I have been breastfeeding my younger DD for 23 months now and I'd realllllllly like to wean her off by her 2nd birthday. It has been a great relationship so far but this is the end of the road for us due to various reasons. First of all, I'd like to devote some time to the rest of my family.. DH doesn't complain much but my older 6-yo daughter definitely needs more quality time from me. This is difficult because the toddler needs me to put her down for a nap/bedtime and stay around every time she wakes up. She needs to nurse to fall asleep and of course I am constantly running back to get her to fall asleep while older daughter feels left out, unable to finish whatever activity we were doing together.
Secondly, my boobs have really started complaining after non-stop usage for almost 2 years. Younger DD has been a champion nurser throughout (barring illnesses) but she has sharp teeth which she clamps down if I try to pull her off when she is asleep. I have made it through two rounds of mastitis, engorged breasts and continuously sore nipples... so much so that I don't remember a time when my nipples were not chapped and sensitive. What is worse is that recently, DD has gotten into a weird nursing position which causes my right breast to hurt and burn for almost an hour after she has finished nursing. Then I have to put ice-packs on it to ease the burning pain and it is not a pretty sight when I am sitting holding my own boob with the ice back hidden in my bra! I am guessing this is due to her strong latch combined with her weight, pulling my breast down and straining the muscles. Add to this, DD nurses through the night which means my back hurts like crazy and I don't get enough sleep. (I know part of it is due to my posture but still) So I wake up angry and irritable. If my breast is hurting, I can't even concentrate on whatever I need to be doing (cooking, working etc) and really, there is only so much time I can get to sit and hold my boob with an ice pack!
So, end of my long background story, I am ready to wean off and this is where my questions start. I have been reading about various people's experiences with night-weaning, day-weaning. The most important thing that I realized is there is a difference between night weaning and weaning from the nurse-to-sleep habits. I need to do both!
I have tried using the pantley pull-off method but so far, there hasn't really been a great improvement. I have tried using the don't-offer, don't-refuse policy but now that DD is vocal, she always asks for milk when she is sleepy. And she even tells me she wants the 'big' boob which can be hilarious sometimes.
So here is my plan: I am planning to to use Dr. jay gordon's method for night-weaning. I have also started putting on soothing music when she nurses to sleep at nap-time, so as to provide a different association rather than the breast. Eventually I plan to just withdraw the breast and use the music as her sleep aid. She obviously doesn't take the bottle and doesn't want water or any other snack when she wakes up in the middle of her nap or at night. But she drinks yakult (lactobacillus milk drink) and I use it to distract her when she wants to nurse during the day. Should I offer it in the middle of the night to get her to sleep? And which nursing time should I tackle first? Night-weaning or day-weaning? If I try telling her that my boobs have an ouchie or there is no more milk, she starts crying desolately, so those ideas are not working. Walking with her sometimes works but only if she is reallly tired and even then it takes a long time. I'd like to teach her to fall asleep with me next to her, so that she knows she has comfort even if there is no nursing.... and this is the hardest part! And of course, I'd like her to keep falling asleep if she wakes up in the middle of her nap/sleep. How on earth do I do this?
For all those who have had the patience to read my long and rambling story, thanks! And now if you have any ideas, thoughts, advice to give, I will be eternally grateful!
Just because you wean, it won't necessarily mean that your dd doesn't still need you at nap time and bed time.
Thanks for your quick reply... not looking forward to her giving up her nap!
How *does* one start to wean a toddler, especially one so attached to nursing? If I refuse, he has such a brokenhearted cry that I give in and nurse.
I guess I'm telling you that because it could be a place to start and expect to see some results.
In general I would say eliminate one nursing session at a time.
I don't know how it would be possible to go smoothly with a kid who nursed like dd did at that age. But if you're desperate enough I suppose you power through.
I think I got that idea in the pantley book, not sure.... wherver it came from said it typically takes about 21 days to form a habit... it took at least twice as long before he stopped asking every night... and now, another two months later he still asks every once in a while, but mostly accepts it at night. He's really headstrong / stubborn.
Going down for the night is much more tricky, I'm not there myself yet... You mentioned your older dd, I'm in the same spot with my dd. What works sometimes is that we get a bunch of books and cuddle up in bed and they each get a turn at a book. I keep telling ds that he can nurse after we're all done - and dd never gets 'done' with books ;-) about a third of the time, he falls asleep while we're reading and dd and I get a lot of reading time together in the meantime.
Do you have any idea what's going on that's causing your breast to hurt/burn after she nurses? Because that's just not right! If you could make it not physically painful for yourself, you can probably handle weaning in a slower/more gentle fashion than if you're wincing every time you think about her latching on.
