Weaning Help Needed for 3 Year Old,yikes!

Updated on June 08, 2008
S.C. asks from San Antonio, TX
20 answers

My 34 month old daughter still wants to nurse all the time. What can I do? She nurses when i get home from work and all weekend long. i am exhausted. She won t take no for an answer and i don t want to be mean to her. yes, she drinks lots of water.

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B.D.

answers from Houston on

Unfortunately, I think a little tough love is going to be required here. Maybe you can distract her with something else like a favorite toy or a playing together instead to make it a different kind of special time just with her? That may be what she is really interested in -- alone time with you!! Good luck!!

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K.H.

answers from Austin on

S.
Congratulations on nursing so long!

At almost 3yrs of age, I don't know that a replacement bottle is necessary...

A friend of mine with a nursing preschooler recently told me that she thinks that, at this point, it's a habit bordering on addiction for her daughter. Wake up, nurse, eat lunch, nurse, get hurt, nurse, etc.....She's a stay-at-home, so their routine differs some from yours. It's really nice to have that to fall back on if the One-on-One time has been on the skimpy side....helps restore things.
As far as practical weaning tips...it depends on how abrupt or gradual you want to be. If you're ready to be done, yesterday, then you may feel the faster the better....One mom put Band-Aids on her nipples and told her ds that they had owies and needed to be done. Another mom told her 3yr old son that they milk was gone, but that they could cuddle instead. For him, it was all about physical touch, so replacing nursing with cuddles was effective for them.

If your daughter needs some transition time to get used to the idea of not having that particular connection with you, then some creative ideas are needed. Whether you start coloring together, reading books more, maybe special/new books for those times.....

I guess the only tip that I really have is to not just take the nursing away, but to replace it with something...fill the gap. If you can determine why your dd still wants/needs to nurse, then you can come up with a more effective replacement activity.

Also, depending on just how much she is nursing, I would be hyper-aware of my breasts and watchful for plugged ducts during the weaning process. Your local LLL leader can be a lot of help too. They are volunteers with lots of breastfeeding experience...and are there to help!

Hope this all makes sense! Feel free to email me if anything I wrote needs clarification.

HTH - I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers

K., mama to
Catherine, 4.5y (nursed for 2.5y)
Samuel, 17m (and still going strong!)

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S.R.

answers from Beaumont on

More than likely you have become her paci.... it happened with both my boys I did not read all the responses you got but maybe you could cover your nipples with band aids and tell her you have a bo- bo. I would show her the band aids and tell her how much they hurt. A friend of mine used that technique on one of her daughters.

Btw good for you on nursing that long even though you do not need me to tell you that!!!!!!!!!!! I especially feel that people do not come on here for others sacasm just advise and we all parent differently and it is our free will to be a softy or hard.

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J.W.

answers from College Station on

You Just need to say NO and mean it, It was very hard for me to get my daughter off the bottle and her binkie, I just didn't want to be mean either, i kept telling her she is a big girl now and no more of this and you can have what big girls have now, I went through all of her whining and screaming for about a week and then it was all ok. So please try this so you can have some pleasure in your life as well, she will be just fine, trust me !

J.

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D.L.

answers from McAllen on

I nursed all my children for at least 3 years, and my last for 5 . I perpair them a while before says big boys do not nurse after they are the age you pick.if that dooes not work, my sister inlaw had her solution, she would be cooking at stove and scream oh i burned the tity, and put band aids on nipples. I did it with one and it worked, he really was more concerned with my owoe and was really good about it. The one i nursed until 5 has only had 4 cold in his 20 years and for only 1-2days. Never really sick. Do what feels right to you maybe your child needs that 1-1 comfort when you return hom to reconect. Good luck and listen to your heart not to others ideas.

