Self weaning usually occurs in a baby, who is well over a year old, gets most of their nutrition from solids, drinks from a cup, and cuts down on nursing gradually. Self weaning occurs when a child no longer has any emotional or nutritional requirement for breast milk. Very often however, mothers mistakenly believe that their baby’s lack of interest in breast feeding is due to self weaning. This lack of interest can be as a result of a lack of milk being produced. If a mum’s milk supply is depleted then baby may grow to prefer cup or bottle feeding as they grow to realise that they can get more milk this way.
There are a lot of things that can cause a reduced milk supply including reduced feedings, rapid weight loss in the mother, and use of medications (such as contraceptives). There are an abundance of things, you as a mother can do to increase your breast milk supply.
Another possible reason for a lack of interest in breast feeding can be a developmental phase. It is quite common for an infant between 6 and 12 months to show less interest in breastfeeding. This is not caused by the infant’s desire to self wean. Older babies tend to be easily distracted and many mothers mistakenly believe this to be their baby’s desire to self wean. If you are feeding your baby from a cup or a bottle than they will discover that they can feed and explore at the same time while breastfeeding requires them to sit still.
Babies can also begin to show a lack of interest in breastfeeding around milestone times such as teething, crawling, or walking. There are things you can do to avoid premature weaning such as:
If your breast milk has depleted-take measures to restore it.
Always offer milk first before feeding any solids
Limit bottles and pacifier’s
Don’t let baby walk around with bottles or sippy cups
Offer to breastfeed your baby often
Try wearing a nursing necklace to keep your baby interested while nursing or give baby a small toy while nursing.
Many mums don’t consider this lack of interest in breastfeeding to be temporary and go ahead and self wean. This is not necessarily a bad thing but mums should know that weaning their babies during this stage is not self weaning and is in fact their own decision. Mothers need to be aware of the reasons an older baby might show a sudden lack of interest in breastfeeding so they can make a more informed decision about weaning.