Weaning a 4-year-old

Archived Q&A and Reviews

May 2004

I would love to get any ideas about how to wean a just 4-year old. I am trying the activity substitution, but she still insists after her books at night, and in the middle of the night, I can't think of anything I'd rather do, so I fall asleep with her at the wheel. Really look forward to hearing your own experiences/advice. Thanks Embarassed

I still nurse my 4 year old but decided a few months ago that I was done nursing at night so what I realised is that once ''I'' was clear and honored myself and that boundary it became easier to enforce.

I remember saying something like, ''No darling no nursing till the morning'' with warmth, sureness and absolute clarity. I remember there were some occasions where he flipped out but I just told him Id hold him but no nursing at night. It didnt take long for him to hear my boundary and since then Im sleeping through the night after 3.5 years of nursing thru the night!

I should add that I would forgo this ''only'' when he was very ill (which has only been once so far) with a raging fever at night. Nursing really soothed his restlessness and bought the fever down quicker.

be firm loving and clear and prepared to let her have her feelings about it without guilt. avid nurser

Please don't be embarrassed--the longer I nurse my son, the more 'closet nursers' I find who are nursing a child close to my son's age. We're still out here! My son turned 4 in August and I'm aiming at 4.5 to wean; he's holding out for 5 (of course!). I have ''Nursing Mother's Guide to Weaning,'' which has some good ideas.

I have successfully cut out night nursing by wearing shirts w/no buttons down the front & by tucking them in (if you're amenable to nightdresses, that could be a solution, too). That was a BIG step, and I found my sleep was deeper after that, too. Recently, we've cut out ''morning wake-up nu'' with some grumbling; I just hold him and we talk about the day ahead. ''Going-to-sleep nu'' will be a challenge. But I'm with you! I do think talking about it over and over really helps it to sink in (for both of us!). Good luck.

I finally finished weaning my daughter when she was about 3. What I did for the last remaining nursing times, was a positive reinforcement method. Basically I told her that she was going to stop nursing and that every time she didn't nurse at a normal nursing time, I would put a sticker on the calender. When she got some number of stickers, she would get a prize. That worked well, until we got down to her most beloved time, first thing in the morning. For that, I needed to do something a little more immediate, so since she already loved chocolate at that age, I gave her the option of nursing or getting 5 chocolate chips. She actually chose the chocolate chips often enough that she just wasn't nursing anymore and then shortly thereafter didn't even need the chocolate chips anymore. anon
First, I noticed that you signed off as ''Embarrassed''. You have nothing to be embarrassed about! In many cultures and parts of the world, moms nurse their babies until they are 4 or 5 years old. (I nursed until I was 4 and hope to nurse my baby for as long). The U.S. unfortunately doesn't do enough to encourage moms to breastfeed for even the first 6 months of a baby's life, so I applaud you for having nursed your daughter until now!

Secondly, it's totally understandable that you want to wean now. I have heard from some friends in your situation that after they tried everything, they basically just said to their babies, ''Mom's nummies (or whatever you call them) are just really tired now. You can hold on to them while you fall asleep but Mommy can't nurse anymore.'' For some reason, just being straightforward like this has worked. Good luck!

I weaned my son just before he turned four, explaining to him that it might help us to have another baby. He was very cooperative. Unfortunately, two weeks later, he had his first asthma attack and is still on steroids to treat this chronic condition. It sure seems to me that there might be some cause and effect. Breastmilk rocks. Please don't be embarrassed to nurse your girl! mother of two