Advice about Weaning from the Breast

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • Weaning a 2.5yo from breastfeeding

    (13 replies)

    My daughter is nearly 2.5yo and I am still breastfeeding her at night and at nap time, and once in awhile if she gets hurt for comfort. She really loves breastfeeding. She is my last child, and I have been glad to continue until now. But the frequency at night has increased to nearly all night (she is an extremely light sleeper), and I am waking up exhausted. So, I feel that it is time to wean. I have practiced gentle parenting with all three of my children, and am not an advocate for crying it out. I am wondering if anyone has successfully weaned an older child without CIO? If so, can you please share your process/experience?

    Thanks so much!

    I went away for a three day weekend when I weaned my last child at age 2. By the time I came back, my milk had dried up and when he asked, I just said I didn’t have milk anymore, but that it was okay because we could still cuddle. It wasn’t really cry it out, since he didn’t “need” to breastfeed, he just preferred it. It was quite a while ago now, but I don’t think it was terribly hard on my husband either. Breastfeeding was absolutely associated with Mommy and he didn’t expect it at all from Daddy.  Not sure how you’ll pull that off in these times, but it worked for me. Good luck.

    This was a long time ago now, but I weaned my youngest at three years.We talked about it first, and set a day that we would have be the last day for "nursies." We decided we would throw a party to celebrate growing up to the next level. I promised that we would keep snuggling and being close. I remember that I also wore high-necked shirts for a couple of weeks so they couldn't access my breasts! It remains a beautiful memory for me, 10+ years later. I reveled in the extra sleep, too. 

    Hi! I am just doing the same. My guy is 2 and I’m pregnant so I really wanted to stop night nursing. 
    my 2 big tools have been:

    1. We spent/spend time talking about how he’s a big boy now and going to be saying “all done chi chi” & “bye bye chi chi”. We talk about it at least 2-3 times a day. I make sure he actually says the words a few times. I point to his older siblings and say they used to have it but they are big now & don’t anymore. 
    just mentally preparing him.

    the other big thing we do is Big breaths. That’s a practice we do a lot also so it’s something he’s familiar with. So when he wakes up I lay him down and say “all done chi chi, big breaths” sometimes I’ll count “1 2 3 , big breaths” and say “good job” whenever he takes big breaths. If he keeps crying I’ll just repeat myself several times. Sometimes I’ll just lay next to him, if he needs a little more I’ll cuddle him a bit. He does cry and fuss. But I prefer holding him and being next to him while he does that then leaving the room. Eventually he unwinds and falls asleep. 

    Initially it could take a while. Now it rarely takes more than 5 minutes & he’s only waking 1-2 a night max. 
    so it’s been great. We’ve been doing it for just over a week now. 
    I hope any of that is helpful & good luck!!!

    I stopped breastfeeding my son on his 3rd birthday.  At around 2.5 years, I started reading this book to him:   I spoke frequently about how his last breastfeeding would be the night before his birthday, and I'd ask him to share his feelings about this upcoming transition so we could process it before the actual event.  We'd talk about what a big boy thing it was going to be to not have "boo boo" anymore and that we'd still snuggle, just without the breastfeeding part.  The morning of his 3rd birthday, I told him I had a big surprise for him to celebrate graduating to big boy status.  We don't do sweets too much, but I got a can of organic whipped cream in a can and sprayed some into his mouth, kind of symbolizing the boob but also all the other things there are to enjoy.  He never asked for boob again!  Good luck, mama!

    I weaned my son when he turned five. I didn't expect to nurse that long, but the feeling you describe, of feeling that it was time to wean, just didn't set in until well past his fourth birthday. There wasn't a whole lot of milk at that point, but he still loved to nurse a little before going to sleep or for comfort. A couple of weeks before his birthday, I said matter-of-factly that I'd be with him as much as before when he turned five, but without nursing. He didn't seem upset or puzzled, but seemed to assume this was part of growing. I was curious, so a few weeks after his birthday, I asked him if he remembered what it was like to nurse. He said "almost not at all".  And just to forestall worried comments: He is now a happy, well-adjusted high school student with a delightful girlfriend.

    With my youngest I also nursed a long time.  When she started unbuttoning my shirt to nurse while sitting in the shopping cart at the grocery store it was clear to me that we needed to wean.  We did it gradually, starting with nighttimes and lots of praise for reducing her "momma milk" times: planning (you are getting big enough now to go until morning}, follow-through (remember, no momma milk at night) and lots of appreciation for success.  Slowly, it was only nursing at home, only in the daytime, only for comfort when something went amiss.  The bedtime suckle was the last to go. Good stories to read helped, as did a "spell" I taught her: I would draw a "magic circle" around her, three times counterclockwise to dispell and remove the negative, three times clockwise to bring safety and happiness, and "if you wake up and feel alone or scared, you can do this for yourself," along with practicing that new skill.  For the final weaning of nighttime suckle we set a date. In this case it was her 3rd birthday, a very special day when she would be big enough and confident enough -- and also I must confess I told her the milk would be gone by then, just dried up and done.  Each night in the week leading up to the birthday I would remind her of the change that was coming and how it might feel difficult at first but she was big enough now to know what to do. When the night before her birthday came, we talked about the fun that was coming the next day and how proud we were of ourselves for growing so nicely (both of us, really!). And then that night when she tried to nurse as usual, I reminded her that she was three years old, big enough now to comfort herself to sleep.

    This was so long ago I confess I can't remember if there were difficulties or slip-ups after that, but we weathered the change together.  She is now 41, a successful mom who gracefully weaned her kids (twin boys first then a daughter) when she felt it was right.  And she still remembers the magic circle and uses it with them.

    I had a heck of a time weaning my toddler! He was between 3.5 and 4 when we were finally done - he too loved it, and I did not want to "cut him off" cold turkey. My older son had a nice gradual, mutually-agreed-upon weaning at 15 months old, so I was unprepared for this BIG BOY who wanted to nurse forever. There is also a dearth of info out there about it! I follow a lovely RD on Instagram named Jennifer "Kids Eat in Color" (whom i recommend wholeheartedly for everything having to do with feeding your kids!!) who wrote a fantastic blog piece about weaning her toddler. It's here:

    It's just one approach, obviously, but I love it, and maybe it will either work for you or give you something to start with. Good luck! (In the end, after lots of talks and encouragement, my 3.5 y/o just decided he wanted to stop, and while he had a few sad nights where he wished he could go back to nursing, I knew it was time to gently reinforce his decision and he ultimately did it, which was a big boost to his self esteem!) 

    Hi there!

    I am in the process of night-weaning my little one, too! She’s 20 months and also loves breastfeeding (she would latch the whole night if it was her choice). Though she still feeds a couple times at night, when I don’t have the will power to do anything otherwise, here’s what has helped so far: 1) We make sure she eats a nice meal before bed, so that her hunger is completely satiated. 2) At the last feeding, I tell her “When you’re done drinking, the milk will be all gone.” At first she absolutely hated this but eventually it started to stick. 3) When my partner does the bedtime routine, he makes sure she has all her comfort items. 4) He turns off the light and they lay together. Sometimes she asks for milk but he reminds her that it’s all gone for the day and there will be some tomorrow. At the beginning, she would get upset but he was always there to comfort her. Eventually she would find her comfort items and cuddle with them and fall asleep. 

    I hope this helps and wish you good luck with your journey!

    I weaned my first kid at 2.5 and the other on the day before her 5th birthday! I NEVER left my kids to cry it out. If you contacted a La Leche League leader she would have lots of gentle advice for weaning. The most important thing is to be sure within yourself what you want. Kids can sense it if you're wavering. Also, night weaning is much harder if you are co-sleeping with your child.

    I remember having a problem with my 2 year old wanting to nurse during a "mommy and me" music class. I explained to her that she could nurse before the class or after the class, but now that she was a big girl, never nurse during the class. She accepted that limit because I explained it to her in advance and I was firm in myself that there was no way I would continue nursing her during class. When I weaned my almost 5 year old I talked about it with her a lot in the month leading up to it. We started a new bedtime routine, playing music or recorded children's stories as she was falling to sleep. We also intended to do some kind of weaning ritual/party, but got so distracted by her 5th birthday that it never happened.

