Until the age of about four months, you will be feeding your baby milk alone. But how will your breast-feeding routine change once you start to introduce solids? How long should you keep giving some breast feeds a day?
During the second half of the first year of your baby, he will need less and less milk from you, and be more willing to take drinks from a beaker. Between the ages of nine months and a year, your baby will in all likelihood wean himself off the breast quite happily, and with no prompting from you.
How will the routine develop
A typical routine for a fully breast-fed baby might be:
Three months: five feeds a day plus night feeds.
Four/ Five months: Four or five feeds a day plus some solid food.
Six months: Two breast-feeds a day, i.e. early morning and bedtime.
Nine months: Bedtime feed only.
Going back to Work
It’s perfectly possible to return to work and continue breast-feeding. If your baby is under six or seven months old, you will need to express at the times he would normally feed to keep your milk supply stimulated. Get your baby used to bottle before you start work. Ask someone else to give the first bottle-feeds; your baby will smell your breast milk.
You need sterile equipment and a private place to express milk during the day, plus access to a fridge to store it until you go home. Transport the milk in an insulated picnic box with ice packs inside. Leave bottles of expressed milk for your baby’s daytime feeds.
Ask your baby sitter to delay the late afternoon feed so your baby will be ready for a breast-feed when you get home. If necessary, boost your milk supply by giving your baby extra breast-feeds during the evening and night.
When should it be stopped
You can continue to breast-feed well into your baby’s second year if both of you want to; and you can gradually wean your baby off the breast at anytime in the first year. He may give up the breast of his own accord between nine months and a year.
Biting your breast is not a reason to give up feeding; tell him sharply that it hurts, and he will soon learn. Never give up abruptly. It’s important to let your production of milk reduce gradually over a period of weeks, by letting your supply and demand system work in reverse.
Drop one feed at a time, waiting at least three days before dropping another. Don’t express to relieve the full feeling, the milk will gradually re-absorbed within few days.