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G.S.

answers from Austin on

I'm just reading this really good parenting book and I like how the mom weans her daughter. She was telling her daughter that the boobies were almost empty, that she had almost drunk all the milk in them. Eventually her daughter weaned but then started nursing at night again about 6 months later. So she made up a rhyme--they're free when you're three, but no more when you're four. Still her daughter didn't wean from this night nursing until almost 5. The worldwide average for nursing is about 4 years and three months. So don't despair! Take care of yourself, too. Maybe you go to just one feeding before bed and not all weekend long--whatever makes it ok for you, too.

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S.O.

answers from San Antonio on

You might use the age issue. She turns 3 in 2 months. 3 year olds aren't babies anymore and there will be no more milk once she turns 3, etc. Say it as matter-of-fact. Then, make a big deal for some special advantage of turning 3 (separate from talking about breastfeeding), like getting an allowance or something. Don't say, you can't breastfeed anymore, but you can.... Just keep the two apart, but give her something to look forward to as well. I would also start weaning her now. Limit the amount of time she's latched on, and how many she's getting a day. Distract her. Eventually, it comes down to you standing your ground and saying no. Saying no to your kids isn't MEAN. It's part of being a parent. Kids need to know that they don't always get what they want. I personally would just be honest. I can't do it anymore, you're too old. It's time. You're not a baby anymore and Mommy's tired. Then, find some Mommy-daughter time and make it special. Make a new tradition.

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M.F.

answers from Austin on

S.,

One advice I saw from another mom on here (which I intend to use if need be, when I wean my soon-to-be-2-year-old):
Get some of the nail-bite yucky-tasting stuff, and explain that your boobs are yucky now. Apparently that stuff tastes RANK, so I suspect that would be a huge deterrant.

I also like the band-aid idea that another mom told you about. My little one definitely understands "Owies," so that might be helpful, too. ;-)

Overall, kudos for your dedication to nursing long-term, and I agree, that you could probably reason with her. . . they're pretty sharp at 3. :-)

Best of luck!
M.

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B.S.

answers from San Antonio on

S.,
Hi. I really feel for your situation. I nursed my daughter for 18 months and my son for about 30 months. I think there are several things going on. One is that since you are working, your daughter is using nursing as a way to stay close to you when you are home. One thing you might do is to try to divert her attention from the nursing by doing something else together and lengthening the time in between nursings. Many people have a hard time saying no to their children, thinking that it is being mean. It's not. Children need parents willing to say no to them. It's the best gift you can give your daughter - even though it's very hard to deal with the crying that happens as she gets used to the situation - but you have to remember that she will! If you first try to say that nursing time is later, not now...now we're going to do XYZ, she may have a easier transition, until eventually you can limit nursing times to before bedtime, for example. Eventually, that can turn into just cuddle time or reading time, without nursing. I hope this helps. Good luck!

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D.B.

answers from Houston on

One weaning process gives her a chance to snuggle and cuddle with you for short times with a "lovey", either a blankie or a specially cuddly stuffed animal of her choice to comfort and calm her instead of the breast. You tell her when she indicates she wants to nurse that it is time for her to pick her lovey and bring it along. Set an oven timer, or get one she can set herself, to bring a finite time limit that you choose. At the end of the nursing time, tell her that later you will hold her with her lovey, and no nursing. Then, be prepared to stand your ground. Let her pick another lovey to add if she still needs comforting. Let her know that when she was a little baby you shared your breasts with her, and now that she is not a baby it is time for you to keep them inside your clothes and her time to learn to comfort herself. She may easily transition. Or she may take a few days to accept the change.

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H.B.

answers from Austin on

Hi S.,

I weaned my youngest at 2. He was old enough to understand when I told him my milk was "almost" gone, during which time I weaned him down to one nursing a day. Then after a couple of weeks we went out of town for the weekend, and being in a new place was a distraction so I was able to get him to sleep without nursing. When we got home he expected to nurse, but I told him the milk was all gone. He cried, but got over it. We just cuddled instead. I would let him put his hand on my waist under my shirt to feel my skin, and he would calm down and relax enough to go to sleep.

