Short feeds versus weaning

Is my seven-month-old weaning?

Older babies, toddlers, and older children don’t breastfeed the same way as newborns. Older babies are more efficient, so their daytime feeds are short. They are also easily distracted. Their best feeds are often at bedtime or at night. Mothers may notice that their breasts don’t feel as full as they were during the first month, and their milk may look slightly blue or watery. Some mothers mistake these changes as signs that their milk supply has decreased or that it is time to wean the baby. These changes, however, are normal and breast milk is an important part of an older baby's diet. It is rare for milk supply to decrease and for babies to wean themselves before one year of age without a cause.

A) Describing short feeds

Breast milk is a very important part of a baby’s diet in the second six months of life and beyond. It provides a wide variety of nutrients.

Older babies, toddlers, and older children have different breastfeeding patterns and behaviours from those of newborns and younger babies.

Older babies are more effective at breastfeeding, so their daytime feeds are short. They are also easily distracted while breastfeeding. The best feeds are often at bedtime or during the night.

At the same time, mothers will notice that their breasts do not feel as full as they were during the first months after delivery. Their milk may also look slightly blue or watery.

B) Mistaking short feeds as a sign of weaning or for a low milk supply

The normal changes in the baby’s behaviour and breastfeeding patterns and the mothers breasts can be mistaken for signs the baby is ready to wean.

Other mothers may think their milk supply has decreased and they should start milk supplements to keep the baby fed. Rather mothers should use other ways to assess their baby’s growth and milk intake before resorting to supplements.