When to Wean Your Baby (1881 vs. Today)

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Old-Fashioned Advice for Weaning a Baby from the Bottle and Breastfeeding

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Are you ready to stop breastfeeding? Is it time to transition your baby off of their bottle? The question of when to wean a baby has plagued new mothers for centuries. Here’s Old Farmer’s Almanac advice from 1881 and today!

When to Wean (1881)

  1. When a child has shown any tendency to diarrhea or is delicate and puny, he should not be weaned until after his second summer.
  2. However, sometimes the mother furnishes an insufficient supply of milk for the child, which may be known by his constant hunger. In such case, if all his teeth are through—eight in each jaw—he may be either entirely or partly weaned, though summer is approaching.

As you can see, times were different! Children would not weed until much later. In fact, in even earlier times, self-weaning would happen between 3 and 4 years of age. The natural duration of breastfeeding in modern humans between 2.5 and 7 years.

In non-human primates, the general rule is that weaning stops when the young reach one third of their adult weight, often when they are erupting their first permanent molars.

When to Wean (Today)

Much has changed today, though the need remains! Weaning happens much earlier, mainly due to cultural reasons, not health reasons.

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mothers worldwide are advised to exclusively breastfeed infants for the first six months of their life in order to achieve optimal growth, development and health. It also recommends that infants continue to be breastfed for at least two years, and as long as mutually desired, while being given nutritious complementary foods along ide breastfeeding.
  • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, continuing to breastfeed until the baby no longer wants to do so confers significant health and developmental benefits for both the baby and the mother, especially protection from illness.

There is no defined age to wean, nor should there be pressure to wean until the mother and baby feel it’s the right time based on comfort level.

The most simple technique for weaning is the “don’t offer, don’t refuse.” So, only nurse the child when asked, and do not offer when the child does not ask. Follow the nature’s course. Here’s more medical advice on how to wean your baby.

Best Days to Wean 

And see the Almanac’s famous “Best Days to Wean” calendar. This lists the best days to wean animals including humans based on the Moon. It also works for potty-training. It’s an age-old tradition, not medical advice, but see if it works for you!

About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

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