Weaning a 19 Month Old

Updated on February 19, 2008
Y.B. asks from Hialeah, FL
23 answers

I am tring to wean my son from the breast. I have it down to nights only but this is the hardest for me. He still wakes up to suckle 2 and 3 times at night and falls asleep on the breast. At this point I think it is more habit then anything else. I want to start tring for another baby in the summer time but I want my body to have a break from pregnancy and breast feeding. I am desperate!!! Any suggestions welcomed!!! It almost feels like the more I wnt to stop the more he wants it. He screams at me and crys and of course I feel terrible. HELP!!!

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K.M.

answers from Miami on

If all he wants is a drink, then have a sippy cup filled with milk for him. That is what I did with my daughter and it worked like a charm. If he doesn't like the taste of whole milk, then do 1/2 whole and 1/2 vanilla soy. My daughter liked the milk to be sweet. I hope this helps.

K.

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J.M.

answers from Melbourne on

At 19 months old, he should be sleeping through the night. I would suggest that the first time he wakes up, let him cry himself back to sleep. It is harder on you than it is on him. :) If he wakes up again, let him suckle a bit. I would say that after 2-3 nights, you will have him weaned and he'll be sleeping through the night. I've weaned 3 babies (baby #4 is only 5 months old), and I've never had trouble with weaning or letting them cry themselves to sleep; and my babies all had different personalities. Good luck!

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L.O.

answers from Miami on

Hello:
I am 36 years old and had my first child at 34. I also breast fed her until 19 months old. At that age they understand more than we believe. I started weaning my daughter when I found out I was pregnant. I took away 1 feeding every week or 2. Nursing was her favorite thing...she wouldn't even try food until she was 10 months. When ever she wanted to nurse I would redirect her attention to something else and then offer her food or a drink. At night when she woke I gave her a water bottle. Eventually she slept through the night. The first feeding I took away was the one she fell asleep to. My husband put her to bed...he sang to her and rocked her and let her fall asleep in his arms. One night she asked for me so I laid next to her and she didn't need the booby. In my mind I would switch my frustration to appreciation for this opportunity. The more frustrated one is the child feels and then it is a sense of control they have over you. They crave boundaries at this age. When I was 5 months pregnant I had the last feeding before nap time. One day she was nursing and I took my breast out of her mouth and covered it and said "I am sorry, but Mommy can not do this anymore". That was it...she never even asked for it again. I would give her a bottle and she would rub the skin on my chest for comfort. I NEVER let her rub or play with my nipples. 'Til this day she finds comfort in rubbing my skin. I am now breastfeeding my new son. I had a 5 month reprieve...you would be surprised it feels like forever. i won't kid you...I cried like crazy...I missed her so much.

Ask yourself if you are giving conflicting messages. If you say you want to give it up, but deep inside you are to attached to this type of relationship with your child.
One thing to understand is once your child stops nursing you will develop a new bond together. It is difficult but it is the wonderful process of growth with one of the best friends you will ever have.

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D.B.

answers from Miami on

Dear Y.,

Good for you nursing so long!!! Just as you have cut down nursing to only nights, you can do the same regarding the nightly suckling sessions. When your son wakes up to nurse in the middle of the night, try not to go in. He will learn to go back to sleep on his own once he knows you are not coming. If you absolutely cannot bear to hear his cries, go in, do not turn on any lights, do not talk, tuck him back in and wave bye-bye to him and leave his room. Just know he will probably give you a good fight, but be patient. He will grow tired of crying and fall back asleep. The more consistent you are, the easier it will become. Good luck!

D. (Deerfield Beach, FL)
[email protected]____.com

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L.F.

answers from Boca Raton on

Hi Y., I am in the SAME boat as you, but it is a little worse. I am a mom of 4, so you would think I would know what to do now? WOW, this is a hard one. My last daughter who is currently 18 months, is still breast feeding. For medical reasons she cannot take, soy, whole milk, any milk for that matter. So I have continued to breast feed as it is easier and a LOT cheaper than the special medical formula she is on. She now only takes the boob to sleep which is once a day, but at night she wakes 3-4 times. If her stomach is giving her trouble (that is if she has eaten something that has upset her during the day) she will wake 6-7 times. I know, very tiring. But most of the time it is out of habit. I also sleep with her as she wakes so much it is just easier and I need to get what ever little sleep I can. I so want to stop BF and get on to a normal night. She takes the pacifier so she does have something to suck. She does not fall asleep on the breast. She wakes and wants to eat, which will only last for about 5 minutes. Then she takes her pacifier and goes back to sleep. That is a good night. On a bad night with stomach issues it is a whole other story. I would so like to stop BF. I would like a life. I have not gone any where for 18 months at night because I cannot leave her for the fear she will wake (which she does) and will need the boob to put her back to sleep.

