Feeling Emotional About Weaning? 3 Tips to Start Your Breastfeeding Weaning Plan

Baby Eating in his highchair, Tips for Weaning from Breastfeeding

You’ve worked long and hard to breastfeed your baby. For some, breastfeeding comes easy, while for others, not so much. After you manage to connect all the dots, breastfeeding still takes a large portion of your day. It takes time and energy to connect and learn your baby’s rhythm.

As your baby grows and no longer needs the nourishment of your breast milk it can feel personal. You worked so hard to establish a breastfeeding routine and ritual and now you and your baby are weaning. 

Here’s the truth: You should be proud of yourself for getting to this point. 

However long you fed your baby from your body, that will always be a special stage you shared together. Your relationship will change and grow as you find new ways to bond. So, don’t take it personally. Your baby loves you and will always need you. 

Weaning begins when you give your baby something other than your breast milk. Eventually, babies need breast milk less and begin to eat solid food. Then, eventually, no breast milk at all. While this transition is natural, it doesn’t make it any easier. 

Oxytocin (the love hormone), increases as you breastfeed more. So, as your feedings decrease, so does oxytocin and, you may feel a variety of emotions surrounding this experience. 

Loss, excitement, confusion, sadness…

You may also find yourself enjoying the new-found freedom. You’ll finally be able to make that Target run by yourself…


You might also find yourself mourning. 

It can feel like a loss. You miss the intimate connection, knowing that all too soon, they will not be a baby at all anymore. 

This makes your mama heart heavy

You tell yourself, “It’s okay… it’s meant to happen…”  

During this process it’s okay to not be okay.

Many moms feel this way as their baby inches away from breastfeeding. You are truly not alone in these feelings. 

There are a variety of paths to weaning your baby, and we’ve included some of the best ways to be successful below. 

You Might Be Wondering: When Is Weaning Necessary? 

Parents begin to wean their babies for a variety of reasons, including: 

  • Returning to work
  • Your baby showing signs they are ready to wean
  • Switching from breast milk to formula
  • Beginning solids 
  • Desiring your partner or other caregiver to feed your baby

(There are many more)

But here’s the bottom line: 

There is no “best” time to begin weaning. This is an extremely personal decision involving many factors. Someone else’s journey may not be yours. 

Own the journey and be kind to yourself. 

Don’t dictate a strict timeline, and take the changes as they come. It helps to remember many moms are going through this alongside you. 

Is It Time To Wean Yet? 

Sometimes it’s hard to tell when to wean your baby from breast milk. Some babies are happy to nurse for a long time, while others give moms clues as to when they’re ready. 

Here are a few clues

  • Shorter nursing sessions
  • “Playing” with your breast (pulling on and off or biting) 
  • Comfort nursing (not drawing out breastmilk) 
  • Ongoing fussiness while nursing
  • Loss of interest in nursing

However, keep in mind that there’s a difference between a nursing strike and weaning signs. 

Nursing strikes are often short-lived phases of your baby not wanting to nurse. They can be especially frustrating if your baby has always breastfed well. 

Nursing strikes indicate there may be…

  • Pain or discomfort 
  • Stress/distraction 
  • Lower milk supply 
  • Illness (such as a stuffy nose) 

In this case, it’s most likely not time to wean, but another issue needs addressing. 

Know the difference as you begin the weaning process. 

Remember, there are two people in this breastfeeding relationship. You may feel ready to wean before your baby shows signs that they are ready and vice versa. 

Having been through this personally, my advice is: follow your heart and be easy on yourself.  

Maybe you are struggling with continuing to breastfeed for personal reasons. Perhaps “you want your body back” or you are feeling “all touched out.” Many of us have been there. Your feelings are valid. Please don’t feel guilty. You are still a good mother.  

Sit with those feelings and realize you can start the process slowly to see how it goes. When you know it’s time, you will know. 

Tip #1 – Start Gradually

Weaning is a natural process

Slow and steady, flowing, like a winding stream. 

I say “winding” because it’s not a perfectly straight path. There are dips, curves, and obstacles you may face.

There will be interruptions to the flow, and it’s okay. That’s the nature of it. 

Flexibility will be your friend. 

So, whether you need to start weaning for an external reason or you or your baby are ready, allow it to happen gradually if you can. 

Weaning too quickly can result in a few negative side effects. 

