It's beyond time to wean my 2.5 yr old. But she's so used to it. How can I accomplish it?

Alexandria - posted on 07/31/2011 ( 9 moms have responded )

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I'm a stay at home mom to my 2.5 yr old and I’m a military wife. My husband was deployed for a year, got back in Feb of this year, so I was all my daughter had while he was away. She is still very clingy with me and I know her nursing at this point is no longer benefiting her very much. I will say she's very healthy, has hardly ever been sick and her doctors always say she is ahead of the game and attribute it to her nursing, but still, I feel enough is enough. For my sanity and for her independence, I feel it's just time to stop nursing her. I have tries so many times to deny her access to it but she gets so pitiful that I start second guessing myself and thinking that if she wants it that badly, maybe she still needs it. I mean, most mothers dry up way before their children are 2.5 yrs old, perhaps there is a reason I haven’t, maybe she still needs it? She eats a very healthy, balanced diet, so the only benefit she's still getting is the antibodies I guess, which is great but obviously not needed since very few children nurse this long and still thrive. I am so use to nursing her that I'll be watching TV, or reading a book or even having a conversation and she will get in my lap and start nursing without me even fully noticing it.. Then several minutes later I'll gasp as I realize that I'm letting her nurse! How ridiculous is that?! The hardest part about weaning her now will be that she wants to nurse to fall asleep unless we are on a car ride or she simply gets extremely tire on a rare occasion and falls asleep without nursing and when she does fall asleep like that it’s never happened in her bed. At the end of the day, I’m so tired that I easily give in to nursing her to sleep because she falls asleep within 15 minutes when I nurse her at bed time. Not that society at large should determine how and raise my child, but it's embarrassing to me when she asks to nurse when we are out and about and starts pawing at my shirt. She's speaking so clearly now, I'm sure some people understand what she's asking for. I definitely don’t stop what I'm doing out in public and let her nurse, but if I'm at a friend or family member’s home, I often will go ahead and let her nurse rather than let her have a melt down. Some other moms I've talked to about this have made comments like, 'don’t worry, she wont still be nursing when you send her off to college.' But my goodness, when does it end? Do I have to just stand my ground and let her fall to pieces until she accepts that she's too old to nurse? Is that okay to put her through? I guess it has to be okay or she'll be 5 still wanting to nurse. I wish my milk would dry up so I had no choice but to stop nursing. At her last well check up, her doctor confided in me that her own son nursed until past 3 yrs old and finally gave it up on his own. That was reassuring but one size doesn't fit all and as attached to me as my daughter is, I wonder if I'll ever be so lucky as to have her opt to stop nursing on her own. My daughter never liked pacifiers and a bottle or sippy cup is a totally different think than nursing to her. I have tried many times to wean her since she was about 11 months old and she puts up such a fight, I haven’t accomplished it yet. Help!

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Tine - posted on 08/03/2011

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My daughter is 2 and 9 months, and still feeds to sleep and to wake up, even though I am pregnant and seem to not have any more milk! Nursing is such an important comfort thing, and it really sounds as though your daughter does need the comfort, with such a (unavoidably) huge disruption to her life.

It also sounds like you need a bit of a break though, so my suggestion is to wean her in bits, slowly and in a way that respects her and doesn't add to her stress levels.

I did it with my daughter in stages. I started with day weaning, simply by comitting a few weeks to intensively making sure she was very occupied and well fed during the day. I'd take her to the beach, parks, shopping, etc, (it's tiring but it works) so she was stimulated and happy, and gradually the time between feeding got longer and longer. It took a few months, and there was a step back when she had serious teething pain (I always let her feed if she really needed to), but after a few months suddenly she just wasn't feeding during the day anymore. She is a very sensitive child, and this way respected both of us.

I'd suggest finding other things to do than watching tv or other passive things though (we don't have a tv anymore, and like it much better now!) because sitting down like that does end up being an irresistable invitation to feed. Play with blocks, drawing, inside ball play, climb in and out of cardboard boxes etc instead!

Night weaning was much harder! I used bottles of rice milk (I know, not idealfor her teeth, but it was only needed for a few months, now she hardly wakes at night at all) to give her instead of the breast, and cuddles, but always gave her the breast if she was really insistent. The key is to NOT make it a struggle, because if you do then they become more fixated on it, not less!! It has taken about 6 months althogether, but we are now at the point of having a sleep and wake up suck only, which is truly amazing, because she was feeding every half an hour at age nearly 2!

Whatever you do, do it gradually and gently, giving your daughter LOTS of support and love. DON'T listen to anyone who tells you to go 'cold turkey' or put nasty things on your nipples etc - what sad ways to end up such a beautiful thing as your breastfeeding relationship with your precious daughter. Also, don't be worried by 'backwards steps' if she needs to revert to more feeding, she will move towards weaning as she is ready.

The other thing I can strongly reccomend is homeopathics. If you get the right remedy it REALLY WORKS! You will need to find a good practitioner in your area, who can find the right remedy to help your daughter with her very natural attachment anxiety. The change in my daughter with the right remedy has been very fast and quite incredible, and my partner, who was skeptical, has been extremely impressed.

Best wishes, and I think you sound like a fantastic, strong mother :-) Most of all, be gentle on yourself and her, and know that this stage will pass, and all your daughter really needs to move towards being secure and happy is your love and understanding of her needs. It sounds like you have a great basis for that, good on you! :-) :-) And too, lots of kids aren't ready to wean until they are about 3-4. The world average age of weaning is 4 and a quarter years old!

