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Weaning herself?....

Posted by on Feb. 26, 2013 at 6:38 PM
  • 10 Replies

 I don't know why.... but DD has pretty much weaned herself. She's been BFin for 7 months and 3 weeks. And a few days ago she decided that she doesn't was to breastfeed anymore! Everytime I offer my breast she will either puch her face away and start crying and squirming or she will bite me as hard as she can then pull away! She never took a bottle before (we tried every type of bottle on Earth and she refused them all). But now she will only drink breastmilk out of her sippy cup... IM SO CONFUSED!!

Has anyone ever heard of this happening? She literally weaned herself from breast to bottle....

I'm actually pretty sad. BFing was such a bonding experience. Now she will let anyone feed her... that used to be only my job :(

by on Feb. 26, 2013 at 6:38 PM
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by on Feb. 26, 2013 at 6:42 PM
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She's not weaning, she's got a flow preference. She wants the cup because it's easier. Cut out all bottles and cups then tough it out if you want her back on the breast. If you *have* to give bottles/cups for work, use them ONLY then, none when you are around. This is very common, and you can get past it!
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by on Feb. 26, 2013 at 6:44 PM
Also, look up nursing manners on kellymom. She is not allowed to hurt you, teach nursing manners to teach her not to bite. She's plenty old enough for that.
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by Bronze Member on Feb. 26, 2013 at 6:45 PM
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What maryjarrett said. 

Is she eating solids? You may want to cut those too. 

by Gina on Feb. 26, 2013 at 7:00 PM
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Yep... everything said above. She's not really choosing to wean so much as choosing the easy path because it's available to her. If it wasn't, there'd be no weaning here.

by Group Admin -Tabitha on Feb. 26, 2013 at 7:05 PM
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This is not weaning, she was given an option that was easier and faster so she took it, weaned her.  Yeah sorry not what you wanted to ehar.  She knows how to nurse, if not given an option she will.

by on Feb. 26, 2013 at 7:17 PM

 I actually did not give her the option of nursing or bottle. I ended up trying a bottle out of necessity. She refused nursing for almost 48 hours and ended up at the doc for dehydration. Her pedi said to offer milk and Pedialyte in a sippy cup to make sure she stays hydrated or else she wanted to send her to the Emergency Room for IV fluids.... so I did not offer a bottle until I abosolutely HAD TO.

Quoting tabi_cat1023:

This is not weaning, she was given an option that was easier and faster so she took it, weaned her.  Yeah sorry not what you wanted to ehar.  She knows how to nurse, if not given an option she will.


by on Feb. 26, 2013 at 7:22 PM
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This is not weaning, it is a nursing strike!!


The following techniques have proven helpful for a wide range of problems with baby refusing the breast. Some of the babies who might benefit include:

  • a newborn (or older adopted baby) trying to figure out how to breastfeed
  • a previously-weaned baby whom you wish to breastfeed again
  • a baby who seriously resists nursing (or even being placed in a nursing position)
  • a baby with nipple confusion
  • a baby who is a fussy nurser (but does not completely refuse the breast)
  • a baby on a nursing strike

Even if you have a baby who adamantly resists nursing, getting your baby to breast is very possible but it will probably require time, patience, and kangaroo-style frequency. Expect “two steps forward and one step backward.”

If you’re getting discouraged working with your non-nursing baby, read this: My Baby Just Doesn’t Get It. If you have a newborn who is not latching on, do keep in mind that almost all reluctant nursers will start latching by four to eight weeks of life.

The Basics

Follow the Rules

The two primary rules when you have a baby who is having problems nursing are:

  1. Feed the baby. A baby who is getting the right amount of calories and nutrition is best able to learn how to nurse. First choice forwhat to feed a non-nursing baby is mom’s own milk, second choice is banked milk from another mom, third choice is infant formula.
  2. Maintain milk supply. If mom’s milk supply is being maintained with an appropriate frequncy and amount of milk expression, more time is available for baby to learn to nurse, and baby’s efforts will be better rewarded (with more milk).

