Thursday, May 15, 2014

What Do You Mean Weaning Was Easy???

Today I decided to linkup with these mamas over here for their One Year and Beyond series.

Today's topic:  Weaning.

Hot button topic for me.

Over and over again I hear the same thing when the topic of weaning comes up (and let's be honest, I'm nursing an almost 2 year old everyone asks me when I'm going to wean at this point) I hear how easy weaning was.  They stopped offering one feed, kid hardly noticed, they got rid of another, kid still didn't notice, etc etc until they were fully weaned like a week later.

And all I have to say is, WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT WAS SO EASY???

Weaning has become one of the most challenging aspects of motherhood to date for me.

All efforts to wean have been thwarted by my toddler.  We began the weaning process 9 months ago and we've whittled it down to 4 (sometimes 3) nursing sessions a day. But it has been anything but easy and it feels like we're a long way from completely weaned.

He is fiercely determined to continue breastfeeding.

We started at 1 year with Don't Offer, Don't Refuse.  I stopped offering but he kept asking and since I wasn't refusing we were still nursing roughly 8 times a day, every few hours through the day (he was sleeping through the night at that point so that's 8 times DURING THE DAY!)

Since that landed us exactly nowhere and I was looking for my period to start we began being a little more proactive in our weaning approach in that when he'd ask I'd try distraction, water and food.  If he still wanted milk I would give it to him.

The result?  We'd have several mini-meltdowns every day because he REALLY REALLY wanted the milk and toys, games, food and water WERE NOT THE SAME AS MILK and he knew it.

I even tried sippy cups of almond milk because he understands that we put milk on our cereal but no...he definitely knew milk in the sippy was not the same as milk from the boob.

After a few days of this I gave up on weaning because EVERYONE ELSE SAID IT WAS EASY and this was so far from easy that I decided something wasn't right.

If Jett was SO DETERMINED to continue nursing perhaps it wasn't the right time and I should let it go for awhile.

So I did, I let it go.  I quit trying so hard and I let him have milk whenever he wanted it.

And he wanted it all the time.

At some point, 18 months?  I got a little fed up with the situation and decided I wasn't going to nurse in public anymore, so we started our nursing rules.  

Jett likes rules.

If we were at the park and he wanted milk then I would explain that we only nurse at home and if he wanted milk we were going home, this actually worked as he rarely wanted to leave the playground/park or wherever we were and even if he did by the time we got home he'd completely forgotten he wanted milk.

FINALLY, some progress.

We've continued with the rules, which amusingly Jett does really well with.  He's a big rule follower.

We've made some more progress and now the rules are: milk is only for wakeup and bedtime.  And he gets it, he understands.  If it's an hour before bedtime and he wants milk and I tell him milk is for bedtime, HE GETS IT and he waits.  Which means WE'RE FINALLY DOWN TO 4 NURSING SESSIONS A DAY.

Obviously the next step is getting rid of the daytime nap nursing sessions...but I'm not sure how to create a rule around that, milk is only for morning and nighttime? 

So here we are 21 months and still nursing with the deadline of wean by 2 years old that I gave myself looming overhead.

Someone, anyone, please tell me that there's someone else who's had trouble weaning???  It can't possibly be THAT easy for everyone!


  1. It was easy for me, so I'm of zero help. The boys were already getting supplemented with formula and taking bottles so it was pretty seamless. A friend of mine had a REALLY hard time weaning though, and ended up pumping and feeding via sippy cups for a short time during the transition as somewhat of a last resort and in the end she wished she had tried it much sooner. Wishing you heaps of luck!

  2. It sounds like you are ready to wean but Jett is not. I don't have any magic solution other than when the milk dries up, he probably won't want to nurse anymore. It took my cousin 'till her little one was over 2 and she was 6 months pregnant with #3 (I know it makes me sick too!).

    Just think about the reasons Jett might not be ready to give up nursing. Can you address those things without the boob? If it's the actual milk, maybe you could pump a little and give that to him in a sippy or straw cup. If it is the comfort and emotional connection, how else can you maintain that without nursing?

