Nutrition is one of the three factors that have the largest impact on early brain development, with the other two being toxins and environment. Many parents struggle with knowing when and how to transition from breastfeeding to formula or milk to solids.
0 to 6 months
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and Hong Kong Family and Healthy Services, babies should exclusively drink breast milk until about 6 months old. If you plan on bottle-feeding in the future, experts recommend introducing the bottle early and mixing it in with breastfeeding, especially before baby turns 4 months old.
6 to 12 months
During this time, many parents opt to begin weaning their baby onto solids. Some parents try baby-led weaning, such as introducing foods that baby can pick up, taste, and experiment with safely. Many experts recommend mixing solids with breastmilk or formula, even up to 2 years old.
12 to 24 months
By 12 months, children should transition to using a sippy cup to practice their oromotor skills. If your baby still wants to be breastfed, it’s your decision whether you want to continue. If you do decide to stop, understand that this transition is tough on your baby and you should compensate with other emotionally fulfilling activities like playing together, snuggling, and so on. At this age, solid food can continue to be supplemented with breastmilk, formula, or cow’s milk.
24 months +
By 2, your child can practice using utensils, sitting at a dinner table, and eating most of the foods that you eat. You will need to continue to look out for possible allergens, as well as generally providing them milder foods. Toddlers don’t need milk as they can obtain those nutrients from other foods, but they can continue to drink milk if they want.
At the end of the day, there is no ‘right time’ to stop breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has many health benefits for both mother and baby, and it’s your choice when you decide to stop. The most important thing is to ensure your child’s nutritional needs are met through their diet.