So I am reading ALL the advice you are getting. Unfortunately I do not have a mother or sister living in Florida to help me out. My husband feels if she wants it, give it to her. So no help there. Beside he CANNOT take when she cries so he will not be the one to help me out. He will give in after 2 minutes......lol. So I am on my own. I do not think offering her a sippy cup of her special formula or water will help. She wants boobs, and she wants it. I know I have to go cold turkey but it is so hard when they are crying and just want you.

So I am looking for any advice too. But if you need to talk, please contact me and we can cry on each other's shoulders................lol.
     
~Lisa~

Proud mommy of 4: Joshua 14, Zahra 11, Ethan 7 & Keira 18 months
Loving wife to Christopher

"I believe that love overpowers everything, and once a child has this, everything falls into place."

“Children are a gift from the Lord and I LOVE getting presents!”

When life hands you lemons, ask for tequila and salt and call me over!

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S.A.

answers from Melbourne on

Oh Y.,

I have been there. We weren't successful until 27 months. BUT my lil one is the last. So I didn't care if he quit or not. He is still attempting to get me t give it to him.
What we did is i would go get in the shower at bed time, or go do something he couldn't do with me. I also didn't sleep with him. He had to sleep with daddy for several weeks but he did quit crying about it after a couple weeks. If it were up to me an him I bet he would still be doing it... But my husband really thought it was time to make him stop, and my Dr did too.
I have heard many parents who have sent thier baby to grandmas if thats an option. Just make certain if you decide to send him for a weekend that its with someone who you trust who is very patient and would never hurt him. He will need a LOT of cuddling ect. Just be prepared for a couple sleepless nights, actually in my opinion it should be daddy who gets the sleepless nights.

Also my son is now 33 months and he still wakes up momentarily every night to find me and get a sip of water. Waking like that is ok, its different than getting up to play and not going back to sleep for a long time. Mine doesn't drink any milk now, he hates the flavor of it. I did get him drinking sweetened condensed milk thinned out for a while when we were trying to wean.

Above all remember this wonderful gift you have given him lasted about 17 1/2 months longer than the average baby in this country gets! So you get mega kudos.
LeLecheLeague has advice on weaning if you contact them.

BTW where are you from? I used to know a Y. in Indiana. when I was younger.

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J.F.

answers from New York on

If you go to the La Leche League website, you can email your question and get some expert advice. They helped me when I had weaning issues also. We wrote back and forth many times until he was weaned. This was before Mamasource & this service was a godsend to me! GL!

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C.S.

answers from Melbourne on

We had a lot of trouble night weaning too. what we finally did is had my husband get her at night.She cried a little ,but it was not dramatic and she did well.She is very close to her dad now which makes life easier because we are having a new baby and she can split her time more easily.It is tough for dads for a short time though. It worked wonders. We just recently weaned totally and she is two 1/2, We used time, 2 mins for a couple weeks, 1 min for a couple weeks or arange the time to suit your family. go down to 10 second ect. We also used water to distract her,she is a good water drinker. Finally, "no cry sleep solutions" by Elizabeth Pantley is a great book that has a lot of info that is helpful. Good luck I hope this helped. C.

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S.S.

answers from Miami on

I ma having the exact same experience with 25 month old ( she was 2 months premature)
PLEASE ,let me know of the responses you get!!!!!
right there with you,
S.

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S.E.

answers from Miami on

Have you tried the new Adiri Natural Nurser? This bottle makes transitioning from breastfeeding to bottle feeding very easy. It is also polycarbonate-free. They are sold in my online store and have heard wonderful things from mother's going through the same situation. I'm sure you are actually trying to get him away from a bottle as well but may be worth a try. http://www.mamaandbabyessentials.com/item_632/Adiri-Natur...

Good luck! S. Essentials, Inc.