  3. Everyone's experience is different. I am not much help because with both kids we quit at a year so the real awareness to ask was never there. I was ready to be done at a year so it was just something I made a priority. I was able to switch straight to milk or almond milk or whatever with both but honestly like I said, the real awareness from them just wasn't there. I wish I had suggestions.

  4. Honestly, we pretty naturally got down to 2-4 nursing sessions/day (first thing in morning, last thing at night, and randomly during the day for boo-boos or when I first got home from work and she was missing me). I had intended to gradually wean, but when I got pregnant and was so sick and touched out, we went cold turkey (she was about 17.5 months) and in retrospect I'm so glad we did it like that. She was old enough to understand my milk was "all gone" -- where it would have been confusing to try to say only certain times of day or certain situations were okay. Maybe cold turkey will be the key for you too?

  5. I can offer zero help because all three of mine have been somewhat okay with the whole weaning process. Both my boys gave up on their own. I was more heartbroken than them. My daughter put up a pretty good fight the first couple weeks, but now seems to be doing okay with just a nighttime feeding. Its not all easy, there were some pretty good fights to be had. Time where I wanted to give in, but I just tried to stand my ground through her pulling on my shirt. She just turned a year. I agree maybe in your situation cold turkey would be the best thing. Good luck mama!!!

  6. Obviously I don't have any tips, but keep in mind that weaning is easy for many moms because they were dealing with much younger babies. Have you ever attended a La Leche League meeting? They could probably offer all sorts of advice. I know weaning frequently comes up in the toddler meetings that I attend!

  7. I had it easy on the weaning front - but now she doesn't drink any milk because I could NOT transition her. But, I do know people who had a rough time....and they literally had to leave their kids while they went on holidays for a week and cut it cold turkey....and the kids were not happy (2 I know who have done this). Good luck with whatever you do.

  8. I wish I had a suggestion or something that worked for us that I could pass along to you, but unfortunately I don't. My little one mostly stopped being interested in nursing right around the one year mark. He doesn't drink a lot of other milk (cow, soy...) but he has stopped nursing. Maybe just telling him the milk is gone would work? Or slowly let your supply decrease dry up (apparently cabbage leaves and peppermint tea are supposed to help with that) and he'll soon figure out that the milk really is gone? I hope you figure something out; good luck, Mama!

  9. Oh my goodness, boy loves his momma's milk! It's amazing to me that he has been so persistent!! I'm sorry that it's been so difficult for you, though! We were down to nursing 3 times a day once Mia was 12 months and it was easy to cut out each feeding until she was weaned. You have done an AMAZING job at figuring out what works for Jett until you get him where you want him. I hope you are able to figure the rest out with very little stress! Good luck, momma! xoxo

  10. You can add another rule to shorten the nursing sessions. Like you will only nurse for as long as it takes to sing row row row your boat. You can then sing it as fast orbas slow as you want to shorten the feed. I know my le leche leader would ask do you want nursies or a nursie cuddle. Sometimes that is all a toddler wants. Also she used chocolate milk as an alternative...not sure how much I like that idea but it could work! Hugs! He wont nurse forever!

  11. My first was the same way, she nursed AVIDLY until she was 2. By that time, she could understand that we only nurse before she went to sleep and when she woke up, but she didn't fully wean until age 3. Then later when she was very ill, she started back up again for a little while. She looooved her nursies.

    My best tip is do something like cuddle and read or sing to him so he can get that close contact. He will probably throw a tantrum at first to nurse but if you just keep saying, no we only do that at such and such time, or no we don't nurse anymore, he'll eventually accept it. It seems like he won't, but he will! I remember I'd tell my daughter, "We can't nurse but we can snuggle. And I can sing to you if you want." At first she'd scream and scream but after a while once she knew I was serious, she'd accept another form of love from me besides nursing.

    Now I have her little sister who could care less about weaning. She's 18 months and only nurses a couple times a day, she'll probably fully wean herself any day now.