When to start weaning baby from breastfeeding is a personal choice that depends on mother and baby. Dispelling common myths about weaning babies from nursing.
Weaning baby from breastfeeding is the process of withdrawing your baby from feeding on your breast milk and introducing them to a diet of adult food. Weaning is a gradual process with a mixing of breastfeeding and adult food to slowly acclimatize the baby to consuming and digesting adult food.
It should happen no earlier than six months of age because the baby’s digestive and excretory systems are not developed enough for solid food yet. While solid food can be introduced into a baby’s diet early on and babies will experiment by licking and playing with the food, they will not be able to start eating it and derive nutrition from it until six months.
Actual times of weaning differ depending on the child and mother, and they can be affected by cultural or religious influences. Globally, the age of weaning can range anywhere from six months to five and a half years old.
It is a relationship between the mother and child, and even when their child is eating solid foods, some mothers choose to mix solid foods into their diet through the day and nurse the babies at night. It is becoming more popular to nurse babies for longer because of not only the bond between mother and child, but also for the health benefits to the baby.
There is a lot of information about weaning, but not all of it is necessarily the gospel truth. Listed below are three common misconceptions about weaning:
- Babies with teeth should be abruptly weaned
- You can’t work and breastfeed at the same time
- You can’t breastfeed if you are on medication
Weaning Your Baby from Breastfeeding: Babies and Teeth
While it is not comfortable breastfeeding a child who has teeth, it is possible, and there is no reason to immediately wean the child. There are infants who develop their first tooth at a few months old and mothers who choose to nurse their children until they are at preschool age and have their first set of teeth; when to wean is the mother’s choice.
Work and Weaning Your Baby from Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding and work are easily accommodated with the handy breast pump. By keeping to a pumping schedule, you can use the breast pump or even hand-express the milk from your breasts to keep for your baby to feed on while you are at work.
Weaning Your Baby from Breastfeeding: Babies and Medication
Yes, there are some medications that are transferred through breast milk, and they can adversely affect your baby. If they are optional medicines or ones with alternates, you may choose to avoid ones that will harm your baby.
An example is Pepto Bismol; it accumulates in breast milk and has been shown to be toxic to animal fetuses. There are alternate antacid and digestive remedies available. For medications that you must take, consult with your doctor about the risks and alternatives before you decide to jump to weaning.