:-) :-) Tine

Kathy - posted on 08/04/2011

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I weaned my son when he turned two, my supply was low and it hurt. Plus, I was done. We spent 4-6 weeks talking about how Mommy's milk was going bye bye when he turned two because he would be a big boy, and get a bike. He chose a yellow bike. When he would ask to nurse, I'd remind him that I had no more milk and that he had his yellow bike now.

Nearly six months later, he still occasionally asks about mommy milk, and has tried nursing twice, but given up after about five seconds (and there is still some milk in there. I had a newborn try to attack me a few weeks ago). Sometimes I wish we were still nursing (especially on the tantrum days), but in all it was a non-traumatic experience. Perhaps you could do something similar with your daughter? Maybe when the leaves change color/birds fly away Mommy's milk will also be gone? Is there something she'd really like that would be an acceptable replacement? (I'm trying to think what we can swap my son's pacifiers for when he turns three).

Petrina - posted on 08/02/2011

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I'd say to let her know that you have no more milk. Your body reacts to your brain. If you tell yourself you have no more milk, very soon, your boobies will stop production.
I weaned my 3yo boy this way. He sleeps with me. So weaning was difficult *Everyone says that*. But it only took us 3days to fully accept that it's finally over.

Give her fresh milk, warmed to breastmilk temp so she can gulp it down without burning her tongue. Chilled milk isn't appetising. Too hot burns joy of drinking. Perfect temp will be 50deg.

Give it to her in a cup and straw. Creates similar sucking motion.
When in bed, sleep with her. wear bra and non-nursing clothes. let her feel your boobies for a while and remind her that you have no more milk. It might be tough for a while but she will get the idea soon enough.

As you mentioned, she's able to grasp language. So she will understand if you explain slowly. Don't worry, 11months failure to wean is because she ain't ready. But 2.5yo is a good age as they understand us better. Otherwise you can opt to wait till approx 3yo. She will wean definitely. Drag the frequency, so your production drops. When she suckle, try to distract your brain so you do not have the massive milkflow. *I can't explain very well in words, I hope you know what I mean*

Lori - posted on 08/01/2011

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Sounds like you've got a lot going on here, and maybe a few different concerns all built into one.

Society at large should not determine how you raise your child, but you do have to live in it, and it does certainly affect us. Perhaps she's old enough to understand some limits. Like "we only nurse at our own home".

Weaning for your sanity is a good reason IMO. Weaning for her independence is not. Children grow to be healthy independent people by getting their needs met early on, not by being force to do things on their own before they're ready. I'm not saying she's not old enough to be weaned or anything, just saying don't do it cause you think she'll be negatively impacted by continuing - she won't. You're friends are right she won't be nursing still when you send her off to college. If you let her self wean it may very well be till she's 3 or 4 or even 5. And as you've stated here, that just may be too much for you.

Maybe you could start cutting down on her access to nursing. Try to delay or distract her for a bit when she does ask. I'd save weaning from nursing to sleep for the last to go. Maybe if you cut out the daytime feeds you won't mind nursing her to sleep so much, or maybe by the time you get daytime nursing cut out, she won't protest as badly about cutting out nursing to sleep.

I wish you all the best in your weaning efforts. You've done a great job so far, and either way you go just remember it's OK. It's OK to wean her, and it's OK not to. You have to do what's best for you and what feels right for you and your little one.

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Rachel - posted on 08/04/2011

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My son is likely autistic and I am having the same problem. can't get him off of it.

[deleted account]

Many mums use the "don't offer, don't refuse" option. Sometimes this helps, but sometimes you need to be a bit more pro-active. I know one mum whose toddler was so attached she resorted to putting band-aids on her nipples, and saying, "oooh, mummy's sore!" This might help you.

[deleted account]

Yep. That's it.

I'm not trying to suggest that you do that cuz if I had any choice.... there's no way I'd be away from him that long.

Just wanted to offer support that 2.5 isn't too old. ;) Of course, if you WANT to wean... that's fine. Just don't think you HAVE to wean cuz she's some magical age.

Distraction is a pretty helpful technique. Good luck!

Alexandria - posted on 08/01/2011

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So, in otherwords Teresa, your milk dried up because you didn't nurse those 4 weeks that your son was with his father? In my case, I'd be hard pressed to get anyone to agree to watch Kimberly even for one night because she is use to nursing to fall asleep. My husband and I did leave her with the grandparents for two nights to take a very needed vacation when my husband got back from his year deployment but I know that wasn't easy on my husband's parents and only the grandparents who dont get to see her very often would even offer to keep her over night until she gets over the nursing at bed time thing.

[deleted account]

I can't help you w/ weaning (cuz I have no clue how to wean a non schedule fed kid WHILE you are still around them) and if that is really what you want to do.... there is nothing wrong w/ it. I just wanted to share part of my story w/ you. Maybe you can find some encouragement in it.... or maybe it's just useless rambling. lol

My son (turned 3 at the end of March) was a MAJOR 'booby addict'. By 2 we had mostly quit the public nursing... except for church and family/friend homes. Last December (so 2.75 years) he was w/ his dad for a week, so obviously couldn't nurse. He came back home and picked it right back up again. At that point I was only allowing him to nurse at home. On July 1 (so.... 3.25 years) he went to be w/ his dad for 4 weeks. That was our stopping point that I talked to him about before he left. He's been home since Thursday and is still asking. Thankfully he isn't throwing a fit or even crying, but the sadness in his voice when he asks if there's any more 'baboo' left is close to breaking my heart.

If not for his recent 4 week trip... we WOULD still be nursing. Does he 'need' it to survive? Obviously not, but it is still very much an emotional need for him. It's just one he can't have anymore.

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