Such as…

  • Breast engorgement 
  • Clogged ducts (can lead to mastitis) 
  • Hormonal shifts
  • Confusion for your baby

Weaning too quickly will make the process more difficult and painful for both you and your baby. 

You know your baby. They are still small, but parts of their personality and temperament are already revealed to you. Keep this knowledge in mind as you create your weaning-from-breastfeeding plan. 

Tip #2 – Decide On Your Weaning Approach or Approaches

Choose a method that works best for you and your baby. Here are a few different approaches: 

Parent-Led Weaning 

This type of weaning is exactly what it says: led by the parent. 

Parent-led weaning usually happens because of an outside situation such as…

This type of approach involves you deciding when to decrease breast milk feedings. 

Typically, it’s wise to start with dropping one feeding a day and then adjusting from there. Depending on the age of your baby you will replace that feeding with either solid food or formula bottle feeding. Read our blog post “When Should Baby Start Solid Food?” to learn more about the best time to start offering solids.  

Even with parent-led weaning, you still need to stay in tune with your baby’s needs. Whether you are transitioning to solid food or formula bottle feeding, remember to try to drop feedings gradually. 

With this method, you may choose to introduce pureed foods first, and spoon-feed your baby their first foods. You’ll feed them more and more bottles or solids as you decide when to drop breast milk feedings until you are no longer breastfeeding.  

Baby – Led Weaning

Baby-led weaning refers to your baby leading the weaning process. 

With this method, you wait on your baby to give you weaning signs. Then, you allow them to lead the process. This often involves safely providing a variety of food for them to try and usually, skipping purees altogether.

This typically happens at around 6 months or older and can happen on your baby’s timeline.  

Here are a few great first foods to try… 

Soft-ripe fruit:

  • Bananas 
  • Pear 
  • Avocado 
  • Kiwi 
  • Mango 

Roasted/steamed veggies: 

  • Sweet potatoes 
  • Squash 
  • Carrots 
  • Broccoli

Ground meat/strips: 

  • Hamburger 
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Pork
  • Salmon (poached and flaked)

With this method, your baby decides which food they’d like to eat as opposed to being spoon-fed. 

Experts say that baby-led weaning…

  • Develops hand-eye coordination 
  • Helps chewing skills
  • Increases dexterity 

If this approach sounds like it’ll work for your baby, give it a try. 

“Don’t Offer, Don’t Refuse”

This approach to weaning applies to babies and toddlers that are able to ask you in some way if they want to nurse or not. 

Here’s how it goes… 

When your typical breastfeeding time arrives, you neither refuse or offer to nurse them. You allow your baby or toddler to approach you in their own way or not. 

This method is often used in tandem with baby-led weaning, as your baby is the one who leads this process. 

As your baby or toddler grows up they become busier playing and eating more and more solids at other times of the day and they may ask to nurse less and less. 

One thing to keep in mind… 

This approach does take time. Give your baby all the love, patience, and encouragement. 

Most parents end up doing a mixture of these methods. It can be difficult sometimes to devote yourself to one method fully. Find a balance that works for you and your baby. 

The important thing to remember is….

The only people on this journey are you and your baby. 

No one else. 

Life isn’t black and white, so your weaning process doesn’t have to be either. 

It never has to be all or nothing. 

Tip #3 – Find Support On Your Weaning Journey

Don’t isolate yourself during your weaning journey. 

If you’re struggling with weaning your little one or just need a bit of advice, we’re here for you. 

At Buddha Belly Doulas, we offer…

  • Breastfeeding support in your home, virtually, or at the hospital 
  • Breastfeeding classes 
  • A breastfeeding support group


You’ll have access to our certified lactation counselors. They are patient, understanding, and ready to answer your questions.

(There’s never a stupid question in our book!) 

Reach out to us! We can’t wait to help you on your breastfeeding or weaning journey. 

Find our breastfeeding resources here

Also check out: How Long Should My Baby Nurse? and When Should Baby Start Solid Food?

About Christie Collbran

Christie believes in helping women recognize their own inner wisdom, strength and power. Having served as President of the Tampa Bay Birth Network for six years and with ten years serving families as a birth doula, she has a reputation for leadership, dedication and compassion. A childbirth educator, certified lactation counselor as well as a certified doula, she makes a point of ensuring mothers and their partners understand all their birthing options and what to expect on their journey.> keep reading