Suggestions for a typical nursing session

  • Very careful, supportive positioning can be very helpful when baby is having problems breastfeeding; for example, a cross-cradle hold or a modified football hold can be useful.
  • If your baby is tolerating it, then work on latching for up to 10 minutes or so. If baby is getting upset, then go with shorter sessions. It’s not a good idea to keep trying for more than about 10 minutes – after this baby will be tired, latching will be harder, and there is a risk of baby developing an aversion to the breast if you persist too much.
  • Don’t continue trying to get baby to take the breast after major frustration (either mom’s or baby’s) sets in; stop for a bit and calm baby (and/or give mom a break) before continuing – let baby suck on a finger, or snuggle baby high up between mom’s breasts, or hand baby to dad.
  • Sometimes it can be helpful to offer a little supplement at the beginning of a feeding; this can take the edge off baby’s hunger so he has more patience to work on the breastfeeding. If you’ve been working on latching and hunger is getting in baby’s way, go quickly to whatever alternative feeding you’re using. If you’re both totally frustrated, give a whole feed, but if you think your baby is up for it (and you are too), only offer enough supplement to calm him and go back to working on breastfeeding.
  • If baby does not latch or does not suck effectively (or won’t sustain a suck for more than 3 sucks even with breast compressions), then either try supplementing at the breast (see below) or stop and offer baby a little supplement (1/2 ounce or so of expressed milk or formula), and then have another try at nursing. If the second try is unsuccessful, then go ahead and finish up the feed with whatever method of supplementation you are using.
  • Any time that baby does not nurse at all, or nurses but does not soften the breast well, pump after feeding baby. This will help to maintain your milk supply, plus you will have some “liquid gold” available the next time baby needs a supplement. See Establishing and maintaining milk supply when baby is not nursing.

Feed the Baby!

  • Do not try to starve your baby into nursing. Your baby is not refusing to nurse just because he doesn’t want to and is being stubborn, so ignore anyone who tells you that “baby will nurse when he gets hungry enough.”
  • In general, a baby who won’t nurse, can’t nurse. Your goal is to (hopefully) identify why baby can’t nurse and either remedy the problem, work around the problem, and/or preserve your milk supply until the problem remedies itself (sometimes necessary for ill, small or premature babies). A board-certified lactation consultant is a great partner to have in this process.
  • Keep baby as full and happy as possible, i.e. continue to offer expressed mother’s milk, banked milk, formula or solids (if baby is old enough), but gradually get closer and closer to the nursing position, skin-to-skin, etc. Click here for tips for weaning from formula supplements.

Maintaining milk supply when baby is not nursing

It is important to express your milk to maintain milk supply while baby is transitioning to full breastfeeding. See Establishing and maintaining milk supply when baby is not nursing for more information.

Coaxing baby to the breast

General tips

Your goal is to coax baby to the breast. Do not attempt to force your baby to breastfeed. Forcing baby to the breast does not work, stresses baby, and can result in baby forming an aversion to the breast. As baby gets better at nursing and is able to get more milk via nursing, he will grow to trust that breastfeeding works and will have more patience when latching.

