s why there are a gazillion different ones out there. Eventually, they will get it.
I think the biggest thing to remember for all transitions with kids is to not compare yourselves to others or listen to other mothers’ criticisms.
You don’t see teenagers walking around not able to drink out of a regular glass right? Eventually everybody gets there.
If you have other weaning questions or suggestions, feel free to send us a message via our Facebook page or our Contact Us page too. We would always love to hear from you!