    For my first child (the 2.5 yr old), we had a "weaning party." I asked for my kid's input on what should happen at the party. "Cake" was the answer. We invited another family to this dinner/party who had a 3 yr old who had recently weaned. I gave both children "big kid necklaces," since they were both beyond the worry of choking on the beads. 

    I breastfed both of my daughters until about 2.5 and just finished weaning my youngest a few days ago. What worked for me was gradually dropping a feed at a time, starting with whatever is easiest (I was down to morning and night so gradually dropped morning first). For the final end, I explained that soon my boobs would be empty and there would be no more milk, then we could snuggle instead. We talked about this for a few nights then dropped to just feeding one side, then none. She was surprisingly ok with it even though she loved to BF.

    Night weaning can be harder if they like to nurse through the night. Try stretching out the times between feeds to start until the whole night is off limits. Again, since they are old enough now to understand more, you could explain that if/when they wake in the night you won't be nursing until morning (or after the sun comes up, or whenever you agree on that makes sense). It can be hard and there may be tears but you can come up with an alternative together. It is helpful if they can sleep somewhere that is not next to you if possible. If a partner can help sooth at night that is very helpful. Stay strong and the new routine will sink in and both of you will get more sleep, which is SO important.

    Go with your instincts on what you think will work for both of you and trust yourself. Good luck, Mama!

    This is a sweet book that keeps mother and child connected through the weaning process. Sally Weans from Night Nursing.

    I just weaned my daughter at 29 months, at that point she was only breastfeeding when she woke up in the morning and going down for naps on the weekend. Couple things we did were offer her milk in her straw cup and me leave the room when she wakes up and her spending time with my partner. If she didn’t see me she didn’t ask for  it. We started doing this every other day, then every 2 days until she stopped asking for it. Eventually she stopped! We also reminded her she was a big girl now.  When we weaned her from night feedings just after 1y, it was same my partner gave her watered down milk bottle and I left after reading books. If she’s waking up in the middle of the night it might be sleep regression, my daughter was just waking up every night for 2-3 weeks and we’re almost back to sleeping thru the night. We didn’t do CIO but would walk her back to her room several times, rub her back, and almost always ended up sleeping on her twin floor bed with her. Good luck! 

    Thank you so much for all of these helpful responses!

    I feel like I have a better sense of how to do this. I really appreciate this community!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

How & When to Wean ...

Weaning problems

Particular Ages

Must suddenly wean due to chemotherapy

Sept 2004

I'm a SAHM, still nursing my almost-two-year-old a couple times a day--with some ambivalence--had sort of hoped to wean her by 2nd birthday, but she does take such comfort from it and it's a sweet way to be close. Now I learn I have cancer and must start chemo right away, probably in about a week.

Has anyone had experience weaning suddenly, due to medical or other circumstances? I know we'll survive this (and hopefully the cancer, too), but it grieves me to think she will feel I've rejected her or cut off the nursing for no reason. She's too little to understand complex issues, but she does comprehend more all the time. Should I tell her the milk is all gone? Distract her? Offer a substitute bottle or comfort object? (She's never liked a pacifier.) Any help or advice appreciated.

I also had a medical condition in which I had to wean my 1 year old abruptly. He was frustrated and sad on and off for less than a week. Then he just moved on. He never seemed angry or held anything against me. He is now 4 years old and has remained incredibly close to me. It may help to find something she really likes to use as a substitute comfort object - a stuffed animal or baby doll. Good luck! anom

My heart goes out to you and your family.

Dealing with your illness and treatment is going to be tough enough for your little one; it's too bad that you will have to wean at the same time. But in a way, it makes it much easier to explain to her. She can most likely understand ''Mommy is sick and the medicine she has to take makes the milk bad for you.''

The best alternative/distraction to nursing when weaning a toddler is usually not food, drink or a pacifier but attention and an activity -- going for a walk, playing a game. Of course doing those things will probably be very difficult for you when you are undergoing chemo, so you may want to try reading a special book or something else less physically active, but avoid doing it in the same place or position in which you formerly nursed her.

It's also generally useful to have Daddy or another caregiver step in at the times formerly associated with nursing. For example, if you usually nurse her to sleep at night, have her father take over the bedtime routine for a while. Best of luck anon

Still lactating a month after weaning 3-year-old

Sept 2004

I have a 3 yr old whom I nursed until a month ago. I weaned because for the past year I have been trying to get pregnant again w/o success (after a long history of proven fertility), and my doctor said she ''won't discuss this further'' with me until I've weaned, because nursing is surely the culprit. So I guess I have two questions:
1) How likely is it that nursing was preventing me from getting pregnant, given that a)I've had regular periods since my child was nine months old, b) charting my temp indicates that I am ovulating, and c) and we were only nursing once or twice a day for the past year and a half?
2) How long will it be until I stop producing milk? I try to avoid stimulating my nipples, but every week or so I test them and the milk still comes right out, a month after weaning. This seems like a long time to me. What's an average amount of time for one's milk supply to dry up? anon

This is not a direct answer to your questions, but I thought this information might be of interest to you. In preparation to start weaning my 2.5 year-old, I have read that parsley and sage can be used to decrease lactation. The books that I have been reading recommend adding parsley to your meals, and making an infusion out of dried sage leaves (you can buy them at Whole Foods) and drinking it several times a day. To make sage infusion, use 20g leaves to 50 ml water. Hope this helps. tatiana

Are you not able to discuss this with your doctor because she doesn't believe you that you've weaned your child? I can't tell if that's what you are saying, but if your doctor is calling you a liar, you need to find a new doctor! Anon.

I just wanted to say that at 3 years, it's total bunk that not weaning was keeping you from getting pregnant. The contraceptive effects of breastfeeding are only for the first 6 months, and only if your infant is nursing exclusively, and on demand rather than on a schedule - i.e., if the baby is nursing 8-10 times a day. Nursing a little bit, twice a day, has no contraceptive effect at all. I would switch doctors to get one who's a)more supportive and b)more knowledgeable. Jen

I got pregnant on the first try while still lactating. Given that you have your period and are ovulating, I wouldn't be so sure nursing is the culprit. Try talking to another doctor? tandem nurser

Can't help with the first question, but it took something like 2.5 or 3 months for me to entirely stop lactating after I weaned my son (and we had only been nursing once a day for a month or so before that). Karen

My 3-year-old weaned during, not before, my second pregnancy. But I have known moms who didn't get their cycle back until child #1 was completely weaned.

If you're sure you're ovulating, though, the fact that you're breastfeeding does not account for your not having conceived. Breastfeeding prevents pregnancy by suppressing ovulation. (Most breastfeeding moms start ovulating again somewhere between 4 and 18 months post partum, often when the baby begins consistently sleeping through the night.) I suggest you find a more sympathetic doctor.

As for still having milk after weaning, that's perfectly normal. Although my experience isn't really relevant (because I was pregnant when my older child weaned), I have friends who have continued to be able to express some milk for many months after weaning, and one friend who says she would sometimes feel a letdown sensation YEARS after her daughter weaned. But again, if you're not actually nursing a child with some frequency, the fact that your glands are still producing a little milk doesn't prevent you from getting pregnant again. anon

How to stop breastfeeding without discomfort

October 2004

I have a 6 month old baby girl. I returned to work when she was 3 months because the FMLA ran out. She decided to take the bottle exclusively (weaned herself) the 1st week I went back to work, so I have been pumping for 3 months. She has successfully been taking breast milk and formula since birth from a bottle. This was especially wonderful since, she had a nanny, father and mother feeding her.

I have been gearing up to stop the breast milk production. Each time I try, I get severe plugged ducks and have to increase my pumping frequency again. Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can slowly stop pumping without effecting my own health?

I am not interested in any advice about continuing to breastfeed or pump. thanks

When I stopped pumping I decided to do it slowly so that I would avoid any problems whatsoever. Basically what you do is start by eliminating one pump session. You do this by increasing the time between pumps. If you pumped every 3 hours, start doing it now every 3 1/2 to 4 hours. You also have to stop emptying your breasts at every pump session - pump maybe 5 minutes less than you would normally have done it. Do this for 2 or 3 days, and then eliminate another pump session, do 2 or 3 days more and try to eliminate another. After you are down to 1 per day, try to go 1 every 36 hours, and so on. I was able to quit once I was down to 1 every 3 days or so. If your breasts feel uncomfortable at any time, pump enough to relieve the discomfort but don't empty them. Good luck!