  • Wear clothing that allows very easy access to the breasts. Baby may get very impatient in the split-second it takes for mom to lift the blouse and undo the bra. Spend time, if possible, in a warm place that allows both mom and baby to be naked from the waist up.
  • Lots of skin-to-skin contact can help your baby nurse better and even gain weight faster. Keep your baby with you as much as possible, and give him lots of opportunities to nurse (even if you’re not successful). Get skin-to-skin with him, first when he is sleepy, right after a bottle feed (or however you’re supplementing). This way baby has the opportunity to sleep and wake up happily, skin to skin at mom’s chest, and mom is right there to catch the earliest hunger cues. If baby moves toward the breast and then falls asleep before even mouthing the nipple, or after sucking twice, then these are positive baby steps, not failures. (Read more aboutkangaroo care or take a look at the book.)
  • Offer the breast often. Try breastfeeding in baby’s favorite place, in his favorite position, in the bath, while walking around, while lying down, with baby upright, baby flat on his back, in his sleep, just as he is waking, any time baby looks as if he might be interested, or any other way you can think of, i.e. any time, anywhere.
  • Avoid pressuring baby to nurse. Offer in an ultra-casual way and pretend you don’t mind if he refuses (easier said than done, but try not to show any frustration – your aim is to avoid pressuring baby to nurse). Don’t hold the back of baby’s head or push or hold baby to the breast. If baby pulls off the breast, then don’t try to make him go back onto the breast at that time – simply try again later. If baby seems frustrated with your offering the breast, then turn the pressure down and simply make the breast available (lots of skin-to-skin!) without offering. It can be helpful to have lots of skin-to-skin time with baby where he is cuddled at the breast with no pressure to nurse – give control over to your baby, so that baby decides if and when to nurse and when to stop nursing.
  • Carry your baby close to you (a sling or other baby carrier can help with this). “Wear,” carry, hold and cuddle your baby as much as possible; carry baby on your hip while doing other things, play with baby, and give baby lots of focused attention.
  • Sleep near your baby. If baby sleeps with you, you’ll get more skin-to-skin contact, plus baby has more access to the breast (see this information on safe co-sleeping). If baby is not in the same bed, have baby’s bed beside your bed or in the same room so that you can catch early feeding cues, breastfeed easier at night, and get more sleep.
  • Nipple shields can be helpful at times for transitioning baby to the breast. Talk to your lactation consultant about using this tool.
  • Comfort nursing is often the first to come, followed by nutritive nursing. Offer the breast for comfort any time you see a chance- at the end of a feeding when baby is not hungry, when baby is going to sleep or just waking up, when baby is asleep, and whenever he needs to comfort suck If your baby is actively resisting nursing, then try encouraging comfort nursing after baby is comfortable with skin-to-skin contact. After baby is willing to nurse for comfort, you can then proceed to working on nursing for “meals” as well.

You are working to seduce your baby back to breast. Again, coax, don’t force!

“Instant Reward” techniques

For a newborn who is not latching or an older baby who does not want to wait for letdown, try these techniques that help to teach (or re-teach) your baby that nursing is a way to get milk:

  • Hand express or pump until let-down, just before trying to latch baby, so that baby gets an instant “reward” for latching on. Another way to elicit let-down is by doing reverse pressure softening.
  • If you are using a nipple shield to transition to nursing, try filling the tip of the shield with expressed milk prior to applying the shield and latching, so that baby gets some milk first thing as he latches.
  • Drip expressed breastmilk (if you have it) or formula onto the tip of the nipple as you’re latching (use an eyedropper or a bottle). You can continue this while you’re breastfeeding: Just drip milk toward the center of baby’s upper lip; let the drop start on the breast and roll down toward the center of the upper lip (12 o’clock position if you’re using the football/clutch hold), one drop at a time. A curved tip syringe can also be used to drip milk into baby’s mouth.
  • Use a nursing supplementer to increase milk flow at the breast.

If baby starts breastfeeding but stops sucking as soon as the milk flow slowsbreast compressions can speed the flow of milk. If this is not sufficient, the last two methods above can also be used.

Skin to Skin/Laid-Back Breastfeeding

Keeping baby skin to skin with mom and “laid-back” breastfeeding techniques can both be very helpful when encouraging baby to breastfeed. This video shows baby-led, mother-guided latching. One technique used to get babies to accept the breast has been calledrebirthing, but this is essentially just laid-back breastfeeding in the bath. Mom gets into the bathtub, full of warm (not hot) water with baby. Place baby on mom’s tummy, in the water. Stroke baby, talk to baby. This may take time, but baby may begin to work his way up to the breast, search it out, and begin to suckle. It’s important to have a support person with mom when doing this, for the safety of the baby. See Help for Latch-on Problems for more information.

Working with a baby who is actively resisting nursing

Make sure that a physical problem is not causing baby to resist nursing. Could baby have a birth injury or other condition that makes positioning for nursing painful? Is baby having problems with breathing while nursing or coordinating sucking and swallowing? Does baby have an overactive gag reflex that makes nursing uncomfortable? Does baby have severe reflux that makes feeding painful? Does baby have a sore throat from suctioning or other medical interventions? These are just some of the things that might interfere with breastfeeding.

Sometimes a baby will aggressively refuse the breast for no discernable reason – this baby will often resist being held, and may also be easily overstimulated. These babies can be transitioned to breastfeeding, but it should be done very gently so that baby becomes comfortable with being at the breast.

