Weaning is a process that can take quite a while for some babies, bottle fed babies are weaned at approximately one year of age. Breast fed babies are weaned anywhere from one to three years. The time to breast feed use to be the same as bottle feeding, where the baby is switched to regular milk around the one year mark. However, many pediatricians are recommending extended breast feeding due to the health benefits to both mother and baby.
Taking your baby from the breast to the cup is often a little more challenging than a bottle fed baby. At some point your baby is probably nursing for security purposes rather than hunger. The close bond of feeding directly from the breast is not always easily broken. Bottle fed babies have been feeding themselves for a few months before they are weaned and are accustomed to not being held when they eat, so breast fed babies have a bigger adjustment to make.
Once you decide when you want your baby completely on a cup, you have to back track several weeks. You need to give your baby and your body time to adjust to the change. Milk production is a supply and demand kind of thing. The greater the demand, the greater the supply. If you have been nursing your baby several times a day for several months then you do not want to quit cold turkey. Although your baby may be fine with it, your breasts will not. You will become engorged and be in a great deal of pain and discomfort.
Even if you decide to take your baby off the breast all at once, you should still pump and gradually reduce how often you do so.
Begin by removing one feeding for a week or two. Choose one in the middle of the day when baby is too busy to notice. Then remove another feeding for a week or two. Continue this process until you get down to just feeding the baby at nap time and bed time. These feedings may be more difficult, they are comfort feedings. First remove the nap time feeding, come up with another ritual to help baby sleep; overlap these two things, read to baby while you nurse at sleepy times so the baby will associate story time with bed time. Once you have stopped the nap time feeding, you must stick with it even if baby cries, otherwise he knows that crying and screaming gets what he wants. It can even be good for your baby to cry and work those little lungs.
After you have gone a week or so without the nap time nursing it is time to end the bed time feedings. Baby may go down a little better for dad or someone else, he knows you are the one with the goods. This final step may take awhile too, but it is worth it in the end.