While it’s a lot of hard work while breastfeeding, the initial process of stopping a child from breastfeeding, also known as “weaning,” also presents more challenges.
Weaning is the process by which you gradually stop your child from breastfeeding to other food sources. This process can extend beyond 24 months and can vary from child to child.
Not only for Mom but weaning can also make a difference to your little one, both psychologically and physically. What are those?
This time Thevolume.net has summarized information about what psychological and physical changes a child undergoes when weaning, as reported by WebMD. Let’s see below!
Psychological impact of weaning for Mom
As difficult as it may be for some women to start breastfeeding, it doesn’t mean it’s easy to say goodbye to breastfeeding and start weaning.
A lactation expert at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, named Myrtle Hodge, RN, says that emotional attachment makes it difficult for some moms to wean.
“The pleasurable hormonal effects of breastfeeding, along with the satisfying emotional bonding, can make it very difficult for some moms to stop breastfeeding. Even if their life or lifestyle demands that they do so,” says Hodge.
In addition, Hodge also adds that a mother may even find it more difficult to wean if her child loses interest first.
According to her, when your child decides that she’s had enough breastfeeding, she can feel devastated because her baby doesn’t want or need it anymore. This is where many women feel very sad and upset.
Changes in the child’s psychology during the weaning process
It is different when the weaning process is carried out at the decision of the mother. Because at the same time, some kids may feel “rejected” when you start the weaning process, especially if co-sleeping is part of breastfeeding time.
“If your child is used to sleeping with Mom because of the comfort of breastfeeding, and suddenly there is no more breastfeeding, the child will understand that he will learn to sleep on his own. Eventually, he can feel the resistance,” says Hodge.
According to Hodge, this can result in some restlessness or trouble sleeping for a short time for children.
Not only that, when weaning a two- or three-year-old toddler, Hodge says the Mom may also face some of the child’s actions and anger.
The child will become very angry, and feel very lost when breastfeeding stops. He can also be very upset with Mom, and possibly make Mom more difficult.
Changes in the child’s physical during the weaning process
Not only psychological changes, but weaning also provides changes to the child’s physical.
One of the most visible changes is a change in the consistency and frequency of your baby’s bowel movements.
“They are likely to have fewer bowel movements when they are formula-fed than when they are breastfeeding, and their stools are usually a bit hard or denser. This is normal,” says Aponte.
Hodge adds that your little one may also experience some minor digestive upsets, such as cramping and gas at the start of weaning.
To avoid this problem, Hodge suggests that parents can give formula milk to children (not cow’s milk) until the child is more than one year old.
After the child’s digestive system is more mature or after the first birthday, introduce milk.
How to maintain an emotional bond during the weaning process
Regardless of your child’s age, if you are having problems with weaning, experts suggest that each mother can make the process easier for both you and your child.
Mainly by maintaining a close emotional bond in other ways.
“Moms need to incorporate some of the same physical attachments and comforts as during breastfeeding, regardless of whether they’re still breastfeeding or starting to wean,” says Adam Aponte, MD, chair of pediatrics and outpatient care at North General Hospital in New York.
Aponte also provides several ways to help your little one feel more secure and less sad about losing breast milk. Here are some ways that can be applied:
- Hug your toddler often
- Make eye contact often
- Keeping toddlers close to Mom
Sippy cups can also help make the weaning process easier
Toddlers may also have problems learning to suck on a bottle because suckling at the breast and the bottle have different mouth movements.
To prevent this from happening, Aponte suggests that you give your child a sippy cup. This is an easier transition for some of the older toddlers.
“Sippy cups are a good solution. Often toddlers who refuse bottles will respond very well to cups.”
After you know what changes have occurred during the weaning period, you who are just planning to wean, also need to know when is the right time to start stopping the breastfeeding process.
When is the Right Time to Start the Weaning Process?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding should continue for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as both mother and child desire.
Prolonged breastfeeding has several important benefits apart from maintaining a strong emotional bond.
In a study conducted in Western Kenya, Africa, researchers found that breastfeeding for at least two years had a positive relationship with growth.
Other studies have shown that the longer a toddler suckles, the greater his brain development.
Some evidence suggests the longer a child breastfeeds, the faster they complete developmental “milestone” tasks, such as walking and talking.
“In my experience, children who are breastfed through to toddlers are more sociable, they are happier and children adjust better,” says Hodge.
According to him also most of the children who are breastfed until toddlers, have very high IQs and overall seem like well-informed children.
Now that’s information to identify what the child’s psychological and physical changes during weaning. Spending as much time as possible with your little one and having more body contact is highly recommended so that your child doesn’t feel rejected during the weaning process.
This will also make Mom will continue to feel the much-needed closeness with her beloved baby.