While it may seem that your tiny, new person will be ickle forever (especially during the throes of the 28th sleepless night in a row), the reality is that they transform in an instant from demanding but largely clueless bundles of joy, to demanding and very clued up bundles of joy. Before you know it you’ll be asking yourself “Is my baby ready to give up breastfeeding?”, and all those months of gritting your teeth through cracked nipples and poor milk supply will suddenly appear to be coming to an end. Do speak to a midwife or lactation specialist to discuss the difference between self-weaning and a nursing strike, but also take a look at these common signs that may suggest baby is feeling a little passé about breastmilk…
What is self-weaning?
Self-weaning is when a baby decides ‘enough is enough’ when it comes to breastfeeding, and it usually happens gradually. Generally a baby will not lose interest in the ‘good stuff’ until around nine to 12 months (at least), and bonafide self-weaning does not usually begin until after baby’s first birthday.
Signs to look out for…
1. Turning away from your breast
Suddenly your cuddly, snuggly breastfeeding sessions have become all about your busy little person trying to avoid that nipple! This may not necessarily mean that self-weaning IS happening – be aware that it could also be down to teething, thrush or generally feeling under the weather (especially a blocked nose). Monitor over time and try and rule out other issues that may be causing the lack of interest.
2. Physically shaking head or saying ‘no’
Babies know their own mind from a young age (don’t we know it) and as self-weaning tends to happen once they reach a around one-year, your small tot may even be able to verbally or physically make you aware that they no longer want to breastfeed. Shaking their heads or telling you ‘no’ is a pretty clear indication of them asserting their authority!
3. Biting! (OUCH)
As a baby moves towards toddlerhood, they may develop something called ‘clampdown bite’ which is, sadly, as painful as it sounds. Rest assured they are NOT doing this to purposely inflict pain, but this natural reflex does cause your little darling to clamp down their jaw while swallowing. Not ideal… The clampdown may also lead to your tiny tot having a poor latch, which can cause breastfeeding to become frustrating. Do speak to a lactation consultant if you are keen to try and work through this and continue breastfeeding.
4. Feeding time becomes playtime
A busy baby doesn’t have time for sitting still for long when there are soooo many exciting new adventures to be discovering. If your baby is distracted while feeding, and breastfeeding is now playing second fiddle to exploring and playing, it could be a sign that they’re done with being fed directly by mummy.
5. Cups, bowls and food are way more exciting
If your small but noisy person is cutting down on feeding from you but becoming more interested in drinking from a cup and eating solid foods, they may be naturally heading towards being done and dusted with breastfeeding. This is not likely to happen until the one to two year age mark, so if self-weaning is the way forward at this point, they are all set when it comes to getting their nutrition from other sources. Try not to worry (which of course you will, because you are mum, and all we do is WORRY!).
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