Weaning is the progression from breastfeeding to giving formula or milk in a bottle or cup. When to wean depends on your lifestyle and your baby’s needs. You can breastfeed for as long as you and your baby are happy to do so. Sometimes your baby will make the decision for you as they get older by losing interest in the breast. Or you may find it necessary to wean to accommodate a change of circumstances.
Where possible, allow enough time to wean gradually over a period of a few weeks. This is more comfortable, and avoids the risk of mastitis
Going back to work doesn’t mean you have to wean. You can still breastfeed morning and evening and give formula or expressed breast milk during the day (express some at work, keep it refrigerated and use it the next day, or freeze it). Develop a plan that suits your needs in consultation with your Child and Family Health Nurse.
Steps for weaning
Step 1: Start by eliminating one feed only, perhaps in the middle of the day, and substitute this with cow’s milk (if baby is over 12 months) or formula in a cup or bottle (if under 12 months).
Step 2: After eliminating a feed, it may take 2–7 days for your breasts to become softer and more comfortable.
Step 3: When your breasts have adjusted, eliminate a second breastfeed (but not a consecutive feed).
Step 4: Continue replacing one breastfeed every 2–7 days with a cup or bottle, until you have finished weaning. The last daily breastfeed could be the early morning feed (when you have the most milk) or the evening feed (if this helps you settle your baby at night).
Hungry babies become agitated and are often more difficult to feed. Try feeding a little earlier than usual.
Chapter 2 Watch Me Grow