Weaning from breast milk is a milestone for both the baby and the mother. Experts usually recommend that mothers breastfeed their babies for at least a year, while the World Health Organization recommends the same for two years.
Weaning cannot be done overnight. That would be traumatic for the baby and also for you since your milk might clog. It should be a gradual process. By now, your baby would be in solid or semi-solid foods. If the baby is already consuming cow’s milk or formula milk and seems to like it, it would be a big help for the entire weaning process.
First stop the morning feed and then the afternoon one and all the in-between feeds that your baby demands. By now, they probably consider your breast to be their own private domain and a place of refuge. So they would demand to be fed whenever they fancy and in most cases they may not even be hungry. Distract them with other food such as fruits, chocolate milk (if he fancies it), or formula milk. If he is not hungry and is simply throwing a tantrum to get to your breast then you can probably take him out or distract him with a new toy.
Once you have decided to wean you will have to toughen up and be very firm in your decision. When your baby cries or throws a tantrum, people at home or your partner might pressurize you to give in and feed the baby. But be firm in your decision. Your baby will realize soon enough that he cannot feed at your breast, any time he wants.
For some time, continue with the night time feed and let him realize that night time is only time he can get your breast. Alternatively introduce solid foods, soups, mashed vegetables and fruits to your child. Let him get a taste of different types of food and let him pick his favorites. Make sure your baby takes enough solid every day and if he is still not eating properly supplement it with formula milk.
Weaning the nighttime feed is most difficult part of the process. By now the child, does not need the breast to fill his tummy with milk but as a soothing toy so that he can sleep. This process requires a lot of patience and also lots of understanding. Start a new nighttime routine for your baby. Instead of the breast, give him a toy or tell a story. He might initially cry, wail and throw tantrums but it won’t be forever. If he is very agitated, feed him a bottle of formula milk and he will soon realize that this is only milk he will be getting from now on.
This is a stage when you will also get a lot of unwanted advice from people around you such as “Feed him just this once.” But do not give in. If you stay firm and do not yield, your baby will also come around.