Weaning, returning to work and solid food
The time you choose to wean your baby from the breast is a personal choice based on your needs, your baby's needs, and your lifestyle. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests breastfeeding your infant exclusively through 6 months and then through the first year with complimentary foods.
If you have a history of family allergies, delaying the introduction of anything other than breast milk for the first 6 months can minimize allergy responses in your baby.
If you wish to continue breastfeeding for an extended period, your baby will probably wean himself or herself naturally as a developmental step when he or she outgrows the need to nurse.
Whenever you choose to wean your baby, it should be done slowly to avoid engorgement and the chance of developing mastitis.
To begin weaning:
- Substitute one nursing per day with a cup or bottle. If time is not a problem, eliminate one nursing period every few days or weekly.
- Start with the nursing period to which the baby is least attached. Bedtime, naptime, and early morning periods usually go last.
- Wear a bra continuously, even to bed.
- Avoid breast stimulation.
Returning to work (how to navigate breastfeeding, expressing, etc.
If you're considering continuing to breastfeed once you return to work, here are some strategies:
- Begin your new breastfeeding routine about a week before you return to work.
- Nurse your baby before going to work.
- Express milk at work (it takes about 10-20 minutes), store the milk in a clean container in a refrigerator or insulated pack, take it home, refrigerate it, and use it for one or more feedings the next day.
- Nurse your baby after work and during the evening.
- Nurse your baby at bedtime.
Solid food (when, what, and how much)
Research has shown that solid foods shouldn't be introduced until your baby is 6 months old. Before that, breast milk provides all the necessary nourishment.
When you do begin to introduce solid foods, consider starting with iron-fortified cereals. Gradually, add other foods, one at a time, so you'll know if certain foods cause your baby to develop problems such as diarrhea or colic.