How to fully wean your baby or toddler off breast milk & breastfeeding
Photo by ?? Janko Ferlič - @specialdaddy on Unsplash

How to fully wean your baby or toddler off breast milk & breastfeeding

I’ve come a long way from looking for ways to increase my milk production! My next consideration became the least traumatic way possible to completely wean my baby off breast milk and breastfeeding.

The weaning process started for us when my little girl turned 5 months. I started with tablespoon quantities of apple puree and the occasional mashed banana. Both went down well the first couple of days and then it was all just a big game of hit and miss! As many other mums could predict, it was lots of highs and lows since the early months were influenced by anything from a patch of illness to a bad mood to having visitors over! I never quite knew if she would eat properly or not. We only had one food that she always ate large quantities of no matter what – HiPP Organic’s Gute Nacht cereal – but even that was a struggle sometimes.

Maybe I should do a quick post one day on the various store-bought foods she seemed to enjoy.

Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash

As she came up to the one year mark, I began reaching out to fellow mums for advice on how to fully wean her off the boob. I reckon a lot of the advice will be helpful to anyone reading this who’s about to fully wean. Here’s some of the information/advice I received.

I breastfed for 15 months. The last 6 months were just a feed before bedtime. I was more devastated than my son when I stopped and cried for 3 days. Think hormones must have kicked in.

Wendy

Considering breastfeeding a bit longer? See the benefits of extended breastfeeding by clicking here

My best advice is to do it gradually and cut one feeding at a time.

Alexandra @ Coffeemaker
fully wean off breastfeedng
Alexandra @ Coffeeandcoos.com

I’m in the process of weaning my 12 month. I would say, give your baby grace and patience.
It’s all they’ve known, and for many if not most, their source of comfort and soothing. 
Don’t lash out at them if they can’t fall asleep or if they are grumpy, irritable or upset for a while. It will take an adjustment period for them as they are having to readjust their schedule, way they relax and bond with you.

Arianne @ www.thecollegestudentsguidetomotherhood.com

Then one day I just decided I was done. Before his nap I rocked him in his chair and sang a song. He went along with it at first, but then started to get upset — crying and pulling at my shirt. I stayed the course, and then the most incredible thing happened. He calmed down. I sang his song once more, then put him in bed and walked out of the room.
Day two didn’t go quite as easily. He was more upset, and protested the only way toddlers know how — by screaming and slapping me. I held him close, determined to transition him from a routine of breastmilk to a routine of lullabies and back-rubbing.
After three days, he stopped asking to nurse, but continued protesting. That fussing and protesting has persisted. He doesn’t go down nearly as easily as he used to, but the important thing is that we’re done.

Amanda @ thekriegers.org. Read full version here
fully wean toddler off breastfeeding
Amanda @ thekriegers.org

This is the end of a really special time between you and your baby. Know that it’s okay to want to be done but also feel sad about being done at the same time. Your baby might fuss and want to nurse, but in a few days they won’t even think about it anymore. Giving up nursing is way harder on moms than babies!! 

Melinda @ Unfrazzled Mama
Melinda @ Unfrazzled Mama

Pick a date and then taper accordingly. By the time both my girls hit 1, they were pretty much down to just first thing AM/last thing before bed anyway (extended vacations around their first birthday helped). I had medical reasons for needing to wean them both just after their first birthday, so we just went to the bedtime feed, and made sure they had a good supper just before that. It was very natural at that point to just have a last few bedtime feeds, transitioning to more snuggle/lullaby time than nursing time, and both were fine with having just that one last feed for a few min on the date I had picked.

Flossie @ Super Mom Hacks
Flossie @ Super Mom Hacks

It’s never a one-size fits all method of weaning. You’ll have to figure out what works best for you and your family as family set ups and routines can all come into play here. Like I tried to do, just keep in mind that whichever process you choose – cold turkey or gradual – your baby will be fine!

baby breastfeeding
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How I fully weaned my co-sleeping toddler off breastfeeding

Before I begin, I’ll let you know that it’s only been about two weeks since my little girl last nursed. She still looks longingly at my chest like she’s remembering a really good meal and I can almost see her salivating.