I recommend weaning gradually; you decide the pace you're comfortable with. Just continue to love and cuddle her, encourage her that she's a big girl, and that your milk came when she was a baby and it's decreasing now that she's growing up. Plan to have other activities to distract her at times she'd usually nurse, even if it means leaving the house a little more often at first. Try letting dad put her to bed or play with her at those times she'd usually nurse. She won't be happy, but you are the parent and you can tell her no in a loving way without causing any harm to her.

Hope this helps! == H.

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M.D.

answers from Houston on

Hi S.,
Well let me tell you that I nursed my older son who is almost 4 yrs. old until he was about 21 months. But now with my 9 month old baby I was also nursing and I did enjoy it. Until I got really sick adn had to take medication and some shots. I hated the fact that I could not nurse him since the medicine could harm him. So what I did was feed him w/ a sippy cup, last month. Since he allready knew how to drink since he was 4 months. He cried for about maybe 2 days and he did take little sips from the cup, and then he tried the bottle since he did not like that too. (He never had had a bottle until now) Plus he only liked to be fed in bed. I made my mind up about not pumping since why would I. I could not feed him that milk. So it took him about 3 days for him to forget the milk,(my milk). It was very hard on him and on me since he was just 8 months and he di not know better. I wish I could of given it to him a lot longer but I got sick and maybe it was just a sign for me to stop since he olny wanted it laying down.
What you need to do is, give her regular milk in a cup. Maybe in a nice pretty cup that she likes like the Princess, Dora whatever she is into. B/c we sure don't want to start her in a bottle. Let her know that mommy can't no longer give her, your milk. Make something funny for her to know and for her to understand. It does hurt to see your child cry for her milk but if my baby did it, I know your daughter can do it. I feel so much better now since I don't feel prisoner to my room. (lol) It was very fun and I'm glad I did it for that long. Even though yes I could of done it for longer period. But now it's much better since he is 9 months and he took it very well. Good luck and you can do it. B/c if she can do it with out you for some long hours, she can do it for a few hours before she goes to bed. God Bless.
M.

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L.B.

answers from Austin on

I think your daughter misses you terribly, and feels the closest to you when she nurses. Do you spend one on one time with her very much other than nursing, or is that your only one on one time? You might try limiting her nursing to only bedtime and try spending lots more one on one with her. She can help fix dinner, fold clothes, pick up and put away. It may be a little extra effort on you, but the time spent would be substituted for time you spend sitting with her in your lap nursing. Limit your nursing time, watch the clock, and make it a bit shorter every night. Your milk will start to dry up a little and eventually she will be weaned.

My oldest daughter nursed about this long, and I finally had to cut her off - Cold Turkey! It was more painful for me than for her. She was actually taking more from me than from the table. This soon changed, as I offered her alternatives whenever she wanted to nurse and just told her no more...mom has no more. Thank goodness she was the only one of 4 that was difficult to wean. Best of luck to you.

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K.J.

answers from San Antonio on

I am sort of going through the same thing except we are already partially weaned- down to 1-3 xs weekly almost always at night or upon waking. I just told her big girls don't drink Mommy's Milk and gave her real life examples of playmates that are 4-5 that she looks up to so much. I have told her off and on for last 6 months some day she won't drink Mommy's Milk anymore at all. She no longer takes a nite nite warmed milk sippy cup so I hope the tansition will be easy enough. She deos enjoy a rocking and a nite nite song in the place of nursing. But I try to watch to many "exact" rituals every night- I had a friend who was in the hospital and separated from her 2 yr old son- he would not sleep without MOMMY to cuddle him (she wasn't even nursing him anymore) Just flat out slept for 15 mi and woke up till about 4 AM when he slept until dawn- for 3 days!!
So- trying to learn from that lesson- I put her down alone sometimes and often times Daddy puts her down by himself- sometimes with a song sometimes without (1 x a week at least- I am usually in a relaxing bath- hubby can tell when it is his SOLO night when I start bath water running for myself) Sometimes we read nite nite stories in living room- in her rocker chair or in her bed- sometimes we drop the story and just talk about our exciting day- sometimes a song- but usually 2-3 min of whispered talking of some kind before bed- lights off (she has a nite lite in her room) but always we say prayers - that is always consistent routine.

