Mothers who choose to wean need to ensure that they can feed their baby in a way that is safe, available, and affordable.
1) Tolerating other milk
Mothers should not wean their baby until they are sure the baby can handle infant formula or, if the baby is older than one year, cow’s milk.
Mothers can try to combine breastfeeding with the use of other appropriate milk for a week or so to see how this agrees with the baby.
Mothers may also want to have some expressed milk stored in the freezer in case the baby reacts to the other milk when weaning is completed. This will provide the baby with milk until mothers can see what other options there are for feeding.
If the baby cannot tolerate other types of milk, it is possible to resume making milk (re-lactate) and breastfeeding , but it is a lot of work and may not be fully successful, especially if the baby is unwilling to return to the breast.
2) Tolerating specialty infant formula
Some babies are allergic to cow’s milk protein. Their mothers need to be on a diet free of cow’s milk protein while breastfeeding.
These babies cannot tolerate regular formula based on cow’s milk and need extensively hydrolyzed or amino acid formulas. These specialty formulas taste bitter and babies may refuse them. They should not be weaned until their diet can give them the nutrients they need.
Mothers who are vegan and wish to avoid giving their baby animal milk must ensure that the baby will accept and tolerate soy infant formula or other appropriate and acceptable milk. Drinks based on plants such as rice, coconut, almond, hemp, soy, or potato look milky, but nutritionally they are very different from human and cow’s milk. They are not suitable for babies and are dangerous or even deadly.
3) Tolerating other feeding tools
The feeding tool must be acceptable and appropriate to both mother and baby. Under one year of age, most weaned babies are fed by bottle. Some babies cannot drink from a bottle and may need other feeding devices. Cup feeding can be tried in such situations.
It is recommended that bottles be stopped by one year of age after which the baby uses a regular cup.
4) Tolerating weaning
Toddlers and older children may be emotionally dependent on breastfeeding. This is normal. When denied the breast, they may refuse other foods and drinks and be upset for days. This is hard on the whole family.
If you wish to proceed with weaning, you may need to tailor your plan to the child’s needs.