Is painless day-weaning possible?

August 2004

I am going back to work soon and want to breasfeed my 6-month-old baby only during the night. I am trying now, but it is very painful. Is there a painless way of doing this? Working mommy

At about 5 1/2 months I weaned my son to a first thing in the morning nursing and 2 evening nursings, so I could stop pumping at work. It takes time. Stop 1 nursing at a time every 3-10days or so. You have to see how your body handles it. I felt slightly engorged at first, but it quickly went away. Jodi

The key to weaning without engorgement is to do it gradually. Eliminate one feeding at a time, and stick with the new schedule for at least 3-5 days (1-2 weeks is better) before eliminating the next. If you're having painful letdowns when your baby wants to nurse, get someone else feed the formula; when Mommy offers a bottle, not only is it confusing for the baby, but it's confusing for Mommy's body!

If it is at ALL possible for you to pump at work, or even to pump some extra milk in the morning or at night, I strongly encourage you to give it a try. It may not be as awful as you expect (which is what happened to me -- I hated pumping, but was very, very glad I did it, if you see what I mean) and obviously it will be a huge benefit to your family in many ways if you can avoid weaning to formula. But even if it really isn't practical in the longer term, or if you can't yield as much as your baby needs, or if you just try it and decide you really do hate it too much to continue, doing some pumping in the first week or three will help you wean more gradually, avoiding -- and relieving, as needed -- engorgement. Also, if you're including more emotional considerations (for you or for the baby) when you say your attempts at day weaning have been ''painful'', then using pumped breastmilk is likely to! help with those.

Oh, yes -- if and when you do get painfully engorged, put cabbage leaves in your bra. No, really! Working mommy too

Try dropping a daytime feeding every few days (or one a week) until your child is only nursing at night. I found it easier to snuggle with my child like she was nursing while feeding her from a cup (she was nearly a year when I was weaning her, so I didn't bother getting her onto the bottle just to break her of it a few months later). Sadly, your child probably won't even notice the change. anon

Weaning a 27-month-old

April 2004

We have tried to distract, band-aids, bad tasting stuff and our son won't wean, we try to skip nursing during the day and he just screams for it all night and then I get no sleep-Ps I'm also pregnant Half waythere and I am just so tired, very tired- what have others done that works with a persistant nurser- I may try going away for a few days is that mean? in reguarg to the cold turkey thing -does it really work? HELP .. I thought he would just do it on his own... I can't take much more I am in just to much pain, and yes I have tried to explain it to him he just won't have it he tantrums for an hour or more. any and all help... please don't be rude. We have tried unsucessfully many times and he just was not ready -but now I and he has to benow... sore and tired

Dear mom of the impossible-to-wean child. I was in your shoes 6 months ago, having always been at home with my girl, and not having succeeded in getting her to drink much from a bottle ever. I chose the going away for a weekend option, to a wedding, at the last minute and it worked without any backsliding for us. My daughter was 15 months old at the time. I had been (pressured into) nursing her three or four times a day up until they day we quit, so we didn't have the ideal gradual cutdown which makes it less painful for the mother's breasts. However, I would do it again in an instant if I got caught in the same rut again. (Hope to get my second kid on a bottle earlier though). I think it helped make her weekend away less traumatic since we left her with her grandma and grandpa who she always saw. I have noticed persistent nursers tend to take nottles or cups from anyone other than mom easier. Grandma got her drinking cow's milk from a bottle on the first day, had her cousins come over to play with her every day and when we came back two nights and three days later, she was a new kid --with a new important word she could say too: ''milk''. As for the mom, I was in pain for two days at the wedding we attended but still had such a great time with it being the only time in the two years since I've been a mother that my husband and I got away more than two hours from our childcare duties. It does wonders for your personality (and marriage) to have adult couple time for yourselves and might be well-appreciated now that you are about to have your second child, and thus, even less couple time in the future. I don't know what family help or familiar friends you've got in the area in your case. I wouldn't leave a child with people he doesn't know well for a whole weekend. We were lucky. As far as cruelty goes, I don't think it was cruel at the toddler age, since they can get their nutrition from other sources perfectly fine and are, as far as coordination goes, totally capable of holding their own bottle or cup, and quickly learn to enjoy carrying them all over the house-- next phase!. Plus, the pregnancy thing was an issue for us too--I couldn't conceive until the month after I weaned, so I am so glad I did. In the end it's up to what you can tolerate. I wish you success in your eventual choice and some rest soon. Another Late-Weaner

Hi there- first of all, congrats on nursing so long- thats awesome! Secondly, congrats on your pregnancy too! Okay well what I can tell you is that yes of course its normal to be sore and tired and all that- your pregnant! But I understand too that you probably want some 'no nursing' time before you start all over again with a new baby? I really think that even if you can stand it, you CAN nurse two at once. I mean not literally, but you can have two babies nursing in a period. It sounds horrible, but I've known moms who were so grateful after that 2nd baby to be able to lay in bed with both and that way you don't have to turn down the older child because the younger one is nursing. Its totally up to you though and I know its trying on you right now. Good luck and congrats all around! Doula shaana

I'm currently trying to wean my 21 month old daughter. It's now day 7 and it is getting better. I cut her off cold turkey. It was very difficult at first, it's still hard because she continues to ask to be nursed. But it is getting easier. She never nursed on a schedule, nursed whenever she wanted and also, had to nurse to sleep. I decided that I had to remain firm, and persistent on this. At this age, she understood what NO means and continues to have her screaming tantrums, but it does get easier after the first week. I think for every major change in a baby/ toddler's life, you have to give it about 2 weeks. Distractions don't always work for me either, but continue to let your baby know that you're not going to give in to this. I decided to wean because I too am pregnant and sore from all the nursing. Be strong, and good luck to you. anon

Weaning a one-year-old

Aug 2004

Hello fellow Bay Area Mommies, I am in need of some advice and the reason that I seek it here in this forum is that I truly want many different peoples advice and suggestions. So here goes... I have a baby daughter that turned 1 in July. I have breastfed her for the entire year very successfully and enjoyed it very much. I am a stay at home Mom which has made it much easier for me also. She has never taken a bottle nor formula and she has and does drink out of a sippy cup ; whole milk now. She eats well; about 3 meals a day and is not a picky eater. She does not NEED to breastfeed anymore and I say that in reference to the fact that she is very healthy, and eats well and all. Luckily also, she does not have to be nursed to sleep or first thing in the morning. Although, there are times that it is a real ''quick fix '' and all. I planned to try to breastfeed as long as I could, not thinking that I would be so successful to go a whole year! I think that as soon as she is walking; any day now but most likly in a month or two that I want to stop although I will miss it ( the quiet bonding time ). I ask you all your opinions if you have been in a similar situation and if you have and weaned; How did you go about it??? Please only reply if YOU actually have advice that you personally used and felt was good and all. Thanks for your time. I appricate it. Melinda

Like you, I quite by accident, ended up nursing my baby for her entire first year. Nursing was easier (and cheaper) for our lifestyle. I decided to begin weaning her at a year, because I didn't feel that nursing was giving her any added benefit nutritionally at that point (though others have well thought out opinions on this that would disagree) and quite frankly, I was ready to have my body back. I weaned her straight to a sippy cup (She only got a bottle a couple times a month anyway, so she didn't really notice). During the weaning, I dropped one feeding per week or week and half. One day, she just got some milk in the sippy cup with breakfast and that was it.

I thought thast she would be very distraught at the end of nursing. I am not sure that she really noticed. I missed it at first, but am glad to sort of have my body back (I got pregnant a month after I stopped nursing, when my daughter was 14 months). I will probably do it again for baby two.

