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Weaning baby

Sarah Horrocks
by Sarah Horrocks Published on July 16, 2008

After breastfeeding comes the fateful stage of weaning. You need to get your baby used to taking formula, gradually. Sometimes this change can distress baby and cause you stress. How do you make weaning as painless as possible? Here are the steps to follow.

Get your child used to the teat
When breastfeeding is well established (when your baby is around a month old), start getting him or her used to the bottle. Feed baby your expressed milk in a bottle once a day, and soak the teat in your milk beforehand so that your baby takes it more easily. If possible, get someone else to give your baby the bottle so that baby doesn't associate your smell with the bottle.

Prepare for weaning
If you want a smooth transition from breast to bottle, start preparing a month before the date you want to stop breastfeeding. Start by replacing one feed with a bottle. Don’t refuse your baby your breast but don't offer it. Little by little, increase the number of bottle feeds and decrease the number of breast feeds, depending on your schedule and the time you have to wean your baby. Ask your partner and family to help you with the process because your baby will not associate them with breastfeeding. Your production of milk will decrease with the frequency of breast feeds.

Teats
To make weaning easier, choose a teat that closely resembles the shape of the nipple, with a long, supple tip and a little hole so that feeding requires a bit of effort. If you tip the bottle over your hand milk should not spill onto you. Also try silicone or rubber teats: your baby will let you know his/her preference!

If baby refuses the teat
You could use a beaker that you tip slowly, holding your baby on your lap and letting it flow drop by drop. Using a baby spoon, pour some milk gently in the corner of baby's cheek so that a large quantity of milk does not go into the mouth.
Using a pipette (available in chemists), pump milk into a cup, put the tip in baby's mouth and press lightly. If your child is more than 6 months old, ask your partner to do the morning feed with a bottle of flavoured milk (vanilla for example) while you get ready. This will cut the association in baby’s mind of you in your pyjamas at the morning feed. Refusal to take a bottle generally lasts a couple of days, and a maximum of a fortnight.

What about you?
Psychologically, weaning can be a difficult time: you feel you're losing the intimacy you had with your baby. It's a good time to pamper yourself, surround yourself with your loved ones and settle into the rhythm that suits you best. If you feel really lost then don’t be afraid to speak to other mums or a helpline if you need to.

by Sarah Horrocks

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