Weaning Your Baby
How long should you breastfeed your baby? When should you start weaning him off the breast? The American Academy of Pediatrics (here) and the The American Academy of Family Physicians (here) recommend that mothers breastfeed their babies (exclusively) for the first 6 months and then continue breastfeeding for the next 6 months and beyond.
The World Health Organization (here) goes further and recommends continual breastfeeding until age 2. That being said, you should try to strike a balance between what is best for your baby and what is best for you.
Reasons to Wean Your Baby
There are many reasons why a woman might choose to wean her baby, but here are a few common reasons:
- Women who need to go back to work may choose to wean their baby off the breast. Although some women can work and breastfeed, the majority will choose to wean their baby because their workplace is not amendable to breastfeeding.
One way to continue to give your baby breast milk while you work is to pump the milk out of the breast and give it to the care provider to feed to the baby. You need to find a schedule that works for you. For example, pump the milk before going to work, over the lunch break, after work, and then once again before going to bed.
- Some women "want their body back" and do not want to be a slave to the breastfeeding process. Certainly, if you feel stifled, it may be best to wean instead of continuing to breastfeed and feeling resentful of your sacrifice. Weaning Baby will give you more physical and emotional freedom. And that is very important because an unhappy mother will find it difficult to truly love and nurture her baby.
- Some women wean their baby because they are pressured to do so by family members, neighbors, and/or friends. This scenario is most sad since the mother does not want to, nor does she need to wean, but does so only because of misguided advice.
One way to bypass this problem is to not tell anyone that you are still breastfeeding. Simply answer that your baby is eating solid food and that he is growing well. You need not tell anyone or show anyone that you are still breastfeeding.
When to Wean Your Baby
In principle, you can wean your baby at any time. Here are some landmarks to consider:
For the year 2020, the Surgeon General of USA hopes to have:
How does your state comply? Click here to see the results of a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Immunization Survey.
- 82% of women breastfeeding when they leave the hospital,
- 60% women breastfeeding at 6 months, and
- 34% of women still breastfeeding at 12 months.