Hope this helps. anon

I'm weaning my one year old now--its gone great and although I'm very attached to it, I would like to see the day when we are on to the next phase. I've been eliminating one feeding at a time about every week or every other week and replacing with the bottle or sippy cup. He seems just fine with it. We still have our morning nursing, and I think we will both hang onto that for a little while. Rebecca

I recently weaned completely after breastfeeding for almost 15 months. I too had meant to stop by 1 year, but it took longer than I expected. My baby also did not take a bottle and would only take breastmilk from the breast. In hindsite, I wish I had stopped closer to 1 year and not taken so long b/c it got more and more difficult to say no as my child got older and it got harder to cut back as my child would go into a crying fit... etc. I cut back little by litte until I was down to only the morning feeding for about 2 months. One weekend when our child was sick and couldn't suck breastmilk anyways, I simply went cold turkey and stopped... it was easier then I could ever imagine and in hindsite I was still breastfeeding for so long because I needed it... more than my child needed it. Children get all the nutrition they need from other sources of food... Also, after I stopped breastfeeding my baby took to drinking milk out of sippy cups right away, where she hadn't before because she could always rely on me providing the breast. Goodluck and I'm sure you'll do the right thing (there is no wrong way in terms of stopping breastfeeding) and it'll be much easier for you and your child now then when he/she is older. sandra

Hi - I just finished weaning my 13 mo old. I did it over a month, gradually dropping day time nursing and last of all gave up the first thing in the morning nursing. I did the same thing with my older son when he was one.

For me age one was a good time to wean. Both of my sons were very attached to nursing and I thought they would have a very hard time giving it up. However, they were used to and fond of the bottle (breastmilk, then later cows milk), so pretty easily accepted a bottle instead of nursing most of the time. I weaned my older son off the bottle at about age 14 mo. and plan to do the same with my baby. If your baby goes straight to a cup without the bottle, that's great.

Even though I weaned gradually, I was still pretty engorged the days after the final nursing. And although it has been 10 days since he nursed, my baby still clearly wants to nurse at times. It helps if I change the circumstance - for example, instead of bringing him into our bed first thing in the morning (where he used to nurse to back to sleep) I've been getting up and holding him in the rocking chair instead. I also found it best to wear tops that exposed minimum skin during weaning. Just eliminate the ''nursing'' cues as much as possible, and give extra cuddles.

Good luck, and congrats on a year of nursing! - time to buy new bras!

Weaning 13-mo-old off early morning feed

Nov 2004

i am considering weaning my 13-month-old off her sole remaining breastfeeding. she adapted very easily to weaning off the other feedings, but i am apprehensive about this last one and would like some suggestions. it takes place at around 5 a.m., at which point we get her from her crib, i nurse her in our bed, and we all fall back asleep for another 1.5-2 hours. well, caveat: my husband and baby do. i often have trouble, and am thus often shorted on sleep. i suppose this is a big motivator, and i don't feel selfish about it at all. (my DD did not sleep through the night till 10.5 months, so obviously we are enjoying a lot more sleep than before, but still....). i also feel strongly--and this is not a rationalization--that my daughter is only going to find it harder to wean as she gets older. just a gut feeling.

my question is, if you had such a situation--going back to bed after the early morning feeding--how did you wean without: (1) inviting hours of early morning crying; (2) resigning yourselves to awakening the household at 5 a.m.; (3) resigning yourself to shorting your kid 2 hours' sleep? frankly, i don't see my kid taking a glass of milk at that time (though she likes drinking from a cup during the day and her dad puts her to bed (reading) with one. another complication is that she seems to be in the process of moving from two naps to one, so things are a bit messy napwise. Kim

I weaned both my sons at around 12-13 months, and found it pretty easy. Morning and evening feedings were the ones I was most worried about giving up -- but both boys were perfectly happy when I substituted a sippy cup of warm milk with a couple drops of vanilla extract added. In fact, that's still what they like when they're tired or chilly. Happy mom

Weaning at 17 months - want to get pregnant

Feb 1999

My 17 month old baby is still nursing strong. I enjoy nursing him very much and he obviously likes it also. The dilemma is I'd like to get pregnant and I think the fact that I'm still nursing is not making that as easy as it might be, if he wasn't nursing. He nurses quite frequently if I'm home and just doing housework or playing with him, but can go long periods of time, all day even without nursing if I'm out and about. I don't know where to begin cutting back because he screams and tugs at my shirt when he wants it, which is anytime I sit down! He doesn't take a pacifier and offering juice or some other snack only deters him for a few minutes and he's back to wanting to nurse. My question is, has any one else experienced this type of behavior, wanting to nurse, not just at nap time, and not having something to give him in place of nursing? I'm curious how others have done it without just cutting him back I'd like to know what you do when they want it more often, because it's not me offering it, he's asking for it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Regarding Anonymous and weaning at 17 months, it sounds to me like Anonymous's baby is doing a little power trip on her. He can go all day without nursing, so it's not a matter of physical sustenance; rather, he's found a way to make Mom imitate a snack bar, and he likes that (who wouldn't?). Mom needs to assert her rights as person, perhaps by dictating regular times and places when/where she will nurse and when/where she will not. This is an important lesson for Anonymous Jr.: if he doesn't learn it, twenty years from now we may find him planted on the couch bellowing Bring me a beer! John

Best way to wean an 18-month-old

Please give me any advice you have on weaning. We have a 18 month old who nurses early morning, at night when she comes home from childcare and again before she goes to bed, and sometimes during the night too if she wakes up. I would like to wean her to her sippy cup and I'm wondering what advice anyone has. Does it work better to go back to a bottle for a while? Does it work better to go cold turkey? Have you cut out one feeding a week? Someone suggested counting down each day until you got to zero. Any ideas/suggestions welcome.

Re: weaning. I weaned both my kids at age 2, and upon the advice of my family practice doctor (a strong advocate of extended breast-feeding), I did it cold turkey. That is, I went from on-demand to none. I would never have thought of doing it that way--both my kids were avid nursers, and I thought it would be traumatic to just cut them off. Her logic was that for a baby, a gradual weaning makes sense, but for a toddler, it's confusing when you sometimes say yes and sometimes say no. Anyway I tried it with my son, and it worked so well that I did it the same way with my daughter, and it worked very well for her too. Basically I just said, we're not going to nurse anymore, we're going to snuggle instead. With both kids, there were a few requests, but almost like they were just checking--no crying/torment/rejection. It helps to sleep in a t-shirt (or something), so the objects of desire are less visible/accessible! Deborah

For Lisa and ending pumping at work...

My daughter, Kela, is 11 months old. I started working full time when she was 4 months old, and was pumping 3 times per day. After 2 or 3 months, I cut back to 2 pumpings per day. And, until Monday of this week, I was pumping once per day. Now, I do not pump at work, but try to feed Kela as soon as I pick her up from day care (around 5:30 to 6pm). If she will not nurse, I pump at home.

I still feel full in the late afternoon, but I remember how it felt late morning when I went to once per day! It seems to take about a week or two for my body to adjust. Kela still nurses in the morning and in the evening. I also have a 6 year old son, and we went through a very similar trajectory until he told me he wanted to stop nursing at about 14 or 15 months (no more mommy). He too only nursed morning and night from around 11 months or so.

Gradually tapering off pumping at work is the first step. You may not want to end monring and evening nursing. I have friends who continued that until their children were 2, 3 and even 4. I would have continued with my son, but he lost interest. Kela still seems to enjoy and want the daily nursing times.

Hope this helps. Karen

I weaned cold turkey when my son was 25 months old. By that time, I was so efficient at making milk that my breasts never held any in reserve so there was no discomfort when I quit. I was surprised that my son gave it up almost without protest--he had shown no interest in stopping. I stopped pumping after a year or 1.5 years. For the same reason as above, no discomfort. Fran

Weaning from the breast: All of the advice that was given to me was to cut back a feeding each week (ie after day-care would seem to be the easiset to start with) and to offer your child a drink from another source (definately a sippy cup if you don't want to have to wean from the bottle later!) and A LOT of extra cuddling and bonding time (or introduce a new quiet activity that you would like to share with your child). I recommend reading the Nursing Mothers Companion or contacting the local La Leche League for more guidance. If you do decide to go cold turkey, be prepared to feel engorged and tempted to slip in the weaning process when your toddler is desperate to nurse and you are desperate to find relief.


Try reading The Nursing Mother's Guide to Weaning, by ?, and Mothering Your Nursing Toddler, by Norma Bumgarner. Both should be in Cody's and contain concrete advise on how to wean. A lot depends on you and your child. Unless you have a specific reason for weaning quickly (ex. you're pregnant and your nipples scream out in pain every time your child latches on) then it's best to go slowly. Actually, the weaning process begins with the introduction of solid foods and ends the last time you nurse your child, which is often years later. My 2 year old and I have gone from exclusive on-demand nursing to playing with solids to eating lots of solids to on-negotiation nursing. It's all part of that process.

