Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The weaning of a 16 month old + tips

To catch up on our weaning process, be sure to check out my previous posts: 

As of two Fridays ago (June 29, 2012), G has been fully weaned.

The definition of weaned is for a mammal to receive all nutrients/calories from non-mother's-milk sources. It doesn't matter how, why, or when it happens...that's what weaning means. Some babies are weaned from the very start, which is kind of sad to me, but I do know that for a lot of moms, breastfeeding is not their thing. I certainly am not in a position to judge their lives or choices--but let it be said--I certainly think breastmilk is the best source of food for babies.

G has always loved nursing, especially because I did allow her to do it for 'comfort' at a young age. It was not always easy, and there were definitely trials we had to get through, but all-in-all, it was a nice bond for us to share (in addition to healthy for us both). I'm not a mom likely to nurse past 24 months old, but I do believe in nursing past 12 months old.

When #2 was conceived, I did consider tandem nursing--for about 10 minutes. I then decided there was no way I could wanted to physically do that to myself or the new baby. In my honest, non scientific, opinion, I thought the only one who would benefit from tandem nursing was G (I know many of you would argue the other way, that's fine, I noted this is simply my opinion). No offense to my precious little girl, she's already gotten the best start in life possible, her new sibling deserves 100% of the same opportunities. I feel it's only fair to my worn-out self and new baby to devote all of my available nursing time to #2.

Once I decided tandem nursing was not for us, I knew G would need to be weaned by the time July came rolling around. That's about 6 months before her brother or sister would be born, and I thought that might be enough time for her to "not-remember" how she used to nurse when she sees me nursing the new baby.

As I mentioned in previous posts, G reduced herself down to 3 breastfeeding sessions on her own, around 12 months old. I cut the morning feeding out at about 14 months old, the nap time feeding about 3 weeks after that. We stuck with just nursing at bed time for over a month. I didn't want to give it up, necessarily, but I felt I needed to. I dragged my feet a bit, until my needs/wants met up. When I finally wanted to try cutting out the bed time nursing, I still worried how G would take it. It turned out fine. I expected a war and I barely got a battle. The worst part, honestly, was the shift in my hormones and the discomfort I felt (after about 4 days, I felt better, and it was never even that bad since we weaned so gradually).

{tip 1} During the week leading up to 'the determined evening,' I nursed G in a variety of places so that she would loosen her attachment with the chair she usually nursed in. Rather than nurse in the recliner in the living room (+ before that we used to do it in her room, I mentioned in an earlier post how I moved that location when we dropped the nap time), I fed her on the floor on night, on the couch another night, the recliner again, and a dining room chair another night. I rotated between the 4 locations for several nights.

{tip 2} I also started doing something to 'distract' her after about 5 minutes on one side, to see if she might unlatch early on her own. She often did, and rather than let her re-latch, we'd switch sides. I'd do the same thing on that side and once she un-latched, we would move on to the rest of our bed time routine. (Things done to 'distract' her attention... ask her questions / point to something & ask what it is, tickle her toes, etc...)

{tip 3} My husband is a big help with bed time, so I did have the luxury of his assistance. For about a week prior to weaning, he would offer G her 'big girl milk' in a straw cup after I nursed her--while we read a story. She got used to that being part of bed time routine, so that when we cut nursing that first night, we just skipped straight to the milk & story. We cut that out pretty quick, though, about 3 or 4 nights after she weaned.

She didn't particularly love it, but she didn't hate it either. I think it was a more gentle way of weaning than nursing however long she wanted, where ever we always did, and then one night just saying... BAM you're done. It kind of let her know things were changing. The first night she cried more from confusion than sadness, it seemed. She got over it really quick and doesn't ask for it at all now (maybe 2 or 3 days after she did, but not since then). I think the main key to young toddler weaning is explaining what's happening and standing your ground. If you are flip-floppy, your kid will know and things will likely blow up in your face. With all things in child rearing, consistency really is the best policy.

Our bed time routine is now: 
  • bath or wash face
  • change diaper & put on jammies
  • brush teeth
  • clean up toys
  • go to bed room
  • read stories
  • turn on fan
  • say night night to everything
  • turn out light
  • hugs for mommy and daddy
  • daddy calms G down + tucks her in
Knock on wood, she's been going to sleep without crying for about a week. She is upset about bed time & doesn't like being told it's that time...totally normal for her age, but she sleeps AWESOME once she's in bed.

I personally think she sleeps better now that she is weaned. Perhaps it's just a coincidence, since her last molar came in right when she weaned, but she sleeps 12 hours at night, takes a 1.5 - 2 hour nap, and doesn't cry when she wakes up anymore!

If you are looking for some advice or support with weaning a young toddler, feel free to contact me!


  1. Wow, those are some great tips. We are still going strong with our morning and evening nursing sessions. My biggest concern of giving them up is simply that she won't drink any other type of milk but mine.:-/ Congrats on being done and hope that gives you a little extra energy to cook #2. :-)

  2. Great tips that really make sense! I want to wean my 16 month old (about 75% of the time, at least!) but what holds me back is not knowing how to start! My first two weaned very naturally because I went back to work and since I wasn't great at pumping, my milk supply just dropped. But since I've been home this time I have a stellar supply so there is nothing to keep Jaxon from wanting to nurse. We always nurse in the same chair and often, I think he asks to nurse simply because I'm sitting here. I'm going to start nursing him in different places as you suggested. I'm sure Daddy will be happy to get his recliner back!

  3. Good job and it's good you stuck right with this like you said, no flip flopping. Mine are all grown now but my nephews wife is expecting so I'll share this with her. I think it will help out lots of moms out there.

  4. Thanks for the tips i'm in the process of weaning and its not fun!


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