I also suspect that complete weaning in a month might be a little ambitious. I'd suggest ignoring the birthday and just taking it one day and one step at a time.
Sorry I don't have more concrete advice!
@prothyraia: Actually, I guess I wasn't clear. The way it works with DD is that at nap/bedtime, she is usually so tired that she is practically begging for ni-ni (which means sleep) and she is usually fast asleep within 10-15 mins of nursing. So I pop her off and she sleeps great for the 1st hour at nap time and the first 3 hours at bed time. It is only after that when starts stirring (I am guessing it is the end of the REM cycle) and fussing. So I go in to nurse and she falls asleep again. If I try to pat her back or rock her to sleep, it doesn't work, I have to nurse. But there have been a few occassions when DH went in and walked her around and then she fell asleep. But that is not always possible. Same thing at night, if I nurse her for a few minutes, she will go back to sleep but patting/rocking/singing keeps us both awake. The middle-of-the-nap-nursing is the one which is the hardest for me because I can see my mile-long to-do list and my older DD waiting for me. As for the boob hurt/burning sensation, I am pretty sure it is because of the way she nurses since it is only one side... she pulls the breast with her mouth and I have to keep supporting it, otherwise I would be shouting with pain.... and when I start to pull her off, if she is not fast asleep, her latch is really sharp. These days, every time we start nursing, I tell her no ouchie to mama, be gentle and she nods like crazy. But once she is asleep, it is difficult to pry open her jaw.
@Chi-Chi Mama: That's a great idea about reading with both kids. I will try that out. But the problem is when we do read before bed, younger DD finishes her set of 3 books and then asks to go to sleep. I'll have to see how it works with older DD in the picture.
@Angela: I guess that desperation is setting in slowly which is exactly why I want to wean before it becomes a resentful situation for me. I know DD wants to keep on nursing, so wish me plenty of luck.
@DianeAK: Thanks for your tip. It is one more thing for me to try.
@WendyH: Chin up and all the best to you. I'll keep posting here about how it goes with the process.
And in the middle of the nap she just wakes up and doesn't finish the nap.
I took it hour by hour. I blocked out time during the day that were 'no nursing' zones and during those times we did anythig BUT nurse. Eventually the 'no nursing' day time hours took over the whole day. Then I did naptime. Then I did nightime. For me doing days first was best b/c we had our heads clear to deal with it. By the time nightweaning came he was accustomed to accepting comfort other than nursing and understood that 'no' meant 'no'. I just offered water, hugs, songs etc. No food though
(I mean I would have if he had asked but he never did) and I didn't get out of bed, either (but again he didn't ask to get out of bed). He continued to cosleep for some months afterwards and now (9 mos later) still sleeps p/t with us.
Good luck to you as you being the journey that will take you to the next wonderful phase in your ever evolving relationship with your daughter.
DS (6.06), DD (10.08), DD (05.11).
Nightweaning was painful. I had tried unsuccessfully in September. I didn't use Jay Gordon's plan because felt like it would be easier for DD if I "ripped the band-aid off all at once." At first, I would nurse her back down if she woke up only an hour after falling asleep. And I considered 6AM morning...and that required turning a light on. She screamed a lot, and was hysterical and violent with me. I ended up spending hours up at night with her, and I was soooo sleep deprived. But finally a month later, she usually wakes 2 times a night (compared to 4-10) and goes back down once I hold her in my arms and rock her. (However, last night at 4am, she did end up screaming to nurse for 5 minutes, and then I had to turn on the light and read her a few books to calm her down.)
I want to move on to the next step, but I think I need to wait until she's sleeping better at night. I think my next step will be limiting nursing to before bed and in the morning (and before/after nap on the weekends) and nursing can happen only in her room. I have to say that DD nurses less during the week because she's at daycare all day. If the weather were nicer, I bet it would be easier to wean her. DD doesn't ask to nurse if we are out and about, but when we are home, that is all she wants.
I hope this has helped you at least a little bit. You have done an awesome job nursing your DD for so long, and at this point, I truly believe it is fine to assert your need to end the nursing relationship.
mama to DD (7), DS (3.5), and another DS arriving in August!
Thanks again for your encouraging words, specially the last line of your post!
Good luck with your second little one!
It may have been that older DD saw me posting on this board (she is a very avid reader now) or it could be just something on her mind. Whatever the case, just the fact that she is so aware of what I am trying to do makes it even more important that I do it soon but in the right way.
So wish me luck!
Anyway, good luck to you and keep us posted!
