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There is no ‘correct’ age to wean your baby. Like diapers and pacifiers, breastfeeding is something that children outgrow at different ages.
If you’re breastfeeding, chances are you’re enjoying the closeness you share with your baby and the confidence that comes from knowing you’re giving him a healthy start in life. As your baby grows, however, you may find yourself being asked,
“Don’t you think it’s time you weaned that child?” // The best time to wean is simply when you and your baby are ready, and only the two of you can decide when that will be. Unfortunately, however, there are plenty of myths that could influence your decision. Below are some of the most common weaning fallacies, along with the real deal.
Myth: He’s too old to nurse.
Fact: You usually hear this one around a baby’s first birthday, but medical experts—the American Academy of Pediatrics included—recommend breastfeeding for at least the first year. And the World Health Organization urges breastfeeding for two years or beyond.
There is no “correct” age to wean your baby. Like diapers and pacifiers, breastfeeding is something that children outgrow at different ages.
Myth: He’s constantly pulling off my breast to look around, so he’s ready to wean.
Fact: A child’s physical and emotional needs change as he grows, which can lead to a shift in his breastfeeding habits. A baby with the “lookie-loos” isn’t necessarily sending a signal that he’s no longer interested in nursing; he may simply be at a developmental stage where he needs a quiet, distraction-free place to nurse.
Another phase that is mistakenly thought of as a dictate to wean is when solid foods are introduced. The truth is, even if your baby is eating solids, he still needs the vitamins, minerals and trace substances that breast milk provides.
Myth: You must stop nursing when your baby’s teeth come in—or suffer the consequences.
Fact: Nursing does pose a challenge—sometimes a painful one—when those sharp little teeth come in, but it’s a matter of teaching your baby not to bite, not a signal to wean. To communicate the new rule, firmly say, “No biting!” as soon as he starts to bite. Then take him off your breast for several minutes; doing so will help him realize he did something wrong.
Myth: If your baby is vomiting, he needs a rehydrating fluid, not breast milk.
Fact: “This is one of the worst myths, because when a baby is sick, breast milk is better tolerated than any other fluid,” says Santa Monica, Calif., pediatrician Jay Gordon, M.D., F.A.A.P. “In fact, there is no time when rehydrating fluids are better for your nursing infant than breast milk is.” Gordon also notes that the vitamins and antibodies in your milk will help your baby fight his illness.