Weaning can be a natural process…Ideally it should be a mutual agreement between a mother and her baby/child, when the time is right. No one can nor should tell you when that time has come. When a baby/child is weaned with love and compassion, when he/she is truly ready, that deep innate connection is preserved for a lifetime.
Baby-led weaning respects the natural process and it starts at the breast. When you breastfeed your child, you allow your baby to let you know when he or she is hungry and you encourage your baby to self-regulate his or her eating patterns – breastfeeding your baby on demand. This level of innate parent-child connection and your trust in your baby’s ability to self-regulate (based on his or her own hunger) is the essence and foundation of baby-led weaning.
Watch your baby for signs that he or she may be ready to try solid foods by showing interest in family meal times. Other signs for readiness for solid foods include baby being able to sit up without support, baby is willing and ready to chew, baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex, baby can pick up items with the thumb and forefinger (pincer grasp) vs. using the whole hand (palmer grasp).
The role of solid foods in the first year is not about nutrition and nourishment… Breast milk serves this role. Instead, the role of solid foods is to introduce your baby to varying flavors, aromas and textures of food. Poi, bananas, avocados and papayas are great fresh mashes available to us here on Maui in abundance.
I think that if a baby/child has been breastfed on demand and isn’t ready to wean, then you shouldn’t. I really regretted weaning my son the way I did and found it came to cause more hardship later on… I think that if a mama is ready to stop, but baby/child isn’t and they have not been breastfeeding on demand that they should just slowly transition to only nursing in the mornings and evenings to continue to bond/connect until he/she is ready to stop all together. Any/all ‘transitions’ are emotional and challenging… This one specifically should be taken with great care and compassion!
Image Credit: Cadencia Photography