What signs can a baby show to indicate he/she is ready for weaning? What does a parent look for to determine the right timing for this for baby, mom and family?
A wise woman once told me that weaning is a two-way process. Whenever it is not right for either one of the people involved (the woman or the baby/toddler), it is over. Some signs that it is not right for your infant or toddler any more:
- Your infant or toddler refuses to nurse when clearly hungry.
- Your infant or toddler prefers another (age-appropriate) form of food. Note that until 12 months an infant should be fed primarily formula or breast milk, with solid food as a supplemental food.
Mothers generally know when nursing is no longer working for them. This can be a varied and complex decision. At the end of the day I think the question of when a mother needs to wean boils down to when a mother feels that nursing brings a smaller benefit to her nursing child than the things it takes away from herself, her husband, her other children if she has them, and any other obligations she might have. That time is different for every mother. For some it is nearly instantaneous after birth. For others it is not until the late toddler years when a toddler finally self-weans. For many it is somewhere in between. No one should ever shame a mother for mother-led weaning if she takes all the factors of her life into account.