Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Weaning bleg...

Dear friends, I need some advice. Miss Cupcake is turning two NEXT WEEK and she is still nursing down to sleep. I know, I know... let them nurse until they're drowsy but put them to bed still awake! Yeah... that didn't happen. Anyway, she still uses nursing to get herself to sleep for a nap and at bedtime. We finally got her off all night nursing about a month ago and now this is the last step.

I have never had a child be this attached to nursing. She has already nursed twice as long as any of my other kids. When they were around 13 months old and could take milk in a cup, they pretty much said "So long, see ya later!" to the milkies. Child-led weaning is just what they did naturally. So, I kind of don't know how to do this and I would love some advice, but please.... PLEEEEEEEEEASE... don't try to tell me that I need to keep doing it for as long as she wants and that you know a child who nursed until they were 4 and they were exceptionally gifted and perfectly normal. Sorry. I just can't do that.

I have a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding and I have already nursed her TWICE as long as any of my other children. And it hasn't been delightful little moments of nursing bliss, she has been a very demanding nurser at times, especially when those teeth first started coming in at 4 months!!! So, while I fully support another mom's decision to do extended breast feeding, it's not working for me and I do believe that breastfeeding is a give and take on both mom and baby's part. It's a relationship that has to work for both. So, if you have ever had to nudge a child to give up those last few nursings a day, or if you've ever had to help  train a 2 year old how to fall asleep without nursing, or if you know of someone who has and you'd like to share their tips and tricks, with me, I would appreciate it. Thanks!


  1. I've just come out of the other end of the same boat you are in. It can be done! Only mine was turning three and I was very motivated! This is what worked for me:

    As far as day nursing goes, distract, distract, distract! What does she like to do - read a book? Play a game? I could always distract with a favorite book. Even go out and make a big deal of it choosing a book with her from the bookstore.

    For the bedtime and naptime nurses, I would hold him tight against my body and rock him in the rocker recliner. There was a big battle at the beginning but then I discovered singing to him calmed him down - but he would pick very specific songs. Sometimes, skipping the nap altogether and then putting to bed very tired and laying down next to them does the trick. It is a matter of choosing a new bedtime routine. First few days are hairy - accept that it might be difficult, but stick it out and it will resolve. I see this as a transitioning approach from nursing to eventually falling asleep independently.

    Finally, this will sound silly but it is effective, putting bandaids on your 'ahem' if you know what I mean - saying that you have a boo boo there actually resonates well with them.

    I've learnt from my two boys that they essentially sleep train themselves between 2yrs and 3yrs. It is only a matter of time, but that little routine to help them relax beforehand at this young age is the key and for my oldest, all I ever had to do was lay down with him and wait until he fell asleep. Normally it would take about ten minutes. If you can find that replacement that she would like (remembering that there will always be resistance at the beginning) it will be a smoother transition rather than going cold turkey.

    I'm sorry for the book here. I hope that it helps somewhat. I know that it seems almost impossible right now but it isn't. I've only had the two but that transition period for me was always a matter of patience and time and it has worked.

  2. Despite being given the nurse till drowsy advice hundreds of times, and never taking it, all 9 of mine are weaned mostly I used the same methods Lucy gives, I would also say use what ever helped Cupcake give up night time nursing. With my last 3 I had to stand up if they cried to nurse. My daughter loved being held in the nursing position to go to sleep, but the others needed to be upright. It is hard the first few nights but it gets better quickly!
    Praying for you!

  3. For the sake of full disclosure, I have two that I weaned, two that I cut off cold turkey at 4 (after discussing for a month or so prior that they would be big and not get nummies anymore when they turn four), and I expect that my current 2yo will happily nurse as much as I'll let her after the baby arrives for another year or two. However, after 18 months or so I do cut them back so that I can stand to let them continue nursing for longer. Since it is not as much for nutrition at that point, I figure nursing needs to fit what I need as well as what they need! I start offering a choice, either nursing or an extra story (or more bathtime, or ). And yes, it is hard because they pick one and want both! So sometimes that is a more teary method, depending on the kid.

    Other "tricks" that I have used are telling them that they can have a few more sips and count down and unlatch them, then we rock or snuggle for a while. Generally when I'm transitioning to not falling asleep while nursing (my kids ALWAYS do that too, no matter what "they" say) I add in bedtime music that they can listen to, or sit in their room and pray the rosary out loud or something so that they can hear that I'm still there. My 2yo still nurses for a few minutes at nap and nighttime, but since I'm due shortly she isn't getting much of anything so she is happy to swap to her water after those few minutes and then get covered with two blankets and get her ice in her water and listen to her baby songs.

