Weaning

What is weaning?

Weaning is the withdrawal of breast milk from a baby. It means no more breastfeeding and no more expressing to provide milk for the baby. Weaning can be the choice of the mother or the baby. Rarely, weaning must happen for medical reasons. Before a mother weans, she must ensure that the baby is ready and able to wean and willing and able to tolerate another appropriate type of milk. There are some situations in which a mother should not wean her baby because of risks to herself. The amount of time it takes for the breasts to stop making milk, or dry up, depends on how much milk they are making. Drying-up must be done safely.

A) Describing weaning

Weaning means no longer breastfeeding or expressing breast milk and giving it to the baby.

Drying up happens when mothers no longer make milk.

A mother may choose to wean or may need to wean for personal or medical reasons.

Weaning can also be led by the baby (self-weaning). This is rare before the baby is one year of age unless the mother:

Short feeds are not a reliable sign that the baby is weaning.

B) Weaning safely

Before choosing to wean, mothers need to make sure the baby is ready and able to wean and willing and able to tolerate other appropriate milk, and choose a feeding tool that is acceptable to both herself and the baby.

There are situations in which a mother should not wean her baby because of risks to herself.

Mothers who wean need to ensure they stop making milk (dry up) in a safe manner by slowly decreasing the amount of milk removed by breastfeeding or expressing. The amount of time needed for the breasts to dry up depends on how much milk they are making. They should avoid dated tools such as dry-up pills.