Almost as soon as breastfeeding has settled into a satisfying rhythm, questions about weaning wander through your mind or roll off the lips of friends and family.
There is no one answer. Pediatricians say breast milk for the first year of life is optimum. Left up to the babies, some decide 7 months is enough; some go much longer. Some moms have a 3 or 6 month goal. The question is, What's right for you? Don't get locked into a specific date - situations change.
The process of weaning really begins with that first bite of cereal or the first bottle of formula. So if you have someone pressing you to wean, you can honestly say you have begun.
The more gradually you wean, the easier it is on you and baby (although there is almost always some sadness). One by one, skip the feeding your baby seems least interested in. Think of weaning not as quitting something, but of substituting something else: time together cuddling, reading a story, going for a walk, eating meals with the family, etc.
If you have to wean suddenly, you may be uncomfortable as your body adjusts. Express milk by hand or with a pump when you are feeling uncomfortably full and only enough to relieve the discomfort. Try wearing a raw cabbage leaf inside your bra - there is something in the cabbage that seems to reduce milk production.
Wean to bottle or cup? The younger your baby is when you begin weaning, the more you will use bottles. But don't over-look cups, especially the many tippee cups available. In some cases it is possible to go directly to a cup, avoiding a second weaning process from bottle to cup.