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S.R.

answers from Boca Raton on

Hi Y.,
I am a mom of three. I nursed my first two until 18 mos. I am still going with my 13 month old. I went cold turkey when I weaned my first one. It was very hard. He screamed and cried to nurse. I think it was harder for me than for my son. It does work though. You will need help. My sister helped my and my mom. They took him away from me when he wanted to nurse. Have the person who is helping you offer a sippy cup. If your child does not have one it would be a good time to intorduce a special stuffed animal or blanket. Have your helper hold it close to him while they rock him back to sleep. If he takes a sippy cup milk might fill him before bed time. I know my doctor says not to give milk in the middle of the night though. Water is always good if he is thirsty. Try feeding him dinner later so he will be full and sleep better. He probably is not hungry when he wakes up. It is just force of habit. He just needs to know you are near. I know it is not easy. I went through this same thing twice already and will probably go through it a third time. Best of luck to you!
S.

J.D.

answers from Boca Raton on

Your husband is going to have to help you here and/or I am assuming since your child is 19 months old, they otherwise drink from a sippy cup, so upon waking at night either you or your husband is going to have to give the baby a sippy cup filled with your drink of choice........I would suggest milk, it will fill him/her up and he/she should sleep through the rest of the night............also at this time give your child the t-shirt you wore that day to snuggle with with your scent all over it........................Remember the first few nights your baby will CRY, you can't give in if you really want to wean....BE STRONG MOMMY, I know you can do it!

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C.G.

answers from San Juan on

I konw from my own experience how difficult it could be. My son is 6 years old and i brestfed him until 14 months. I kept him awake a little lonnger so he could be really tired and sleep longer periods. I do think its more a habit. Talking to him before bedtime could help. They understand so much. Please dont feel guilty, we are moms but we are persons also. You are doing great. Remind you constantly. It does get easier. Blessings!!!!!!

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W.F.

answers from Miami on

I remember reading somewhere that you have to leave him in his bed, do not pick him up, but try to comfort him until he goes back of to sleep. After a few days it will get better. My son will not sleep in his bed and I had to do the same thing, It was not easy for me to hear his crying, but the moment he realise that I was not going to pick him up. He stop waking up as often and then not at all. You must be strong because it you give in you will have to start all over again.Give it a week or longer, make up your mind that you will stick with it, or do not start until you are ready to stick with it.Good luck and God bless!

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L.W.

answers from Miami on

I had to wean my oldest son at only 4 months because I was having surgery and was going to be away too long. It was really hard for me because it was so soon. My husband, like others here, held him and gave him a bottle during the times when I normally fed him. When I was the only one home, I would put him in a bouncy seat and sit in front of him with the bottle, that way he wasn't on me. My second son actually chose (rather painfully by biting and such) to switch to a bottle at 6 months. My daughter nursed until 13 months. I also got her down to just bedtime and then my husband started giving her that feeding with a sippy cup. My last child had the boob and bottle both from the beginning, so switching to the bottle altogether was easy. As for waking up during the night, all of my kids were sleeping through the night by 3 months. I don't know what to suggest for an older child, but with mine, if it had been at least two hours since they ate, I would wait a few minutes before responding. Then I would change diapers, and cuddle first to see if they really needed a bottle. As time went by, I gave them more time before responding. The only time I brought any of them into the bed was if it was after 5 am, then it was just like a cuddle time for a couple hours before getting up, it didn't have anything to do with bedtime.

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J.R.

answers from Miami on

I breastfed my son for 18 months who is now 5 years old. I finally said enough is enough and decided one night it was time. He cried most of the night and wouldn't take the bottle. But after that one night he used his bottle before bed to help him fall asleep. He only needed the help of the bottle for a few months before he didn't want that either. You have to stand strong and not give him the breast at all. Not even in the middle of the night.

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J.P.

answers from Miami on

I had to wean my son at around that age, for medical reasons... it was heartbreaking for me... but, I found that going cold turkey was the best method.... Not only did my hubby help, but my mom did, too... she kept my son in a separate room, while I slept in another, and she offered him milk whenever he wanted the boob. After 3 or 4 days, he was reluctantly accepting a no on the boob, it was really difficult for the two of us, but after a while, he was ok.