    I also have been known to be gone at bedtime for a few nights and let daddy put them in to bed so they see that they can fall asleep without nummies. And I have used the "oops, they are all gone or hurt" excuse a time or two as well, lol.

  4. Cupcake sounds a lot like my second child, MG. At two years old, I was done. She was demanding and a little aggressive and would prefer nursing over a meal. What worked for MG was this:

    My husband became the person in charge of her bedtime routine. He would give her a sippy cup with a soft spout full of warm milk (just a few ounces). When she was done, he would brush her teeth, put her pajamas on, read her a story, sing to her, say bed time prayers with her, and lay down with her. Sometimes, she would need all of these things. Sometimes, he would simply lay her down and she was out. Like other mothers have said, it was tough at first but we stuck it out. When she screamed and cried, he would console her. It maybe took about three weeks for her to understand and not put up a fight. MG really enjoyed this special time with him. She is five years old now and my hubby puts all of our kids down. I think he has come to enjoy this time with the kiddos too.

    I hope this helps. We will be praying for you and darling cupcake.

    1. I forgot to add... once bedtime was down, putting her down at naptime was a breeze!!! I would just lay her down, cover her up real well, giver her kisses and walk away.

  5. When I had a 2 year old I *had* to wean (I was pregnant and barfing and just couldn't be nursing on top of it). We went away for a weekend. We left him with an amazing, patient, understanding friend....and left. No mommy, no booby, no milk....he was forced to adjust. It was like ripping off a Band-aid. May not be the gentlest way but sometimes at the end of the weaning process, unless you are ready to let this process go on for many more months, you just have to stop.

  6. Have you introduced chocolate milk? All three of my girls ditched nursing before bedtime within a day or two of my husband giving them a sippy cup with chocolate milk. I apparently can't compete with the awesomeness of chocolate milk.

  7. We did the Daddy approach too. Both my girls weaned when I became pregnant again and couldn't handle the nausea and the nursing:) So Daddy became in charge. A few rough first nights, but they settled soon after with "cup milk", back rubs, lullabies and snuggles. My second is quite stubborn and after being weaned for almost 6 months now, she still will sometimes ask for milkies when she wants comfort, but we just say there isn't anymore mama milk and give extra snuggles. She then moves on:) Prayers for you and Miss Cupcake!

  8. We just transitioned Luke from having to nurse to sleep at night and I could only do it with the help of my husband. At first we tried me nursing him then leaving the room while Brian walked him. That didn't work all that well. What ended up clicking was when I would nurse him fifteen minutes to a half hour before bedtime on the couch, then have him say prayers and go up with his two older brothers and join the big guys for their routine! We told him it's bedtime and that everyone needed to brush their teeth (he's obsessed with the teeth brushing) and just lumped him in with the others. He strutted right up the stairs all proud like one of the big guys. After the two older ones were tucked in by Brian, he brought Luke to his room and walked him a bit while talking to him. "Michael is in bed, David is in bed, and now it's Luke's turn to go to bed..." In a few minutes he was reaching for his bed so Brian put him in and he went to sleep! I think he was just so ready to be one of the big guys! He sleeps much better now at night. I'll nurse him around dawn or so and he (on good days) goes back to sleep for a little bit more while I get up. He still nurses down for his nap but I'm okay with that for now. Hope that helps!

  9. Our youngest nursed until almost 18 months so I know how you feel. We worked on the nap first. Seemed easier that way. First I cut him back to one side. Then reduced the number of minutes he stayed on the other side. I think it helps both of you adjust. Plus you may stop producing with less stimulation.

    Also,changing the routine helps. Or have someone else put her down for the nap. Once she figures out how, the other should be easier

  10. Lots of good ideas up there! A word of warning: don't introduce anything that you don't want to continue for y.e.a.r.s. I find that the ones most attached to nursing get attached to other things or routines just as easily! I would re-iterate the suggestions of dad taking over the routine, or counting down. That seemed to work the best with my kids. We talked about not having nummies anymore after suchand such a time, or having only 30 seconds per side. Car rides at naptime worked for some kids, so that I could say "Oh, we don't nurse for naps anymore." I'd suggest working on eliminating the naptime one first, and then work on bedtime. Maybe getting rid of one will give you the stamina for the few months it may take for the next one.

  11. I flat out told #2 "Sorry sweetheart, they are broken."
    She then nearly broke my heart by asking if we could "...take them to the 'hopsital' to get them better." She needed reminding that they "don't work" for about a week.

