What is weaning?
Weaning is the process of progressively familiarizing a baby to adult diet and diminishing the supply of its mother’s milk.
Age for weaning
According to AAPD (American Academy of Pediatrics Dentistry), baby should be on breast feeding only up to age of six. After that it is must to get your baby feed on adult diet. AAPD and WHO recommends not to give baby adult diet till age of six.
AAPD recommends, the baby should drink from a cup after baby’s first birthday and then be weaned from the bottle at 12 to 14 months of age.
After age of six, AAPD recommends to add solid foods along with breast milk till one year of age. Between six to twelve months it is recommended to add iron-enriched solid foods. W.H.O. (World Health Organization) recommends breast-feeding till age of two of child’s life.
AAPD suggests to avoid ad libitum nocturnal breast-feeding (Feeding babies according to their hunger) after the first primary tooth begins to erupt.
It has been seen that breast-feeding for over 1 year and at night after eruption of teeth may be associated with Baby bottle tooth decay (Early Childhood Caries) (ECC).
Effect of prolonged bottle use
Prolonged use of bottle for feeding can cause tooth decay and may boost your baby to drink much more milk than your baby need. So it is best recommended to wean after your baby’s first birthday.
Weaning decided by mother
Breast feeding depends on Mother and his/her baby. Mother can feed (breast feeding) baby as long as she wants and a baby wants. Some mothers decide to wean after her baby’s first birthday, while some Mother decides to wean after 1 or 2 year. This is known as “extended breast feeding”.
Weaning themselves by your babies
Many babies decide to wean themselves. In that case, baby shows disinterest in breast feeding. Baby show less time towards breast feeding compared to previous breast feeding (before weaning). Baby starts biting or pulling the breast instead of taking milk.
Weaning is a step by step procedure. It should be in gradual manner. Weaning is not a one-day work. First, Mother need to skip one-day of breast feeding weekly and allow your baby to feed on bottle or cup. Once they start eating solid meal thrice a day, automatically babies will stop breast feeding or bottle feeding. If your baby stops breast feeding, please give him/her milk supply from other source to provide nutrition. It is better get your baby busy with playing games, give him or her a bottle or cup to feed, change the daily routine.
According to American Academy of Pediatrics, after one year of age, you should start substituting a cup for your baby’s midday bottle. You can also put small amounts of liquid in a regular cup. It may take few weeks for your baby to use cup properly so be patient for that period. Then gradually start taking away the morning and evening bottles and give your baby a cup. And at last do the same for the bed time bottle. But be aware, keep bed time bottle weaning for the last as it is most difficult for you baby to wean from bottle to cup at bed time. Once your baby acquires this habit then your baby should no longer require anything to eat or drink during night.
You can also take advice from Pediatrician about weaning.