The Mommy Diaries is a monthly series in which Caribbean moms open up about their personal experiences and unique journeys to support, inform and inspire other moms.
Weaning time can be exciting and also challenging for both mother and child.
I have had different experiences with my four daughters during weaning. One was a good feeder, while the other was a poor feeder and cried at the sight of a bottle of formula milk and a plate of food.
It is important as a mother to trust your decision as to when to wean your baby and how you want to do it.
The World Health Organization recommends that a child breastfeeds exclusively for the first six months. However, there are many factors that may contribute to a mother not breastfeeding their child for this recommended time.
My experience with my first born daughter was an easy one. After breastfeeding for six months, she would get excited when it was eating time. She would pull our plates, grab our food, and try to put it in her mouth.
We took advantage of this and began preparing her meals.
So here's the weaning tips I've learned along the way:
- Feed the baby first: Feeding our daughter before our meal helped reduce the chaos we were experiencing of her pulling our plates during meal time.
- Reduce the number of breast feeds: I gradually began to reduce the number of breast feeds to four a day and maintained the night ones. We continued with this routine for two years, and the time came to wean her completely off the breast.
- Talk to your child: If your child is aged two or older, talking to them helps prepare them psychologically. I'd say things like, "See, there's not enough milk in here," and she'd nod and squeeze my breast, saying, "Mum, it's true."
My daughter gradually went off the breast and I had mixed feelings. I felt sad that the last thing that physically connected us no longer existed.
My breasts did not swell much because I weaned my baby gradually; the milk production had reduced and finally stopped.
With my second child, however, it was not easy. My daughter was not a good feeder and all she wanted was to be on the boob. She would cry at the sight of a plate and a bottle of milk. So what did I do?
I realized that, like adults, children dislike some foods; my daughter didn’t want mashed food. I kept changing her foods until we settled on fruits and vegetables.
I reduced our breast feeding times in the day to a few times in the night.
I tried talking to my second daughter about having no milk and it just didn’t work. This girl would cry, and it really broke my heart.
The bottom line is that weaning her off the breast was not easy.
It is critical for both mother and baby to go through this weaning period calmly and without undue pressure from others.
Feelings of sadness may arise, but they eventually go away. Remember moms, you are doing well!