I have had several people ask me about how I weaned my kids from breast feeding. So I thought I would share it here in order to make it easier access for those who asked and also, hopefully, in order to help mothers who are in the process.
I have 3 kids. The baby is still nursing full time. My daughter self weaned at 2 1.2 years old. And my middle child had to be weaned about 9 months after his baby brother was born. So I have experience with both self weaning, and “assisted” weaning. For the purpose of this post I am sticking to “assisted” weaning, what I did with my son, what worked for us.
I am by no means a lactation consultant. I am just a mother who has her own experience with her own children. Every mother will have her own ways of doing things and what worked for me might not work for another, but I still feel compelled to share in case what I have to offer can help ease the stress for some.
Firstly, if you are looking for my tips and advice on night weaning, go here. I wrote about how I night weaned my two older kids at around age 10-12 months.
This post is intended to focus on the last daytime feedings of an already night weaned child.
The first piece of advice I want to give is: make a plan and stick to it. If you are really committed to weaning your child, make a plan, and stick to it. From what I experienced, being too flexible with dwindling down the nursing, just extends the time it will take for the nursing to stop. At first I was pretty vague with my son. I just said I would “slow down” or “limit” the feedings. If that sounds vague and confusing, its because it is. Imagine a child trying to figure out what it means? I would say “Not now buddy, we will do gougoutte (french for booby) later”. When is later? After a coupe days of doing that with him, and him having fits because he wanted the boob now, I realized I needed to be more clear. For both of us. That’s when I decided to put him on schedule. It’s pretty known amongst parents that children in general thrive with routines and schedules. Children like to know what is coming next, it helps them handle situations more easily. I experienced the reality of this with weaning my son. As soon as I implemented a schedule, he was on board and within less than two weeks I managed to not only slow down the daily nursing, but I eventually cut it down to just the early morning feeding which was the hardest.
A little more detail. When I decided it was time to wean him, I stopped offering him the boob altogether. I waited for him to ask for it. Within just a few days I wanted to cut down even more and that’s when I tried saying no, later, but that didn’t work so well, so I implemented the schedule. I decided that he would get milk first thing in the morning when he woke up, and right after his afternoon nap. I told him this. I reminded him of it regularly. So when he would ask for the boob and I would say no, it wasn’t foreign to him.
Once I felt like he was doing well with this, I cut out the afternoon feeding. A very important note here: BEFORE he would go down for his nap I would tell him that when he wakes up, he is not getting gougoutte, he can have a banana or some water, or an orange, etc…. If I ever forgot to tell him this, he would freak out upon awakening. This seemed like a deal breaker for him. So I tried to never forget to tell him before he fell asleep that he was not getting the boob once he woke up. He would definitely ask after his nap, but didn’t get too bent out of shape when I would say no. I honestly think it took less than a week for him to get to that point. And about 2 weeks for him to stop asking altogether.
The last feeding to go was the early morning one. It was the hardest. Mainly because he would crawl in to bed where his baby brother was sleeping, demanding the boob and if I didn’t give it to him he would freak out and wake up his brother. So it took a bit longer to stick to my words as I didn’t want to wake up the baby. I essentially did the same thing as for naps though. Before bed time I would tell him that when he wakes up in the morning and he comes to my bed, we can snuggle but we aren’t doing gougoutte anymore. Little by little it caught on until he would just come into our bed and ask for a snuggle. Pure bliss. For real. I didn’t expect that stopping to nurse him would lead to such amazing snuggles. Here is a more emotionally charged post about this 🙂
Although I had to wean my son, he still nursed until he was almost 2 1/2. I truly love nursing and he might still be nursing today if he didn’t have a baby brother. But I have noticed a growth spurt happen after the weaning. It’s like breast feeding him was the only thing keeping him in the baby stages. He is so much more verbal now, more independent. I feel like I can talk to him and have him understand me better. His brain doesn’t go into baby booby land just seeking comfort when something bothers him. He is just 2 1/2 now, I weaned him last october. And for a 2 1/2 year old he is pretty communicative and understanding. Although he still acts like a baby sometimes, for the most part, it seems as though the weaning has allowed him to start opening himself up to self soothing, or just needing a hug, which in a lot of ways is a relief for me.
So there you have it. My path to weaning my children. If you have any questions, I am more than happy to answer them. Again and always though, as a mother, follow your intuition and your heart, and do what feels best for you and your baby. We all have a unique bond with our children and it is important to stay connected and in touch with that bond in order to make intuitive choices.
I hope this post helps. Happy weaning!!