Moving On From Breastfeeding With Older Babies
You’ll know when it is the right time for you and your baby to move on from breastfeeding.
Many mums start to think about stopping breastfeeding around their Little One’s first birthday. It can a bit of a wrench for some mums or it may be you’re glad to be going onto a new stage – there’s no right or wrong way to feel. You’ve done a fantastic job breastfeeding all this time, congratulate yourself. There are plenty of firsts coming up for you and your baby. The last feed before bed is usually the last one to go.
You can help make the transition smoother by looking over your baby’s diet and bedtime habits.
Food and drink
Developing into a toddler diet takes a few adjustments, most of which you’ve probably already done. Avoid sweets, high-sugar foods and drinks and also sugar-free drinks and squashes. The additives and sweeteners in sugar-free squash can make children thirsty and so they often will drink more and more without quenching their thirst and end up literally running on squash, which fills their tummy and spoils their appetite and can make them overactive and more likely to have toddler tantrums and not sleep very well.
Here’s how often they need a little something:
A Typical Daily Diet for a 1-year-old
• 3 little meals a day
• Morning healthy snack
• Afternoon healthy snack
• Milky supper
• 2-3 milky drinks (plus water)
Helping your baby get through the night
If you’re Little One is having 2-3 milk drinks and/or milk in their food they’ll be getting enough to compensate for losing the breast milk. You might find they’ll go through the night for a few nights in row and then start waking up again, this is their body waking them up to get the nutrients and calories it craves as it adjusts. Keep them topped up by giving a milky supper (e.g. cereal, cheesy toast triangle or porridge). I know it can seem strange if your baby had their tea at 5-6pm to give them a supper but they often need it to get through the night. Give yourself a few weeks to adapt to this change.
From suppertime to the last kiss goodnight, try and get your bedtime routine down to an hour or less. If they start delaying and dawdling your Little One is most likely trying to draw things out and keep themselves awake. Be positive and warm but keep things moving along.
Establishing a bit of a ritual for going to bed helps your Little One feel secure and accept that it’s now time to start calming down and go to sleep. The more relaxed and contented your baby feels the less likely they are to demand the comfort of a breastfeed. If you have the option, it might help if your partner or another family member gets involved in putting your Little One to bed to ease the tension and give you the opportunity to create new mini bedtime routines.
You’ll have your own way of doing things in your household but here are some ideas for a bedtime ritual.
A typical mini-bedtime ritual
• TV and devices off (put away iPhones, iPads)
• Lights turned down low
• Milky supper
• Bath time
• Milky drink and bedtime story
• Nursery rhymes or prayers
• Kisses goodnight
• Maybe an audiobook
Check back in 5 minutes. If needed sit quietly in a dark corner and comfort them in your own way. It’s normal to go through a bit of trial and error in finding what works for your family.
Sarah Beeson, June 2015
Sarah Beeson MBE is a health visitor and author. She writes with her daughter Mumpreneur and writer Amy Beeson. Sarah’s memoir of training to be a nurse in 1970s London The New Arrival is a heartwarming true story. Their parenting book 'Happy Baby, Happy Family: Learning to trust yourself and enjoy your baby' is published by Harper Thorsons in paperback and eBook. Read some reader reviews of Happy Baby, Happy Family.