Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How I Weaned my (almost) 2 Year Old

**This is a post about breastfeeding.  If that's not your thing... I totally understand!!**




It's no secret that I am an extended breastfeeder.  Believe me, I didn't start out with this goal in mind.  Daniel and I took a breastfeeding class when I was pregnant with Logan and I was adamant that I would never be one of those CRAZY people breastfeeding their toddler.  I told him, 6 months -maybe a year- but then I'm DONE!  Well, a year came and went, then 18 months, and then I was looking at the real possibility of nursing a two year old.  And not only that, maybe even tandem nursing (nursing a toddler and a newborn).  Logan is turning two in a couple weeks and the new baby will be here in less than 5 months.  Crazy thing was, I loved breastfeeding and really didn't WANT to wean Logan.  It was such an easy way to get him to sleep, wake him up, comfort him when he was sick, the idea of weaning him just sounded horrible.  Not to mention, he was very attached to the breast.  I think if he understood that I was thinking of weaning him it would have sounded even more horrible to him.

So why did I do it?  How did I do it?

The why.  Almost immediately after finding out I was pregnant, I noticed a change in my milk.  It seemed at first that my body was making MORE.  Logan nursed for longer, and wanted to nurse more frequently.  This was fine with me, for the most part.  But as the weeks went on it became more and more apparent that my body was making far LESS milk.  Not much milk at all.  When I nursed Logan I noticed that he hardly swallowed, and I didn't even get the "let down" sensation.  This was causing Logan to become very upset and want to nurse all the time.  Like all.the.time!  And if I didn't give in he would throw himself on the floor in an all out tantrum.  If I tried to pull him off before he was ready, he really would throw a fit.  I could tell that breastfeeding had become something that I never wanted it to be- a power struggle.  It was no longer a bonding experience that brought us closer together, now it was something that was driving us apart and causing a lot of frustration for both of us.  So one afternoon after a particularly challenging day, I told my husband that I was done nursing Logan.  I was quitting cold turkey, right then.

The how.  Looking back, I can see that I had really been gradually preparing us both for this time.  Around the time he turned one, I started cutting out "unnecessary" feedings.  What do I mean by unnecessary?  Basically I considered waking up, putting down for nap, waking up from nap, and putting down for bed as "necessary".  In my mind, they served a purpose- to aid with his sleep.  I cut any other feedings out gradually and eventually he stopped asking for it and it wasn't difficult to do.  But this left 4 (sometimes 5 if he would wake up at night) imperative feedings that I needed to cut out.  My plan had always been to wean Logan when he was 2.  My thought was that I would cut out one feeding a month starting at 20 months and ending at 24 months.  Well 20 months came and I just couldn't do it.  I couldn't decide which feeding was "least important" and needed to go.  This leads me to my decision to go cold turkey.  Knowing me and knowing my son I knew this was the only way it would work.  Going back to the power struggle this had already become, I knew the inconsistency of sometimes it's ok and sometimes I'm going to say no would only make things worse, not better.

So cold turkey it was!  Luckily I picked a weekend that Daniel's Grandma, Aunt, and Brother were going to be in town visiting.  This ended up being a gift from heaven!  I hadn't planned this part, but I am so glad it worked out that way!  We were out sightseeing with them pretty much all weekend, so Logan didn't have time or an opportunity to whine to be nursed. Plus when we got home at night, he was so tired he conked out almost immediately.  Then in the morning when he would typically want to breastfeed first thing, he would want go play with them instead.  It worked out perfectly! 

Another thing I did was try and make it a fun time.  I went to the store and got all of Logan's favorite foods, new toys, and new PJ's - anything that I thought would keep him happy, occupied, and take his mind off of breastfeeding.  I decided to forget about going healthy and for once just get him all his favorite junk foods.  I figured, it's only a few days and it would be worth it in the end if we could both view this as a positive experience.  I also got him a Jake and the Neverland Pirates doll (his FAVORITE, FAVORITE show) and a new farm animals toy.  Along with the new toys from Grandma, I think all this really helped to make this less of a sad time and more of a fun time- something to be celebrated!

I also did make a change to our bed time routine.  Before weaning him, we used to have dinner, take a bath, brush teeth, read scriptures and pray, then I would take Logan into his room, nurse him and put him in his crib- if not asleep, close to it.  I changed this to instead taking him into his room, singing and rocking him while he sucked on a sippy cup of water, then putting him in his crib with the sippy cup- awake.  He really fought just being held for no reason at first (he's not very cuddly), but I forced it and now he does it no problem.  He also hasn't had a problem falling asleep on his own.  I was really worried about this, but he's been doing it no problem. He cries for a couple minutes, then talks to himself until he eventually drifts off. 

I struggled with whether or not I would take away his lovey blanket.  He refused to nurse without it, and so I thought if it was around it might make him want to nurse more.  I ultimately decided to leave it with him.  I knew this was already going to be a challenging time for him and I didn't want to take away an object that provided comfort to him.  He will still bring it to me sometimes and sit in the rocking chair (a sign that he wants to nurse) but I just tell him the milk is gone and let's go do something else.  I let him eat breakfast with the blanket, which has really seemed to help. 

I worried once all the family left that we would revert back, but I was very consistent and stuck to what we had been doing that weekend.  The visitors helped to distract Logan, but it really just came down to me sticking to my guns, sticking to our new bed and nap routine (naptime same as bedtime), and being honest with Logan.  It actually turned out to be much easier for me and for Logan than I thought it was going to be.  This gives me comfort that we really were ready for this, even if I thought we weren't.

The end result.  Logan's mood really changed overnight.  He is so much happier.  And oh my gosh- his eating!  He went from eating like a bird to eating like a horse.  I didn't realize just how much he was relying on the breast milk for food.  This explains the terrible moods and the tantrums to want to nurse.  And I really must not have been making much milk, because I'm not engorged at all, haven't leaked or let down even once.  Overall, this has been such a positive experience for both momma and baby.  I'm happy to have a small part of my body back for a few months, and Logan is happy to be 100% on big boy food, growing strong, and really growing up.  Part of me is sad it's over, but I know it was the right time for us. 

3 comments:

  1. I know this post is old, but thank you so much for posting this! I found it on Pinterest and am ready to start weaning my almost two year old but have been stewing over how to do it. It was so nice to read about another mommy's experience before hand :)

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    1. Keri- I'm so glad you enjoyed this post!! I hope everything goes well with weaning your little one! Thanks for reading and thank you for your comment! I would love to hear how it goes!

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  2. Thank you, again! This is helpful for me, as I am struggling with weaning Phoebe completely. She is 25 months and I am having a hard time... Bit it's time. I think I will try cold turkey and I like your ideas about offering fun foods and treats.

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