The only advantage a bottle gives you is that you're guaranteed your daughter won't spill what she's drinking all over the furniture. If she already drinks from a sippy cup, keep it up. BTW, you don't need to wean *to* anything in particular; that is, you don't need to substitute toddler formula or milk for your breastmilk or replace a nursing session with a bottle of something. As long as your daughter eats a healthy diet otherwise, she should be fine from a nutitional point of view.

You will need to replace the comfort and how you do that really depends on the two of you. One thing I've found as my son just reached what some people call the terrible-two mark is that I'm now reaping an incredible benefit from nursing this long. I've been finding that whenever my son loses it, usually due to the frustration of not getting his way or being unable to do something, nursing is like hitting a reset button.

Another thing to consider is your daughter's readiness for weaning. I have a friend who started weaning her daughter when she was two, had a terrible time of it and gave up. Some 9 months later her daughter was ready and she was able to wean her easily with very little hassle. Some 18 month olds are rather amenable and others really need the comfort that nursing provides. Start by providing a distraction after childcare instead of nursing and see if that works.


Baby wants to wean; mom doesn't

Re: Does a baby ever decide to wean before her mother wants her to?

A friend of mine said she was in the process of *gradually* weaning her son ... by cutting down the number of nursing sessions. There was a signal (for at home nursing) which was her t-shirt. If baby pulled it up and she didn't want to nurse, she pulled it back down. Otherwise she let him nurse.

They'd gotten down to one session a day, the early morning one, after which he'd sleep another couple of hours. She was interested in hanging onto that nursing session for awhile longer (for the purpose of more sleep!), but one morning, he came out of his bed into her bed to cuddle, as usual, but .... he just didn't pull her tee-shirt up. And never did again. He was done.

Just one story. FYI.

-- Mary Carol

As for weaning, I am sure you have already partially weaned your child given her age. But total weaning is a choice made either by the mother or the child or both. There is no right time that applies to everyone. I know the La Leche leagers recommend nursing for as long as mother and child are happy with it and doing well. I liked this advice. I believe a child shows simple disinterest when he/she is ready to wean. But I can't speak on that one from personal experience; both of mine nursed as long as I wanted them to.

As arrogant as it may sound, I do not take advice from my mother on nursing. Having been raised at a time when doctors recommended that all babies be bottle fed, she only nursed one of her five children and is ill-informed and/or full of wives tales. Take advice from your grandmother or better yet, a current experienced mother who is committed to nursing. La Leche offers free, anonymous advice over the phone from moms who have nursing experience and training. They are in the phone book. Good luck.


My now 8-year-old son weaned himself at 13 months old. And now, to his horror if he knew, I will give the details. When he was about 1 yr old I began feeling that I MIGHT be ready to give up nursing - while I enjoyed nursing, I wanted my body back. So I no longer offered but didn't refuse. He was nursing about 2-3 times a day. One day about a month later, every time my son wanted to nurse he would tug on my shirt (his usual indication). And every time I offered my breast, he would look at it and throw himself to the floor crying. I'm not kidding. This went on all day to the point that I was in tears by the end of the day. He never asked or nursed again after that day. Fortunately my milk supply cooperated, and I didn't get engorged. While I wasn't completely ready, it was one less thing to angst over how to do without damaging him forever. He seems okay so far ;).


About weaning: There are so many questions here. Does your child take a bottle? If so, have you tried pumping? This can allow nursing on-demand while the mother is away. I would strongly recommend getting in touch with La Leche League for any questions about nursing. There are regular meetings, and in between meetings (or if you can't make them) you can always call the leaders. I am including most of an e-mail by one of the local leaders, Tricia Jalbert, where she gives some contact info and talks about local meetings, and about toddler nursing: [one group of La Leche League meets 3rd Thursdays, at 7 pm at the Zion Lutheran Church on Park Blvd. This is] the only evening one available. We also have one in Albany now, but it's during the day. (2nd Thursday) Alameda meets once in the evening every 3-4 months. You can find out information about them from Patty at: 522-0979 We do have specific toddler/preschooler meetings, but they are also during the day. (4th Thursdays). Most of the toddler moms we get are also stay at home moms, but of course not all. Still, it's the time that works best for most of them. And also for most of the Leaders! Since we're volunteers, we have the meetings when and where we can- ie so that we can do them without making huge problems for ourselves. The playgroup meets Fridays during the day, and is co-ordinated by one of our members, Pam. Her number is: 527-1119. (...) There might be an evening meeting up in El Sobrante or something, and I will give you the Leader's number there. El Sobrante: Linda = 223-1971 Also, I will give you the Diablo referral number, so you can check on evening meetings elsewhere. Diablo referral (Orinda, Walnut Creek, etc): 682-8803 I do know San Francisco has some stuff, but that's a long trip. You might as well come to Oakland. (. . .) I was at the Claremont branch of Berkeley library today, and they have a copy of LLL's toddler book, Mothering Your Nursing Toddler. Have you read it? It might provide some support, though not as good as a person. And you're always welcome to call a Leader for support. My number is: 530-2645, and again I'm Tricia. My only other suggestion is that I saw in Neighborhood Moms that someone's trying to start a Mothering Moms support group, after the magazine Mothering. Neighborhood Moms can be reached at 527-6667, and they will send you a free copy if you ask. You could also probably put in a little ad asking to meet with other toddler nursers in the evenings. There are numerous places online to get support about toddler nursing. Go to the LLL web site for information about chats and such. I think there are LLL toddler chats.....Check the usual parent sites, and search engines, for more support online about toddler nursing. --Tricia Jalbert, LLL Leader Hope you can make contact with someone who can help! Dawn



Weaning at 9 months for medical reasons

I need advice about how to wean my 9 month-old son. He is having three solid meals a day now but also nursing at 5:30 am, 9:30 (to go to sleep), 12:00 noon, 3:00 (to sleep), 5:00 p.m., 8 and 9:00 pm (to sleep) and 2:30 a.m. I would like to take three months, so that he is completely weaned by one year but not much before then, because I want to go directly to cow's milk and skip formula. (Why? Formula smells, it is a hassle, and perhaps I am also supersititious about never formula-feeding.) I read the _Nursing Mother's Guide . . ._ which made me feel horribly guilty but had only about a paragraph of REAL advice on How To. I am following the advice, which is basically, feed solids before nursing, find other ways to comfort instead of nursing, and gradually reduce number of times nursing each day. We have eliminated the noon feeding and the 2:30 a.m. feeding so far. He is also getting better at going tosleep without being nursed down. I am wondering which nursings I should eliminate in which order. How long should I wait in beteen steps? Also, I am wondering if he will get enough liquid, especially since he is not at all proficient with a cup yet. Should I give him H2O in a bottle, or even formula, to replace my milk? Should I worry about bottle dependency, or not? Does anyone have ideas for making this whole process easier for him? Finally, does anyone have ideas about making this whole process easier for ME? I love the closeness nursing gives us and I fear we will never have this intimacy again. Please, no advice saying I should keep nursing. I have to wean for medical reasons. I am just lucky I have the opportunity to do it gradually.

Making a concerted effort to teach him to drink from a cup might help. What kinds of training cups have you tried? Both of my children learned to drink from a cup by 6-7 months using The First Years training cup. Its white with a weighted bottom, handles and blue spout on the top. After trying all kinds of cups, its the best for training. My 9 month old can hold it by the handles and drink from it. When he drops it, the cup doesnt tip over. I dont like the idea of formula either (look at the ingredients - corn syrup?) I am also breastfeeding my 9 month old son. I plan to give him cows milk now that hes down to 3 feedings a day (but Ill probably talk to the pediatrician first). I have been offering him water (and occassionally juice) at his meals.

I would try to stay away from bottle feeding as much as possible. >From what I read in the What to Exepct the First Year, its best to wean babies from the bottle before one year - else they can become increasingly dependent upon it - making it more difficult to wean them- also its bad for their teeth as formula pools in their mouth.

