Whether you wean your baby at 6 or 16 months, the key is to do it gradually. If you stop breastfeeding suddenly, your breasts will likely become painfully engorged and you risk developing blocked or infected milk ducts, according to Richard Schanler, M.D., a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics' section on breastfeeding and chief of neonatal-perinatal medicine at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. "There is no exact science when it comes to weaning," he says. But there are some things you can do to make the transition go smoothly for both of you:
• Substitute a bottle or cup of breast milk or formula at your baby's least favorite feeding, or the one that is least convenient for you. Since your baby is used to nursing when you hold him, it might work better for your spouse or a caregiver to give the bottle or cup.
• To head off engorgement, wait at least a few days before replacing an additional feeding.
• Try changing your routine slightly so the baby demands less from a feeding. For example, if you usually nurse your baby before feeding him solid food, feed him first and then breastfeed--doing so will likely cause him to take less milk, which in turn will send a signal to your body to gradually reduce your milk supply.