When you feel like your time for breastfeeding is coming to an end, your baby may not be on board. Weaning a baby off of the breast can be tough, because babies can be persistent. They will tug at your shirt and breasts, try to sneak a feed when you're asleep — anything to give them that comfort they need. Sometimes moms put things like vinegar, lemon juice, or garlic on their nipples to turn their babies off of breastfeeding. But is that safe? Is it OK to make your nipples taste bad as a weaning method?
Romper asked International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Michelle Kunschke, who says that making your nipples taste bad with natural products like vinegar is probably not a physical health hazard, but it could be traumatic for the child. "Instead of making their most significant source of comfort unavailable or very unpleasant, encouraging the child in different activities is really a better way to go for everyone," she says.
Kunschke suggests that it is better to wean your baby gently and casually, so that no one is traumatized. "This way, the mother and the child aren't even aware when they are having their very last nursing session," she adds.
There are also better weaning techniques to use, she explains. Offering fun distractions, avoiding typical nursing locations, and offering age-appropriate food or drink to your child can help. Another good approach to weaning is "don't offer, but don't refuse," she says. "This means that if the child asks, and if other suggestions such as play time are turned down, the mom doesn't refuse to nurse either." Kunschke says that sometimes refusal can really backfire on a parent, causing a battle of wills, and it's always best to avoid those situations.
Basically, how you wean your baby is completely up to you. Gently and gradually weaning is less traumatic, but if you want to make your nipples taste bad (using natural, safe, and edible ingredients), and if it works for you, then by all means — do whatever works best for you and your baby.