I also wonder how much your child eats at mealtimes. Does he eat a lot of finger foods? My son eats a couple of jars of baby food each meal, plus he enjoys eating all kinds of finger foods. (My daughter on the other hand never ate that much baby food!) I have found now that my son has discovered finger foods and I feed more food - hes more satisfied, now hes not so interested in the breast milk

It sounds as if your son is learning to go to sleep on his own. Thats great! My daughter (who is now 4 and was weaned at 13 months) got into the habit of falling asleep at the breast which made getting her to go to sleep at night a lot more challenging. My husband and I devised all kinds of elaborate rituals for getting her to go to bed. This just aggrevated the situation.

Its also important to listen to your child. He might be showing signs of weaning over the next few months...making the process a lot easier for you. With my daughter, I had decided to wean by a year. I was able to cut back gradually by cutting out those feeding that she and I were less interested in .... the afternoon nap and the morning feeding were the last to go...and this was tough because it was our special time together. But we have other rituals that we have adopted to stay close...reading bedtime stories together for example.

Weaning was more difficult for me than for my daughter. Finding ways to stay close to my children, even when I am not breastfeeding has helped. Now that I am weaning my son, I feel my body going through major hormonal changes - which of course does not help - its such an emotional time. Try not to be hard on yourself. The fact that you were able to breastfeed for a year is great! You might try eliminating one feeding every two weeks or so. I dont know how determined you are to wean by one year.. I understand you have a medical condition. But a little flexibility might help. With my daughter I had intended for her to be weaned by 12 months...but it didnt happen for another month. Those last two feedings were tough for me emotionally to wean from. It just might make it easier for you emotionally if you dont have the pressure of having to be done by a particular date. Good Luck!

I was nursing my son 6 times a day until he turned one and I started weaning. Before that though, I got him accostumed to drinking water out of a bottle (bottle dependency with water wasn't an issue for me b/c it does not contribute to tooth decay). I remind him about water at each meal and throughout the day.......though he still only drinks a coupl of ounces perday. He would not drink plain milk initially, so I mix in a teaspoon of sugar per 1/2ish cup of milk and offer him warm milk instead of the breast. After he drank that we would either play or go for a something interactive. He didn't fuss much about wanting to be nursed as long as I kept him stimulated, so now we are down to 2 per day.........right before bedtime and right upon waking up. I heard those are the hardest to wean and I don't mind continuing those 2 nursings so I haven't weaned further. Good luck! (P.S. just a warning to expect a bit of hormonal upheaval during the weaning process..........)

Skip the bottle--go straight to cup. Bottles are hard to give up. I substituted rocking and singing for nursing. That helped for the closeness and cuddling. Mental intimacy develops. However, the before bed nurse was our last to go, so you've already done the hard one!

How to wean 2-year-old who's super into nursing

Dec 2004

y 2 yo daughter is still super into nursing including in the middle of the night. I feel clueless about how to wean her especially at night. She asks for nana and gets upset when I say no or try to distract her. I wouldn't mind nursing her a couple of times a day but she shows no sign of easing off which I had the impression she would by now! I work 4 days a week and as soon as I get home she wants to nurse which is ok but then she wants to again a few hours later, then at bedtime,then in the middle of the night often again in the early morning then when she gets up and perhaps a few minutes before I leave for work...whew I'm exhausted! My husband says I should just leave for a few days but I'd rather ease off gently if I can just figure out how! Anyone else been through this? Thanks! weary mama

That sounds exhausting. My toddler has gradually become ok with cutting down the quantity, so that now we're only nursing before bedtime (which can be tiring too, but at least it's not all night, and she doesn't seem to need it when I'm not there.) If I were you I'd try talking to her, and telling her that you're not going to nurse in the nighttime anymore, and of course she'll cry, and to start with you can go back in and comfort her but not pick her up or nurse her, and eventually she'll figure out that she'll survive the night w/o you, and you still love her. After you've got that figured out, you can gradually cut back on the other ones--I was sooo happy to lose the mornign routine because it meant I could get out of the house so much quicker. I was a little luckier with mine, since she was subject to distraction and other interesting things in the morning, like helping dad make coffee or reading books. And the midday one we lost (even though occasionally she still asks, and even more occasionally I'll give in, such as in response to a crisis of some sort when she's tired) by simply saying, no we're not nursing now. My daughter shows absolutely no interest in quitting, and I don't think she'd stop on her own even if I went away for a week: just recently her tongue or something was sore and it hurt, so she went for a whole week with no nursing, and I thought I was finished, but when she felt better she asked to nurse again & I didn't have the heart to say no. I think I'll follow a friend's routine, which will be to tell her that when she's three, we're not going to nurse anymore. Then stop. anon

Hi there. I weaned both of my daughters, now 6 and 3 years, when they were around 2 1/2 years. I guess I felt ready to wean them and of course, did it gradually. I remember with the bedtime nursings, I began to make them shorter each time. By talking to them first, ''you are a big girl now and Mommy's milk will go bye-bye soon''. I gave them more cuddles and lots of affection, but less nursing time! Also, around the house, I would not sit in a chair that was associated with nursing. In other words, I kept moving or tried to distract them with fun alternatives if they wanted to nurse. Keeping busy with outings when nursing may be skipped or forgotten, was also good. I remember thinking it would be really hard to wean, but was surprised that it went smoothly. I think they sense when Mamma is ready to stop, as well. Keep the closeness and allow for little ''nips'' of nursing and I bet in time your daughter will be weaned. good luck, Alexis

I nursed my child until 3-1/2 & also stopped the night nursing at two. Actually, I stopped it on her birthday which made sense to her because things change on birthdays. What we did was substitute something else -- in her case, lying on my arm until she fell back asleep. I felt ok about nursing at wake-up, when I came home from work, and at bedtime, but I was ready to be finished with night nursing. I just kept explaining that two- year olds didn't nurse during the night and let her lie on my arm when she asked. The good thing about changing nursing with a two year old is that they can understand what's going on, and express how they feel about it (loudly!). On the other hand, after less than a week, she accepted the change and it was fine. If you feel ok about the other feedings it makes sense to continue them -- they stay healthier & it's a nice way to connect after work. What I (and most people I know) did who nursed after two, was to restrict the times and places, and also not to tell people about it, because everyone has an opinion and it's not worth arguing or explaining to them. anon

I've done toddler nursing with my two daughters. Both of them liked to nurse during the night and at age two I decided to stop night nursing. We discussed our plan to wait until it was light out before nursing again at bed time. With the first one, we had three nights of waking and crying when refused the breast. Then it was over. With the second daughter, it has taken longer. She doesn't cry anymore, but she sometimes asks even though it is full dark. I am very glad to have weaned them from night nursing. I sleep a lot better and have more energy during the day. I wouldn't just go away and expect the weaning to happen. I've had nights away from my girls (up to five with one two year old) and still nursed upon reunification. It seems that they expect the usual rutine to continue as soon as mom is back. Hope this helps. Sienna

We recently night-weaned our 20-month-old. For us, it went hand- in-hand with getting her out of our bed and into our own.

Our method was, she could (and still does) get nummies at bedtime, and after that Mom is off-duty. If she has an issue in the middle of the night, it's All Dad, All The Time. Since Dad (ahem) lacks nummies, there are just no nummies on offer.

We did have about 2 weeks of rough nights...and then, believe it or not, she saw an episode of Sesame Street that was all about going to bed, and after that she was much more cool about it. She also figured out that she had better eat her dinner or she'd be hungry all night!

She still comes in sometimes at 3 am, but her dad walks her back to her bed and tucks her in, and that's that. If she gets up again we close her door, and there may be some fussing but usually she settles down within a couple of minutes.

