How do you know when the right time to wean is and how do you do it?
Isn't wean a dreadful word? Ok, now that I've said that I can get down to business.
This is a tough one, because people are very opinionated; very, very opinionated on this. It runs the gamut from Enfamil to La Leche - people care. Perhaps people subconsciously believe if you aren't defending whatever you are doing as the single best option - then it could mean it places second, third, or something else. And no one wants to say they are giving their child second best. But, since we don't finger point here at Ask Angie - set the biases aside and just glean what's helpful - there aren't different ribbons - just different choices...
I'll start with what I did. I nursed my babies for a year. My mom almost died I didn't go longer - and I almost died that I lasted so long. So my answer to when, is simply - when you are ready. The reason I aimed for a year was that I wanted to transition straight from breast milk to whole milk. Personally, I've always thought change is hard, so the fewer changes the better. In fact, I skipped the bottle stage and went straight to sippy (although its a lifesaver for many).
As for the specific stopping - I just eliminated one breast feeding every three days - supplementing with baby food - and offering milk (but not forcing it). This way, physically, it wasn't too taxing to on me. The last one to go was the morning and night time feeding - those are just the hardest to eliminate. Simply, eliminate five to fifteen minutes a day-one step at a time.
Some kids don't want to change to a new milk - and yes, I'll admit it, with one of my children adding a little chocolate to the milk was just the thing. Just enough to get him interested and then I faded it out.
Once you start, stick to it! Some babies seem to take it as an emotional insult - they are just pulling out all the stops. If you stay calm and committed they will go along in just a few days. Nothing too magic - mostly time! I know this is a fairly general start - so if there is a specific problem - I am happy to address it as well - just leave a comment.