Weaning a Toddler (General Advice)

 

Dear Folks, (from Jan/2012)

Many, many thanks for your kind and supportive replies re: my request for advice re: weaning a toddler. I truly appreciate it. And one of these days, I'll actually make the leap! In the meantime, here are the responses I received (w/o identifying information).

Cheers,

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I found this info very helpful when I weaned my older son: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/weaning/index.html
If you know now that you want to start weaning, plan. Go slowly. When you are completely done nursing, you shouldn't have any engorgement and it will not be a shock to your system or your son. I started out with the "don't offer, don't refuse" plan. As in, don't offer to nurse your child, but also don't refuse to nurse when your child wants to nurse. You may already be at that point, but if not, it can help start the process.

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I weaned my son when he was 22 months. It was so much easier with my older son, who weaned himself at 1 year. But my younger son was determined to keep nursing, and as long as we both still enjoyed it ... we continued. However, it just reached a point where he was way too clingy to me, and was starting to demand to nurse at inappropriate times. (Like when we were at Disney, on a boat launch between the Magic Kingdom to the Wilderness Lodge. He was getting so agitated and wanted to nurse RIGHT NOW. I was like, "Woah, kid, this is NOT a dinner cruise!!")

He usually wanted to nurse 1st thing in the mornings when he woke up. Instead of the breast, I gave him a sippy cup of warmed chocolate milk, and I cuddled him while he drank it. It was mostly just the comfort he wanted from me, the cuddles and closeness.

I also timed the final "cold turkey" weaning with a 4-day business trip. So I had to still take my pump or I would have been in serious pain, but totally removing access to me also helped break the habit.

Sorry I don't have any other advice. I don't think the tears -- from either of you -- will be completely avoidable. But hopefully you can make it a gentle transition.

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I would go to the LLL toddler meeting. I am sure they will have great suggestions. I'm not sure when the next one is but they post on this list.

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I was exactly like you. I nursed my son until he was 22 months old and had someone asked me how long I was intending to nurse I would have said 6 months. I was def ready to stop, though my son was not. He nursed for comfort, to sleep and when he did not want to eat was was offered.

The first thing I did was stop the nursing before bed, which was rough and I hired a sleep trainer for that. I read a lot of information about what not to do (ie. leave him for a few days with the father or grandparents), so I tried spacing feedings, just saying no - all of which was unbearable.

So I did what the books (some of them) said not to do and I left my son for 3 nights at his grandmothers.

My stomach was in knots the whole time. When I saw my son again, he asked for "nana" and I said mommy has no more milk left, she had a boo boo and now there is no more milk. I had to repeat that of course throughout the day. I think he only got mad at me once and I had to repeat my new mantra a few times and then poof, like magic or a miracle, he did not ask again for weeks.

It was the best decision I ever made, he was ready and I was ready and we both needed that extra nudge.

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Distraction is what did it for us. I would buy new books - and then we would give those to him to unwrap and then I would read them to him while giving him the bottle. I won't say that he liked it initially. He would protest but I also had my mom come stay with me so we kind of together changed his pre-nap routine/bed time routine. That made it easier for me because I was very fearful of doing it.

Introducing the bottle with milk instead of the boobs with some new toys/books did distract him and gave him something else that was fun and new to focus on.

I think my fear of having to do this was overwhelming but actually doing it was not as bad as I thought. And after that I was very happy because it gave me my body back. It was liberating because I think it also physically started to take a toll on me to bread-feed exclusively for that long.

One thing I also did before I stopped was that I asked my husband to film my son breast-feeding. This way, I was able to really document this amazing experience. Now I still look back at that video and love it.

I wish you the best of luck with it. It is not as hard as you think but getting some emotional and practical support from family or friends will help.

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My son will be two in two weeks and I just started the weaning process with a suggestion I read in a website (I don't have the link now). Let me just say that my son is on my breast almost all day if I allow him. We are also co-sleeping so that doesn't help with weaning either.

What I'm doing is I put lemon juice on my nipples (very little) and tell him my breasts taste bad because they are not well. I speak in Spanish and we have a word for this type of little pains or illnesses that he understands clearly and goes along with it every time I say it. It's "na-na". This is true since both my breasts have been sore for the past weeks (I'm not sure why but this is a separate issue).

He still insists on nursing but before he tries to latch he remembers that they taste awful so he removes himself from the breasts and hugs me saying something like "mommy feel better soon". I started with just the afternoon feeding and washed off the lemon for the night and morning. Now, after about a week, I'm only nursing during the night and early morning (still in bed) which is a huge step for us. He doesn't cry. The only thing is that every time he wants breasts, we hug, kiss and stay like that for a long while. Sometimes until he falls asleep (he nurses to sleep).

My plan is to continue until he learns to sleep without nursing. Also, I'm giving him lots of attention and treats. We have a very healthy diet and these days I'm giving him sweets and things I would not normally give him just to distract him. Also stickers and balloons and more play time together.