    To me, they really did seem "broken" b/c I was pregnant again and the pain when nursing was unbearable. Good luck to you--it can be a bittersweet thing in a Mom's life.

  12. My oldest nursed until 2 years 1 month...way longer than I expected to nurse a child! We had kind of an exceptional case, because I got pregnant not long after her second birthday and get pretty bad hyperemesis gravidarum, and after two trips to the hospital for rehydration we realized that still breastfeeding probably wasn't helping me stay hydrated, haha. Anyway, we had been kinda wanting to wean her before that point but that just sealed the deal. The best advice I can give (and what worked for us) is just getting Dad involved. Instead of me nursing her before bed, her daddy took over her bedtime routine completely (until she was adjusted to weaning). The first couple days had their ups and downs, but she got used to it and I think she was closer to her daddy because of it. Weaned and father/daughter bonding? Win-win!

  13. I just skimmed the other comments and it looks like you've had lots of good advice. I'm currently nursing my one and a half year old and have weaned my other three kids anywhere between 24 and 28 months. One self-weaned rather abruptly, but the other two needed encouragement because I was ready to be done before they were. For my most persistent nurser (the one who held out to 28 months!), what finally worked was when we had three days in a row of being very busy with out-of-the-house activities, so he napped in the car rides during the day without nursing, then was so exhausted by the end of the day that he fell asleep in the car on the ride home. So on our first "regular" day at home after that when he asked to nurse to sleep, I just told him that mommy didn't have any more milk so we would just cuddle. He still asked to nurse every day for a week, and I had to remind him that we didn't do that anymore, but he usually accepted just reading books and being cuddled to sleep without too much complaint. He did still rely on having someone lay down with him to fall asleep for a LONG time after that, but at 4-year-old, he can now falls asleep on his own (although he still prefers to have someone cuddle him to sleep if given the choice). So I second what a previous poster said that whatever you use to replace nursing, make sure you're willing to do that for quite a while. I don't know whether you would be able to orchestrate being super-busy away from home like that for a few days to help get the weaning started, but it seemed to work for us!

  14. Set aside a couple of weeks where you know this will be THE priority .. then go cold turkey. Keep her busy & distracted during the day and let her go to bed tired, crabby, and early. A major help would be to have Dad put her down for the entire two weeks, that way HE can rock and cuddle with her and read her more books til she gets used to not having her nursies (and not having Mom at her side). Be consistent and FIRM for a couple of weeks -- even if she gets sick during this time period or you find yourself someplace where it would be easier to nurse her to quiet her down-- DON'T!!! She'll get used to it eventually. Not pretty, but this too shall pass. God's peace.

  15. The book by Elizabeth Pantley "the no cry sleep solution" has lots of ideas to try for what you want to do. There is a newer book, too, for toddlers, with a similar name. Best wishes!

  16. Well my experience has been the longer you wait the harder it is to ween. Not consoling I know, sorry. Basically YOU have to reach your breaking point, this means where you REALLY mean business. You want out SO much you are strong enough to withstand the crying and the tantrums, you really, really mean THE END, until you are at that point you can't make it happen. Once you have reached 'THAT'S IT for real you can start. Call all helpers on board and when she wants a feed you call on husband/children to take her away and distract her. It could take even a couple of weeks, you have to be STRONG. I cut out several feeds and then go cold turkey with the last couple, but if she won't even co-operate to that extent then you have to go total cold turkey for the lot. Good luck, just keep that goal in mind{{}}

  17. I think having Dad involved in bedtime is an excellent idea. All mine started being put to bed by Daddy around 18 months because they would actually go to sleep faster for him than they would nursing to sleep. However, they all still nursed to sleep for naps for many months after that - which I didn't want to give up because it was a very easy way for them to fall asleep! Bedtime wasn't easy anymore for some reason - so we changed it. You have to change what isn't working.

    I would caution you against going "cold turkey" for a couple reasons - and this with my breastfeeding support hat on, having worked with nursing moms over the past several years. First, you don't want to risk getting mastitis. Weaning gradually (meaning no quicker than getting rid of one nursing session every 5-7 days) will leave you much less likely to develop a breast infection. When the breasts aren't emptied for long periods all of a sudden, then that can cause lots of discomfort in moms. Another reason is that it is more difficult for the child to go cold turkey - it sets up a power struggle. It is hard for a 24 month old to understand that while you previously said "yes" most of the time to nursing, suddenly you are doing the exact opposite. If you begin making restrictions gradually, it will be easier for her to accept and understand. If the bedtime and naptime nursings are all that she has left at this point, then you may be mostly there already!! If she is nursing some during the day as well, then starting with the times that are most aggravating to you could help, and then work down gradually from there.

