13 answers

How to Begin Weening Process??

I am a proud mother of my beautiful 13 month old little girl! She means the world to her father and I. We always try to base any decisions we make off of what's best for her and our family. Recently, my husbands job drastically cut his pay, and we feel that now is the time for me to go back to school. I am nervous and excited at the same time. With me going back to school comes the need to ween my daughter from breast feeding. Up until a 2 months ago she still nursed every 2-3 hours. We now have her down to a max of 4 feeding during the day. I would like to get this down to a morning and a night feeding only. Before I began to ween my little one, she was doing awesome at night and only nursing once or twice ( which was a huge improvement). But now that I have began to ween her she is up every 30 to 60 minutes wanting to nurse. I tried letting her cry herself back to sleep. This has not worked. She doesn't stop crying... and I cry too. It breaks my heart to know that I am causing her so many tears. I don't know where to go next. Also, she is back in bed with us again... Please, I need all the advice I can get! HAs anyone been here??

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My goal was to breastfeed my daughter til she was one. Weaning was difficult, she had become used to her sleep eating at night that like you I did not get much sleep. I was scheduled for a 2 night trip for work at 14 months and tried to wean prior to. Didn't happen so I left on the trip thinking how devastating it would be for my daughter. My husband said she was fine and when I came home she had completely forgotten about my breasts. I still had her in the bed with me but nothing. I wore a sports bra 24/7 to help with the gorging. Good luck.

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I definitely had this problem (i.e. daughter waking up and wanting to nurse during the night!). When you say that she cries and won't stop...how long is she crying. My daughter cried for as long as 30 minutes and then ultimately went back to sleep. This was after I started putting her back in the bed with me and noticed that the smell of milk prompted more frequent wake-ups. I transitioned her back to her bed after I realized that we were peddling backwards. My husband was a lot stronger than I was in pushing us to solve the problem. Work with it mama...she will fall into place, and still continue to love you!!

Good luck with school!

Hi J.,

Just let it happen naturally so you and she have have less emotional pain to remember down the road. Just pump and she'll love you for it! She still needs you and once this time is over, it's over. Don't put work or money ahead of your little one. Oh, I am sorry, you said school. Hey this is great! You can pump inbetween classes! Work will always be there. Well, unless you are unemployed as a teacher of 20 years, like me. You can do this. Ask your boss to be supportive and adjust yourself so you can pump every 4 hours in a place you feel comfortable. Shoot, I even pumped at a nice concert once in the bathroom and plugged into a wall and stepped into a stall. No problem! We are all ladies and moms. Sorry this was jumbled. I reread your message and realized my mistake. You get my idea. And you go girl! I AM going to finish my Ph.D. somehow. Just always remember we are THE MOMS and we are very important to those babies. Big hug.


My goal was to breastfeed my daughter til she was one. Weaning was difficult, she had become used to her sleep eating at night that like you I did not get much sleep. I was scheduled for a 2 night trip for work at 14 months and tried to wean prior to. Didn't happen so I left on the trip thinking how devastating it would be for my daughter. My husband said she was fine and when I came home she had completely forgotten about my breasts. I still had her in the bed with me but nothing. I wore a sports bra 24/7 to help with the gorging. Good luck.

Dear J.,
My daughter weened herself from the breast so I wasn't sure what to expect with my son. We planned on breastfeeding for 18 months. We only made it to 15. I became ill and had to have injections that would have made him very sick if I had caved in and nursed him. I know what you mean about it breaking your heart. I couldn't even hold my son because he would try to lift my shirt up. Of course, by this age, he was eating solid foods and I knew he wouldn't starve, but he wouldn't take a bottle or a sippy, not formula, not cow's milk. When it was time for me to go into the hospital, I was so worried about him. I was there for 4 days and when I came home he had completely forgotten about the breast. He was fine and just happy to have his mommy back. My husband got him to take a bottle, but he was worried that the milk would spoil so he put ice cubes in it. After that, for a while, my son wouldn't drink anything that didn't rattle when he shook it.
I never would have chosen to ween my son that way, but that's my point. I didn't have any choice. He was no worse for wear. It didn't damage him emotionally or anything. It was a lot easier for him with me not there which isn't always a practical possibility, but it was harder when he knew I was right there and he knew I had two boobs and he wanted them. He got cold turkey'd and survived it so you just have to try phasing the feedings out and not give in.
You and your daughter will get through this, there will be tears, but she won't remember how upsetting giving up the booby was. YOU will. But she'll be okay. I promise.

Best wishes!

Hey J.,
I have Kaiser and they have lactation consultants and behaviorists that you can consult with - I think it was completely free and I didn't pay a co-pay. You could check w/ your insurance to see if they offer experts like that. The ones I've worked with have been fantastic! A lot of what they advised me was common sense or whatever I'd read in my baby books, however they gave the courage to implement whatever it was and they know what they are talking about. It helped me to talk to an expert! Good luck!

I highly recommend the No Cry Sleep Method book. You will find the strength and the answers you need to accomplish this with your daughter. Good luck!

My son is now 15 months and I've realized weaning is tough! There will be tears. I try distracting him with something else when he wants to nurse in the day- toys, going outside, a blanket. I will only nurse him once at night (or at the most twice.) He isn't sleeping well though. I can relate to a lot of what you are saying. I want to give in but, then I don't want to be up all night!!
I have also really encouraged him to take the bottle before bed. REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY works on this one. My husband will take the bottle and be like, "mmm.. so good... you want some?" and hold it out and tease him a little or give it to me and I do the same. Then, he wants to drink the bottle. It's so funny.
I quit pumping at work at when my son was about 10 months. It is really hard. It is doable but in my opinion, not really necessary at this age. I know a lot of people would disagree but it put a lot of strain on me and enough was enough. Work and being a mom is hard. I wish you the best!
You have already come a long way with cutting back on the nursing. Good luck!

