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How to Wean From Breastfeeding to Whole Milk

author image Kristen Fisher
Kristen Fisher is a freelance writer and editor with professional experience in both print and online media. She has published articles on a wide variety of topics including health, fitness, nutrition, home and food, and her work has appeared in "Connections Magazine" and on She graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in psychology.
How to Wean From Breastfeeding to Whole Milk
Mother feeding toddler from bottle.

Weaning from the breast is a different process for every child. Some babies wean themselves without any struggles before they've turned 1 year old; others show no signs of stopping even at age 2 or 3. If you're ready to stop breastfeeding and your pediatrician has given your child the OK to drink cow's milk, you may be worried about how to make such an important change to your child's routine. Transitioning from nursing to drinking cow's milk can be a challenge, but patience and persistence will help your child achieve this important milestone.

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Step 1

Substitute your child's least favorite feeding with a sippy cup of cow's milk. Many children are most attached to the pre-bedtime nursing session but have far less interest in daytime feedings. Anticipate when she'll be hungry and instead of settling down in your usual nursing spot, give her the cup in a different location.

Step 2

Shorten the duration of your nursing sessions, then offer your child a cup of cow's milk to finish the feeding. Start by trimming just a minute or two off the usual time, then gradually cut back until your child is getting all of his milk from a cup.

Step 3

Distract your child when she asks to nurse by telling her you'll feed her later, then quickly get her involved in a fun game or a favorite toy. This is more difficult when your child is actually hungry, so try this strategy when she wants to nurse out of habit, not hunger.

Step 4

Offer your child plenty of hugs, cuddles and one-on-one attention throughout the day. Breastfeeding isn't just about eating, it's also a major source of comfort for babies and toddlers, so be sure to give your child more physical contact by way of back rubs, kisses and snuggles, recommends

Step 5

Change the bedtime routine. The bedtime nursing session is often the last to go, and your child might fight extra hard if you attempt to substitute a cup of cow's milk for breastfeeding at this time. Instead of focusing the nighttime routine on nursing, center it around reading, singing lullabies, rocking or anything else that brings your child comfort.

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