What NOT to Do When Weaning
There are many bits of “old wisdom” that tell us how to wean our children from breastfeeding. Many of these techniques were practiced by generations before us, and are handed down from mother to daughter. While there is some good advice in these bits of wisdom that get passed through generations, there are some pieces of advice that are not sound. Some of these involve weaning.
The first one tells mothers to leave their child for a week or not show themselves to their child. This week of separation is said to be successful in weaning a child because by the time the mother returns, the child will be used to formula milk or other foods and they will no longer look for breast milk. This is not true.
Babies do remember breastfeeding and the comfort it gives them. When the mother returns, the baby is likely to cling to the mother because they are afraid that their mother will leave again. Choosing this method of weaning will stir up feelings of abandonment in your child, and though they are tiny, their emotions are strong. In this delicate stage when children are learning who to trust and who to mistrust, promoting trust and a feeling of security is very important for your baby both now and for the future.
Another old fashioned technique for weaning is to deter the baby from breastfeeding by adding a very strong and unnatural flavor to the milk. Some mothers apply something spicy, bitter, or sour to their nipples so that when their baby tries to feed, the taste will turn them off and they will choose the bottle instead. Do not wean your child this way. This method is not healthy for either you or your baby.
It isn’t healthy for the baby because they may be allergic to whatever you choose to put on your breast without you knowing it, and their delicate digestion may not be able to take ingesting the flavor. Plus they will go through emotional turmoil. They want to feed from you and with you, but now they cannot because something is wrong. It isn’t healthy for you because your nipples can become irritated by the substance and it can lead to a rash or soreness in and around the nipple, which just makes you susceptible to mastitis or thrush.
The final bit of old advice is to take medication in order to stop lactation, and make the milk “dry up.” When you have less milk to give, your baby will look for other forms of milk or food and in effect you will wean your child. Unless your doctor prescribes these medicines, do not take them. Any medication you take can affect your baby, and the side effects of the medicine may not be good for either you or your child. There are other aids in stopping lactation and they are discussed in detail later in other articles.
Next Page: Weaning a Toddler