Weaning my 4 year old - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 13 Old 03-13-2012, 08:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm interested in helping my 4 year old daughter to wean. She nurses only at night and sometimes when she wakes up in the morning. She has always nursed to sleep. Occasionally, it takes her a very long time to follow asleep and I just.can't.nurse.anymore and if she's REALLY tired she'll fall asleep okay without nursing at that point, but sometimes she gets very fidgety and can't figure out how to fall asleep without nursing, and so after a few minutes break she'll ask to nurse again and I will and she'll fall asleep. Occasionally she will nurse once or twice during the day when she is sick, but that's really a blue moon occurrence. We are TTC #2, and I'd like her to be weaned for some time before the baby comes. I don't want her to associate weaning with the baby for fear that it will cause some resentment. I've been hinting around about how she's growing and changing and my body knows that she is growing out of nursing and soon won't need to anymore. I would like to start taking steps to reduce her nursing and night wean. I'm wondering, at this age, what the most successful methods would be? Do I make a ceremonial day for us to conclude weaning in a month or so? Do I just start "laying down the law"? Who has done this before and how did it all go down? The closest I've done to any sort of "weaning" is to put some restrictions on her when she was around 3, like "we will nurse for a couple minutes here at the park, but then you are done until we get home." kind of stuff. And I quit NIP when she was about 3.5ish. She stopped most nursing during the day around that time too, and she will ask from time to time since then and accepts a no. Thanks in advance, Jamie

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#2 of 13 Old 03-13-2012, 08:47 PM
 
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i like your laying down the law idea. give kiddo a bowl of ice cream and call it a done deal ;) At 4 she is a big girl and here in canada 4 year olds are in full time kindergarten.. she would get picked on really badly if outsider knew she was still on the breast. 

best of luck! nothing is easy, but you have to start at some point. if not that will be an interesting story to tell her first date LMAO

j/k :)

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#3 of 13 Old 03-13-2012, 09:14 PM
 
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you can't be sure "she would get picked on really badly." ? what kind of statement is that, this is a forum called "Breastfeeding Beyond Infancy." it is a support forum for mothers who practice extended breastfeeding. i think you just posted another message on Child Led Weaning, in which you stated that both of your children were exclusively formula fed. ?

 

as for the OP, here's what i would do in your position: wear out your 4 year old. is she in preschool? other activities? i also had a very touchy sleeper. it took A LOT for her to settle down at night. once she started kindergarten, however, and it is a mentally challenging kindergarten, she is finally exhausted at the end of the day, and that makes a HUGE difference in how quickly she goes to sleep. 

 

IMO, if you are sure that you want her to wean, she is old enough that you are going to have to get her buy-in to the idea, if you want this weaning to "go well." sure you can lay down the law, so to speak, it's your body and you are entitled. but if that means suddenly taking away her comfort against her will... i can imagine that not going over so well, and you tell me if the "punishment" you feel is worth the "win."

 

think about what you could do to get your daughter to embrace the idea. the reward might be different for one type of kid than another. maybe it's a spa day with a big girl mani/pedi. maybe it's a special night out at a sporting event or a show. maybe it's the chance to take a really cool class that's offered. maybe she gets to stay up late reading books with you every evening (read to her, and start teaching her how to read-- reading lessons also help make my daughter really really tired).

 

that's what i'd do...

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#4 of 13 Old 03-14-2012, 02:36 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mandy613 View Post

i like your laying down the law idea. give kiddo a bowl of ice cream and call it a done deal ;) At 4 she is a big girl and here in canada 4 year olds are in full time kindergarten.. she would get picked on really badly if outsider knew she was still on the breast. 

best of luck! nothing is easy, but you have to start at some point. if not that will be an interesting story to tell her first date LMAO

j/k :)



I nursed a 4 y/o and currently nurse an almost 3 y/o "here in Canada". I also know many of ds's friends who have nursed for 2 to 4 years. You should know that the Canadian Pediatric Association recommends at least 2 years of breastfeeding.

 

OP, you could try reducing the amount and frequency of nursing sessions. When ds was 3.5 y/o, we had 3 distinct sessions: one in the morning, one when I was back from work and one at bedtime. After a couple of months, we reduced them to two. Then to one. When ds turned 4 we mutually agreed that he would stop.