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K.M.

answers from Miami on

First, as far a sleeping through the night goes, the waking at night is only a problem if it is an issue for mom. Sleeping through the night is a developmental milestone like any other. Even if you did nothing, your child won't be 12 and needing to nurse throughout the night to get to sleep because you didn't teach him to sleep on his own. So don't let anyone make you feel bad because your child still wakes at night. I know plenty of adults that wake at night to pee, get a drink of water, adjust the blankets, etc. It's normal.

My daughter just turned 2. And she doesn't always sleep through the night either. She's recently gotten a lot better, but 19-21 months was a rough period as far as sleeping goes. She is also still nursing although we have been weaning for a while now. She did wake at night and need to nurse to sleep during that time though. For us, she had a couple things going on. One was a developmental word explosion (she started talking in 2-3 word sentences) and also her 2 year molars. Is there anything new going on developmentally with him? I would check to see if there is any teething going on and maybe offer teething tablets or a pain reliever before bed to see if that helps. Even though I was ready to quit, it was still important to my daughter to have that comfort at night, so I made a pact with myself to make it through her molars and then proceed with weaning. I don't think it's your imagination that he wants to nurse more as he feels you pulling yourself away from him. And I sympathize with you, because I have definitely gone through periods of feeling really resentful about nursing at night when all I want to do is sleep. I would suggest giving lots of cuddles during the day to reinforce the close bond I'm sure you have and maybe back off with the weaning for a couple weeks because it doesn't sound like he's ready to stop. And I'll tell you what's working for us as far as weaning goes, keeping in mind my daughter was REALLY attached to nursing.

When she was about 22 months, her last molar had broken through, so I was confident about her not needing to nurse because of pain issues. We were still nursing at nap and bedtime and during the night if she woke. So I started by nursing her until she was really sleepy and then telling her she could nurse the other side, but then she had to stop because it was hurting. I wasn't lying, but I just thought her latch had gotten really sloppy lately. (I later realized it hurt because I was pregnant.) You could maybe tell him your boobs need to go to sleep to make more milk or something along those lines. Anyway, she was pretty understanding about having to stop nursing when I asked her to (maybe 5 minutes per side at naptime and I didn't make any changes to bedtime yet). She started rolling over and going to sleep without a boob in her mouth. This laid the groundwork for transitioning to no nursing at naptime. She was used to nursing to unwind and go to sleep. My next step was to start decreasing the amount of time she could nurse and replace it with another activity. I originally told her I was going to count to 20 on each side and then she'd have to stop nursing so we could read a book. That caused a lot of anxiety in her around sleep times as she'd worriedly say, "Mommy no count!" when it was time to go to bed. So instead I started counting in my head. Every week, I would decrease the length of time I let her nurse at naptime. 20 seconds the first week, 15 seconds the next, then 10, then 5. After we were down to 5 seconds each side, I told her we weren't going to nurse at naptime anymore, just read, but she could still nurse at bedtime. It went off without a hitch. I should say, she was in a toddler bed by 20 months, so it was easy to lay down with her to nurse and eventually transition to reading. I also offered her a sippy of water if she wanted it. She understood about not being able to nurse anymore, but she would ask for cow or soy milk. I wasn't comfortable with the idea of milk before she sleeps at night after she has brushed her teeth, so I only offered water. Being patient at naptime helped a lot at night for me. On her own, she started requesting I read books at night. She still woke occasionally at night, but didn't always need to nurse back to sleep. I could lay down with her until she fell back asleep, usually after getting her diaper changed. We are at the point now that we nurse a little at night (right now it's 15 seconds) and then we continue on with our bedtime routine (which by the way, has taken a little bit of time to work the kinks out-nurse, sit on the potty, read, lights off, sing a little and go to sleep). If she wakes early in the night (which is kind of rare right now), I lay down, put my arm around her, and she goes back to sleep on her own. If she wakes after 4 am, I bring her to our bed and nurse her back to sleep. As she has learned not to fall asleep nursing, she's gotten better about going back to sleep without it. She even sleeps through a lot of nights now and there was very little crying involved. To get rid of the during the night nursings, if they are still occurring when we make the final move of not nursing to sleep for bedtime, I will tell her she can have milk when the sun comes up. Then I'll offer her a sippy of milk in the morning. I know it took over a month to get to point where we are now, but I feel good about it. I had already nursed her almost 2 years so really, what's another 2-3 months in the grand scheme of things if it means we can wean without either of us feeling traumatized? I couldn't imagine cutting her off cold turkey when she's been used to nursing as a comfort for all of her short life. Not to mention that going cold turkey can lead to plugged ducts, engorgement, or mastitis in mom. Anyway, that's my 2 cents regarding weaning. I would have preferred a break in between nursing and pregnancy before nursing again for another couple years, but I don't regret how we are ending our nursing relationship. I hope you find this helpful. Good luck with however you proceed.