J., I read through all the responses that you've received to this point and it looks like they are mostly from fellow long-term nursing moms and many family bed advocates. I thought maybe a reply from a mom who didn't nurse so long (I have three, and the longest I made it was 6 months) and who is not a big fan of kids in my bed, might be helpful to give a different perspective. I'm not against either, just a firm believer in doing what works for you and your family. First of all, my biggest memory of those baby years is the 3am cry sessions that you feel you are causing. It's important to remember that even though you may have the short term solution near at hand, you're not causing this issue. You're making a parenting decision, that although hard, is the best for your family. I say this, because it's one of those parenting concepts that follows through...just because you have the ability to lessen their immediate pain, you have to remember what is in the best in the long run. (like my big kids who leave their homework or lunch on the kitchen table.) I agree with the other posters that the first step should be getting her used to her own bed. When you stay firm, it's amazing how quickly it will go. (But still painful for everyone, I'll grant you!) Once this whole process has passed, you can institute an occasional night in bed with mom and dad. My kids are big now (15, 13, & 8) but until recently, they loved when they got to have their special night cuddling with mom and dad. Just remember that this, like all the other milestones, will pass and your daughter will be perfectly fine afterwords.

She may not be ready yet. If possible can you try again in couple of months? I started the weaning process with the mantra 'Don't offer, Don't refuse' from LLL. When we thought he might be ready my hubby became a big part of the nighttime routine and then took it over. My son was more at ease with Daddy because nursing was not an option so he was more open to snuggling and listening to a book at bedtime. If your daughter is on solids then you could still go back to school/work and she could just nurse when you are home. Hope you find what works for your family and great job nursing for beyond a year!

Actually, when she goes to childcare she might wean herself during the day. Many exclusively breastfed babies after nine months or so will refuse a bottle during the day while mom is working or in school. This works out okay, because they also tend to cluster feed once you are home. As far as the frequent nursing now, she might be sensing that you are trying to cut back, teething, and/or going through a growth spurt. You can try a little more solid food at this stage. She can drink juice or water from a sippy cup while you are at school/work. Anyway this is my advice. I have gone back to work full-time when my daughters were 5 months and it worked out fine. They will generally continue to wake about twice per night for a while, though. Mine stayed in the bed a long time- my 3 & 5 y/o just got out of my bed about 3 months ago. Actually, they still sometimes fall asleep there & then we move them to their bed. They have separate beds, but like to sleep together. So, we put them in one big bed. This helps them feel more secure & both finally sleep all night. Once in a while one sneaks to our bed in the middle of the night.

I nursed all three of mine for 1 year to just over a year so I know the weaning process can be emotional. Jelin did her weaning exactly how I did and it worked great. The only things that I could add is that sometimes at night instead of water I would give milk or Enfamil stages it is for 10-36 month olds it has more nutients and iron than milk. I was worried about giving that because I had never used any formula but she took to it right away and it was nice because I knew she was getting more nutients and I could have the water in the sippy cup(I never did bottle they wouldn't take it) waiting so it wasn't cold like regular milk. I also walked them around when I first would wean a meal at night in seemed to calm them easier and when they were used to it I would lay in bed with them until they would fall asleep. I saw that she is back in bed with you, one thing that I did was put a mattress(no box spring) on the ground so they wouldn't get hurt if they fell off, and I could lay with them for comfort and leave when they fell asleep but they would get used to being in their own bed.
Hope this helps and enjoy this next stage of her life,

Hi J.,
Good for you for breastfeeding your daughter this long. :) Weaning can be difficult because breastfeeding is about more than just nutrition...it's about security and comfort as well. I can share with you what I did to wean my boys. I would pick one feed (usually during the day) that I wanted to wean. When that feed came, I usually substituted food or milk in a cup instead of breastfeeding. Once he was used to one less feed, I would "work" on dropping another feed. I usually saved the nighttime ones for last because those were the hardest (since they were tired and wanted to comfort). For the nighttime feed/feeds, I would substitute water in a cup in place of nursing. Granted, the first few nights of this was difficult. There was a lot of crying and little sleep. I just tried to hold, hug, and rock my son (ie provide comfort without nursing) until he went back to sleep. The first night was the hardest, and then it got gradually easier. Hope this helps! Good luck!

I'm curious to know why you feel the need to wean completely just because you're going back to school. Many mamas balance work and breastfeeding, and I guess I don't understand why you couldn't balance school and breastfeeding. You wouldn't necessarily have to pump like working mamas of young babies do, but you could definitely still nurse your daughter when you're home... nights, weekends. Nursing while you're home would also reestablish your breastfeeding relationship and maybe help both you and your daughter with the transition.

As far as curbing the night nursing, the biggest thing triggering that, I believe, is that she's in your bed. She's close to the breast, she can smell you, and she knows what that equals. I would recommend getting her into her own bed before I would recommend you weaning completely.

With that being said, if you do decide to wean completely, be sure to do it gradually. Try for 1 feeding every 3-4 days to allow your breasts, body, and daughter the chance to equalize. If you do a sudden weaning, you run the risk of engorgement, plugged ducts, and hopefully not mastitis. You have to give your body time to catch up to the new supply and demand. Unfortunately, it sounds like your daughter just isn't ready emotionally to wean. In the long run, she'll be fine, but could you hold off weaning for a few months? Or do it more gradually and maybe eliminate 1 feeding every 1-2 weeks? Just a suggestion...

Whatever you decide, I applaud your decision to breastfeed your daughter this long!!! The benefits are ENDLESS :) Good luck with your family AND school!

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