    For me, the longer they nursed, the easier it was for them to wean, just because they eventually gave it up gradually over time. As they get older, we tend to naturally set limits as mothers - "Not in the store, we'll nurse in the car/when we get home." "I'm cooking dinner now; we will nurse when I am done." "It's time to be sleeping now; we'll nurse when the sun comes up." And so on. All the advice about substituting loving distractions is great - again, a way to try to diffuse/avoid power struggles! It is okay if you choose a specific nursing time and say no and just hold her/rock her lovingly and she has a tantrum in your arms - she is learning limits but also that you are still there for her in other ways! But if Daddy is around to help at that time, then all the better! Good luck!!

  18. I usually wean mine about 18mos (give or take). I just repeat that the milk is "all gone" and offer a sippy. Let her take a sippy of water to bed if she'd like. I usually just do it myself (instead of Dad) because I feel like they are still getting comforted by mom and that makes it less painful for them. I would go cold turkey at this point. Usually by day 3, they've stopped asking more than once. :) and after a week, practically forgotten. I think weaning is one of those things---you just gotta gear yourself up to do it! Once you are over the hump, all is well. Since you are sort of combating two issues--weaning and going to sleep on her own--just focus on the weaning first and be prepared to lay down with her for a bit until she falls asleep. Then work on the bedtime routine. Good luck!

  19. Of course all my kids have weaned while I was pregnant, so I've ranged from a nursing strike that turned permanent as with Ben, who flat out gave up, and Sophie, who gave up the week before I gave birth to Ben so I didn't bother about it at all-- or else hit the point where I couldn't take it any longer as with Anthony. With Anthony I think we were down to only nursing at nap and bedtime. I just held him and told him sorry we weren't nursing at nap any more. It wasn't time for that. He cried himself to sleep in my arms every nap for several weeks and it was very hard, but nursing hurt so much by that point that I just couldn't give in. After a while he stopped crying and we'd just snuggle till he fell asleep. Half the time I fell asleep too. It was hard, but at the same time we were at least getting that physical closeness. I got to hold him and he got to be held. I think that helped. Oh I put him down for nap on our bed and then his bed was a futon mattress on the floor, purchased precisely so I could lay down with him to help him sleep.

    I know how hard weaning it. Praying you both get through it without too many tears.

  20. I haven't read any of the other responses so I hope I'm not repeating. My current 16 mos old (who still nurses during the day and sometimes night) doesn't have to nurse to be put down to sleep. She does sleep with me but does so without my help. This is what I did (or actually my daughters did):

    At night time I'm busy putting littles to sleep or finishing laundry or reading to an older child. Two of my older daughters (ages 13 and 11) started asking if they could put Emma to sleep. They take her to their room with a bottle or sippy cup of whole milk. She drinks it and then goes to sleep in their arms on their bed. Sometimes she cries but not for long. Later I go to their room, pick her up, and take her to my room.

    I've done this with my last 3 kids (I have 8). This allows me to have a babysitter over or have my oldest babysit when I go out. I don't go out THAT often but sometimes I'm grocery shopping or just need to be able to have her sleep without me. When hubby is home alone with kids, its a huge help to have an older daughter help with putting her down to sleep.

    So, maybe you have an older child who would like to put her to sleep in their room or in your room. Set a bedtime, use a substitute for night time and eventually she'll be weaned.

    Since an older sister puts her to sleep. She's become very close to them and she still gets that close bonding from a family member. No crying it out at our house. She'll probably leave my bed when she's closer to 2 1/2 and go sleep with her younger sisters who are 5 & 8.

    BTW, my older daughters LOVE putting her to sleep. They do this every night anymore. Last night I put her to sleep, and twice my 11 yo came in asking if she could have Emma. So this isn't a chore they have to do. They love holding a big baby to sleep but its also a HUGE help to me. HTH.

  21. You have a lot of comments and the kids are starting to rebel in the other room, so if you heard this already, it is just my vote, lol.

    I ended up unintentionally weaning Tiger because I had to be gone. Just like you, he was only nursing right before bed. One night I had be gone with Rogue for camp. Tiger was put to bed by his big sisters without a fuss.

    So my advice is to disappear for a few nights at bedtime. Have someone else read her a story and have a little graham cracker or such. Sing a sing and put her to bed. It may only take one night, maybe a few more, but it will work. If she doesn't see you, she won't expect it. Then later hop back in, read her the story, give her the cookie, and sing her a song. It will be all good!

    God bless and good luck!


Thank you for sharing your thoughts and yourself!