I absolutely WOULD NOT go back to a BOTTLE at AGE 3!? (but that is just me- we graduated to big girl sippy cups over a yr ago- I have no wish to go backwards!?!)

She still asks for it sometimes during the day and tries to lift my shirt- I tell her NO- sternly and usually explain we are going to... snack- eat dinner- head to the store - go play outside (ya know the distraction technique.) If she asked again and pulled on the shirt- she sits in her time out chair for her 2 minutes- that put a stop to that real quick! She hates being pulled away from activites ie wiggles/ playing/ eating/ being the center of attention etc. with a TIME OUT - of 2 whole minutes?!) :-)

Hope that helps- JUST KNOW YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!! WE ARE at 2 1/2! :-)

BLESSINGS
K.

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D.L.

answers from Austin on

I had to wean my son at 15 months, about a month ago for medical reasons with the baby I am expecting. We had to send him to my inlaws while I was in the hospital for a week, and when he got back he wanted to occasionally but I just kept resisting and didn't give in. It ended up taking about 3 weeks plus that one with his grand parents to finally give up on it and not want it any more.

My suggestion if you have family that could take her for a week or so it will be a big help. Also just stand your ground and yes you may want to pull your hair out occasionally but they will get over the fit.

Best luck

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R.L.

answers from Austin on

Your daughter is 3 and you are 34. She is not able to "not take no for an answer," she is only able to throw a three year old tantrum and try to get her baby way. Tell her no and then don't nurse her. Offer her milk or chocolate milk or water instead.

It isn't mean, it is part of being a parent. It isn't always easy and she won't always like you. Your job is to help your daughter to grow into an independent young lady and you are doing her a disservice by allowing her to control you at 3 years old. What will you do when she is a teenager and tells you that she hates you or that you are the meanest mom ever for not allowing her to do XYZ?

This might be hard for you, but it is important that you take a stand and stick with it. It is best for you and it is best for her.

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M.K.

answers from Victoria on

My babies only nursed for a few months. I never had a great supply. But, at the age of your daughter, I would think just telling her it times to stop and that big girls only drink from cups should start helping a little. I had a friend who nurses her son similar to that until he was 20 months. She pretty much just had to take it away, because he also kept wanting it during the night. Have you asked your doctor?

Also, if your daughter is starting preschool soon that may be an incentive or anything that could pursuade her this is for "babies".

Good luck!

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M.S.

answers from College Station on

Kelly H has great advice! You may have to try some activities that aren't just sitting b/c then she will try sitting in your lap to nurse. Distract her by throwing a ball, dancing to some fun music, marching, playing outside, etc. She can help you in the kitchen too or by vacuuming. she obviously wants your attention and likes the closeness w/you , so you need to give it to her in other ways.

Blessings,
M.
Mom to 5 Wonderful Kids
www.4MyChildrenSake.com

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P.K.

answers from Houston on

we did this! at three, communication is a real thing. so, we talked openly about how mommy's body was tired, and we did a count down, taking out x number of nursings per day or week or whatever. i would hold him close while he cried about this, but we made it through. and then on "the day", we celebrated and made a booby cake, seriously! a party to say goodbye, welcoming a new stage of life. be creative, and make it about you all!

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K.K.

answers from Killeen on

What she wants is the closeness with you...So...give it to her...Wean her by shortening how long she nurses by 5 or ten minutes every couple of days...but supplement with the bottle and holding her the rest of the time that she would noramlly nurse for (at least, offer her the bottle. If you want to still give her your milk express it when she is not in the same room with you. If she won't take the bottle from you, hold her for the rest of her nursing time without nursing then give her to your husband or other family member to give the supplemental food from the bottle...

I hope this works for you, it may end up taking a week or two for her to be fully weaned this way, but, you and she will be much more relaxed and fulfilled this way.. ;-)

Good Luck...

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