Weaning is what happens as you stop breastfeeding your child and they start to drink from a cup. The process of weaning a toddler can be a little different from weaning a baby.
Although many mums wean their babies at around 12 months, some continue to breastfeed well into the toddler years. There is no harm in breastfeeding your toddler since breast milk will continue to provide nutrition. Many mothers say it helps develop a stronger emotional bond with their child and can help with their developing behaviour.
When you feel the time is right to wean your toddler, there are several things you can do to make the transition easier.
Be guided by you and your toddler’s needs, and let those determine when is the right time to wean.
Here are some tips to help both of you:
- Wean slowly if possible.
- Explain to your toddler that breastfeeding will stop soon - toddlers understand more than they can say.
- • Point out other toddlers who no longer breastfeed.
- Offer praise if your toddler is able to go for a whole morning without a breastfeed.
- Increase your cuddling time, so that your toddler feels secure and knows that they can still be comforted in your arms without going to the breast.
- Avoid the early morning feeds and daytime feed by getting up and getting dressed before your toddler wakes.
- Be consistent with feeding times.
- If you don’t want to feed when you are out, wear clothing that makes your breasts less accessible.
- Distract your child with play, games and reading.
- Offer lots of healthy snacks and drinks.
- If you have always fed your child to sleep, change the routine, shorten the feed and increase the time between the feed and bedtime.
- If your baby wakes at night, have your partner go in to re-settle.
Although the decision to wean affects the whole family, the best time to wean is when you or your child feel the time is right, not when friends or relatives feel you should wean.
Where to go for help
For information and advice on breastfeeding or weaning, contact:
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Last reviewed: August 2020