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When To Start Weaning Your Baby

The pros and cons of each stage

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a mom trying to get her baby to eat solids

0 to 6 Months

Pros - You can go back to work without needing to pump or rush home to make a feeding.

Cons -  There's no good substitute for breast milk, which is so important during these months for immunity building and nutrition. It’s harder to drop a feeding at this age, since your child may insist on breast milk over the solids you’re trying to introduce. And you’ll both miss out on the bonding that is unique to the breastfeeding experience. Plus you’ll be giving up the most surefire way to soothe a distressed infant.

6 to 12 Months

Pros -  Your baby is eating more and more solids, lessening her dependence on breast milk as her sole source of nutrition. Also, there’s a window at 8 to 10 months when a child is easily distracted by the big developmental tasks at hand—learning to crawl or walk, for example—which can help him forget when a feeding has been dropped.

Cons - The AAP still considers breast milk the most important source of nutrition at this stage in a baby’s life and calls solids ”supplemental.” You may have to introduce bottled formula (if you haven’t already), which means you’ll have another weaning to endure in the future.

1 to 3 Years

Pros - You’ve reached that 12-month milestone! Your child no longer needs breast milk as a primary source of nutrition, and he’s beginning to be verbal and to understand rules (for example,  “We don’t nurse here, only at home”). It’s easier to distract this age group: Toddlers are so busy that you may not even have to say no. And you won’t have to introduce a bottle as a feeding substitute, since you won’t need to supplement nursings with formula.

Cons - There are not many at this point. Some preventive attributes of breast milk, such as making you more resistant to certain diseases, increase the longer you breastfeed. Also, you and your child may not be ready to give up this intimate aspect of your relationship just yet.

 
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