Weaning at 18 Months, Why Am I Having a Hard Time with This

Updated on January 16, 2012
I.X. asks from San Clemente, CA
16 answers

My first baby was formula fed. In brief, failing at BF was one of the most difficult and heart breaking experiences of my life. With baby number two I also struggled, but had made better arrangements for professional help and family support, as well, was better mentally prepared for the difficulty. Baby had weak suck, an early illness, relentless thrus, cracked nipples.... you get the idea. I never put any time lines on nursing because it was such a question mark as to wither I would even make it to 3 mo, 6 mo let alone past one year!!! Part of the reason I have done extended nursing is that my baby refused a bottle and I simply got stuck with the task. She now only nurses morning and night and part of me wants to be done with it. My nipples are sensitive all the time, Can't stand for my husband to touch them or for anything to touch them at all! I feel like this is a good age to wean, but I worked so hard to nurse that I cannot imagine weaning. I keep asking myself, why wean? My husband thinks its time (but can't say why). I don't consider myself in the self wean camp, but I'm having a hard time with this. Were you happy to be done with it? Sad? how long did it take you to get over being sad? Did anyone regret weaning even after extended BF?

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T.B.

answers from Miami on

Mama, just the fact that you can admit that you are not sure is a good enough sign for me to see that you are not ready. I'm on baby # 4 right now. She's nursing at this very moment as I type this. I had no issues with baby 1; nursed baby 2 until she was three and a half years old. My heart was broken when I couldn't nurse my third baby because he, like your baby, had a weak suck and I lost my milk supply. Baby number 4 came along, (quite the surprise!) and I had issues with her (weak suck again) but had the experience and insight from baby #3 to get help right away. She's still nursing, I still have milk and I will and intend to nurse for as long as I can and as long as she wants it and I pray she doesn't wean before I am not prepared.

My first born self weaned at 19 months. I was sad but eventually got over it. With my second child, I was asked by friends, family, and strangers and the ped when I intended to wean her. When she was still nursing past her second birthday, I was "guilted" into weaning her. I attempted but after a few days of me crying and my baby crying for me, I resumed breastfeeding and continued nursing her and shrugged off every negative comment and smirk from everyone who seemed to have an opinion...that was truly none of their business. My breastfeeding relationship was between me and my baby. I began the weaning process once I became pregnant with my third child and I only weaned my daughter because my breasts became very painfully sensitive during pregnancy. I was 2 months preg with my third child when I weaned my second child. Again, she was 3 1/2 years old. Had it not been for the pain, I would have joyfully nursed her, especially had I known that I was unable to to nurse my third child. Now, God has blessed me with another baby and I love breast feeding her. If I'm lucky to nurse her past her second or even past her third birthday, I will embrace it with all my heart. They don't breastfeed forever.

And for your husband wanting to stop nursing, I personally believe he wants you to stop for his own selfish reasons. ; )

4 moms found this helpful

J.W.

answers from St. Louis on

Please don't take this the wrong way but your story reminds me of my oldest when he learned to ride his bike. He was so fixated and determined to learn to ride that bike that when he finally did it he didn't want to stop. In part because he forgot to figure out the brakes. He finally ran into a tree. :(

You sound completely done with nursing but you seem to want some tree to come in and stop you rather than using the brakes.

It only took me a couple weeks to wean all of my kids, obviously not at the same time. :) Didn't miss it really, there were so many other ways to bond with my kids.

3 moms found this helpful
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A.F.

answers from Houston on

Yes and yes.

I really enjoyed getting my body back for me and my DH, but it was sad to lose that special time and connection with my daughter.

Ultimately, I let her lead the weaning - she did for good around 13 months. We were down to two feedings a day - morning and night. It got to where she didn't care if she nursed at night or not, so that stopped. And then it was getting difficult to get ready and out the door in the morning with the nursing time built in, so one morning I didn't nurse her and she didn't mind.

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D.B.

answers from Charlotte on

Amanda gives good food for thought, and I would like to add that you can't keep your daughter a baby forever. Try dropping the morning nursing - that is easier. Then drop the night time when you are more ready, but give yourself a deadline - maybe 2 more months.

Your husband probably doesn't want to tell you that he wants his wife's boobies back, but I'm sure that he does. And it's okay for him to feel that way.

