nursing toddlerLet's talk about weaning your baby. A lot of moms believe in "self-weaning." That's where you let your baby decide when she's finished breastfeeding. It's a beautiful, gentle process that honors your child's own timetable.

And then there's the rest of us.

I swear to God, if I hadn't weaned my son, he would have kept breastfeeding up to the first grade. Some babies (kids? whatever ...) need more of a nudge. So what, do you just cut your child off, cold turkey? Here's someweaning wisdom we collected from parenting experts around the web.

1. Decide when. There is no one perfect time for everyone. There just isn't. I mean, the American Academy of Pediatrics says to nurse exclusively for the first six months and nurse with solids at least until the first birthday. Other organizations around the world say keep nursing for two years. But it's up to you and your baby.

2. Take it slow. Everyone says this. Gradually decrease the amount of time you spend nursing, and how often you nurse. The process can take weeks, even months. This is as much for the baby as it is for you -- quitting abruptly can cause swelling, discomfort, and even lead to breast infections.

3. Decide on "priority" feedings. Most babies feel the most emotional attachment during the first and last feedings of the day, so cut the other feedings out first before ending those. Some moms cut the bedtime feeding last.

4. Change your routine. Cutting those feedings is easier if you also change your routine. You might want to keep your baby distracted with new activities.

5. Find new ways to comfort. Most of us know breastfeeding isn't just about food -- it's about feeling loved and secure. This is the time when you need to find other ways to help your baby feel that way without nursing. Be especially cuddly and especially sensitive to your baby's social cues during this transition.

6. Expect mixed feelings. Moms feel all different ways about weaning. Some are relieved, others feel sad or guilty -- most of the time, it's a combination of conflicting emotions. That's totally normal.

When and how are you planning to wean your baby?

 

Image via Mothering Touch/Flickr