Decided to post the info here for easy reference esp for mummies who follow my blog. :)
When to Wean
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends most mothers breastfeed for at least a year so that their children can gain the full benefits breast milk offers (exclusively for the first six months, and as nutritive support for the second six months). Various AAP studies posted on the organization's website show that breastfeeding benefits include a strengthened immune system, less chance for ear infection, and decreased risk of diabetes, obesity, and asthma later in life.
Of course, in some cases, nursing this long just isn't possible. If a new baby is on the way when your first-born is under a year old, if you need medical attention, or if your little one just loses interest in nursing, you may choose to follow your baby's lead or institute an early wean. In fact, La Leche League International offers a host of information for mothers who must suddenly wean, or moms looking for help and support to wean their babies from the breast to the bottle, or off the breast completely.
Some mothers and little ones may have more difficulties discerning when to wean. In these cases, you may need to deduce if nursing is a need or a habit. In the book The Child Under Six, James L. Hymes Jr. offers a helpful definition to consider when deciphering your child's needs from her wants. "If it was easy to break, it was a habit," he writes. But beware, "if you run into any major difficulty at all, you probably are not dealing with an old worn out habit. Chances are that you are tampering with a need. Habits fade away with a little counter-push. If you ignore basic needs, or try to block them, they shoot sky high. If you treat needs as if they were habits, all you do is to make them go on longer and stronger and more powerfully than ever."
Take it Slow
For many moms, this is an emotionally charged time. As you wean, your hormones shift yet again, and many mothers additionally feel self-doubt or apprehension. But it needn't be that way. As my daughter's pediatrician reminds me each time I call with a question (which is more often then I care to admit): "This too shall pass." Understand that this is one of the many developmental stages you and your child will experience together. And before you know it, you'll be on to the next stage.
So, now that you feel like the time is right, how to begin? "The most common approach to weaning is to begin dropping feedings one at a time, waiting at least a few days, but preferably a week, until your breasts and your baby have adjusted to that loss before imposing another," write Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi E. Murkoff, and Sandee E. Hathaway, BSN, the authors of the famed What to Expect series. It is important to think of weaning not as a single event, but an involved process. The authors offer the following six helpful steps for a comfortable transition away from the breast.
Make sure your toddler can drink from a cup or your baby can drink from a bottle.
Choose your weaning time carefully and plan for it in advance. For example, don't begin weaning as your child starts her first week of daycare or if your infant is feeling ill.
Save the breast for last (except at bedtime). Most women fall into a nursing schedule, anticipate the times when their child usually nurses, and offer a bottle, sippy cup, or snack instead. This way, if the child still wants to nurse afterwards, she won't be as hungry, won't nurse as much, and milk production will still decrease.
Begin nursing before, rather than after, your bedtime ritual. Initiate self-comforting routines so that your child can learn how to fall asleep without the help of the breast. Sing songs or read stories right before tucking your little one in.
Cut back on the number of daily feedings, starting with those your child shows the least interest in. Slowly cut down to just that one feeding per day (most women find the nighttime feeding works best).
Finally, drop that last end-of-the-day nursing session. You may need to offer a gentle distraction at this stage—such as a new "lovey" (bear, blanket, or book), special bedtime book, or nightlight—to help this final transition go more smoothly and comfortably for your child.
This last nursing may linger for months, says Gale Pryor, author of Nursing Mother, Working Mother. Because of this, bedtime can become difficult in the very end stages of weaning. Pryor suggests, "at bedtime your husband may be able to help by putting your baby to bed for a couple of weeks, until [your child] has forgotten about his end-of-the-day nursing."