The process of weaning is entirely up to you and your baby but you should follow a few tips to ensure that it is as successful as possible.
During the weaning process you should check your breasts regularly to ensure that you haven’t developed blocked ducts. You should never bind your breast and you should drink plenty of fluids. If you notice firm tender areas around the breasts (symptom of blocked ducts) you should consult your doctor or midwife.
You may notice your baby refuses to breastfeed. Do not assume your baby is ready to wean. Many factors can cause this such as teething, illnesses such as an ear infection, and the onset of your period, food that you are eating or a soap/deodorant you have used.
To avoid this, make feeding times quiet and make time to cuddle your baby. Offer your breast when she is sleepy. If you are unable to establish why she has stopped taking your breast, you should consult your doctor or midwife. Do not take this as rejection. There is always an alternative reason. Ensure that your milk is expressed to avoid discomfort, blocked ducts, mastitis and a breast abscess.
You should substitute the breast milk depending upon the age of your child. A child under 12 months should be fed on iron-fortified formula. Twelve to eighteen months should be given follow up formula or whole milk. A child between eighteen months and over two years should be given whole milk as a regular part of their diet.
Bear in mind that once your baby has reached twelve months of age, she should not be consuming more than 24 ounces of milk products per day. This is to ensure that she will not fill up and still eat solid foods. This is also a risk that she develops iron deficiency anaemia. Consult your doctor if your child has a milk allergy.
You should introduce solid foods to your baby’s diet at around six months of age; your baby will gradually accept less breast milk during this time. The solid foods should be introduced gradually and one at a time. You may find that your baby is constipated if they are given too much solid food in the beginning.
Give your baby drinks of water in small amounts once or twice a day, after six months of age. Avoid too much fruit juice as it can cause tooth decay, poor weight gain, obesity or diarrhoea.
Remember not to rush your baby and give her as much time as she requires to feed. You should both be relaxed before you start. You will find it easier to feed your baby on your knee or using a high chair. Mix new foods with familiar ones and increase the amount you give your baby each time. Make sure her portion has not been seasoned if eating the same as the family. It is cheaper to prepare your own food for your baby rather than buy jars. Avoid adding sugar and salt although small amounts of sugar can take away the sharpness from fruit purees.
Weaning is messy so be prepared for you and your baby to become dirty. You may need something such as a sheet to protect your carpet.