When Should I Wean My Baby?

By Roberta Duyff, MS, RD, FAND
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Weaning is the slow, gradual process that helps your baby eat and enjoy your family's foods. The time for weaning is an individual matter for mother and baby. Experts encourage moms to breast-feed for at least 12 months. Babies benefit from breast-feeding for as long as it's mutually right for mother and baby.

No matter how long you choose to nurse, start complementary foods, too, when your baby's ready. If your baby is exclusively breast-fed, that's about at 6 months of age. Talk to your pediatrician about timing. When your baby eats other foods, too, you'll probably nurse less often: typically first thing in the morning, naptimes and bedtime.

When you choose to wean your baby, introduce either infant formula or cow's milk, depending on your baby's age. If your baby is under 12 months of age, wean from breast milk to iron-fortified infant formula. If your baby is twelve months or older, whole cow milk is appropriate.

Should you wean your baby to a bottle or a cup? That depends on his or her developmental readiness. Between 4 and 6 months, most infants will drink or suck small amounts of liquid from a cup or a glass when someone else holds it. Older babies and toddlers usually have the coordination to drink fluids from a cup or a straw. However, for infants under 6 months of age, a bottle is probably the best choice.

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