It's been about 6 weeks and, oh my God, it's just bliss to sleep through the night. I loved cosleeping, but it was time for that part of our lives to be complete. Sara

I nursed my child until 3-1/2 & also stopped the night nursing at two. Actually, I stopped it on her birthday which made sense to her because things change on birthdays. What we did was substitute something else -- in her case, lying on my arm until she fell back asleep. I felt ok about nursing at wake-up, when I came home from work, and at bedtime, but I was ready to be finished with night nursing. I just kept explaining that two- year olds didn't nurse during the night and let her lie on my arm when she asked. The good thing about changing nursing with a two year old is that they can understand what's going on, and express how they feel about it (loudly!). On the other hand, after less than a week, she accepted the change and it was fine. If you feel ok about the other feedings it makes sense to continue them -- they stay healthier & it's a nice way to connect after work. What I (and most people I know) did who nursed after two, was to restrict the times and places, and also not to tell people about it, because everyone has an opinion and it's not worth arguing or explaining to them. anon

I weaned my daughter this year when she was just over three. I just cut out times that we normally nursed over the course of a day and kept trimming it doen every few days. We talked a lot about it first. You could try cutting out the middle of the night nursing first because that is just so exhausting and your little one will probably be better rested, too. Give her a few days warning and give her a good reason (she'll sleep better, there'll be better milk in the morning...something positive). It will be hard for a couple of days. If you have the help of a partner, a non-nursing person, that person could bring your daughter a bottle of water when she wakes up. My daughter and I eventually had it down to one nursing per day and clung to that for several weeks before we decided it was time to say bye bye to the boob. She had a few days warning and maybe I bought her a little cake and had a mommy/ daughter bye bye nursing moment. Whenever she asked after that I just reminded her that we'd said bye bye to nursing. She eventually stopped asking, for the most part, but I think it was hard for her sometimes to watch her little brother nurse.

Good luck. It's a lot of hard work but you can definitely do it in a way that is not too painful for anyone in the family. MG

Weaning a 2-year-old who doesn't want to

March 2003

My two year-old daughter is still nursing once per day, at night to go to sleep. She sometimes wakes in the middle of the night and insists on nursing then, too. She loves it and still asks to nurse at other times, but unless she's sick or particularly stressed, I try not to add any nursing sessions.

My problem is that my physical and mental health aren't so great right now, and I really need to wean her even though she's not ready. I've looked at the website, and nobody's talked about how to wean a two year-old who doesn't want to.

Any suggestions or stories will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

I had to abruptly wean my 2 1/2 year old about 10 months ago. I had been prescribed some necessary medication I wasn't sure was safe for her via breast milk, plus I really was ready to stop nursing anyway. I showed her the pills and told her it would make my milk bad for her and she accepted it pretty readily after we talked it out several times. At that time she was enthusiastically nursing 2-3 times a day. What helped is that my breasts weren't completely off-limits afterward; to this day at times of stress or extreme sleepiness she'll still plunge her hand down my shirt or nestle her face in the cleavage area. You'll probably find it easy to deal with your milk supply drying up since you're only nursing once a day. Good luck! Former long-term nurser

I was in the a similar situation a few weeks ago--with a 2-year-old who was nursing only at night, sometimes only for a few sips. Both of us were ready to wean, though it was hard for both of us to try to give up something that had been such a sweet part of our lives together.

Then we went on vacation, and the change in venue was enough to change our routine. Over the week that we were away, my son reduced the amount he nursed each night and then refused it for several nights in a row. When we got home, he asked for milk before bed, but put up no protest when I said I didn't have any more.

Can your daughter get to sleep without milk if someone else is getting her to bed? What if you asked your husband or partner to take over bedtime for a week or so? You might have to go out during that time the first few nights (it might be harder for you both if you are there).

Remember that when you wean, you will go through physical changes that can cause emotional upset. I still find myself to be more weepy and moody since we both weaned. There is a good section at the end of The Nursing Mother's Guide to Weaning about this stage. anon.

I nursed my twin boys until they were 2 years and three months. I had thought I would wean earlier than that but it was not an easy task so I gave in until then. Finally I decided enough was enough. They were very into it and liked to nurse when I got home from work, before bed, and during the night. I was drained. I explained to them that we weren't nursing any more, there was no more milk, and prepared myself for the trauma to follow. There were definately some tears, which I hated, but we got through it. All along, I had also been singing to them while they nursed to sleep so that at least one aspect of bedtime could remain the same. Surprisingly, it went better than I had expected. Sometimes they just liked to put their hand under my shirt as a comfort measure. Soon after we threw them a ''Big Boy party'' and some of my immediate family came. We got each of them a balloon and had cake and they liked telling everyone that they were big boys and that there was no more milk, no more nursing. Every child is different, but I thought my boys were addicted to nursing and yet it wasn't too awful to wean them. Hopefully this helps some and good luck. La Leche League might have some suggestions for you as well. Courtney

One thing that we think helped our daughter, who LOVED breastfeeding, to stop nursing just before her second birthday was to disconnect the nursing from the bedtime routine. I would breastfeed her about 1/2 hour before bedtime, and then my partner would do the bedtime routine (pajamas, story, songs). After a while, she stopped asking to nurse at night, and then she stopped asking at other times. I tried to spend extra cuddle time with her during this period to make up for any lost breast-feeding closeness. Contrary to my expectations (and fears), the weaning ended up being quite painless. Good luck. robin

I just recently weaned my son of nursing in the morning. He absolutely loved to nurse, and weaning him didn't come easy. I finally set a goal of having him completely weaned by his 2nd birthday, which meant that I had to be firm, wear snug tank tops (the kind that have an extra support material inside), and being consistent. He still wants to nurse, but he's also fallen back to sleep in the morning without nursing, so I know that he's understanding more. good luck am

I don't know that I have any ideas on how to wean specific to 2 year olds, but I wanted to offer my support in your decision for your ''physical and emotional health.'' Especially because I find so many people and/or books seem to suggest baby's comfort (which nursing for a two year old is) at the expense of mom's sanity. (I like the old airplane philosphy: in the event you need oxygen, put on your own mask first, then your child's).

Although I weaned my daughter later (see below), I did wean her from night nursing when she was 5 months old. She had been waking every 2 hours and we had not been able to successfully co- sleep (she tossed and turned and kept me and my husband up). In addition, because of my breats shape and size, I would have to sit up in bed with 1-2 pillows behind me, and the boppy underneath her to nurse. Needless to say, doing this every two hours bgan to really wear and tear on my because of the lack of sleep. It was an excrutiating decision to stop the middle of the night nursings and I did not feel I got a whole lot of support, yet I knew that I was going crazy without sleep, so I did it.

I finally did wean my daughter when she was three because I needed to take medicine that was not compatible with nursing. At that point I was nursing only at night like yourself. I told my daughter that we would have to stop nursing because my doctor said it was time to stop- the truth- her response was great. She said, My doctor didn't say we had to stop nursing!''

Best of luck. I hope you can find ways that work. Above all, don't feel guilty. She has had two years of nursing which is a tremendous gift! anon

My daughter and I were in the same place JUST LAST WEEK. She didn't want to wean, and I needed to wean her for my own reasons. After much reading and consulting with many other formerly-nursing moms, I reduced the number of feedings as you did and tried to take more feedings away. She resisted. I'd been telling her for the past few weeks that we were going to stop. Sometime she'd say ''No'', but I kept telling her ''we won't be able to have booby anymore''. I finally started distracting her with milk in sippy cups. I started filling her belly with plain, strawberry and chocolate milk. If she asked to nurse, I'd ask her if she was hungry and offer apples, cheese and milk as substitutes. The first two nights were easy. The third was ROUGH. She woke up in the middle of the night and was pretty much inconsolable for about an hour and a half on a work night (I am a full-time working single mother). The next day, she was fine. She rarely asks to nurse anymore. I stopped nursing her on Tuesday, March 25th. Our worst night was Thursday, March 27th, and today is Monday March 31st. My body has just about completely absorbed the milk in my breasts, and my daughter is happy and well adjusted.

The hardest part was telling her on Thursday night, ''I'm sorry baby, but it's all gone''. After an hour and a half, I was crying! But we are fine now. If you need to do it, don't prolong it. Just do it. She's resilient and will get over it. Remember: A happy mommy is a mommy better equipped to handle her life and her little one.

