It is good to breastfeeding your baby for at least the first six months of her life as your milk contains colostrum, which helps to increase the immunity of your baby.
The decision to stop breastfeeding your child or weaning her off your milk is a decision that you alone can make, along with your child’s cooperation.
Solid foods are recommended for babies by the age of six months. So around that time the number of breastfeeds can decrease.
If you have trouble breastfeeding then you may want to bottle feed your baby. This is also an option if you have to return to work or have other obligations you need to fulfill and so cannot breastfeed.
Also, while you may think that it is time to wean your baby off breastfeeding she herself may not be ready and will refuse to go along with all your efforts to do so. So the method you choose will depend on your baby’s age.
There are quite a few methods that people try.
You can take a short break from your child long enough for her to stop wanting/forgetting to breastfeed but not long enough that she feels deserted. You will need the support of your partner, or other relative or friend who can look after the child and offer solid foods and the bottle as a substitute for breastfeeding.
Since you won’t be there to hear her cry it will be easier for you. Sometimes, however, the child can still remember and demand to be breastfed. And there is also the disadvantage of the emotional impact or separation anxiety on your child.
Some researchers feel that it will have a long-term effect on her.
Another method is to apply a bitter or bad tasting mixture or liquid on the breast and offer it to the child. Naturally, she won’t want to feed but it creates all sorts of complications, especially about the issue of trust.
You’ll have to be very careful also that it doesn’t affect her health.
The best way to stop breastfeeding is not to offer it. Even if your child cries, ignore the crying but feed her the next time. You can do this alternatively so that gradually the number of breastfeeding decreases.
It will be difficult at first to ignore the crying but you need to stick it out as it will help you both in the long run.
Over time she will accept the fewer nursing, and you can distract her by offering other foods and engaging her attention in play. Gradually you can stop nursing.
You can even go cold turkey and stop the feeding completely, and offer only solids or the bottle. But this will have an impact on your breasts as they will be engorged with milk not to mention the tantrums your child is likely to have when breastfeeding is abruptly stopped.
So the best way to do it is to do it gradually over time.
Some mothers breastfeed till the child is a year old or more. This develops the bond between the mother and the child but it is difficult to wean them.
You can reduce the feedings while continuing the hugging and cuddling and that will give them the love and affection they crave and associate with the emotional comfort of breastfeeding.
At that age you can even talk to the child about reducing the feeds and setting certain times for it so she is comfortable with the notion. You can even tell her she is too old to breastfeed.
So whatever method you choose, make sure it is good for your baby and yourself.