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All sources I can find agree that breastfeeding should stop slowly and gradually, and most of them say that it often happens naturally once the baby gets used to solid foods. Well, with our baby it didn't, so we are now when she is one year old looking to get this process started properly.

She eats solid foods and drinks water from a bottle all by herself, but still wants to nurse, especially to go to sleep. It seems to be mostly a comfort thing.

What recommendations do you have for a process to ween her off breastfeeding? Should we start with only breastfeeding during the night? Only the day? Hints for making her less interested in nursing?

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What I bring back from the answers here is that each kid is different. I upvoted all, and will select one (or not) once we succeeded. :) –  Lennart Regebro Apr 4 '11 at 19:02
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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

You can start by eliminating the feedings that are of least interest to your child (you can figure this out by how long the child nurses). Drop one feeding at a time and then wait a few days for your body to catch up with the signal to not produce milk at that time. Eliminating night feedings first may give you and your child better sleep.

At the moment, my wife has eliminated all the feedings for our 14 month old except for the 4am. This is proving to be challenging. For the past couple of nights she has given a bottle at that hour and plans to water down the milk by one ounce per night until the bottle is only water. She hopes that this will help our son's stomach to get the message that he shouldn't be hungry at that hour.

For the bedtime and nap feedings, you can first switch the nursing to the beginning of the bedtime routine so that it isn't the last thing before going to sleep. Then you can start completely skipping that part. Lately I've been bathing our son and reading the stories, then my wife does the tuck in. Our son has forgotten about the nighttime feeding.

For any breast pain associated with too much milk build up, you can try a warm shower, pumping a little milk out, cold cabbage leaves, or ibuprofen. It really should only take 2-3 days for your body to catch up with the signal to not produce so much milk.

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Your answer was very complete dealing with different times during the day. We too substituted more bottle/sippy cup in lieu. Dad doing the bedtime routine was very helpful too. –  nGinius Apr 4 '11 at 23:36
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It may be natural for children to lose interest in breastfeeding once they start on solids, but if they don't lose interest you do not need to be worried. I think our first child was about 18 months old before we completely weaned her. By then, of course, she was eating meals with the family and could eat most foods on her own. But she still had her daily feedings.

As a child learns to eat more and more solid food, their dependence on breastfeeding is less about nutrition and more about safety and comfort (as you suggested). So as you cut out breastfeeding from the daily routine, make sure the child is getting enough intimate time--snuggling or reading on the lap work great. Using that approach, we were able to cut down the breast feedings to twice a day (1 at wake up time, 1 at bed time), and then once a day (at bed time), and then eventually cut them out altogether. The transition was pretty seamless, and our daughter didn't feel like she was missing out because she was still getting the same amount of attention as before.

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Huge +1 to the snuggle time, that's how we made the transition. I forget how old our son was when he got cut off from the milk bar... though I still remember the shriek of pain from his momma. Teeth: natures way of saying "it's time to stop nursing now." –  cabbey Apr 4 '11 at 19:16
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I had to switch my daughter off the breast because she wouldn't stop biting. She cut her first tooth while nursing and let's just say that it's difficult to have stitches in that area. –  Darwy May 21 '11 at 19:04
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With two children now 3 and 21 months we had two different personalities to contend with but got it done.

What worked for our children was transition to a different routine at the time we wanted the nursing to subside.

The first step was to transition to bedtime only feedings. This pacified both children and was the single biggest step we took. When it was time to transition away from the bedtime feeding it was critical to change the environment and bedtime routine and stick with it. The first few days were the most difficult but the approach worked well.

While the children would still show interest at random points in time; it was ignored. Ignoring the behavior eventually led the child to also lose interest.

The biggest piece of advice I can offer is don't feel as though you have to do it at a given time. While your may have ideals about the appropriate time the reality is that the child we lose interest. More times then not it is the mother who wants that attachment and while she admits to wanting to wean the child off...is also weaning herself. Breastfeeding has created a significant bond between the mother and the child and losing that is often times more difficult for the mother then the child.

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