La Leche League’s Breastfeeding Answer Book lists the stages that these babies go through as they transition to breastfeeding:

  • The baby aggressively fights the breast.
  • The baby cries more while being held than when he’s put down.
  • The baby is willing to be held in some positions, even if not in a cradle hold.
  • The baby tolerates being held in the cradle hold.
  • The baby will attempt to root.
  • The baby will lick at the milk on the nipple.
  • The baby will attempt to suck, using and in-and-out movement.
  • The baby will take milk at the breast.
  • The baby nurses well, even before the let-down occurs.Source: Mohrbacher N, Stock J. The Breastfeeding Answer Book, Third Revised Edition. Schaumburg, Illinois: La Leche League International, 2003, p. 136-137.

Some babies will become more resistant the more you press the issue of nursing. If you’ve been working hard to get baby to latch and baby is resisting nursing, it can be helpful to step back for a bit, take the pressure off both yourself and baby, and not try to latch baby at all for a few days. Then slowly and gently work on moving baby through the above stages.

  • Start out by bottle feeding (or using whatever form of alternative feeding you prefer) in the feeding position you usually use, without trying to nurse. If baby resists being held in the beginning, it might be helpful to feed baby in an infant carrier or perhaps while holding baby so he is facing away from you.
  • Work with baby until he becomes comfortable being held in any position, then being held in a nursing position.
  • Once baby is comfortable being held in a nursing position, start trying more skin-to-skin contact. Don’t actively try to get baby to latch before he is comfortable with skin-to-skin. You want baby to be able to trust being at the breast and cuddling at the breast without the stress of trying to latch.
  • When baby is comfortable cuddling at the breast, try feeding (bottle, etc.) at the breast. You’re working to get him comfortable with feeding in a breastfeeding position, skin-to-skin.
  • Next step, start offering the breast for comfort when he’s really relaxed and sleepy, or even asleep. Nursing in the side lying position might be helpful, as this positioning allows for less body contact. Some babies will take the breast after bottle-feeding or partway through a bottle-feeding.
  • Once baby is willing to take the breast for comfort, begin to work toward full breastfeeding.

Bottles – yes or no?

Many experts suggest that baby not get bottles or pacifiers while he is learning to nurse correctly, with the idea that his need to suck will help the process along (nursing will satisfy the need to suck). Of course, if you’re working with a baby who has nipple confusion, it’s best to avoid bottles (when mom and baby are together, in particular) until nursing is going well again. If baby is not latching on at all, you do need to balance this with your baby’s need to suck and comfort level.

Do consider giving your baby his feedings via an alternative feeding device other than a bottle, such as a nursing supplementer, feeding syringe, finger feeding setup, flexible cup, spoon, medicine/eye dropper, etc. A nursing supplementer can be a big help if baby is latching well: it will encourage your baby to continue nursing by giving him a constant flow of milk (expressed milk or formula) while he stimulates your body to produce more milk.

If you prefer to use a bottle for supplementing baby, it’s not the end of the world (or your breastfeeding relationship). For some moms, using a bottle is easier and more familiar. If you feel that using a specialized feeding device (like a finger feeder or SNS) is simply too overwhelming and other methods (cup, dropper) are not working for you, using bottles may make it easier for you to continue working on the breastfeeding. Although bottles can certainly have their disadvantages, a good lactation consultant should be able to help you to transition to breastfeeding with or without the bottles.

When using a bottle, encourage baby to open wide prior to giving the bottle. Stroke baby’s lips from nose to chin with the bottle nipple, and wait until baby opens wide like a yawn. Allow your baby to accept the bottle into his mouth rather than poking it in. This will teach your baby to open wide for feedings, which is a good start to getting on the breast effectively.

More here on the use of bottles and finger feeding while transitioning to the breast.

Nursing Strikes

When babies abruptly stop nursing, it’s a nursing strike – not weaning. Babies rarely wean on their own before 18-24 months, and self-weaning is almost never abrupt.

Will baby nurse while asleep or just waking up? This is usually one of the best times to try. You also might try nursing lying down or while walking around. See also the tips at the top of this page for persuading baby to nurse.

