I am 4 weeks along (no march group yet, so I joined this one!). I would like to wean my 2 1/2 year old daughter in the next few months. She is an avid nurser. Loves her "nanas". If anyone has successfully weaned a toddler during early pregnancy or any other time, I'd love to hear how you did it. We cosleep and I don't plan to change that, although she does have her own toddler mattress next to our cal-king on the floor, so there is plenty of space for #2. My husband is very supportive and willing to help however I ask him. Just trying to figure out what will work.
I want to wean my 2.5 yo, experienced mamas please advise
Hey there! There is a March group up, here's the link: http://www.mothering.com/community/f/17432/march-2013-ddc
I weaned DS2 after deciding not to do child-led weaning due to some health issues I was having. He was around 2 at the time. We did it slowly. I think the first step is to night-wean, if you haven't already. Your husband will be crucial in that process... I know I couldn't have done it without my DH's help. I actually night-weaned DS2 a few months before full-on weaning. Every time DS2 woke up and wanted to nurse, DH would take him and do whatever he could to get him back to sleep. This usually involved both of them sleeping out on our futon in the living room for awhile. As for daytime weaning, I started to put limits on when he could nurse. We first went down to three times-- upon wake-up, before nap (okay and usually after nap, too) and then before bed. The nap time nursings were the last ones to go. In the morning, I distracted him right away with breakfast which was easy-ish because he was really into food. At night, DH took over the bedtime routine so that my boobs would be out of the picture. It might be easier for you to do it this way too--- I found that no matter how much other "nurturing" stuff I did at bedtime, it was boobs or nothing if I was around!
It's definitely easier said than done. Try offering another milk in a sippy cup as a replacement and see if she gets used to that. If you're intent on nursing, you have to be firm, even if it's breaking both of your hearts. DS2 took to it much better than I thought he would, but that doesn't mean it was easy or that there were no tears. Also try posting in the nursing forum-- I know there must be threads about this.
I haven't completely weaned a child that age, but i have twice night weaned and cut back to nursing once or twice a day at set times and under specific conditions .. For me, it was easier to wait til about 12-15+ weeks into the pregnancy because by then my milk was nearly dried up and the both my 1st & 2nd kiddos cut back on day time nursing on their own (down to morning, nap, bedtime), I just had to night wean, by the time i was that far along, they were use to not actually getting milk at night so i think that made not nursing just a bit easier - i do offer water at night and my DS always took it, but DD did not.. my 3rd seems to want to water too but i haven't night weaned her yet.. i told my then 18-24 mo olds that the milk was sleeping and would be back in the morning. My oldest after just a few days (and a lot of crying with us, in our bed) was sleeping all night and didn't want to nurse in the morning, so she nursed for nap and bedtime - it would have been very easy to wean either of them shortly after that - i choose to let them continue with the limited nursing - it seemed to help them adjust and when i had engorgement and mastitis it was VERY helpful to have a toddler who knew how to nurse.. ;)
I showed him a calendar and said this is today, today we nurse when the sun is up (draw a little sun) and when it is dark (draw a little moon). Tomorrow (and however many days you want to prepare) we nurse when the sun is up and when it is dark. But on this day (whatever day on the calendar you want to pick) we only nurse when the sun is up. And the next day, only when the sun is up... Etc.
I also found it much easier to distract during the day so I could cut those back pretty easily.
And also during the night weaning we went with the flow, sometimes ds reacted better to snuggling with me, sometimes dh would pick him up and walk around the dark living room until ds calmed down a little to come back to me. It was hard but really only for 2-3 nights of on/off crying and then it was fine. We always kept the lights off, our voices low so it was still obvious that it is time for sleep, not play or eating. We offered water but that's it.
He also quit waking up at night (except to potty) shortly after this... Bliss!
Good luck mama!
Oh, and we cosleep also, and this worked out fine for us. DS and I slept out in the living room for a few nights so he wouldn't wake other DS.
So many good thoughts already provided. I night weaned my girls around 22 months, and fully weaned them gradually around 2.5 or 3 (H, my second has been done since my m/c because I couldn't deal). I've co-slept through the entire weaning process with both girls.
A few ideas:
1. Read about Jay Gordon's night weaning methods. Remember that a little crying in the arms of a loving parent (you or, better, an SO, as they won't smell like milk and don't have the same association!) is not CIO. For us, it was easier to do nightweaning first, as it gave you something to say at night "when the sun is up you can have milkie." And it allowed for that morning reconnection. Most parents find the pre-bed or wake-up nursing session is the last to go. At 2.5 you can really prepare them and discuss what will and won't happen when.
2. Read "How Weaning Happens"--I love it. It's full of stories of people who set out to wean and did, or didn't, or who didn't set out to wean but did, or didn't. It provides some fun incentives and ideas for making the weaning process more of a celebration and it makes it ok to have "setbacks" as well.
3. Age 2.5 is so darn stubborn, that you're really breaking a habit more than a need, so be prepared for strong emotions. You might read the website at Hand in Hand Parenting if you don't already, for ideas in coping with big toddler emotions (and of course, being pregnant, YOU have strong emotions and you might feel sad or guilty about weaning (both of which are normal, as is feeling nothing or elation!)). And it's been my experience that kids ALWAYS get sick when weaning, creating a setback because we want to nurse them through that, so just be prepared.
4. A good starting point as someone pointed out is just set limits. Delay nursing (wait 2 minutes, sweetie, till we xxx, then we will nurse) or set a time limit (when this song is done, or when the timer dings or whatever). Practicing waiting during the day makes hearing "wait" at night so much better.
5. Practice other ways to connect. It's easy to just claim that "free" time, but the kids miss that connection time. Try to remember to cuddle or read a book when you would have nursed; or if your toddler is active, some kids connect with tickles or wrestling. Just try not to take the TIME away just because you took the activity away (much easier said than done). My youngest will put her head on my bare chest if I'm wearing a v-neck shirt and just savor the skin touching.
HUGS mama, you've provided 2.5 years of awesomeness for your LO. It's ok to move on in your relationship and make your relationship be about more than the nanas. (I say this because guilt was a big deal for me when I decided to gently nudge the weaning process and I'm committed to helping mamas appreciate the gift they've given their child, whatever that is.
I mostly lurk at this DDC (I have a baby due late Feb/early March, but my babies tend to cook a bit longer than most), but I wanted to tell you what worked for us. We started with night weaning, too. I would tell my son that before we had milk, we'd sing a song. If he demanded milk right away, he would hang out with my partner in another room until he was ready to comply. After a few nights, he complied immediately. If he still was awake after I finished singing, I'd nurse him, but that was pretty rare and eventually he stopped nursing at night.
We are still working on daytime weaning. Right now, we nurse four times a day: when he wakes, right before nap, right after nap, and before bed. If he asks for it at other times, I remind him of when we nurse. I'm hoping to start dropping those nursing sessions when my milk supply starts diminishing, because I do think it'll be an easier time to wean as well. Also, I don't want him weaned during the first trimester. I had started to wean him during a previous pregnancy that I then lost. I found it very comforting to nurse him afterwards. (On the other hand, I tandem nursed him and his older sister for a year, and I'm *sure* I don't want to do that again, either.