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S.B.

answers from Miami on

I think you have established a wonderful bond with your child. Good for you . He might not be getting enough calories during the day to satisfy his needs at 19 months without the nightly breast feeding. You should talk to your pediatrician about that aspect. Once you know that he has really had enough to eat during the day , you can reestablish the bedtime snuggling as that alone. Then you can wean him off the snuggling with a story or songs and finally big boy bedtime. Stay calm and keep controlling the situation. You have been doing a fine job and now you both need to advance to the next stage.

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T.B.

answers from Miami on

Y.,
Do you really have your heart set on weaning your son? If so, then you must explain to your son that mommy's milk is going to go away very soon. At 19 months, he shouldn't be waking up to breastfeed. Unless he is crying, don't go to his room. If he is crying, then go to his room but instead of picking him up, gently rub his back without saying anything to him.

I breastfed my second daughter past her 3rd birthday. I was 2 months pregnant with my 3rd child when I officially weaned my daughter. I weaned her because breastfeeding her while pregnant was becoming increasingly painful for me. She was old enough to understand when I told her that mommy's milk was going away and during the time that I was weaning her (it took about a month), I made access to my breasts difficult for her. Your son is a bit young to understand what a month is so you'll just have to make it difficult for him to get access to your breasts. He very well may be suckling during the night because he is waking up and it's soothing for him to suckle on the one thing that he knows brings comfort. He could also be teething and would explain why he's waking up. It's important that you show him other ways that mommy can comfort him. Wean with love...I tried to wean my daughter when she was about 2 1/2 years old but she wasn't ready. She screamed, she cried, and I wasn't ready either so I allowed her to continue nursing. I'm not sorry one bit that I continued with breastfeeding her for so long, despite the criticism I received from many people. I had breastfeeding issues with my 3rd child from day one. He had a weak suck which ultimately forced me to supplement with formula. It broke my heart but I had to do it. In a way, I believe that my second daughter's extended breastfeeding was God's way of allowing me to experience what I couldn't experience with my last child. Don't force the weaning issue. If you decide to allow your son to breastfeed until you become pregnant again, as pregnancy continues, your milk will change and your son won't like it as much so weaning will be on his terms. I hope I've helped.

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A.C.

answers from Port St. Lucie on

make your 19 month old two hot bottles and wrap them into a towel that when he is ready they will be warm. let him sleep in his crib feed him the same time that you are going to bed then after burping him put a pasifer into hie mouth and put him to bed its to soon for you not to be strong and very strick with him. You can put him your bed to start sleeping but as soon as he start sleeping put him in his bed and turn the baby monitor on, so you can hear him. You have to let him know that you are mom and you rule.

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R.C.

answers from Melbourne on

start giving him a cup & see how that works 4 awhile

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T.B.

answers from Boca Raton on

Wow, your son is still waking up twice at night? While you're weaning him from breastfeeding, perhaps you can try to get him to sleep through the night, too. (You did mention that you think his waking is habit... maybe you could stop that, too?)
My DD used a pacifier, so at night when she'd wake I wouldn't offer her the breast, I'd give her the pacifier and leave the room. If your son doesn't take the pacifer, perhaps offer him a sippy cup/bottle with water. I know our pediatrician has said that after a certain weight (and my 3 month old DS has surpassed that weight at 14 lbs...) there is no physiological reason for a baby not to sleep through the night.
Offering your son water instead of milk will wean him from breastfeeding and from night waking. (Probably best done if your DH does it. That way your son won't reach for your breasts.) After a few nights (my ped said at least 3), your son will figure out that he won't be breastfed/suckled when he wakes and he should stop waking. Be prepared for some fussing, you're changing his routine!
If you're considering baby number 2, there's a lot to be said for getting a full night sleep before introducing a newborn into the family!
Good luck,
T.
Mom to Katelyn, 27 months
and Matthew, almost 3 months

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