The process of weaning, transitioning your baby from breast milk or formula to solid foods, is a significant milestone in their development.

As a parent, you’re faced with an important decision: should you choose a gradual, slow approach to weaning, or opt for a quicker, more abrupt change? This article delves into the basics of weaning and the factors to consider when deciding whether to embark on a slow and gentle journey or make a swift transition to solid foods. Let’s dive in!


When is the ideal time to begin weaning?

The timing of weaning your child from breastfeeding is a personal decision, influenced by a combination of your child’s cues and your own considerations. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that babies receive only breast milk for the first six months of life and continue to breastfeed while incorporating solid foods for at least the first year. However, the ideal time to initiate weaning depends on various factors, including your child’s readiness and your own circumstances.

Child-led weaning

The journey of weaning often begins when your baby shows signs of readiness. Typically, at around 6 months of age, when solid foods are typically introduced, you may notice changes in your baby’s breastfeeding habits that mark the beginning of the weaning process. Some babies, around age 1, may start seeking alternative sources of comfort and sustenance. By this age, most children can drink from a cup and consume a variety of solid foods. Others may continue breastfeeding into their toddler years, finding it more challenging to stay still while nursing.

Parent-led weaning

Alternatively, you may choose to initiate the weaning process at a time that suits your needs and circumstances. This method requires more planning and patience, but it can be done with care and consideration. It’s essential to remember that every family’s situation is unique, so avoid comparing your weaning journey to others, and be open to flexibility.


When to postpone weaning

You can choose to postpone weaning if certain situations apply to you and your child:

a. Food Allergies: If either you or the father of your child has food allergies, postponing weaning until after the first year may be advisable. Research suggests that a child’s risk of developing allergies might be lower if they are exposed to potential allergens while breastfeeding. Consult with your child’s pediatrician for guidance.

b. Illness or Teething: If your baby is unwell or teething, it’s best to delay weaning until they are in better health. If you’re not feeling well, consider postponing weaning as well. Both you and your baby will be better prepared for the transition when you’re both in good health.

c. Significant Life Changes: Avoid starting weaning during a period of significant change. Whether your family has recently relocated or your childcare needs have shifted, it’s essential to choose a time when there is stability and minimal disruption.

d. Difficulty Weaning: If your baby is having trouble with the weaning process, it’s okay to try again in a month or two when they may be more receptive to the change.

When you decide it’s time to start weaning, do it gradually over several weeks or months. This approach helps reduce your milk production and minimizes engorgement. Beginning with the noon feeding can be a smooth transition since your child may naturally become more interested in post-meal activities, potentially leading to self-weaning.

“Should I refuse to breastfeed?”

When weaning, it’s generally not recommended to refuse to breastfeed if your child asks for it. Instead, encourage your child to explore other activities and distractions around the times you typically breastfeed. Offer them various foods, engaging activities, and comforting items like a favorite stuffed animal. This can help them transition at their own pace.

How long does weaning take?

The duration of the weaning process varies from child to child and can take days, weeks, or even months. Some parents may choose to continue breastfeeding in the morning and before bedtime even after daytime feedings have been successfully replaced by solids.


Weaning can evoke mixed feelings, but by providing gradual and loving support, you can help your child make a smooth transition to bottle or cup feeding. Remember that weaning is a personal journey, and it’s important to consider both your child’s needs and your own.