Please call me or email me if you want to talk or ask questions. Christina

My daughter loved nursing as well. After her second birthday, I was REALLY ready to give it up, eventhough she was not. I talked to her a lot about becoming a big girl and made sure to give her lots of physical contact as WE slowly phased out the nursing. I tried to help her feel good about not needing to nurse and made sure that she felt she was part of the process. I must say it was very difficult, she is now almost four and still talks about nursing and needs to touch my breasts as she falls to sleep. Good Luck! Joanne

I found out, by accident, that my toddler does not like the taste of acidopholis. When I realized this, I would put acidopholis on my nipples when my daughter asked to nurse. I know this sounds weird but it worked. I would also try to have a bottle handy (which I am now trying to wean her from but that is a different battle) so I could have an option that was more pleasing for her than the taste on me. The only one I haven't been able to get her to wean from is the 4am. We have now reduced this down to, literally about 5 sucks per side and an easy fall back to sleep. Lately she has not been asking for that every night. I didn't force that but would gently suggest that the milk was all gone and be really supportive and excited for her that she drank all of mama's milk. I know that someday this will be over and that keeps me calm and more supportive of her slow process! Good Luck. Chelsea

I finally had to wean my son at age 3 1/2, and wished I had done it earlier. He was only nursing once a day, in the mornings. You have given you daughter a wonderful gift in nursing her for two years. I had my former husband take our son away for four days, to make a clean break. We told him that when he got back, there would be no more nursing. During the time that he was gone, I was sad and alo relieved. Be prepared to be very thirsty and take time to care of yourself. The homeopathic remedy Pulsatilla is great for engorgement. I took it 3 times a day until the engorgement was gone.

When my son did return, he wanted to nurse, and I reminded him that we weren't doing it anymore. He reluctantly accepted it over time. You have to be ready to do it, and to set and keep the limits that you set up. Good luck! Carol

Since night time is the remaining nursing session for you, I have a suggestion. When we weaned my 2 year old, my husband started to put my son to bed instead of me. This was very attractive for my son because he LOVES reading books in bed with his father. For a week or so, he would come out to find me and insist on being nursed to sleep and I would comply. But after a while, the bedtime routine began to solidify and now he often falls asleep right in the middle of a book. Shortly thereafter, my milk supply finally stopped and now nursing is not as attractive to my son, although once in a while he will try it out for a few minutes. anon

I weaned my daughter just after her second birthday. I read several books that were moderately useful in helping me develop a plan: ''Mothering your Nursing Toddler'' and ''How Weaning Happens''. The first thing I did was cut down to just one nursing a day, which it sounds like you have already done. However, I separated the step of helping my daughter learn to go to sleep without nursing (which is a big step in itself) from the actual weaning, such that our last feeding for the last month or so was a morning nurse.

My daughter was quite verbal at 2, so I decided to be very explicit with her about the fact that nursing was going to end. I talked to her about it for several days ahead of time, using simple language to explain that we weren't going to be able to nurse anymore because mommy was tired but that we would still have lots of cuddles. We also discussed that nursing was for smaller babies, and she was a big girl who could eat and drink other foods. Finally, I presented it as an exciting change but also verbalize that it was somewhat sad. When the day came, we had our final nurse and then went on a special excursion to the Tilden merry-go-round and then to pick out a special toy bear which was her ''end of nursing, celebrate that I'm a big girl'' bear. She asked to nurse again once or twice after this, but it was easy to remind her of the change and distract her.

The only other thing I can say is that I felt some guilt about weaning her, as my vision had been to let her nurse until she wanted to stop. But I was burnt out and also really wanted to get pregnant again and personally felt I needed to stop nursing to achieve that goal. It helped me deal with the guilt to have a pro-active plan and to know that we were going through the process while I still had the energy and patience to approach it thoughtfully rather than simply reaching the end of my rope and not coping very well. Good luck to you! Dana

Weaning a 2-year-old quickly

May 2003

I desperately need advice about how to stop nursing an almost two year old who is really attached to it. She is a twin (her sister self-weaned at ten months; they are very different babies). She has digestive problems that are finally beginning to resolve (this is part of why I nursed her this long). But now problems with my own health necessitate the end of breast feeding within a few weeks. I have no choice about this. At present she nurses when she wakes up, when I pick her up from daycare four days a week, and when she goes to sleep. On the days she is at home with me she nurses at naptime instead of at the later pickup-from-daycare time. She only stopped nursing during the night in February, and still wakes up at five or five thirty many mornings demanding the breast. She has started to talk and asks for nursing when she wants it. During the day I manage to divert her occasional requests by offering something to do, or juice, or a big hug. She gets plenty of physical affection all day. Pleas Maria

Hi -- I weaned my son at 16 months by leaving him with his grandmother for three days (we were still nursing three to five times a day). He adores her and never once complained that he wasn't nursing and never asked for it again when I returned. I was AMAZED at how easy it was and contribute our success to his age (so this might be more difficult for your 2 year old) and the very loving trusting relationship that both he and I have with my mom.

If you and your daughter have a VERY close and TRUSTING relationship with someone you could leave her with for a period of time (I think this method of weaning only works when the mother feels as if the child's caretaker will take care of the child with an equal amount of love and compassion as she would), I would recommend this method of weaning, but would suggest that you do a few additional things: 1) I would explain to your daughter what is going to happen. I would even explain whatever is going on with you that necessitates the weaning. Kids really seem to understand and empathize with adult issues. 2) I would plan some really exciting and fun activities for her while you are away. 3) I would make sure that the caretaker have a good support system and that he or she be prepared for exuding endless patience and understanding and for not getting a lot of sleep. 4) I would go away for a slightly longer period of time and 5) I would have the caretaker stay with both you and your daughter for a few days after your return. When I weaned my son, we stayed on with my mom for a few days and it really helped. I needed the support and she helped both me and him to adopt the new habits that replaced nursing. 6) I would fully expect your daughter to want to continue nursing after you return, but you will know that she is capable of surviving and hopefully thriving without you... and the habit will have been broken so it will hopefully be easier for you to say no.

Anyway, this is all conjecture, but I hope some of these ideas will help you. Whatever method of weaning you choose, you must embrace it fully and be totally committed. I wish you all the best! Good Luck!

I had to wean my 3-year-old quickly so I could go on a medicine. He nursed before and after his nap and before and after going to sleep at night. I told him we'd have to stop so I could take medicine (he was a little older than your daughter, but I still don't think he understood). Then I put lemon juice on my nipples when he wasn't looking. I let him keep nursing, but he couldn't take the ''spicy boobies'' for more than about a minute. I felt terrible about it, but after a few days, he stopped nursing altogether. He started lying down on top of me in the bed for comfort for five minutes before he went to sleep at night. For a while, he would talk about ''When you used to let me nurse...'' but now, almost 2 years later, he doesn't even remember nursing. Good luck! Hannah

My sister-in-law recently weaned her daughter very abruptly on her second birthday. Like you, her daughter was still nursing quite often, and showing no signs of losing interest, so they weren't sure it would work, but here is what she told me: They planned a special birthday party for her, with a theme ( a particular story or t.v. character she liked, I think). For a couple of weeks before, they made a big deal, talked a lot about about ''on Saturday, when Maya turns two, there's no more drink (their word for breastfeeding), but Maya can suck her thumb! (which she really hadn't done much before). And there will be the ______PARTY!!! Soon she was repeating it herself (no more drink...suck thumb...PARTY!...big girl!''. Then, when she woke up on her birthday, they declared her a big girl, and had a fun party. My sister-in-law was sure to give her lots of cuddling (with thumb-sucking encouraged if needed) - in fact, she said Maya became a better cuddler (was previously mostly a ''snacker''), and really didn't have too much trouble accepting it. I think my s-i-l cried more about it than Maya did! (I think she was kind of hoping it wouldn't work as well as it did). So, if the second birthday is coming soon enough, that might work for you. If that timing isn't right, perhaps you could tie it to some other event, and still have a big PARTY! R.K.

I didn't have to wean my son for medical reasons, but just a few months ago I couldn't imagine he'd EVER wean. I weaned my son in January when he was 29 months old. I was ready, nursing was painful because my supply was so low, etc. Since you have such a definite reason to wean that should help. She may or may not understand your reason, but try to explain it in ways that she understands - repeating it every time she asks and offering substitues at the same time. I used my son's illness -a bad cold- as a breaking point. He was spitting up all over the floor after nursing because of phlegm. I explained that he couldn't nurse because of that and a few days later I started saying that we ''ran out'' and I didn't have num-num anymore. It was hard, but not as hard as I thought it was going to be. I spent a few nights lying with him until he went to sleep at bedtime. It was only last week that he stopped asking for it daily. Of course, today he touched my chest and said, ''That's num-num'' and told me I was a cow! Because I sure that I needed to do it, it was easier than I thought. I did get pretty depressed a few weeks later partly from the hormones I think, but it passed. Remember that you have been weaning your daughter for a long time already -- it really isn't sudden. Sharon