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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How to decide when to wean.

If you are planning to, or are already breastfeeding your child, this thought has likely crossed your mind. Here is what you should consider when determining at which point to wean your child. You want to first consider why you would wean your child.

Is your reason because of lack of health benefits at a certain age? If so, you should know that breastfeeding continues to be a valuable source of nutrition and disease protection for as long as breastfeeding continues. 

How old is your child? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months. WHO recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the six months, and then past that with complementary foods up to two years and beyond. Toddlers will continue to benefit from breastfeeding past two years, so don't think of that as a cut off point if you don't want it to be. 

Will you be returning to work? Pumping can help you maintain your supply and feed the baby while you are gone. It can be considered a hassle to pump at work. Especially once your baby has passed the one-year mark and you can start giving whole cow's milk or others instead of formula. You could introduce cow's milk at this age, and still breastfeed when you are home with the little one, if you like. 

In your community/family/friends, at which point did they wean their child? I am not suggesting you base your parenting decisions off some one else's - even someone you care deeply about. However, this is something you will deal with as people constantly compare themselves to others. People who mean well but do not know better may suggest that it is time to wean. Some think that once a child can ask to nurse, they are too old to continue to do so. Frankly, breastfeeding is between you and your child, anyone else you include should be supportive. 

The most important concern, to me, is how you both feel about continued breastfeeding. I think mothers should try to at least hit the six month mark, and hopefully up to a year. However, I understand that sometimes this isn't the right fit. Whatever works best for your family and your life - when you decide to wean should fit into that perfectly. 

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