As long as baby is not nursing as often as before, you’ll want to express milk to maintain your supply, stay comfortable, and reduce the risk of plugged ducts and mastitis.

by on Feb. 26, 2013 at 7:22 PM
You never *have* to give a bottle. There are syringe feedings, medicine dropper, regular cups (shot glasses fit baby mouths really well), sippy cups, finger feeders, and sns. In fact, in that case, I would've used a medicine dropper or syringe so I could measure input easier.

I started working 6-12 hour shifts when DD was 4 months old, and she never once got a bottle. You always have options.

Did you figure out WHY she didn't nurse those 48 hours?

Quoting NewMommii722:

 I actually did not give her the option of nursing or bottle. I ended up trying a bottle out of necessity. She refused nursing for almost 48 hours and ended up at the doc for dehydration. Her pedi said to offer milk and Pedialyte in a sippy cup to make sure she stays hydrated or else she wanted to send her to the Emergency Room for IV fluids.... so I did not offer a bottle until I abosolutely HAD TO.

Quoting tabi_cat1023:

This is not weaning, she was given an option that was easier and faster so she took it, weaned her.  Yeah sorry not what you wanted to ehar.  She knows how to nurse, if not given an option she will.


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by on Feb. 26, 2013 at 7:23 PM
1 mom liked this

More info for you:


True SELF-weaning before a baby is a year old is very uncommon. In fact, it is unusual for a baby to wean before 18-24 months unless mom is encouraging weaning. However, it is very common to hear a mother say that her baby self-weaned at 9 or 10 months old, or even earlier. How do we reconcile these statements?

What is self-weaning?

A baby who is weaning on his own:

  • is typically well over a year old (more commonly over 2 years)
  • is at the point where he gets most of his nutrition from solids
  • drinks well from a cup
  • cuts down on nursing gradually

Child-led weaning occurs when a child no longer has a need to nurse – nutritionally or emotionally. The solids part should rule out self-weaning in babies under a year since, for optimum health and brain development, babies under a year should be getting most of their nutrition from breastmilk.

What factors might lead mom to think that her baby is self-weaning?

When a mother says that her baby self-weaned before a year, there is a chance that she interpreted a normal developmental stage (perhaps combined with her own wishes) as baby’s wish to wean. Low milk supply can also play a part.

Low milk supply

If mom’s milk supply is reduced, baby may become less interested in nursing, and of course decreased nursing will lead to an even lower milk supply. If milk supply is low, baby may grow to prefer a cup or bottle simply because he can get more milk this way. As long as baby is nursing on cue and removing milk thoroughly, mom’s breasts will produce the milk that baby needs. There are a number of things that might interfere with the milk production process after lactation has been established. Some factors that commonly come into play in baby’s second six months include:

  • Scheduled feedings or other things that reduce baby’s nursing frequency too much (for example, pacifier overuse or sleep training). The answer to “how much is too much?” will depend on the particular mother-baby pair. A consistent decrease in nursing frequency will signal your body to decrease milk supply.
  • Rapid weight loss. A sudden decrease in mom’s calorie intake can result in decreased milk supply.
  • Medications or herbs that reduce milk supply (hormonal contraceptives, for example).
  • Early introduction of solids (before 6 months). Besides interfering with baby’s immunologic health, solids before six months often results in baby taking less milk at the breast and thus results in a decrease in milk supply.
  • Overly rapid increase in the amounts of solids. Again, this results in baby taking too little milk at the breast and thus a decreased milk supply. Keep in mind that mom’s milk supply will naturally and gradually decrease as baby begins to eat greater quantities of solid foods – this is fine and expected. What you want to avoid is increasing solids/decreasing milk supply too quickly, as breastmilk is what baby needs for proper growth, health and brain development through the first year and beyond.

For more on milk supply, including how to increase it, see Got Milk?

Normal developmental stages

It is common and normal for babies to show less interest in breastfeeding sometime during the second six months. This is developmental and not an indication that baby wishes to stop nursing.

Older babies tend to be distractible and want to be a part of all the action around them. Your baby may be more interested in learning about the world than in eating during the day (these same babies often increase their night nursing to make up for their busy days).
If baby is being given a bottle or sippy cup frequently, he discovers that he can walk/crawl around with it and not miss a thing, whereas nursing generally requires sitting still and not looking around for a few minutes. For this reason, some babies develop a preference for the bottle or cup at this developmental stage.

