You’re finally ready to say goodbye to your nipple shields, but what if your baby isn’t?
Before you start stressing yourself out, know that it’s 100% possible for you to breastfeed your baby without using a nipple shield. The process, however, might be challenging for you.
How To Wean Baby Off Nipple Shield
Since we want to give you an easier time, we’re here to share a guide on how to wean baby off the nipple shield.
1. Condition your baby to prefer bare breasts.
Let’s start with something foolproof.
Classical conditioning is a popular learning method based on scientific facts. It has been developed in the 1890s by the famous physiologist Ivan Pavlov.
You’re going to use this psychological process to make your baby look for bare breasts and not silicone shields.
The key to successfully apply classical conditioning is repetition. This can take weeks, so don’t discard your nipple shield just yet.
Here are the steps you need to do repeatedly until your baby latches on his own:
- Once your baby gets hungry, let him face a bare breast first.
- Wait for a couple of minutes so your baby can feel and smell the breast. Your child might even try to suck it which is perfect for the learning process.
- If your baby starts to get irritated because of his refusal to latch, you have no choice but to put on your nipple shield.
- Do the entire process again whenever your baby gets hungry. If your child latches as soon as you offer the breast, then you’re successful.
However, there are claims from some mothers that their baby refuses to latch again after learning how to. If this will be your case, just remember the steps or follow another tip. You may even consult your baby’s pediatrician since there are other reasons why your baby won’t latch.
2. Bond with your baby without clothes.
Another foolproof way to wean your baby off nipple shields is skin-to-skin contact. Like classical conditioning, this is also a process based on scientific studies.
A research study discovered that mothers who always have skin-to-skin moments with their babies find it easier to directly breastfeed. The researchers took advantage of the fact that direct skin contact triggers the baby’s “neurobehaviors” to latch when hungry.
You’re probably going to consider this as your favorite tip because the whole process is relaxing. The perfect moment to do this is when your baby’s wide awake and you have nothing else to do. Another ideal time is before your feeding schedule.
To know exactly what you’re going to do, check out the following steps:
- Prepare a warm blanket that can cover your baby and your upper body.
- Take off your top and bra.
- Remove your baby’s clothes but leave his diaper on.
- Sit on a comfortable sofa. You can also lie on your bed as long as your neck is supported by a pillow.
- Hold your baby in an upright position. Lay him on your chest, right between your breasts.
- Wrap the blanket around you and your baby. Relax all you want.
- If your baby gets hungry, gently position him toward your breast. Let him latch by himself.
3. Trick your baby.
If you want a quicker option, then you have to trick your baby while breastfeeding him with a nipple shield. Take note that this won’t work out for everybody but there’s no harm in giving it a try.
The process here is much simpler than our previous tips. See for yourself how easy these steps are:
- Breastfeed your baby with a nipple shield.
- Wait until your baby pauses from sucking. If it’s finally happening, quickly remove the shield from your nipple. Then, softly remove the shield from your baby’s mouth.
- Immediately level your child’s mouth to your own nipple. Let your baby latch.
Some babies won’t know the difference which is what we’re going for. However, others can really feel the change and even fuss about it. That’s when you should consider other methods.
4. Pump milk before breastfeeding.
One of the reasons why a baby won’t latch is insufficient milk flow. Good thing that there’s a solution for this. All you have to do is pump your breast before letting your baby latch.
To know more about this process, take a look at the following steps:
- Use a manual or electric breast pump for a few seconds. Just wait for that first rush of milk.
- Once the flow becomes steady, let your baby latch.
- You may use a breast compression to ensure that your baby will continue sucking.
This is one of the most common methods because of its high success rate. However, you need to be smooth with your moves or you’ll end up making a mess.
5. Breastfeed when your baby is half-asleep.
Sometimes, you don’t have to make an effort in breastfeeding your baby but knowing the right timing is extremely important. A baby who’s half-asleep is more likely to latch with or without a nipple shield.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Observe your sleeping baby from time to time. Wait for hunger cues, such as squirming and rapid eye movement.
- Slowly carry your baby and position him in front of your breast. Make sure your child won’t wake up.
- Let your baby unconsciously latch. When your child finally latches, you may hum songs or sway to keep him relaxed.
6. Make sure your nipples have the right level of firmness.
Nipples that are inverted or too soft are not good for latching. Thankfully, there are simple ways to make them firmer. Don’t make them too firm because you’ll just encounter the same problem.
The following are techniques on how to make inverted nipples good for breastfeeding:
- Pump your breast with a manual pump for a few seconds. Your only goal this time is to make your nipple firmer which is why electric breast pumps are not practical.
- Touch your nipple with an ice cube. You may also use a clean cloth drenched in cold water.
- Use a suction cup intended for correcting inverted nipples.
In summary, there are several ways on how to wean baby off nipple shield. Some of them are foolproof but require more time to be effective. Some methods can give you instant results but they’re not effective for everybody.
The process can take time and a bit of trial and error. However, with patience, you’ll surely find a method that will work for you and your baby.