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Weaning a Baby From Breast-Feeding

 

Babies need a ready source of iron for at least the first year of life. An iron-rich diet comes from getting enough breast milk and/or iron-fortified formula along with solid foods. After 4 months of age, your baby will probably not get enough iron from breast milk alone. Your doctor may prescribe a liquid iron supplement until your baby gets enough iron from iron-fortified formulas or foods high in iron. Breast-fed babies born prematurely may be prescribed a liquid iron supplement by 1 month of age.

When you start to wean your baby from the breast, replace your breast milk with enough iron-fortified infant formula to make up for fewer nursing sessions. After your baby stops breast-feeding, give him or her at least 16 fl oz (473 mL) to 24 fl oz (710 mL) of formula each day. When your baby is age 4 to 6 months and older, give solid foods high in iron and vitamin C. Babies at least 12 months of age can also have cow's milk.

The following tips may help you wean:

  • After your baby is 4 months of age, try letting him or her drink from a cup. If your baby is not ready, you can start weaning by switching to a bottle.
  • Slowly reduce the number of times you breast-feed each day. Replace a breast-feeding with a cup- or bottle-feeding during one of your daily feeding times. Stay with that routine for a week. Then the next week, choose an additional time of day to replace or shorten your regular breast-feeding time. Each week, choose one more breast-feeding time to replace or shorten.
  • Offer the cup or bottle before each breast-feeding. Some babies may not accept a bottle or cup until they have nursed.
  • If you breast-feed before bedtime or a nap, lay your baby down before he or she is asleep. Help your baby learn to fall asleep without the aid of breast-feeding. A new bedtime ritual can help.
  • Hold and cuddle your baby to make up for the loss of skin contact during breast-feeding. If a baby asks for more breast-feedings, make them up through touching and holding.

 

Other Works Consulted

  • American Academy of Pediatrics (2010). Diagnosis and prevention of iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anemia in infants and young children (0–3 years of age). Pediatrics , 126(5): 1040–1050. Available online: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/126/5/1040.

 

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last Revised April 25, 2010

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