Transitions can be a big deal when you have a small baby. If you’re headed back to work and need to spend time apart from your baby, chances are you’ll need to wean them onto formula and solid foods.
While you can stock up on essentials like bottles, formula and breastfeeding jumpers Australia, it’s really your baby you have to pay attention to. The more you do to ease the transition to other food sources, the more likely they are to accept the change.
In this article we’ll look at 7 things you can do to wean your baby off breastfeeding for times when you can’t be there to nurse them.
1. Wait Until Your Baby Shows Interest in Other Foods
Making the switch to formula or solid foods can be a bit of a battle. Babies are fussy and they often reject new food sources without trying them. You can work around this issue by waiting until your baby shows interest in other foods.
This usually happens around 6-12 months. Your baby will begin eating more solid foods, and that’s a great time to cut back on breastfeeding. You don’t need to switch to solid foods entirely at this point. Introducing formula feeding is a good way to ensure your baby gets the nutrients they need while also decreasing your reliance on breastfeeding.
This is especially useful as you begin to spend more time apart from your baby. For example, if you’re going back to work or relying on a grandparent to care for the baby, introducing new foods makes feeding times easier.
2. Introduce Bottles and Solid Foods Gradually
One of the toughest parts about weaning your baby is that it has an effect on your own body. The amount of milk your breasts produce depends on your baby’s feeding schedule. Changing that feeding schedule often leads to breast milk overproduction, which can be uncomfortable.
To ease the discomfort, you should introduce bottles and solid foods over a period of several weeks or months. Start by replacing one feeding per day with an alternate food source. Try to pick a feeding that your baby won’t miss – it’s likely that they’ll refuse new foods at first. Afternoon feedings are usually the first to go (and the feeding before sleep is typically the last to be replaced).
3. Offer Other Foods Before Breast Milk
Your baby is going to refuse alternate foods during the transition.
Babies are hardwired to want breast milk. Introducing new foods, smells, textures and flavours can be confronting for them. At times, you will need to relent and give them breast milk instead of solid foods or formula.
However, this can be a problem for your milk production and feeding schedule. Wherever possible, you should offer your baby other foods before relenting and giving them breast milk. Providing other foods first helps them get used to the idea. It also prevents your baby from learning that they can simply throw a tantrum to get what they want.
4. Try Different Types of Bottles
Did we mention that babies are fussy? That not only applies to the types of food you’re offering, but also to the delivery method.
Switching from breastfeeding to bottles won’t always go smoothly. If your baby consistently refuses bottles, it’s time to try a different size or shape. Purchase a few different types of bottles (and bottle nipples) to see what works best.
Keep in mind that nipples come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Choose one that your baby likes, and make sure it’s sized appropriately for their age.
If you’re switching to solid foods then you may also want to offer your baby a dummy. This satisfies the sucking reflex that newborn babies share.
5. Hand Express Milk
The amount of milk your body produces will change as you wean your baby off nursing. This change doesn’t always happen at the same pace as your baby’s transition, which can leave you with an oversupply and sore breasts.
If your breasts become sore you should hand express your milk. Only express enough to ease discomfort. Avoid using pumps – this can restart your breast milk production and make the transition tougher than it needs to be.
6. Get Help from Other Caregivers
Babies have an innate response to breast milk and to their mother. When introducing new foods, it’s often helpful to ask another caregiver to handle the first few feedings. This will reduce your baby’s insistence on nursing and ease the transition.
7. Use Combination Feeding
There’s no right or wrong way to feed your baby. Introducing formula and solid foods are an important part of your baby’s development, but that doesn’t mean you need to stop breastfeeding entirely.
You can continue to breastfeed your baby while offering them alternatives. This allows you to continue spending special time with your baby while broadening their horizons!