Breastfeeding is wonderful and you may even breastfeed into toddlerhood, but there may come a time when you think “I am ready to wean my toddler from breastfeeding …” I know that is a very hard decision.
Many things impact that choice: Maybe you have a new job that doesn’t allow you the time to breastfeed, maybe perhaps you are pregnant or maybe you are just ready to stop. Whatever the reason, know this: it is YOUR decision and no one can make it for you (except for your toddler!)
Here are some suggestions if you are wondering: How to wean my toddler from breastfeeding:
- It usually takes about a week to wean a toddler, but can take as long as you want (some weaning processes last one day, some last a month.)
- Talk about it first. Discuss weaning two days before you actually plan to wean and repeat it daily for a few days.
- Eliminate daytime feedings first, as they are the easiest to eliminate. Next, eliminate the middle of the night feeding. Save the “going to bed” feeding for last. This will be the hardest one to eliminate.
- Try mixing cow’s milk with breastmilk and slowly using less breastmilk and more cow’s milk (or offer yogurt, cheese, etc… or even coconut or almost milk, instead of milk – just check with your doctor first).
- “My toddler didn’t like any kind of milk until I had him 100% weaned. Then suddenly he was fine with cows milk.” ~ Wendy Zermeno
- Warm the new milk, to resemble warm breastmilk. Slowly cut back the warming time until it was cold, right out of the refrigerator.
- Spend MORE time cuddling, stroking their backs and heads, kissing and hugging them. It will make up for the decreased touch that results from weaning.
- Don’t offer the breast, but don’t refuse your child from breastfeeding, during the early stages.
- Introduce new rules, like not breastfeeding outside of the home, as a way to begin weaning.
- Watch for signs of distress (whining more than normal, upset more often, etc…) to see if you are weaning too fast.
- Shorten each nursing session each day, until you are at a minute each, then go to 30 seconds, then stop.
- If trying to night-wean, have Dad go in at night and be the comforter, during the nighttime weaning process.
- Have dad offer a sip of water in place of nursing at night. This worked for all of our children. It took about two nights of water before they stopped waking for breastmilk at night.
- If the child is over 18 months, you can be comfortable just saying No, knowing that they are getting their nutrition from other means.
- Try offering a pacifier for the 20 minutes that your child would normally breastfeed.
- Try pumping and offering your milk in a sippy cup or cup with a straw.
- Find a replacement if your child is having a hard time. A great little trick that a friend of mine did was to make milk with a splash of creamer. She would warm it and make it frothy with her espresso maker. She would drink it and offer her daughter a sip of her own drink. By day 3, he asked for his own “bubble milk.” She made it and would give him one twice a day. Within a week he was weaned. Within two weeks she took out the creamer. By week three, it was cold milk from the refrigerator.
- If your child wants to nurse at the same time every day (example: 10:00 am), plan an outing or activity for that time.
- Avoid dressing and undressing while your child is around.
- Try to plan for your last nursing schedule. This can be very hard, to finally let go of that last feeding. It is up to you when you want to eliminate it or if you want your child to stop on their own.
Remember that this is going to be difficult emotionally, as well as physically, but you will move onto other things, like a special cuddle time at night or a story time in the day. Find creative ways to wean your baby or toddler. In the meantime, head over to our Facebook page for more ideas and more parenting tips.