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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Weaning Strategies Mothers Should Adopt

Written by: Kate Halim


Weaning is just the act of substituting other food for the mother's milk in the diet of a child. Other foods gradually take the place of the primary breast milk.

BREASTFEEDING as a form of relationship requires the goodwill of the mother and child. Sometimes mothers are ready to end that form of relating, eager to find other ways of meeting their child’s needs for physical and emotional sustenance.

The challenge is how to encourage a devoted baby to give up the breast, without traumatising him or her.

Over the years, sudden weaning is a major loss for little ones, one that can make them feel so overwhelmed with a desperate need that they express their displeasure through constant tantrums and cries for attention which they no longer getting.

By contrast, gradual weaning involves loss, but the baby is able to do her grieving in small, manageable doses as she learns to meet her physical and emotional needs in other ways.

In fact, gradual weaning becomes a series of healthy stepping stones in the child’s development and in the mother – child relationship, in which the child grows.

Below are five ways nursing mothers can gradually wean their babies without hurting their feelings.

1. Make sure your baby gets enough nutrition from other sources
If your baby is getting most of her calories from you, weaning her will mean she will be hungry which will mean frustration all around. Focus on helping her explore solid food so she learns to enjoy it before you introduce gradual weaning. This works better.

2. Cover Up
The sight of your breast triggers your child’s longing to nurse. This will last at least a year after she’s weaned, and maybe longer. This isn’t the time to wear low cut tops or sleep naked (presuming that your child ever awakens at night, as many do.) Don’t worry this won’t last forever.

3. Wean at Night
The first feedings you will want to eliminate is any night feeding, if your child still wakes up at night to nurse. If your baby is still doing this, it’s probably because they don’t know how to go to bed without sucking breasts.

But your baby has to learn to go to bead without nursing in the middle of the night when he’s a bit rested and can stay awake longer. You should start by helping your child learn to fall asleep without nursing when you put him to bed at night.

4. Expect and welcome crying
If you gradually start weaning your baby, feelings such as whining, grumpiness, reactivity, helplessness crop up. Accept your child’s emotions with compassion.

Your baby just needs to cry in the safety of your loving attention and those feelings will dissipate. Weaning is a loss for your baby. He or she’s giving up something beloved.
Crying reveal just how sad he or she feels at the moment. You have to love your baby through that phase with understanding and patience.

5. Reduce the time you spend breast feeding your baby
If you reduce the amount of time your child nurses at each session, then giving up breast milk will be easier on your child. Weaning has to work for both mother and child.

Remember that even if you want to wean your child, you may experience this as a loss too. Go through the emotions and help your child go through it with love.

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