 

GL


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#5 of 13 Old 03-14-2012, 05:34 PM
 
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My 4.4 year old just declared herself done. What we did, is that I cut back a lot, gradually, but the cutting back was very much a mother-led process. At 2, we night-weaned except for going to sleep and first thing in the morning, which had to be redone several times because of backsliding, but probably stuck about 2 years ago. I was pregnant, had another baby (now 18 months) and just gradually discouraged day nursing more and more, especially after she gave up the nap at 2.8 or so.

 

About a year ago, we did the "nurse until the end of the song" trick, and then I just would lie in bed with her until she fell asleep (then I'd nurse the little guy back to sleep again!). She was on a 5-song list which took me about 3 minutes to sing through each night. Anyway, after almost exactly a year of that (which I could have sustained indefinitely) she says she's done, and wants to go to sleep by herself!

 

Hope you find something in here that helps!

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#6 of 13 Old 03-16-2012, 12:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you folks for the helpful replies (not so much the first one.....?) I think I will start the nursing at bedtime until the end of the song, and also try to really wear her out, which is perfect for a summertime goal. I can easily distract her from a morning nursing if I just get out of bed, so bedtime and maybe once throughout the night is usually all she needs to nurse. (She usually climbs in our bed sometime in the morning to nurse. She just moved into her own room about 4 months ago.) After a month or so of nursing to the end of the song and then laying in bed to sleep, maybe she'll be more readily accepting of an agreement to be done nursing, and a special big girl day out. ..I find it hard to initiate something like nursing to the end of the song, like I feel badly that I am setting the boundary, and I know she'll want me to explain why... Really, my body just says it's done nursing. The sensations I get from nursing now are now what they were in the past, and I want to be able to figure out how to do bedtime with 2 kids, and I think having one that doesn't nurse to sleep would be greatly beneficial in that area, and naturally, I feel like my 4 y/o should be the one who doesn't nurse to sleep. I think I have to expect that in the beginning she'll want to nurse after the song and maybe after a little break and some quiet laying, I'll be okay with doing it over again until she gets used to it, maybe weaning down the number of times I have to sing the song. I usually sing her to sleep while she nurses, I wonder if I'll need to keep singing after she's done nursing for the night or not... I guess I'll just have to have a trial period and see. Thanks again, and more tips and thoughts welcome.

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#7 of 13 Old 03-26-2012, 09:23 PM
 
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Without reading all the comments, I'll add my story. I tried to NW DD when she was about 18 months and it was a disaster!!! The thrashing, screaming, etc. I never ever EVER wanted to experience that kind of rage again so I waited and waited....finally when I realized she could be bribed LOL I did it (aka "reasoned with")! I weaned her 2 days before her fourth birthday -- we did mostly nighttime nursing back to sleep, etc. like you describe. I had been limiting the night nursing sessions where I'd count to 10 for a few months and that "milk needs to go nite nite, etc." and then I picked our vacation to do the actually weaning so DH could help if needed (it wasn't needed). I bribed her with all the ice-cream she could eat if she slept all night without milk. We have the lady bug that lights up and I'd be there with her of course. I told her how proud she would be of herself and that she's ready, she's a big girl, etc. etc. I told her that babies need the milk at night but big girls don't (without guilt tripping her at all it was just matter of fact). It worked!!! I didn't miss it at all and she never looked back. By the way, she had 1.5 ice-cream cones after breakfast!! Now, second time around I have a 10 month old and we're in the process of night weaning right now with DH who spent three nights sleeping with him all night. MUCH easier!!! Good luck!

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#8 of 13 Old 03-30-2012, 08:54 PM
 
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Just wanted to say I am jealous of having a 4 year old who only nurses at night.  :)  My almost 4 yo nurses all day long!

 

But, the "bribery" thing worked with him last fall when we nightweaned.  We individually wrapped 30 little toys and told him he could open one in the morning if he made it all night.  Then we got him a bigger toy at the end of those.  Yeah, nightweaning was expensive for us!

 

Best of luck!