Milestone times, such as crawling and walking, and stressful times like teething or illness can also cause baby to be less interested in nursing – these types of things are common in the second six months. Nursing strikes (when baby quits nursing suddenly) also tend to be more common around this age, perhaps due to the same factors.

Our society tends to produce the expectation that babies can and should become independent as quickly as possible. Babies are considered more independent when they sleep alone, sleep through the night, potty train, wean, etc., As a result, babies are often pushed toward these milestones before they are ready – emotionally or physically. Because of this societal mindset, many moms don’t even consider the idea that baby’s disinterest in breastfeeding might be temporary, but simply go ahead and wean.

This is not saying that a mother’s choice to wean a baby this age is necessarily a bad choice for her family. A mother who wishes to wean her child at this point can certainly take advantage of baby’s temporary disinterest in nursing to initiate mother-led weaning.

However, it should understand that this is not self-weaning but a temporary developmental stage. Mom is making the choice, not baby. Once mom knows that she has a choice in the matter, she can better make an informed decision of whether to wean or to seek thebenefits of continued nursing.

Tips for avoiding premature weaning

The following suggestions can be helpful in preventing baby from weaning prematurely:

Keep breastmilk primary in baby’s diet during the first year

  • If you feel that your milk supply is low, take measures to increase it.
  • Offer breastmilk first, before any solids, through at least the first year. Don’t let solids become more important than breastmilk during the first year.
  • Increase solid foods gradually. An example of a gradual increase in solids would be 25% solids at 12 months, 50% solids at 18 months, and 80% solids at 24 months.
  • Sugared drinks (and juice, too) are “empty calories” and will keep baby from feeling really hungry – limit or eliminate these. Water can also fill baby up and decrease nursing frequency. Click here for suggestions on offering water and juice.

Minimize the risk of baby developing a preference for the bottle or cup

  • Limit (or eliminate) bottles. If baby must be supplemented due to separation from mom, then only use bottles when you are physically separated from baby. Use a newborn-flow nipple, no matter how old your baby is, to reduce the risk that baby will grow to prefer the fast flow of a bottle. If baby is older than six months, seriously consider using a cup rather than a bottle.
  • Limit or eliminate pacifier use when you are with baby, so that your baby’s desire to suck encourages him to nurse more often.
  • Avoid allowing baby to walk around with bottles or sippy cups.

If baby is very busy and doesn’t want to stop and nurse

  • Try different and novel nursing positions in which he can have more control and perhaps see what’s going on around him – baby standing up, sitting on your lap facing you, etc.
  • Try singing, talking, telling stories, playing finger games, reading, etc. while nursing.
  • Try wearing a nursing necklace or bright colored scarf to help hold baby’s attention when nursing.
  • Give baby a small toy to hold and play with when nursing.

Be aware of your own subtle cues that encourage weaning

  • Offer baby the breast often; don’t wait until he “demands” to nurse. Be aware that the “don’t offer – don’t refuse” method of breastfeeding is a weaning technique.
  • Be available to nurse when baby wants to. Saying “not now, but later” is certainly part of the natural give and take of a nursing relationship as your child gets older, but don’t overuse it and don’t forget the “later” part – offer to nurse later, rather than waiting for baby to ask.
  • Diversion/distraction by mom is a weaning technique, particularly if used frequently.
  • Avoid limiting times or places for nursing. This is another weaning technique.
    • Allow baby to nurse at night if he wishes. Baby will nurse more often if he is in your room and/or bed, and many families get more sleep this way.
    • If you feel you need to phase out night nursing before baby does it on his own, then it may be helpful to make a conscious effort to increase daytime nursing.
  • Keep in close contact – carry and hold your child often. This will make breastfeeding more accessible to baby. Restricting access to nursing is a weaning technique.

Be aware of normal developmental stages

  • Pay attention to your child’s natural growth rhythms. Be aware of times that are not true weanings.
by on Feb. 26, 2013 at 7:34 PM
What they said ^^… no more sippy.
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