Benefits of Baby-led Weaning

smiling funny baby eats cookiesBreastfeeding is a very special, very natural bond that you share with your baby. It’s also deeply personal, and you may get tired of curious friends and family members asking you when you plan to wean your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies be fed only breast milk for the first six months, and then continue to breastfeed on a supplemental basis until at least the 12-month mark. This may seem like a very long time, or not nearly long enough, and the time to begin weaning shouldn’t be dictated by anyone else. In baby-led weaning, your child will naturally begin to taper off the breast, making it easier for both of you to conclude this beautiful time in your lives.

Good for baby

When baby is getting more and more nutrition and liquids from other sources, they’ll feel less urgency to breastfeed, and will ask to nurse less frequently. This allows the child to have some control over the process, as opposed to mom making sudden changes to the nursing routine. Forcing a schedule of dropped feedings can leave baby upset and result in new problems at bedtime, naptime and other times.

Good for mom

As baby reduces the frequency of feedings, mom’s breasts begin to taper off on the milk-making process to match supply with demand. This helps mom avoid common problems associated with sudden weaning or skipped feedings, like painful engorgement, leakage and infection.

Don’t forget the milk

During the weaning process, keep in mind that baby will need to replace the breastmilk with iron-fortified whole milk (after 12 months of age) or formula. The AAP recommends three servings of milk per day for a growing toddler, which can be a combination of breastmilk and whole milk or formula.