Knowing when to wean your baby can be something of a conundrum. The fact of the matter is that weaning is a significant event in that it demonstrates just how much your baby or toddler is able to do on his or her own. Weaning your baby means that he or she is now able to take a much more active role in his or her well-being and nutrition. While it may be some time after weaning before a baby is able to feed himself or herself, weaning is nevertheless significant. Knowing when the right time to wean will be is an important part of the process.
For the most part, babies are ready to be weaned at some point during the 9 to 18 month period. During that period, two things must happen. These two things demonstrate that your baby is physically ready to be weaned. First of all, your baby’s sucking reflex has to slow greatly or stop altogether. Second, your baby needs to have enough control over his movements to be able to control his hands and mouth well enough to drink from the cup and to, at least a little, feed himself. Once your baby is able to do both of these things, you can probably start to wean at just about any time.
The fact of the matter is, however, that many children aren’t quite ready to wean, even though their parents might think that it is the right time. There is some debate as to whether it is better to allow the child to decide when to wean. On the one hand are those that believe it is best to allow your child to decide when weaning should take place. On the other hand are those that believe a child should be weaned once the child meets the criteria above. The fact of the matter is that there is no “right” time to wean, apart from those two requirements. Weaning your baby before your baby feels ready probably is not going to cause your baby any harm. Waiting for your baby to decide to wean probably isn’t going to make it any more difficult to wean later. Most of the time, weaning will be a slow natural progression for you and your baby, rather than a time when you decide to implement a weaning plan.