Dawn

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S.H.

answers from Honolulu on

Both my kids self-weaned.
It was my choice to let it be in this manner.
My daughter, self-weaned at about 2.5 years old.
My son at about 1 year old.

Your child, seems to be self-weaning. Because, she only nurses morning and night. As a child self-weans, the frequency diminishes. AND the length of the nursing session, lessens as well.

But the thing is, you yourself, wants it to be done with.
So, that is fine.
It seems to cause a lot of discomfort for you both mentally and physically.
So, that is a reason to stop. Once nursing becomes a real hardship and just a hassle, then it is time to rethink extended nursing. And do what is best.

Your child is already 18 months old. So pat yourself on the back that you went this long.

I was fine when my kids self-weaned. I am glad I did extended breastfeeding but was also glad when it stopped. It is bittersweet.
My son who is 5, does not remember nursing.
My daughter who is now 9, does remember.
They don't remember, having to stop or that they stopped nor were they sad... to stop. And it was no trauma for them or me. How do I know? I asked them.

You do what YOU think is best... not what others want you to do or tell you to do.
It is your body, as well.

Ultimately, a woman should not resent... nursing. Due to the discomfort upon their body etc. Once nursing becomes a dread or a hassle... to me, that is time to stop.

If your child does not take a bottle... I am sure she can take a sippy cup????

If your child is only at your breast, for like 1 minute, she is not really nursing per hunger. Just habit or comfort.
A weaning child... will also start to "nurse" for shorter and shorter periods.

The next question is: Does she really need to... nurse at night and morning??? Or is this just a habit to do so?
If you happen to not nurse her at night and morning... will she really notice or tantrum about it????
The thing is... sometimes my daughter did not even think about nursing... so I would not. It was at HER pacing... and cues. I did not just pull out my breast just because of the time on the clock or the time of day. ONLY if she initiated it. And then SHE... self-weaned. And one day she just stopped. She told me "Mommy I don't drink from you anymore...." and then she giggled like she thought is was SO funny she did so. And that was the end. She never ever, nursed again. And it was no big deal.

2 moms found this helpful

M.D.

answers from Dallas on

Wow been there... I have 3 kids, the first two, young and only BF for 2-3 months, my 3rd I had in my early 30s. Needless to say, my last too, and I ended up nursing him until he was little over 3 years old. Neither one of us were ready at 18 months, and by 2 years, I was getting there, but I tied my tubes, knew he was my last and the bonding was incredible. Now my boobs did hurt sometimes, I just love doing it (not pumping, at 12 months I stopped that).
He's 5.5 now, he still has a thing for my boobs and I'm constantly telling him to stop touching them, making me wish I stopped nursing sooner. Now, my husband thought there was something wrong with me for nursing so long, told him in other countries they did it that long, just justifying with a little reason. Main reason I did it so long, we were co-sleepers, he fell asleep as so did I with him nursing. We bonded, but I did notice he used it as a blanket. It also kept him as my little one, even though he was getting big I still seen him as a baby. Now, my older kids thought it was gross too, and didn't like it.
At 3 when he did stop, or I made him stop, he understood language and what I was doing, he cried and cried, don't get me wrong, his age probably made it harder since he did it so long and it was like a security blanket to him. We still co-slept, I had to wear a bra to bed at first so he wouldn't be able to get them (I hate wearing my bras). But I did replace BF with reading more books and doing things when he got mad or upset.
I understand what you are going through, when you are ready you will know. I do think the longer you wait the harder it will be on both of you. However, I wasn't ready until he was over 3.
Good Luck Momma!!!

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J.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

I weaned my first at 15 months (I was 6 months pregnant), my second at 17 months (I was 3 months pregnant) and my third at 18 months - and since I'd been pregnant, nursing, or pregnant and nursing for almost 6 years at that point... I was ready to be done. I was happy to be done, because none of my babies REALLY slept through the night until I weaned them. That said - I was sad too. I really missed it once we were done... I loved sleeping all night, having my body back and all that... but I was still sad. Somedays I'd still like to sit down and nurse her and she's 3 already! :)

If you are not ready, and your baby is not ready, there is absolutely no reason to wean. Keep nursing. Make your new goal to quit when you or baby is ready! Or, give yourself till she's two, which is actually the guideline from the World Health Organization.

J.