Having said that though, she doesn’t nurse anymore…and that’s that. My process was a bit of mish-mash of some of my mum friends’ experiences above. I didn’t want to go cold turkey but I didn’t want to drag out the process too long either. So I set a two week deadline.

Week One

I cut out all nursing to sleep so both night time and afternoon naps. I went with putting plasters/band aids on my nipples and it surprisingly worked very well considering that she doesn’t know what a plaster is used for yet. She just seemed to understand that it meant my breasts were a no-go zone. My husband took over bedtime each night rather than us taking in turns like we usually do and that probably also helped her a lot to disassociate my boobs from sleep. I refused her the two-three times she’d wake up at night to nurse herself right back to sleep. It sometimes took me sititing up in bed with her while she calmed down but it never took too long for her to sleep again. If she asked to nurse at any other times of the day apart from sleep times, I’d let her.

Week Two

I cut out all except morning feeds for the first three days. When she woke up, she hardly ever wanted a feed anyway, but at some point in the morning, she’d come for a little milk snack. The rest of the day, I wouldn’t let her have any and kept explaining to her that the milk was “all gone now”, “finished”! By Day 4, I was explaining this to her pretty much all day long as we were now completely done (in my mind).

From the very first week, all refusals – especially the night time/middle of the night ones – were met by back-arching, guttural screams, moans, cries of “Noooooo!” and even some hitting (she hitting me and not the other way around, in case you were wondering :-D)

Now

She still gets upset when she comes for breastmilk and I start to explain why she can’t have it. Her protests don’t last as long as they used to though. She comforts herself by sticking her hand in my bra and caressing her old friend and that’s just fine by me as long as I don’t have to physically wrestle with her to stop her from trying to stick my nipple in her mouth!

I suppose the next step is to figure out how to get her hand out of my bra…

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To summarise, my 5 biggest tips would be:

  1. Be patient with yourself and baby. Expect anger and sadness from both yourself and baby. Know that there may be days when you wish you could reverse the process and go right back to breastfeeding.
  2. Don’t expect them to be “over” it within a couple of days
  3. Prepare yourself physically for the pain of possible engorgement by having painkillers and ice packs to hand. Prepare also for sheer exhaustion that will affect you physically if your little is ready to physically fight you for your boob.
  4. Prepare yourself emotionally and mentally for the possible sadness you may feel once weaning is complete.
  5. Have a good support system in placeto keep you uplifted and remind you why you wanted to wean for those times when you’re ready to give up

How did/has full weaning off breast milk and nursing gone for you? Did/do you wish you’d done anything differently?

Kin Unplugged

I aim to provide millennial women with a space where they can find helpful information to make their everyday lives easier while they start and grow their families.

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Natalie

    All of these moms gave such great advice. I will be weaning soon and must admit I’m nervous. He can’t fall asleep without his milkies!

    1. Kin Unplugged

      good luck to you! i’m sure you’ll do just fine! he’ll be fine too!

  2. Sara

    This really can be such a challenging time in life! Thank you for sharing your tips, it is definitely a time people need them!

    1. Kin Unplugged

      Thanks for stopping by, Sara!

  3. Erin

    It is so hard to wean a baby, but all of mine naturally start to taper off. I find that they really enjoy food and that helps keep them full!

    1. Kin Unplugged

      Sounds like you may not have struggled too much! Did they all just wean themselves then?

  4. Amanda Krieger

    I’m re-reading my own advice as I prepare to wean my 4th child. It’s such a process!
    Thank you for the feature. xo

    1. Kin Unplugged

      No, thank you! xo

  5. Anonymous

    You are right on with these tips and it’s so true that there is not a one size fits all method to weaning. We tried so many things and eventually I said enough was enough and my poor toddler got cut off cold turkey.

    1. Kin Unplugged

      Aww I bet your toddler struggled a lot less than you did though right?

  6. Trish

    My oldest self weaned around 13 months, he used the last nursing session at right before bed for comfort. I sure miss it!!

    1. Kin Unplugged

      Self weaning sounds like a dream come true!!

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