Weaning from Mothers Milk

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 🙂

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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!!

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Night Weaning

Since there’s been some interest on night weaning after I wrote my post about fully weaning my second child, I will share how we successfully night weaned our two older children. (I am writing this post with the thought that who is reading it is the person actually breast feeding the child.)

First I would like to share how much I love breastfeeding. It is one of the most amazing things about being a mama to be able to feed my child, while  bonding and snuggling. For that reason I breast fed both my older kids until well past 2 years old. That said, night nursing is a different story in my book. I definitely did it happily with all my children for the first several months. But come around month 7 or 8, I start feeling the exhausting coming on and start to resent the middle of the night feeds. With my daughter, I was over it and that’s why we night weaned her. With my son, I found out I was pregnant with our 3rd, so I wanted to make the shift in order to feel ready to welcome the new baby in our bed without an older sibling already in there.

First things first, let me make this clear: I wouldn’t have been able to night wean our kids without the help of my husband. If your husband or partner isn’t on board with helping out, or if you are a single parent, than this post is not for you. I wouldn’t know how to do it.

If your partner is fully committed than here we go:

  • if you don’t already use them, buy some earplugs. It will make it less difficult to put up with the cries and you might eventually be able to fall back asleep faster.
  • now just brace yourself, and resist the urge to get up and help your husband/partner. (I know the feeling, “I can do it faster/better, I’ll just go in there and do it myself so we can all go back to sleep”)
  • if you are co-sleeping, you will have to stop doing that. I tried co-cleeping and night weaning and it doesn’t work. If my baby knows I’m there, we cannot soothe him or her back to sleep without the boob.
  • if you aren’t co-cleeping, keep doing that 🙂
  • when your child wakes up at night, your partner needs to go in and soothe the baby back to sleep. (It is the same scenario as trying to night wean while co-sleeping.) For us that means, holding, snuggling, carrying, until the baby falls back asleep.
  • the first few nights our kids woke up a bunch, wondering when the milk was gonna get there “I know who you are and you are not the milk lady! Where is the milk lady!!! She normally comes in here and gives me something to suck on!!!”; “You again?? What the hell?!?!? Where is the milk lady??”; “Dang, is the milk lady really not coming? Even if I keep crying like this she won’t come?”; “Wow, she really isn’t coming. Ok then. I’ll go back to sleep”. That’s what I imagine is going on in their cute little head over the nights.
  • eventually our babies got used to my husband coming in and not me that their realized within about 1 or 2 weeks that it was much better to just sleep through the night.
  • if the baby stops waking up at night, congratulations, you did it 🙂

Your partner might not feel thrilled to be the one who has to wake up every night, but remind him/her that you have been doing it for months, that you need a break too and that once the baby is night weaned you will both get some sleep. If you’ve been night nursing for months, surely your partner can suck it up for a couple weeks 😉

I want to remind you that everyone is different, and we all have different ways of doing the parenting thing. I just know that this is what worked for both our older kids, and this is the technique we will use when i am ready to wean my youngest.

Since we night weaned our kids, they sleep through the  night. At first they would occasionally wake up either because of teething, or a soiled diaper, or some other thing that was bothering them, but there hasn’t been a challenging night situation with either the older kids since we did it.

I hope this post helps some of you. If you are someone who has successfully night weaned, please share your comments! If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Sleeping like a Baby

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Who ever decided that this phrase was to be used as a positive comment? I mean babies, generally, aren’t great at sleeping. New borns wake up every couple hours to eat. If I were to get up every couple hours and go to the kitchen for a snack I doubt I would feel like I was getting good rest, (not to mention the amount of pounds I would be putting on). If you are one of the lucky one’s whose baby just decided to sleep through the night at just a few weeks old (I hate you), you are very lucky.

I have 3 kids, one of them is still a baby. And in my world, sleeping like a baby means you don’t sleep enough, at least from a parent’s perspective. My daughter was a decent night sleeper, but a terrible napper. I couldn’t put her down. She slept well on me but as soon as I tried to lay her on the bed she would wake up. I didn’t mind too much as she was my first and I had nothing else to do but to carry her around, go for walks, clean the house and such. It was extra cuddling time. It was just frustrating when I wanted to get a workout in or take a shower. My first son, had digestive troubles for the first few months, so nights were awful. I would have to walk him around at 2am trying to help sooth his aching belly. He was a great napper though. I could put him down and he would stay asleep for at least an hour. Which was awesome. Since him and I would spend so much time together in the middle of the night, I welcomed the hour long break in the day. My baby now, is a terrible sleeper all around. He wakes up frequently at night, and I can rarely put him down for naps. He naps on me during the day, and is snuggled by my side at night, frequently waking up for a snack or just to make sure I am still there.( God forbid I went to the bathroom during one of his wakings.)

I’ve learned to adapt to this. I do a lot with him sleeping on me during the day. Heck, I’ve even figured out how to workout! (yep, that’s me in the video). But he wakes up easily if one of his siblings is too noisy.

I’ve learned ways to make my life more manageable on intense sleep deprivation. I would even say I’ve become quite good at it. There was a time I would wake up resentful, not feel like doing anything at all, just zombie around all day and couldn’t get the older kids to bed fast enough at night just so I could lay down myself.

But now, I feel like I live a life full of awesomeness. I am not getting any more sleep than a few months ago. My baby still wakes up several times a night. But I’ve adjusted and just like most things in life, it takes on average 6 weeks for our bodies to adapt to any new routine. So I guess you could say that I have hit a sleep deprivation plateau, where my body has gotten used to the amount of sleep I am getting and I can now sustain the lifestyle that I have without too much struggle.

For the most part, I have accepted the fact that my life right now is not powered by sleep. But there are days when I get frustrated and just wish he would sleep more. So when I see or hear the phrase “I slept like a baby”, and I think, “wow you must’ve had a crappy night”.

“I slept like a toddler”. Now there’s a phrase that makes sense to me!! Both my older kids sleep great. And as soon as we night weaned them, they started sleeping through the night and haven’t gone back. It. Is. Wonderful.

I live a very full life on very little sleep. I have never been so tired and so happy at the same time. Although I do not get that much sleep, I have stopped resenting that. Letting go of the thought that I NEED more sleep, made it that I have been able to allow myself to function at whatever level I can each day without judgement. Sure I regularly want more sleep, but I don’t believe I always need it. Some days I feel like I am awesome and I get so much done, and some days I can barely get myself dressed and out the door for school drop off without wishing it was 7pm already. But everyday I am accepting. And that acceptance has taken away a lot of the frustration, the annoyance and the short temperedness. These early days with the babies are the ones that go by the fastest. It won’t be that long before the baby sleeps through the night. And soon enough they will all be in school all day long. Finding out who I am right now, in these moments of sleep deprivation, is an interesting process to me. As long as I don’t make it about other people and lash out at my family, then all is good.

So there are my thoughts on sleeping like a baby. The eternal optimistic that I am has found many positives in my sleep deprivation to make me not hate life, but I won’t hide that I am looking forward to the day I get more than 2-3 hours of sleep in a row. I am not ready for night weaning yet, and that is why it hasn’t happened.

If you have a sleep deprived life, please share your experience and what you do to deal with it. I hope most people have a better experience than I do, because truth be told, it does suck to not get enough sleep.