For some mother-infant pairs, weaning is casual, even easy. For others, it's a physical and emotional struggle, leading many moms to try a DIY approach, like making their nipples taste different or "bad" to encourage baby to breastfeed less often. If you're wondering, "is vinegar safe to use for weaning your baby?" you should know that it's not the first recommendation of doctors or lactation consultants, and for good reason. Imagine if someone started secretly spiking your favorite foods with cayenne pepper. On the other hand, maybe a medical condition necessitates sudden weaning — or maybe you're just at your wit's end. Enough judgment swirls around breastfeeding issues, and Romper won't add to the culture of blame and shame. As always, the choice is yours, but here's what the experts say.
"The best way to wean a resistant toddler is to slowly decrease the amount that you are nursing, using distraction and offering other options," writes Elizabeth R. Marks, MD, in an interview. However, if your child is very resistant, applying a little apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to your breasts won't hurt them, but it's not exactly gentle. When weaning a toddler, explain why you're not nursing anymore, and that it's all part of growing up.
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Michelle Kunschke invites the whole family to get involved in weaning. Your partner can be a key player, offering fun distractions and play time whenever your child wants to nurse. Taking a walk, reading a book, or playing on the floor are all great strategies.
Because weaning can be emotional for you too, remind yourself that this transition, like so many others, is just part of your child's development. After I had my daughter, I remember grieving the fact that we'd never again be as close as we were when I was pregnant. When I stopped nursing, I grieved for the same reason, and again, when we transitioned from bassinet to crib. I'm sure I'll feel the same way at every milestone, right up until the day she goes to college.
Kunschke tells Romper that though you don't think of the introduction of solid foods at six months as weaning necessarily, those spoonfuls of puréed peaches are an important step. She writes, "Ideally, [weaning] happens so gradually that the mother and child move through the process with ease and aren't really even aware of weaning per se ... Often the mother and the child aren't even aware when they are having their very last nursing session."
As for vinegar, Kunschke notes that though it's probably not dangerous, gentler, more gradual measures are generally easier for all involved — do what feels best for you and your baby.