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Entries in Breastfeeding (13)


4 benefits of baby led weaning

Weaning is a slightly confusing word. It is used to describe the process of introducing a baby mammal to its adult diet, whilst slowly and gradually withdrawing the supply of breast milk. Baby led weaning can mean either allowing your baby to eat solid foods in their own time, or allowing them to relinquish breast milk in their own time. 

In this case I'm talking about how and when to introduce solids. And baby led weaning is a super simple method of doing this.

Gill Rapley is a health visitor in the UK, which is the equivalent of our child health nurses in Australia. She coined the term baby-led weaning and popularised it in her book, written with Tracey Murkett, called Baby-Led Weaning.

“As a health visitor for over 20 years she encountered many families who were experiencing problems feeding their babies; many babies resisted being spoonfed or would only accept a very limited number of foods. Some parents had resorted to force-feeding in an effort to get their children to eat. Choking and gagging on lumpy meals was common. Mealtimes were extremely stressful for both the parents and their babies.

“Gill suspected that the babies were resisting what was being done to them rather that the food itself. The simple suggestion of waiting a bit longer (if the baby was under six months) or letting the baby have a go himself (if he was older) seemed to make a huge difference, both to babies behaviour and the parents stress levels. “

“So she did a study, and at the same time in 2003 research shows that solids should be introduced at 6 months.”

Baby-led weaning simply means allowing your baby to feed themselves with finger foods and any normal, home-cooked, family food from the age that show signs of readiness. I suspect this method has much in common with how mothers around the world would have fed their babies for many generations.

Offering your baby some of your home-cooked food is the best way to start. There are so many advantages to this method of weaning. 

  • If the food you eat is not healthy enough for your baby then this is a good opportunity for you to revisit your own diet too. 
  • You don’t have to prepare separate food, or mash, puree, freeze or reheat anything.  
  • If you are breastfeeding your baby is already used to the flavour of the food you eat regularly so is more likely to enjoy your family food.  
  • You get to eat together as a family or can do other stuff whilst your baby snacks because your hands are free.

Wondering how and when to introduce solids? Worried about allergies or picky eating? Does pureeing and freezing food sound way too complicated? Want simple recipes the whole family can enjoy?

For more information on baby led weaning please click here to download my guide to Ayurveda and Baby Led Weaning. Or if you live in Perth, Western Australia, click to here to see if my live workshop on Ayurveda and Baby Led Weaning is open for bookings.



Books for baby shower and mother blessing gifts

I recommend these books to my clients, and all parents. If you use the links here to buy them then I will earn a small commission. Fishpond is an Australian and New Zealand online book store, the prices are low and they offer free shipping. Enjoy!

What Mothers Do: Especially When it Looks Like Nothing How Mothers Love: and How Relationships are Born Ayurvedic Healing: A Comprehensive Guide Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing Ayurveda for Women: A Guide to Vitality and Health Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life The Oxytocin Factor The Chemistry of Connection: How the Oxytocin Response Can Help You Find Trust, Intimacy, and Love The Moral Molecule: The Source of Love and Prosperity Ina May's Guide to Childbirth Doulas: Empowering Birthing Women Mothering the New Mother: Women's Feelings and Needs After Childbirth - A Support and Resource Guide After the Baby's Birth: A Woman's Way to Wellness - A Complete Guide for Postpartum Women The Father's Home Birth Handbook The Wonder Weeks: How to Stimulate Your Baby's Mental Development and Help Him Turn His 10 Predictable, Great, Fussy Phases into Magical Leaps Forward Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child The Sensible Sleep Solution: A Guide to Sleep in Your Baby's First Year Baby Love Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety


And of course my recipe book!


How to stop breastfeeding - options for weaning your baby or toddler

Before you wean ask yourself if you are really ready to wean your baby. Are you feeling breastfeeding fatigue? Are you ready for some space? Have you stopped enjoying breastfeeding? 

Or do you feel pressured to wean your baby by external factors such as culture, your mother-in-law or going back to work?

Baby led weaning

You don't have to wean your baby until and unless you want to, and some mothers choose to let their baby lead the way. All baby's stop breastfeeding eventually. World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding for two years or more, so if breastfeeding is still enjoyable for you there is no reason to stop.

Partial weaning

If you are going back to work or feeling burnt out consider partial weaning, or combination feeding. Once established, many mothers can maintain their milk supply on just two or three breastfeeds a day, which you can give your baby overnight if you are apart during the day. Partial breastfeeding has nearly of the advantages of regular breastfeeding including allergy prevention, increased immunity and increased nutrition. Some mothers find partial breastfeeding gives them a little space, so they can continue breastfeeding for much longer. For more information visit Kellymom.

Mother led weaning

If you really are ready to quit breastfeeding then you have two main options, with all sorts of variations between. Decide what will work best for you and your baby. Make sure you take it slow so your milk supply can adjust, or you may end up with engorged breasts or blocked milk ducts.

