Should I refuse feedings during the weaning process?

Refusing to breast-feed when your child wants to nurse can backfire and increase your child's focus on the activity. If your child wants to nurse, nurse him or her. Then, continue working to distract him or her with new foods, activities and sources of emotional reassurance — such as a favorite stuffed animal — around the times of your typical breast-feeding sessions. It might help to avoid sitting in your usual breast-feeding spots with your child during these times.

What about nutrition after weaning?

If you wean your child before age 1, substitute breast milk with iron-fortified formula. Ask your child's doctor to recommend a formula. Don't give your child cow's milk until after his or her first birthday.

You can wean your child to a bottle and then a cup or, if your child seems ready, directly to a cup. Keep in mind that if you wean your child to a bottle, you'll eventually have to wean him or her to a cup.

If you're introducing your child to a bottle for the first time, do so at a time when your child isn't extremely hungry and might have more patience. Choose a bottle nipple with a slow flow at first. If you use a bottle nipple with a fast flow, your child might become frustrated with the slower flow of milk during breast-feeding.

How long does weaning take?

Depending on your approach, weaning could take days, weeks or months. Remember, however, that rushing the weaning process might be upsetting for your child and cause breast engorgement.

Breast-feeding is an intimate activity for you and your child. You might have mixed emotions about letting go. But by taking a gradual approach to weaning — and offering plenty of love and affection — you can help your child make a smooth transition to a bottle or cup.

Feb. 16, 2013 See more In-depth