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A.V.

answers from Washington DC on

My DD nursed til 2.5 and even though I'd been nudging her that way the very last time was bittersweet. I knew we were done and I'd done a good job and I did want to stop...I found the twinges of sadness were offset by being reassured that we still had quality time, being happy for her that she was on to the next step, and by doing things with her to still feel close and connected.

The thing is, I would wean her when YOU feel it's right for YOU and HER. It's not your husband's job. It's not his body. It's yours. If you want to wean and you think she is ready for it, then wean - it's a slow process anyway, IMO. If not then there's no reason not to continue one of the nursings for a while. At the very end, my DD was nursing "just a little bit" before bed and that was all. When people were looking at me like I was weird for nursing my 1 yr old I looked at the toddlers with bottles and thought, "What's the difference?"

If you can't imagine weaning at this time, tell him it is not time. If you want to cut back, distract her when she asks, make sessions shorter, and gently nudge her toward weaning. She may be more ready to let go of the morning nursing than evening.

Make the choice that YOU are most happy with. At the end of the day, it's about you and her. (And if your DH is annoyed, get a very nice lacy cami that he doesn't take off but gives him a good view...)

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S.C.

answers from Des Moines on

Just saw a reat esay about this: http://jezebel.com/5874927/i-guess-i-forgot-to-wean-my-baby

And I'll cut-n-paste what I always say--

"nursing a toddler/preschooler has been one of the more relaxing aspects of motherhood so far.

How many times as a Mom do you get to NOT worry? When nursing a toddler you do NOT have to worry about supply or hauling a [email protected]____.com pump to work because they're eating good and drinking from a cup. On the days they don't eat good you do NOT have to worry because you know they'll nurse more that night. On the days that involve a drive thru you can feel less guilty knowing the junk is balanced out with nature's perfect health food. If you have a comfort nurser, when they're sick you do NOT have to worry about dehydration. I think my son is FINALLY realy weaning-- he was sick a couple of weeks ago and for the first time he didn't comfort nurse through it so I had to actually WORRY about pushing fluids and dehydration."

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★.O.

answers from Tampa on

I LOVED allowing my child to self wean. I went thru many phases (short lived) where I was angry, frustrated and occasionally resentful about nursing at 2 y/o, 3y/o, 4y/o - but those feelings always passed because I knew how much confidence, love, comfort and support it was giving my child - not to mention antibodies and optimal nutrition found no where else! It helped with meltdowns in the 2's and 3's, helped with hard days once daycare and pre-school was started - gave her the security of recharging and bonding with me so she could face the next day with happiness and curiosity.

When she self weaned at 4.5 y/o - it was a very gradual and easy process. Occasionally she will tell me she misses the closeness and sweet milk, states she sometimes feels jealous of her new baby brother - but her happy and healthy memories of nursing is fondly shared by both of us. She's 6 y/o now.

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A.P.

answers from Janesville-Beloit on

My daughter LOVED to nurse, and at age 1 was still nursing 5-6x per day. So, I was feeling very ready to wean, because I felt like we spent a lot of our time nursing. I cut out one feeding a week, and on the night that I had decided to be done, I couldn't stop crying, I was so sad. But yet, I still stopped. So, we ended nursing at around 13 months. I think that in addition to feeling ready, I was also feeling a little bit of pressure to wean, because my friends/family do not extended bf. I now have mixed feelings about my decision to wean. On one hand, I'm glad to be done. After the initial sadness, I feel fine. It helps that my daughter (surprisingly) did totally fine with weaning. I was feeling so sad that I was going to be losing that connection with her, but we are every bit as close now, snuggle all the time, etc. I'm also happy to have my body completely back for a bit before trying to get pregnant again, and I have to say honestly that I'm happy to have bedtime be a quicker thing than it used to be! On the other hand, I feel a little bit like I stopped because of pressure (real or imagined) and I dont' feel like that's a good reason to stop. Also, my daughter has literally been sick since we weaned two months ago. Ear infection after ear infection....I can't help wondering if she would be healthier if we had continued?
Anyway, I think this is not all that helpful to you :) but I wanted to let you know how I was feeling both positively and negatively.
Good luck-either way you'll both do great!

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T.C.

answers from New York on

I can probably relate to this post better than most mamas on here... today is my son's 3rd birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANTON!!!) and I still BF him at night! Not alot, it is more like a pacifier for him.

