7 Techniques to Promote Weaning After Age Two

babel · December 27, 2022
This article has been written and endorsed by the nurse Leidy Mora Molina
Time and patience are key when the time comes to promote weaning after age two. Learn more in the following article.

Some children resort to natural weaning, which occurs gradually and in which the baby decides on their own to stop breastfeeding. Although this is every mother’s dream, it’s not always the case for all children. Therefore, some women have to resort to certain techniques to promote weaning after the baby turns 2 years old.

First of all, when the mother decides to start weaning, it’s best to ensure that it’s respectful, that is, that the baby’s needs are taken into account and that it’s done in a loving and progressive way. Below, we’ll tell you how to achieve this.

Directed weaning after 2 years of age

We understand weaning as the process by which a baby stops drinking breast milk and replaces it with other food sources. This milestone can be initiated by maternal decision or by the baby’s decision, although after 2 years of age, it’s likely that the mother will take the lead in order to promote weaning.

In this regard, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life and that they continue breastfeeding for at least two years of age. Although at the sixth month, they start complementary feeding, this doesn’t replace breast milk.

Some babies decide to stop breastfeeding before 24 months of age, but in other cases, weaning may be extended to between 2 and 7 years of age. That’s why, after the second birthday, many mothers decide to stop breastfeeding and this happens for many reasons, such as work commitments, medical issues, social pressures, or simply by their own will.

The important thing is that in the weaning process, the baby doesn’t suffer, and this requires time, patience, and dedication.

Talking to the child and showing empathy is essential when deciding to start weaning. At 2 years of age, your child understands what’s happening around them, and that’s why it’s important to express affection and tell them the reason for the decision.

However, in order to carry out directed and respectful weaning, you should start from the premise “don’t offer, don’t deny”. That’s to say, don’t offer your breast to the child, but don’t forbid them from nursing when they demand it.

Ideally, this process should be gradual, with a daily reduction in the duration of feedings and then, in the frequency. You should know that abrupt weaning increases the baby’s resistance to change and favors the appearance of breast problems, such as breast engorgement and mastitis.

Some techniques to promote weaning after 2 years of age

So, how to promote respectful weaning of your baby? As we said, step by step, with love and respect for your baby’s needs as well as yours.

Here are some tips to help you. Take note!

A woman holder her baby and kissing him on the cheek.
Your body and your baby’s body were one for a long time, and breastfeeding prolonged this physical connection a little longer. So before you start weaning, get in tune with your child and help them say goodbye to an unforgettable stage for both of you.

1. Accompany your baby to cope with the change

Weaning can be difficult for some babies because the breast is a vehicle of love and a key element to sustaining that perfect bond with mom.

So, when you decide to promote weaning, be attentive to their needs, hug them, caress them, and cuddle them often. This way, your baby will feel that your support and security go beyond the breast.

2. Gradually reduce the frequency of feedings

As mentioned above, the first thing to keep in mind is that weaning should be done gradually. That is, you need to reduce the daily feedings, both day and night, until they’re eliminated.

For this, we recommend that you first limit the breastfeeding time and then the frequency of feedings. But not both together! Try eliminating one feeding every two or three days, or if necessary, once a week.

It’s best to start by reducing daytime feedings (especially midday) and then continue with nighttime feedings. This is because, during the day, it’s easier to replace them with other foods or to distract the child with other activities.

3. Distract the baby with other stimuli when they ask for the breast

Another necessary technique to encourage weaning is to keep your baby distracted, especially when you know they’ll ask for breastfeeding.

Try to redirect your baby’s attention to other activities that will be fun for them when it’s time to breastfeed, such as singing, storytelling, or dancing.

Ideally, plan an activity, a fun game, or an outing for those critical moments. At this point, your partner or other caregivers can step in and make the job easier.

4. Put the “parent plan” into action

You shouldn’t leave aside the importance of your partner in the weaning process, as dad can put the child to sleep, entertain them, pamper them and take care of them when they wake up and ask for the breast.

It’s also a good idea for the father to offer milk or water during nighttime awakenings to soothe the child, if necessary. If this doesn’t comfort the child, you shouldn’t let him cry to exhaustion and you can intervene with the breast.

Keep in mind that this may not be the time, but as the days go by, your baby will get used to the presence of their father during the night. Although at first, it may be a little uncomfortable for both of you, you’ll see that in the end, it will have been a key factor in achieving night weaning.

5. Stop breastfeeding for a while

If you sleep in the same bed as your child, a good option is to change the baby’s side and leave them closer to the father. Some time after weaning, you can talk to the child and suggest going to their own room.

It should be noted that weaning and changing beds shouldn’t be done at the same time, as this increases the impact on the child. In fact, if the child is adapting to another change in their routine, such as the start of pre-school, sphincter control, or the arrival of a sibling, it’s best to delay weaning for a while.

6. Establish new routines

This technique is especially recommended because, in addition to maintaining order in their naps, games, and feeding, it establishes a guide when it comes to falling asleep at night. Especially if you want to remove the night feedings with daddy’s help.

Implement a new relaxing routine that doesn’t include breastfeeding. For example, dinner, bath, story, and sleep.

A father entertaining his child with a toy.
The father figure is very valuable for mothers and babies to go through this stage in the best possible way. Both must learn to connect in a new way and the father contributes favorably to this process.

7. Offer liquids or other foods

Fortunately, at this stage, your child is able to eat almost all foods in the diet. This allows you to substitute feeding with other foods to their liking, such as fruits, yogurt, soups, and vegetables during the day, or a glass of milk or water at night.

When the time comes to promote weaning, let instinct be your guide

Weaning is a stage full of emotions, both for the mother and for the baby. However, this process is necessary for the child’s development, as well as for the mother’s independence.

It’s important to know the opinion and recommendations of your pediatrician and a breastfeeding counselor, who from their professional point of view will be able to guide you in the best way in this respectful weaning process.