Weaning Your Baby! It Might Not be as Hard as You Think
When to wean and how are common questions of motherhood. Here are some of the answers about weaning your baby!
Babies are born with a God-given ability to nurse. There is even evidence of them sucking their thumb in the womb. Since babies are born with a suck reflex, sucking a bottle or breast comes naturally.
Once they emerge from the womb, they suck their mother’s breast, plastic bottle nipples, thumbs and sometimes their toes. Because they are adept at the practice, bottles, breastfeeding, and binkies often combine to present a quandary for moms.
The first few hours after birth, we concern ourselves as to whether or not the baby is feeding well. Is he working sufficiently to receive the nourishment required to thrive? Before we know it, the time has passed and not only does baby thrive,(thankfully) but he has become quite attached to the act of sucking.
The pacifier is an instrument designed to do just what its name implies. The pacifier pacifies. It provides comfort to a fussy, sometimes disgruntled baby. In reality, the baby needn’t be unhappy to gain comfort from the pacifier. A pacifier will likely keep contented baby content.
A certain amount of comfort is afforded to the baby via breast and bottle feeding as well. However, unlike the pacifier, this is not the primary function of the baby bottle or a mother’s breast.
The breast and bottle are meant to provide nourishment. The breast, in particular, offers what is necessary to prevent diseases, especially during those vulnerable first months and through the first year of the baby’s life. Comfort is merely a by-product of the design.
With this, a great controversy emerges as to the appropriate time to stop your baby from breast and bottle feeding. When parents should eliminate the pacifier, is not as controversial, but is definitely a question parents face.
You will find strong opinions on both sides of this particular bottle/breastfeeding issue. Some parents, and professionals, believe a child will stop breastfeeding on his own. Others are convinced that beyond the age of one year, the baby is using the breast as a comforting crutch.
This article is not confirming the validity of either argument but seeks to address the point with which nearly all of us agree. There comes a time when the attachment to a pacifier, breast or bottle-feeding must end.
The proof that this is a point on which most of us agree is evidenced by the fact there are few, if any middle schoolers, sent home for bringing a pacifier to school. As far as the bottle and breast are concerned, well need I say more? Parents find other avenues of comfort for their children.
Breaking your baby’s habit of breast and bottle feeding, as well as the attachment to the pacifier, is not a task for the faint-hearted. You must be convinced that now is the time. If you are not convinced, then wait until you are before forging ahead. The following tips may be of assistance when you and baby are ready.
1.) Start your baby on solid foods.
Feeding your baby solid foods will help him lose the desire for the breast and bottle. ( A baby should not be weaned from the breast or bottle before four months.) As your baby begins eating solids, exchange breast or bottle feeding one feeding at a time. Your baby will begin to desire solid food over breast or bottle feeding.
2.) Limit the availability of the bottle, breastfeeding or pacifier.
If you are choosing to wean your child of these comforts, place a limit on their availability. For instance, allow the child to nurse or take a bottle only at night, and only in his/her bedroom. The child will begin to understand that he can do without these comforts.
3.) Start discussing it aloud.
When it is time to limit the use of the bottle, breast, and pacifier, your baby will likely be old enough to understand the conversation. Start in the days and weeks before, positively speaking of when the child will let go of the pacifier, breast or bottle. Talk to them with an element of conviction in your voice.
Do not structure your conversation about what will happen in the days ahead in the form of a question, “Don’t you want to get rid of the pacifier?” “Aren’t you getting too big for mommy to breastfeed?” The child will, of course, have a different opinion on the subject than you do.
Tell him, “You are getting to be such a big boy. Soon it will be time to stop drinking from a bottle. Big boys don‘t use a bottle since that is what baby’s do.” Talk about it often. Do not shame him, simply keep it before him as a goal. Encouraging the child to repeat this back to you will begin to solidify it in his own mind.
4.) Choose a future date for when you want your baby weaned from the pacifier, breast, or bottle.
Work towards that date. Be diligent. If you should choose the child’s third birthday, for instance, begin talking about letting go of the pacifier weeks, if not months in advance. Tell the child, “Wow, soon you will be a big girl of three.
Three-year-olds don’t need a pacifier…” Tell the child exactly what is going to happen, “When you are a big girl of three we are going to throw away the pacifier.” It is not a threat, but a goal for the child to work toward.
Take away the pacifier the day after the child turns three, replacing it with an added birthday gift. By now the child is used to the idea, the pacifier goes away at three years old. It doesn’t have to be right on her special day, as long as the child is aware of exactly when it will take place.
Be prepared to stay strong. The child may be excited at first about letting go, but will probably falter later. Don’t give in. It will be a matter of short days until she is past needing it. Unless you give in.
5.) Provide comfort to your child often.
Do not be punitive in your approach. Give your child lots of love and attention. As the child is more secure, he will become less dependent on the comfort provided by the breast, bottle or pacifier. The child will also re-evaluate his relationship with mom. Mom is comforting without becoming a human pacifier.
You are asking your child to break a habit, which up until now has been very natural and accepted. Not sucking a pacifier, breast or bottle seems unnatural. With parental persistence, eventually, your baby will give in to growing older. In time, you will help him eliminate the use of the breast, bottle, and pacifier. It will happen.
After all, when was the last time you attended a wedding where a father ‘gave away’ a binkie sporting bride? Yours won’t be the first.