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Weaning 2 1/2 Year Old

Hi Mama's. I wanted to get any information available re weaning a 2 1/2 year old little girl. I'm certain she isn't ready to self-wean at this point. Please respond with comments for or against and with advice on how to go about it. Thank you all in advance.

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Just an FYI...continued breast feeding past one year does not provide them w/ contiueed immunilogical protection. There immune systems have developed and taken over at that point.

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I think you might be surprised. There is an excellent book: "Mothering your Nursing Toddler" that talks about the process. Some of the easier things to do are to substitute reading with her in your lap or doing an activity as a substitute for nursing. The reading is great for bedtime. If she's a morning nurser, having something ready to eat or drink as soon as she gets up and cuddling afterwards or while she's eating/drinking can swap out for that nursing. Also, she is old enough to understand there is an appropriate time and place for nursing, so you should be able to eliminate any issues with others thinking you're doing this too long.

While some folks think nursing at this age is crazy, you are still providing her with optimal nutrients and helping her immune system (and minimizing the potential for and severity of onset of future health issues). Also, nursing babies tend to have a better sense of when they are full and have had enough to eat, thus they're less likely to be overweight as children or adults. And, you are reducing your chances of breast cancer.

So, I personally feel that letting the child wean at their own pace (negotiating some of the feedings as time goes by) is the best approach. My older son self-weaned at 2+ and my younger son at almost 3 1/2. However, I think my younger son nursed longer as we later learned he had alot of food allergies (and celiac). He is also a more sensitive child, so I think the nursing was really important to him for comfort and re-assurance. And, contrary to what some folks might say, extended nursing does not make them more dependent or clingy - my younger son is extremely independent, but he is still a warm and loving child (at 13!).

5 moms found this helpful

Hi S.-

Congrats. You sound like a wonderful, responsive mother. Nursing our babies beyond one year provides them with continued immunological protection. If you choose to wean now, be good to yourself... remember that weaning takes more energy than not weaning (all change takes energy). The best tip for keeping both of you happy and comfortable is "Slowly with love."

You may be interested in attending the local La Leche League Toddler meeting.


It is wonderful source of info and support for nursing issues but also parenting issues in general. You would find many mothers who share your questions and would probably be happy to share their weaning tips. I always enjoy the companionship of like-minded moms. You and your daughter would both be most welcome (whether you wean or not!).


Edited to add: Actually, there are important immunological benefits to nursing beyond a year. See below:

Nursing toddlers are SICK LESS OFTEN (from www.kellymom.com)

The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that children weaned before two years of age are at increased risk of illness (AAFP 2001).

Nursing toddlers between the ages of 16 and 30 months have been found to have fewer illnesses and illnesses of shorter duration than their non-nursing peers (Gulick 1986).

"Antibodies are abundant in human milk throughout lactation" (Nutrition During Lactation 1991; p. 134). In fact, some of the immune factors in breastmilk increase in concentration during the second year and also during the weaning process. (Goldman 1983, Goldman & Goldblum 1983, Institute of Medicine 1991).

Per the World Health Organization, "a modest increase in breastfeeding rates could prevent up to 10% of all deaths of children under five: Breastfeeding plays an essential and sometimes underestimated role in the treatment and prevention of childhood illness."

1 mom found this helpful

Good for you!!!! Don't let anyone pressure you that you're nursing "too long". I nursed my daughter until she was 2.5 and my son until 18 mos. I had to be gone from my son for a week and allowed someone close to me pressure me into weaning him at that point. I could've very easily started again, but didn't, something I'll always regret.

I'm sure you know in Europe it is nothing to see 4-5 year olds still nursing. I lived in Spain for 6 years and it was amazing. It ruffles my feathers a bit when people are impatient or think the mother is wierd if you choose to nurse longer than a year. As with other parenting issues, it's a private matter and is nobody else's business.

I think you've gotten a lot of good advice. I agree that the nursing relationship should be continued as long as BOTH of you are happy nursing together.

God bless you and your little girl. Enjoy the special bond you have together. My daughter is 9 now, I can't believe how quickly time flies!


1 mom found this helpful

Hey Mama
I'm not reading the responses in fear it'll get me heated, haha.
I say let her wean - when my daughter hit 3 I limited our nursing sessions to "abc's" - for instance, she could nurse for one abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz - or two, or three - depending on the urgency. If she was hurt it was generally longer - if it was just b/c, it was just one abc. After not long my supply went down and she lost interest. Now she's 4 and nurses for 5 seconds every two or three days. I've got a newborn and she isn't into the taste anymore:) We've even had events where she's forgotten how to nurse and she's also gone two weeks without the breast.
Good luck to you, she WON'T nurse forever - may as well let her tell you when she's done so she looks back on breastfeeding with a positive experience
my .02
Nursing Mama to two girls

1 mom found this helpful

I don't have much advice b/c I have only nursed for about a year with all of mine. But since I am onmy last child (#5), I feel I could nurse forever. I look forward to reading all of the posts. And good for you for nursing for so long!

First of all, congrats on giving you daughter the best food possible for so long. It's not always easily achieved in our society.

"The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers" by Elizabeth Pantley has an entire section with GREAT ideas to wean toddler age children.

Your daughter is old enough that you can talk to her about how she is a big girl and can drink from a cup and that big girls don't need milk from mommy any more. You can make a bedtime book with poster board or card stock and use photographs of her as a baby and growing up and ending with pictures of a happy daughter who doesn't need mommy's milk anymore.

My son showed no signs of weaning at 20 months. I was ready to have a break as we were trying for #2. One day I just said, "Oh, that milk is all gone. You drank it all. I got you a special..." I don't remember what I got, maybe it was juice or yogurt. It worked though. He checked a several times a day times over the next week, then a few times the following weeks. However, he understood the concept of something being gone because he finished it. He never got upset, he just took it in stride. The hardest was when my daughter was born a year later almost to the day. He remembered nursing and thought he should start again. We explained that this was sister's milk and he still drank all his. Then sister got him some special milk from the store. Everything was better after that.

When I weaned my kids, I would replace a nursing with a special activity that was just me and them, so they knew that just because they weren't nursing didn't mean they wouldn't get mommy time still. I'd sit them on my lap and read a book for the approximate nursing time, or I'd sing songs to them on my lap.... Something of that sort where we were still snuggling and having interactive time. I'd also replace the nursing with a cup of milk to drink from a sippy cup so it would be a smoother transition. As for when to do it, you are the only one who can decide if you're going to let her decide when or if you will do it earlier than that.

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