Outdating Weaning Advice You Can Totally Ignore

Depending on how you feel about breastfeeding, weaning can be something you either look forward to or dread. Some moms look at weaning as more bittersweet proof that their baby is growing up too fast, and mourn the loss of guaranteed snuggles while nursing. Others are excited to see their child enter a new phase of greater independence, and to have their bodies all to themselves again. However you feel about it, there is some outdated weaning advice to ignore when the time comes.

The advice you'll most likely hear repeated from older generations is that it's important to wean by a certain age. One mom told Baby Center that she was pressured to end her breastfeeding journey by the time her child was 1 year old simply because her own mom felt it was "weird." But there's no right or wrong age to wean, and deciding when to start the process is completely up to you. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends moms exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of their baby's life, advice which you've probably heard. But you may not realize that the recommendation goes on to say that babies "should be given nutritious complementary foods and continue breastfeeding up to the age of 2 years or beyond." That "or beyond" may be shocking to some, but extended breastfeeding is normal, natural, and very common in many parts of the world.


The other thing you may notice about that WHO recommendation is that stated moms should be giving their babies "nutritious complementary foods", but doesn't specify what that should be. Although your own mother may have started you on solids by giving you baby cereals and purees, it's fine to skip the mush and start out with grown-up food according to Parents. Baby-led weaning (BLW) has become a popular way for parents to introduce their babies to solids. It involves giving babies spears or slivers of foods like cooked vegetables or soft fruits, and letting them figure out self-feeding according to Baby Center. This approach may horrify people who raised babies strictly on purees until they had a full set of teeth, but as long as you're keeping a close eye on your little one to make sure they don't choke, it's perfectly safe.

When and how to wean are decisions that a mom should be able to make without outside pressure or judgment. The most important thing is to do what feels right for you and your baby, no matter how people "used to" do it.