The weaning process
Weaning is when you stop breastfeeding. From 6 months you can start offering solid foods while you continue to breastfeed until at least 12 months. You should continue to breastfeed for as long as you and your baby want to. Weaning may continue for many months until you stop breastfeeding altogether.
You may notice your baby is showing more interest in food and weaning may happen naturally as they drink less milk. If you are thinking about reducing breastfeeding or going back to work, you may choose to wean to a bottle or cup. For bottle fed babies, you may choose to wean them to a cup. This decision depends on the age of your baby.
Once you start weaning your baby, it is a good idea to take it slowly so your baby can get used to the changes in routine and diet. You might decide to try weaning at night from 6 months of age and keep breastfeeding during the day.
It is important to remember that there is no hurry to start the weaning process, if you are happy to continue feeding your baby throughout the night. If you have any questions about whether this is right for you, please speak to your GP or child and family health nurse.
To start the night weaning process:
Gradually reduce the length of your baby’s feed by 2-5 minutes every second night.
Once you are feeding for less than 5 minutes you can simply skip the feed and use other ways to settle your baby.
It may take a few nights for them to get used to the new routine.
You can use a similar technique for bottle fed babies. If they are having more than 60 ml every night, reduce the amount by 20-30 ml every second night.
Other tips for weaning
You may need to comfort your baby more as they get used to the change in routine.
If your baby is younger than 12 months and you plan to stop breastfeeding, they should be weaned onto formula. After 12 months they can have full fat cow’s milk.
At around 7-8 months your baby can start to learn how to drink from a cup rather than a bottle. Let them start to play with a cup from 6 months of age. This will help them practice holding and using a cup as you get ready to transition their feeding.
At 8-9 months you can gradually wean your baby by swapping one breast/bottle feed with a cup to allow them to get used to using the cup and gradually phase out the bottle.
Your child should stop drinking from a bottle at 12 months of age to help prevent tooth decay.
If you stop breastfeeding quickly you might notice that your breasts become uncomfortable. You can express just enough milk to make them comfortable. Be careful not to express too much as this can stimulate you to produce more milk. Cutting back slowly from one feed per day to one feed every couple of days can help to prevent your breasts becoming uncomfortable.
For more information on the weaning process, you can visit Raising Children Network website.
[Raising Children Network, 2022; Australian Breastfeeding Association, 2019.]