parenthood: weaning (part 2)

i realize talking about weaning your breastfed child isn't everyone's cup of tea, so if you'd rather not hear about it, feel free to move on with your blog surfing. but a while back, i told you i was just beginning to wean jude, and i'd like to tell you part two of the story...

it was really terrible at first. the morning and early afternoons would go really well, but when nap time came, i almost always caved in, otherwise jude wouldn't take a nap (and i wouldn't get those precious few hours to myself). he did well up until bedtime, when he would want to nurse again, and i'd let him. jude's a picky eater, and sometimes i'd worry that he wasn't getting the nutrients he needed because he didn't eat a lot, so i justified nursing by telling myself he had to get nutrients from somewhere. but since he's going to turn two soon, i decided i just needed to stop. i looked up tons of tips and advice online and tried a few of them (vinegar, lemon juice, replacing nursing with goat's milk, etc), and some of them worked okay, some of them seemed cruel, but nothing worked consistently. finally, i found this advice from lactation consultant, Jan Barger on baby center:

When you're at the point when you want to quit [nursing] entirely, you simply tell your toddler, "You're a big boy now, and we aren't going to nurse anymore. We can snuggle together, and I'm always here for hugs, but we won't be breastfeeding anymore." And then stick to your guns. There's nothing more confusing to a child this age than inconsistency.

so that's what i did. there was crying before bedtime, but eventually, jude fell asleep. if he woke up during the night, I would go in, give him a hug, give him some water, and tell him to lay back down and go to sleep. The first night I would lay on the floor by him until he closed his eyes, but by the fourth night, he went down without crying and slept through the night.

i'm so glad i nursed jude, and i don't regret nursing him for almost two years. i loved those times when it was just the two of us. it really is a bonding experience, and feeling like you're the only one who can provide that for your child is really special. but it's also nice to be done. sometimes he still asks for it, but i just remind him that there's no more, and then ask if he wants string cheese, a banana, chicken, or something else instead.

one last tip: if you're trying to wean, keep your child active. i would make an effort to take jude to the park, play in the sprinkler, go for rides in the car, or play with sidewalk chalk. if we were sitting inside watching cars, or if i was busy doing chores, and jude was bored, he would ask for it more, and threw a bigger fit when he didn't get it. if he was distracted doing something active, it rarely even crossed his mind.

so, what was your experience like? hard? similar? or pretty pain-free?


Natalie said...

I think it's great you nursed Jude so long. I nursed Addie until 15 1/2 months about. I didn't really have much of a plan when I started nursing her other than I wanted to nurse till around a year. But I didn't really feel like stopping then and neither did Addie. So I just kept going with it. When I quit working, I started weaning. I just slowly took back one nursing session at a time and Addie seemed to adjust alright. It wasn't perfect but a pretty smooth transition. I had to be more on top of things, though. Like when she'd wake up in the morning, I'd have to be right ready to get her breakfast (usually I'd do my morning computer checking stuff while nursing, but I had to give that up). I also had to do what you said--just keep Addie busy and distracted with other things as much as possible. If we just sat around, she definitely wanted to nurse. Eventually I got down to just the night-time nursing and I figured I'd just keep that going as long as we wanted (maybe quit by 18 months?). Kenny was really supportive and encouraged me to keep nursing as long as Addie wanted it. But one night, when I offered, Addie wasn't interested. I had started giving her whole milk (I had tried earlier and she had refused, but when I cut out all nursing times during the day, and reintroduced milk, she started drinking some) and after I offered, she just walked away drinking whole milk from her sippy cup. I decided not to force the issue, and I'd just nurse her the next day. Well, the next day almost the same thing happened. I figured the next day...but she didn't even ask for it. It was weird. I kind of assumed I'd be in control of when it ended and I'd prepare myself mentally. I was sort of sad since it was unexpected for me, but after a few days I was okay with it. I occasionally still miss it--I liked the bonding time and the way it comforted her--but I figure I'll have more kids and I can do it again. So weaning probably turned out easier than I expected, but I think the way I did it made it easier (cutting back one nursing session at a time, and not rushing it, but sticking to my decision). It was a bit emotional for me, but I think the key for me was waiting till Addie was ready.

Ace and Waleena...Two people, actually said...

Very impressed with the way you and Natalie handled this. My last baby nursed until 18 months, but that was also mainly just at night before bedtime. It sure is a clue that it is time to stop when the baby decides he/she is really not interested any more. I, too, loved nursing because it was such a quiet, personal time. I loved knowing I was the one and only one that could be important to my baby in that special way.

Still, it is also nice to see your baby progress to toddlerhood. You will find that when you take charge (after all you are the parent) and do the right thing for your child (even though they may resist at first), everything will turn out fine. You are such a great mom, Elise!! j.

Ruth said...

I'm nursing my second child is 6 months old. We've been trying to get her to start eating food but she doesn't like anything. So, if this continues I could see me nursing her for a while. Guess I'll just have to play it by ear.