How do I do parent-led weaning with a 3yo? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 05-12-2012, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Okay mamas, I'm desperate for some advice here!


I am a strung-out tandem-nursing mama of a 13 mo and a 3 yo.  DD will actually be 3 in a few days.  For months we've been encouraging the idea that she would be weaned by her 3rd birthday, but it does not seem like it's going to happen by that self-imposed deadline, and I'm not sure what to do to help this along. 


I have not actively tried to wean her -- I think I was just expecting her to wean in her own time, and was gently trying to encourage that to happen -- but at this point, I'm really ready to be done.  Our nursing relationship is fraught with conflict and it's become a bit of a problem in our household. 


Plus, DH is putting a lot of pressure on me to wean her, he thinks it's ridiculous that she is still nursing at this age.  I'm not too concerned about what DH thinks, but it's creating more conflict in an already conflicted relationship.


She's nursing right now, as I type, because I finally got tired of her climbing on me, digging her hand into my shirt and whining "Maaaaama milk!! I need maaaama milk!" 


Anyone have any advice???  How do I do gentle, parent-led weaning with a child old enough to argue with me??

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#2 of 3 Old 05-12-2012, 10:36 AM
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we did a lot of talking about how she was a big girl and didn't need it anymore. we also had a special dinner to celebrate and she got to spend the night at my mom's for the first time. we had already gone to just nursing at bedtime. when we were doing that we talked about how she didn't need to nurse right now, and she would nurse at bedtime. some of it is going to depend on your child's personality how it works. some kids do better with gradual change, but DD does better with firm rules in place. 

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#3 of 3 Old 05-22-2012, 07:10 AM
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I did what I call child-respected weaning with my first.  It was not child-led, since I cut him down every step of the way.  It was a long process though, since I cut down slowly because I was in no rush.  I needed to make it managable for me!  So though I didn't have him completely weaned until right before 5, I did start cutting him down well before that.  One thing that works on older toddler - so I'd think it would work on a 3 year old - is to be on the go more.  I found that ODS took "later" answers in public much better than at home.  By 3, he wasn't asking to nurse in public at all, so it may be even easier for you with that!  (Though at 3, YDS does still sometime NIP).  I would then make sure to be home at specific times and those would be nursing times.  That got him down to established nursing times instead of it being a 24 hour buffet.  I also combined this with 10 second countdowns when I was ready to end a session.  I taught him that at 18 months.  When YDS was taking too long to fall asleep nursing, I told him he could have 10 more seconds and countdown - and he learned it instantly!  He was right around 3.  It took a lot more teaching with ODS, but he was a lot younger. You can use the 10 seconds to make sessions shorter and shorter.  With ODS, he needed what he coined "emergency breastfeeds."  These were sessions that were only 10 seconds long that he needed for emotional reasons.  I'd countdown as he did it.  (And some 3 year olds will actually countdown for you while nursing!)  That way, if he asked to nurse at a non-established time, I could give him just 10 seconds.  If I didn't think he really needed it, I'd act like he told a funny joke.  If I got him laughing, then he forgot about nursing and would rather be silly. 


As far as using a birthday for an established time, it's a bit tricky if your child isn't ready.  I didn't use 5 as ODS's cutoff.  It just happened to be around that age by the time we were done.  With DD, she was the one who set a cut-off.  She decided that 6 was a big kid so she would wear white socks (since she thought big kids did that) and not breastfeed anymore.  She stopped completely a week before her birthday.  If she's turning 3 in a few days and really attached to nursing still, then I would not use 3 as the cut-off.  However, you can use it to drop one session.


*Digging their hands in my shirt doesn't work here.  I teach them nursing manners starting at one year old.  Of course, it's not perfect and my boys still had their moments.  (My daughter is a huge rule-follower so she was easy to teach nursing manners!)  If a child was pulling their hand down my shirt, I would remove it and tell them that's not the way to get to breastfeed.  They need to ask.  Since I did it younger, I taught them to sign.  They learned that I was in control of my body and they had to ask.  I figure it's a good lesson about owning our bodies and boundaries as well.

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