  1. Never offer, never refuse is the most gentle way of weaning a baby and can take a very long time. As the name suggests it involves giving your baby a feed whenever they ask, but not offering if they don't ask.
  2. Dropping one feed at a time is a more active way of approaching weaning and will be a little quicker. Choose the time of day when your baby is least interested in breastfeeding and drop that feed first. Once your breasts and your baby have adjusted, which could take a week or two, then you can drop another feed. Try and distract your baby at the time when the feed is being dropped by getting out of the house, having friends to play with or substitute the feed with a favourite snack or drink. You will be much more successful if you can keep one step ahead of your baby and have a distraction ready before they have a chance to think about breastmilk!

 Comfort and reducing your milk supply

If your breasts are engorged and tender you can put some cabbage leaves inside your bra. Cabbage leaves are soothing and cooling, and they also reduce your milk supply so only use cabbage leaves when you are weaning.

Sage tea is a delicious way to decrease your milk supply.  Brew 1 tablespoon of dried sage in 1 cup of boiling water for 5 minutes. Drink 1 cup between 2 and 6 times per day depending on how engorged you are and how quickly you are trying to wean.

Do not bind your breasts.

Only express a little milk to relieve fullness if you absolutely have to. Sometimes a hot shower is enough to bring comfort without removing too much milk. The more milk you remove the more milk your body will make.

Grief and depression after weaning

Some mothers feel very sad or have mood swings after weaning, even if they weaned by choice. Click here for more information. 


Product review- Petite Bisou breast shells

It took me awhile to get my head around this product... what actually is it??? Yes they are real shells, from the beach, hand selected for size and polished in Paris. Yes Paris, no less.

I was still not quite convinced so Sheridan offered to send me a set of Petite Bisou breast shells to try out for myself. When my baby was learning to latch and my nipples were screaming in agony I was so glad I accepted her generous offer. Oh that cool shell against my tender nipples was just bliss! I am totally sold!

The breast shells work by keeping a few drops of breastmilk against your nipple, for moist, antiseptic healing, and they prevent your nipples from rubbing on your bra.

Only in Paris would they consider how the shell makes a womans nipple look. The website suggests they make your nipples look beauitful and are very discreet, but I'm not sure I would have worn them out under a tshirt. Though maybe those French women know something I don't... 

Having said that they were easily the most beautiful and enjoyable of my immediate postpartum accessories. The shells made a lovely change from pads of all kinds, belly binding and baby spew soaked pyjamas.

My first question was do they catch leaking milk? No, you can wear breastpads over the breastshells to catch lsome drips, but to be honest you need extra large breastpads so that they generously fit around the whole diameter of each shell. Cloth pads in particular are too small to be effective, except for this extra-thirsty brand that Seridan suggested.

And my only other suggestion is a lovely box to store them in. Once I was breastfeeding in the hospital waiting room and really didn't want to put my breast shell down anywhere. A lovely little box to keep in my nappy bag would have been great. And then once you don't need them anymore you can store them away till your next baby arrives. I suggested a box to Sheridan and she said they are working on this idea.

At first I was quite skeptical. There are so many useless gadgets and gizmo's marketing to vulnerable new mums. But if you have sore cracked, dry nipples, this is a beautiful, natural product that feels luxurious and really works. 

If you have sore cracked nipples wear the breast shells most of the time, but do allow your nipples some time to breath, and ten minutes of sunshine twice a day is excellent for accelerating healing.

Check out Petite Bisou breast shells here, only $49.95 with free shipping within Australia. They arrive quickly within 1-5 days so if your nipples are giving you grief order them straight away.


Make your own lactation tea with fenugreek 

Fenugreek has been proven to be as effective as the drugs the doctor might prescribe to boost milk supply. However all galactagogues are only effective for 7-10 days, after that your body adjusts and is not so responsive to them.

In Ayurveda we recommend taking fenugreek as a tea to balance out it's dryness, not capsules. And also we mix it with other herbs to balance it's heating qualities. So here is my lactation tea recipe:

Mix 2 parts whole fennel seeds with 1 part whole fenugreek seeds. Add 1/2 teaspoon to 1 Litre of water and sip warm throughout the day. You can make it up in a thermos in the morning and keep it by your feeding chair.

You can buy organic spices from here if you don't already have them in your cupboard.

In the longer term you need to work on boosting your oxytocin levels to promote strong flow of milk. Oxytocin is boosted by doing anything that you love. For example when you breastfeed devote that time to gazing into your baby's eyes, stroking your baby's hair and singing your baby a song. Watch movies that make you laugh. Have a massage. Enjoy some sunshine or fresh air. Have a bath. Just take some time out for you.

This recipe is taken from my book "Nourishing Newborn Mothers - Recipes to heal your mind, body and soul after childbirth"