For breastfeeding mothers, weaning can be an emotional time. Breastfeeding is hard work, and many new moms are ready to get back a little freedom and personal space. However, mothers can also experience anxiety about how weaning will affect their child or their special bond. Plus, there are practical concerns like how to reduce milk production gradually and avoid engorgement. Fortunately, with some good advice and a plan in place, weaning can be done in a way that is gentle for both mother and baby.


1. When to Wean

When to wean is a personal decision for each mother. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months after birth. After that, the AAP encourages mothers to continue breastfeeding in combination with solid foods at least until the baby has reached their first birthday. Mother and baby can continue for as long as they like, but many moms who successfully breastfeed until age one choose to wean sometime during the next year.

Mother nursing a new baby. Jenny Elia Pfeiffer / Getty Images

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