Like you, I had some issues with breastfeeding in the beginning, although from the sounds of it nothing like what you went through. Like you, I was determined and when I eventually got it going smoothly, both my boy and I were so happy! I think I also had some guilt surrounding the issues we had in the earlier phase, and that made it all the more fulfilling for me to nurse. That's ok, I'm fine with admitting prolonged nursing is, in part, for my benefit. What's wrong with that? I'm not hurting him if anything I believe it is good for him. No matter what any naysayers may say, there is nothing anyone can tell me that would make me think there is anything wrong with breastfeeding or why such a stigma if you bf past the age of one?

The other side of it is that, well, my little guy is obsessed with his "pacifier." I had always figured that, based on what people told me, that there would come a time somewhere between 9 mo and 2 yrs where he'd show signs of self-weaning, then I would help the process along. Not my boy! Whenever I think of the task of weaning, it just feels like I'm taking away his favorite toy. After the first few months, I never had the nipple issues you mentioned or anything.

But I will say that I too am ready to be done with it, at times, and have been for about a year. But it is very contradictory because I am sure going to miss that bond and closeness. I mean really miss it. This will likely be my first and only child. About to cry just writing this. I also sometimes feel like I could wait to wean until he's ready ...which would probably be about 8 at this rate? hahaha! Yeah no I'm not gonna be that mom on that Youtube video .... but still. I guess you could say I've been taking his cues up until now, but since we've gone this long I may decide to actually wean him against his very strong will.

I just wanted to say I think that the conflict you are feeling is very normal, instinctive, and is a dilemma only you can work out for yourself. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. I think mom's who can't stand breastfeeding and choose to bottle feed are doing the right thing, although I just wish they are educated about the benefits of breastmilk and the bonding of it. I think mom's who choose to breastfeed and work their buts off at it are doing the right thing, i just wish they wouldn't beat up on themselves when it doesn't go perfectly. And everything in between is ok too. That's my opinion. Good luck!

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N.J.

answers from Los Angeles on

Wow I am so out of the norm based off the other posters. With my 1st I was slightly saddened by weaning (at a 1yr) I did kind of miss that cuddle time, but he was a horrible horrible sleeper. first night he was completely weaned he slept for 14 hrs straight---ahh that blissful night of sleep was all I needed to move on past my "saddness".

My 2nd I nursed until 18 months not really by my choice--more his. he was so high maintaince, exhausting and demanding and I never really felt that relaxed nursing him. I was done at 18 months, left him with my Mom for a weekend to celebrate our 7th anniversary and if felt soooo good to be detached from him. I didn't even look back once we got home, he didn't ask I didn't offer. In fact, I think I enjoyed our time more after I weaned him. I couldn't hold or cuddle him at all while nursing because all he wanted to do was nurse---so annoying. Once I stopped I got huge hugs and cuddles pretty much every hour. Even now at 27 months he's in my lap just for a quick snuggle---beats him wanting to just 'nurse' any day ---at least for me.

S.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

I think feeling torn about this is completely natural. Not only did you work *very* hard to get here, but it's almost as though you're making up for how things went the first time. We give ourselves such incredible guilt about whether we nurse or not and, if we do, how long it lasts.

If you are ready to be done, it is okay. You have done so much. If you haven't already done so, make sure someone takes a couple shots of you nursing. They will be a beautiful reminder of this amazing gift.

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B.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

My goal was to make it to 12 months, which I did, then I thought I'd try for 18 months. By 17 months I was only nursing my daughter before she went to bed, but it wasn't "fun" for me anymore. I was ready to be done - it was more stressful than enjoyable. I was a little sad to end it, but she did fine. We just switched up our nightly routine. My husband had been bathing her and I would rock and nurse her, so I started giving the bath and my husband would read to her and rock her. She did fine with the switch. After she got used to not nursing, I'm back to reading/rocking before bed.

Breastfeeding is a huge commitment. You've done an AWESOME job, especially considering all the challenges you had. You should feel very proud of yourself. If you're ready for that part of your life to get back to normal, don't beat yourself up about it. Good luck!

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T.K.

answers from Honolulu on

I with you. My dtr is 19 almost 20 months & still bf. I'm ready to be done with it sometimes in sleep she clenches down (ouch) my right side still has to recover not cuts it just hurts :( but I have not made a effort to try and wean. I just don't know how or where to start. I think I'm going to let her decide when she'll quit.
If your okay w/still bf then why not. If you decide to wean lmk what works!!

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