According to doctors, after six months the baby needs more iron than breastfeed can provide. That's the time when we have the annaprashan ceremony. However, it is best to let the baby decide when he is ready to be weaned. Till he turns one, a combination of solids and breastfeed is recommended.
How to Wean Your Baby
Baby- led weaning:
Some parents believe in baby- led weaning, i.e. they let the baby decide when he is ready to drop breastfeed. He is allowed bite- sized portions to chew upon. This works because the child can set his own pace. However, it is often messy and time-consuming.
Even if you want to start the process on your own, it is important not to rush the baby. A simple way to do it is first to offer the baby a solid food after his regular breastfeed. Once he shows some enthusiasm for solids, reverse the order - first solids then breastfeed. As he starts to enjoy solids, the quantity of breast feed will taper off.
Those favourite feeds:
There will be some feeds that the baby is particularly attached to - like the morning and the night feeds. You might consider stopping the midday feeds first before going for the morning feed and then finally the night feed.
As you decrease the feeds, your milk supply will gradually reduce and dry up providing relief from engorgement. Till that happens, you can apply a cold compress to ease the discomfort.
How Long does Weaning take
Weaning might take a few days to a few months. There really is no set time frame. Do not be in a hurry to wean off your baby. Keep trying even while you enjoy the last few days/weeks of that close bonding that breastfeeding offers. You just might end up missing it.
If the baby seems reluctant to give up breastfeeding, try the two Ds -
Get him colourful cutlery, put on some music, dance or play. Let him handle the food, play with it if he wants, and try to get in a few spoonfuls to begin with.
Delay the feeds a bit at a time till you manage to skip one full feed.
What after Weaning
If you start the weaning process after six months, you will have to consider the formula. Doctors advise against cow's milk till the baby turns one. You will have to choose between a cup and a bottle. Bottles are tough to get rid off, but if your baby is too small, he might find a cup difficult. You might find it messy or time-consuming or simply too much effort. If your baby is older, he might make the transition from breast straight to a cup. Go slow with the solids. It might be a while before you can figure out how much is good for your baby. Follow his lead and don't over feed.