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#9 of 13 Old 05-02-2012, 07:47 AM
 
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My son will be 5 in July and is still nursing when he wakes up and to go to sleep.  He night weaned on his own in the last year.  I talk to him about how "big boys don't need nursies" and he tells me he doesn't want to grow up lol ;).  I am wanting to wean most of the time.  Nursing is very uncomfortable for my back now.  But, I still really love the bond we have from it and I know I'm going to be sad when he's weaned.  I don't have any idea either how to get him to stop, I sure hope he does on his own soon ;)  I'll be checking this thread for any ideas too ;)


Michelle : wife to awesome DH Aaron : since (04/02), mom to DS Michael (07/07) and bio-mom to Ember (07/84), : , TANSTAAFL
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#10 of 13 Old 05-13-2012, 04:11 PM
 
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VERY BEAUTIFUL! ....NEVER BOW TO IGNORANT PRESSURE....BREASTFEED AS LONG AS YOU BOTH WISH...I HAVE MOM FRIENDS WHO NURSE OLDER KIDS THAN 5!.(..I DO AND.... I AM NURSING 6  KIDS ).EVERY  CHILD IS UNIQUE,HAS DIFFERENT EMOTIONAL NEEDS

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#11 of 13 Old 06-03-2012, 05:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I wanted to update that my daughter has weaned. I tried offering her an incentive to wean and that did not work. I then just gave up and went with it and a few weeks later I noticed that she was nursing for a few minutes and then she would stop and hold my hand until she fell asleep. She would still wake up at night and if I offered her my hand instead of my breast she was okay with it. One night she said there wasn't any milk left after nursing for a minute and I said "well, it hurts mommy's breast now anyway so why don't we just stop then since there's no milk?" and she said "okay", took my hand, and went to sleep. She asked a couple times in the days after but accepted the "no, we said we were done, remember?" readily. She falls asleep even more easily now that she weaned. I am pretty happy with how it went, and glad it didn't take too much intervention on my part. I'll admit that I'm sure it would have been more difficult had I not been pregnant and losing my milk supply, but I guess I'll have to figure that out next time around. :)
 

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#12 of 13 Old 06-03-2012, 07:18 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HikeMama View Post

I wanted to update that my daughter has weaned. I tried offering her an incentive to wean and that did not work. I then just gave up and went with it and a few weeks later I noticed that she was nursing for a few minutes and then she would stop and hold my hand until she fell asleep. She would still wake up at night and if I offered her my hand instead of my breast she was okay with it. One night she said there wasn't any milk left after nursing for a minute and I said "well, it hurts mommy's breast now anyway so why don't we just stop then since there's no milk?" and she said "okay", took my hand, and went to sleep. She asked a couple times in the days after but accepted the "no, we said we were done, remember?" readily. She falls asleep even more easily now that she weaned. I am pretty happy with how it went, and glad it didn't take too much intervention on my part. I'll admit that I'm sure it would have been more difficult had I not been pregnant and losing my milk supply, but I guess I'll have to figure that out next time around. :)
 

Congratulations, Mama! It sounds like it was a very gentle weaning. joy.gif

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#13 of 13 Old 06-06-2012, 10:17 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HikeMama View Post

I wanted to update that my daughter has weaned. I tried offering her an incentive to wean and that did not work. I then just gave up and went with it and a few weeks later I noticed that she was nursing for a few minutes and then she would stop and hold my hand until she fell asleep. She would still wake up at night and if I offered her my hand instead of my breast she was okay with it. One night she said there wasn't any milk left after nursing for a minute and I said "well, it hurts mommy's breast now anyway so why don't we just stop then since there's no milk?" and she said "okay", took my hand, and went to sleep. She asked a couple times in the days after but accepted the "no, we said we were done, remember?" readily. She falls asleep even more easily now that she weaned. I am pretty happy with how it went, and glad it didn't take too much intervention on my part. I'll admit that I'm sure it would have been more difficult had I not been pregnant and losing my milk supply, but I guess I'll have to figure that out next time around. :)
 

 

 

Congratulations!  It sounds like a wonderful weaning.  I hope you're doing something to celebrate your few month "ownership" of your body before your next one is here. :)


 

 

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