First, let me say that there is absolutely no science on weaning that is of any use. All I found were moms describing different ways they had weaned their babies, and, most frustratingly, pediatricians (most of them men -__-) who made up their own weaning “prescriptions.” My mom told me to give Frankie whole milk and corn syrup. Thanks, but no thanks. I was left with Dr. Google and asking friends. After combing the archival data and collecting some of my own, three ways to wean emerged: gradual extinction (my experience), self-weaning, and cold turkey.
1) Gradual Extinction
Given how much Frankie loved to nurse (as a newborn he nursed 18 hours straight one day!), we waited until his dad could be (even more) sleep deprived before we commenced with Operation Wean the Tot. I teach at night, so Frankie had already gotten used to taking a bottle of pumped breast milk for his first put-down. The hardest part was giving him the bottle for his second put-down. He screamed his face off for a week. From the farthest part in the house I could hear him crying, “Momma-babba!” which was his way of demanding the boobs. I had to go upstairs and hide, so that his dad could walk him around the house and show him I wasn’t available to nurse him down. Finally, he took the bottle without any problems for two consecutive nighttime put-downs. Then, every two or three days we added a bottle in place of a nurse-down. That took two weeks because he was still waking up every two hours at the age of 12 months (but that’s another post). We had finally weaned him at night, so I got to work on cutting down daytime nursing using the same process. First, I cut out his middle of the day nursing. Two days later, I cut out the late afternoon nursing. Then, finally, over a month after starting the weaning process and just a few weeks past his first birthday, I nursed him for the last time. There were no fights or crying by the end.
Other moms have had easier experiences with baby weaning tips such as gradual extinction weaning than I did, so there’s hope that it could happen without tears. The common thread with this type of experience seems to be having a kid who easily switches between boob and bottle and takes solids with vigor. Frankie did neither of those things.
2) Self-Weaning and Advice from a Le Leche League (LLL) Leader
I’ve read that self-weaning can occur. In fact, one of my blogger friends, Meg Sanity, has successfully done so. She’s also a LLL leader. Here’s what she had to say about weaning:
I am a LLL leader, so I have helped many women do this. It’s an individual thing, and it will depend on your goals. Most people go with the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” if they’re trying to do it gently, but it takes longer. Others substitute something else for the nipple or will just sit and rock for hours for comfort while the kids paws at their shirt. Some go quick (less crying within days). Some still whine weeks later. There are bunches of ways to do it, but it’s hard to say which way to go without knowing the mom’s personal philosophy on all things child (for example, are you into attachment parenting?). Looking into the LLL materials can be helpful. Most LLL leaders recommend their big book (for sale on amazon) on everything breastfeeding. For the record, I have never personally weaned anyone—I just nurse until they don’t feel like it anymore.
3) Cold Turkey
I weaned Natalia easily because she took a bottle a day, usually of pumped milk. I got pregnant when she was 9 months, and my milk went away. Natalia got mad and bit, however she easily transitioned to a bottle, and I had my store of pumped milk until she was 11 months. Clara was 5.5 months when she was weaned. She was always difficult to nurse because I also had a toddler and Clara would only nurse alone in the dark. Weaning was easy, though, because she also took bottles. Levi nursed exclusively with no bottles at all until about 16 months. He had a tough time for about 2 days, because he nursed literally multiple times an hour. However, he still kept reaching down my shirt, and it was really sad. Levi never did take a bottle or a sippy with milk. I even tried the chocolate milk trick with no luck. Then after a couple of months of nothing, I mentioned “nursing” one day and now at 20 months he sometimes “nurses” for a minute with no milk coming out and then says, “All gone” or “bye bye.” My husband thinks it’s weird, but I think it’s nice emotional closure for him.
What weaning method did you apply?
Latest posts by Brandi Stupica (see all)
- Baby Weaning Tips: How to Minimize the Blood, Sweat, and Tears - December 11, 2015
- How To Be A Pro At Disciplining Your Children - September 24, 2015
- Everything you need to know about sleep training - July 13, 2015