My dd nursed very frequently, like every hour and a half or so still including all night long, and finally around 2 I night weaned - which went very very well and was easy. Maybe it went too well as I didn't intend to completely wean and within several months she had stopped nursing entirely. But she kept that last nursing before she went to sleep the longest. In fact, there was a long period of time where she'd just nurse when she woke up and when she went to bed, and then a good while where she'd just nurse when she went to bed. But anyway, the point is that she quit within several months with me trying to get her not to quit. I thought she was too young to stop nursing all together - I just wanted to sleep at night - but the night weaning got things going and that was it.
SO I think it can be done, and it might even be easier than you think, but the nursing session that's bothering you the most is likely to be the one that sticks around the longest.
Welcome to MDC! There are so many kind, knowledgeable mommas around here, and all of us love to share our stories from the trenches, as it were. I love that every time I post a problem my family is facing, somebody always chimes in with "we're going through that, too!" This is, for the most part, a very loving and supportive community.
You've gotten some good advice about gentle weaning, and I can tell you're being very thoughtful and taking things slowly. Remember, breastfeeding is a partnership, and if you need to make changes in your nursing relationship to be a better mother to both of your children, you should do what is right for your family. Kudos, too, for making it to almost 2 years, especially with all the issues you've had-- that's something to be very proud of in this society!
Best of luck!
I MLW'd my DD1 at age 3. we started talking about how one day she would no longer nurse, and i slowly started dropping nursing sessions. at this point though she was no longer nursing to sleep or at night, so it was only about 3-4 sessions during the day that we had to deal with. she didn't nap during the day anymore starting at about 27 months, so i didn't have that to worry about so i started with the ones in the daytime that weren't related to waking up or falling asleep first, and tried to keep her busy and distracted, made sure she always had water and a snack around those times and that i offered a lot of quality one-on-one time and snuggles, and also rough play (like tickling, wrestling, knocking each other down) that helped her get physical contact with me without triggering her desire to nurse. so all that helped us eliminate the daytime stuff, but very gradually, over the course of several months.
at bedtime, when we got to that point (a couple of months later) i told her we were going to nurse in the living room instead of the bedroom. so we would nurse first, then brush teeth and read a book or three and snuggle to sleep. eventually i kept her busy after dinner and then skipped the nursing and went straight to the rest of the bedtime routine.
she and i decided together that we'd give up the last session on her birthday. we nursed the morning of her birthday, had a big party, and i let her nurse to sleep that night. the next morning she asked to nurse, but i reminded her that we had her weaning party and we didn't nurse anymore. we both cried a little together and snuggled and went and made breakfast together. she asked again maybe 3 or 4 days later? i reminded her and snuggled her and there were no tears. and that was it. for us the process took about 6 months. and i felt it was a slow and gentle as it could be for MLW.
knowing that i had an 'end date' was like a light at the end of the tunnel for me, and allowed me to enjoy the last months of nursing my daughter, which i hadn't done in a while. and having a plan, and slowly seeing those sessions eliminated helped keep me from getting too stressed out about it. it worked really well for us, and i've been doing something similar with my DS who will be 3.5 at the end of this month and has been down to just that morning nursing for a couple of months now, which we're scheduled to give up at the end of the month.
Hang in there!
I'm working on the bedtime nursing now, because it's easiest for me because she doesn't nurse to sleep, and hasn't for a very long time. I'm slowing shortening the nursing session. I don't know if I yet have the courage to eliminate it all together. And I'd have to give up a lot giving up the morning session (get out of bed!) and before nap (we both need her nap!).
But you're not alone.
Why would she have to do these things if she doesn't nurse? There are many ways to comfort a child that doesn't include nursing OR getting up. I think the point of the OP was that she needed support and ideas on how best to help her through this situation.
It's just something to consider.
I think the point of the OP was that she needed support and ideas on how best to help her through this situation.
if i am thinking of doing something, i would want to know the story from both sides of the coin. especially if it involves my child.
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After that we were done. She transitition just fine and I felt much better. DS's weaning was very similar, but he was actually 'ready' I would say. He didn't have the 'fit' stage that DD did.
Most important of all, I'd like to teach my DD in the gentlest possible manner how to fall asleep without being at my breast. I know that obviously DD is going to have strong objections to that idea but as her mom, it is after all my job to teach her even at this young age. And of course I know all too well that NOT nursing down to sleep will entail doing a lot of difficult/time-consuming things such as walking/rocking but I am willing to work through that.
So any more ideas to kick the nursing-to-sleep habit, I'd be happy to hear them!