A Mother’s Guide to Partial Weaning

The transition from breast to bottle can be a challenging one, both for you and your little one. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing process. It is quite common, in fact, for many mothers to still keep one or two feedings per day while simultaneously implementing regular bottle feeds. Say hello to partial weaning.

One of the greatest advantages of partial weaning, sometimes called combination feeding, is the freedom it provides mothers to resume pre-pregnancy responsibilities. Be it work or school or anything in between, the constant demand of breastfeeding can prevent new mothers from being anything else but, well, a new mother.

With partial weaning, infants are still given the necessary nutrients and mother-child nurture necessary for proper emotional and physical development while allowing mom to re-enter life outside the nursery. The intimate relationship between a feeding mom and her child is maintained while simultaneously allowing the mother more time and freedom in her day. It also provides a reprieve from the stress of constant nursing.

Partial weaning is a great option for some, especially those with other outside obligations or for little ones that are in their later years of infancy. If these situations are relevant to your lifestyle, then partial weaning might be right up your alley.

We’ve put together a few tips and tricks for those curious about the process. Here is a quick guide for new moms on partial weaning.

Give Your Baby Plenty of Practice

As the old adage goes, “Practice Makes Perfect”. Nothing could be more true when you first introduce your baby to a sippy cup and bottle after relying exclusively on breastfeeding. You should introduce your little one to a cup and bottle and he or she should be physically able to handle one before beginning the process of partial weaning.

It is suggested that after three weeks, you should introduce newborns to the bottle in order to encourage a smooth acceptance. Some mothers also find coating the tip of the bottle with breast milk as a way to help little ones. In any case, a child should be fairly comfortable with using a bottle before partially weaning.

Experiment With Feeding Approaches

There are generally two types of feeding approaches in the transition process. Depending on what works best for your preference and availability, new moms can either continue to pump on a 24-hour basis (to encourage the breast to continue producing milk) or “train” the breast only to produce milk during certain time periods (for example, the hours off the clock for working moms).

The second method typically makes use of artificial baby milk during times away from the mother. There are new formulas on the market today that prove just as nourishing as milk straight from mommy. Our top picks include HIPP Formula, Holle Formula, and Lebenswert Formula.

With either of the two methods we suggest, you should allow your baby to breastfeed freely in the off hours (that is, before or after work) and implement bottle feelings during the alternate times.

Keep on Pumping

It is a myth that reducing nursing times to only once or twice per day will cause a mother’s milk supply to “dry up”.  However, consistent stimulation is necessary in maintaining a regular flow. Continuing to pump before and during partial weaning is key as it encourages the breast to continue to produce milk throughout the process. This is important if you plan to use breast milk during bottle feedings.  Even if you plan to use formula, the partial weaning process still relies on direct breastfeeding in conjunction with bottle feeds.

The implementation of a partial weaning process is a great way to help facilitate the development of a child’s feeding practices as well as give new moms a much needed break from the constant call of a baby’s hunger cries. With such great advancements in formula products, adequate nutrition is now fairly easy to find.

However, it is essential to see what works best for you and your little one. These tips and tricks are here to help, but ultimately it comes down to personal preference and choice. The most important thing is ensuring a healthy baby and a happy mommy.

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