Worried About Weaning at 1 Year

Updated on December 15, 2008
M.P. asks from Pleasantville, NY
14 answers

Hello moms. My daughter will be 10 months old next week and I'm planning to wean her at one year. She has been strictly breastfed (she never liked formula!). She started refusing a bottle around 6 months so my husband and I gave up and have been giving her a sippy cup ever since. She doesn't drink much from it and mostly chews on the spout and gets most of her liquids from nursing. I currently breastfeed her about 3-4 times a day and she gets 3 solid meals a day. What is the best way to wean her slowly without cutting her off cold turkey? When should I start the weaning if I want her to be off the breast by 1 year? I'm also worried about soothing her. Sometimes when she is screaming and crying, the breast is the best soother for her. I worry about what will happen when I start weaning her. Will this be traumatic for her and for me? Will she cry and want to nurse once she's weaned? Thanks so much!

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answers from New York on

I breast fed both of my children for one year. In the last 2 months I started giving them bottles with 1/4 formula and 3/4 breast milk (Carnation Good Start Formula- after trying all diffferent kinds of formula it was by far the best for both my children). Then every 2 weeks after I would increase the formula to breast milk ratio by a little bit.
And eventually after 12 months did the same to introduce whole milk.

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answers from New York on

Hi M.. The La Leche League has some good books about weaning. You can check out their website. But I'm going to go out on a limb...I'm not telling you what to do by any means, and when to wean is a personal decision. But you sound like you might not be ready. I only say that because I said the things you're saying when my son was about that age. I worried about how I would soothe him, how I would get him to drink anything else, etc. Just know that you don't have to wean at age 1 if you don't want to. I always planned on it and almost couldn't wait, then decided to continue for all those reasons (soothing, etc.) and more. Plus, it was so easy to nurse him at that age. He hardly nursed at all, just a handful of times a day, I was no longer sore, and I felt like it was all so manageable. BTW, my son JUST weaned (he'll be 2 this week), and it's very bittersweet. I nudged it along, because I'm 20 weeks pregnant, and getting very sore, but I tried to let him lead the way as much as possible. I don't think there was much left, so he gave it up as my pregnancy progressed. They say you miss it and, in my case, that's true (but I never thought it would be). If you want to wean, I have heard that cold turkey is traumatic for both of you (though I can't say from experience). In my case, when I tried to cut back his nursing this fall, I decided I would "nudge but not push." In other words, I would distract him, or tell him "later" but if he cried or really seemed to be upset, I would give it to him. That worked for me and we were both comfortable that way. Good luck in whatever you decide to do. You will find your way and see what's best for you both. P.S. The other thing no one told me was that, after around age 1, nursing becomes a lot more fun. Your child becomes more interactive, makes more eye contact, smiles, will play games with you like "high fiving," etc. I will never forget my sons grins and giggles when he thought I was going to tickle him while nursing. Sorry to sound so pathetic, I must be having a hard time with my own weaning situation :(

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answers from New York on

It sounds to me that you are sad about weaning. That "comfort" thing is very important- for both of you. There is no reason that you have to wean at 1 year- unless there is a personal reason that you have- I just mean physically & emotionally, the longer you nurse, the better for both of you. If you are down to 3 times per day, it sounds like together you have started the weaning process. And 2 months is a long time in an infant's life, it may go smoother than you think. My daughter self weaned at 14 months. She slowly cut down on feedings until she didn't want anymore. She went right to a cup, no reason for bottles at that point. You ask if it will be traumatic, not if it is done slowly and you both are ready. Good luck, and try to relax & enjoy the last few months of nursing- you will miss this special time.

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answers from New York on

I think its harder on the mom to wean than on the baby.

If you are nursing 3 times a day, pick one time to hand her a sippy-cup first. Perhaps the afternoon feeding??? Do that for one week or so and see if she adjusts. Then give her a sippy cup either in the morning or at night. Again, give it another week or so to see how she adjusts.

My son was just done at 14 months...I had him weaned to 2 times a day and he just decided no more. I had a harder time giving it up than he did. My daughter was the same, right at 14 months, done!!! =< I would have stopped before 18 months anyway.

Slow and steady...what a lucky baby to have such a wonderful and thoughtful mommy!!! Kudoos!!!



answers from Rochester on

Believe it or not that 3-4 times a day will eventually get down to 1-2 times a day and then stop.
You're doing the right things. Be sure to identify if she's nursing to eat or for comfort?
My daughter nursed to eat and not for comfort - I made sure I cuddled, hugged and kissed her. You may want to try to soothe her in other ways. Sometimes distractions are nice so she forgets about the boob!

So, being a full time mom - I had nursed/pumped. Then after awhile, I stopped pumping and nursed on demand when I was with her. Then at about 10 or 11 months old, I nursed her only when she woke up and for bedtime (put her to bed drowsy, not asleep!). One morning after she just became 1, I tried to feed her and she swatted me away! I was SHOCKED!!! I tried again, nope. Once again, then she BIT me! I'm like - okaaaay. Tried again in the evening - same thing. So, we were done! She's never asked to breastfeed since. She's now 14 months old. Keep the feeding routine that you have now and keep offering the cup and it will eventually stop.
By the way, try a different sippy cup. She likes the one with the Straw from Munchkin - she never did care for the other sippys...



answers from New York on

hi M.;

congratulations on a successful nursing arrangement! it sounds like you've been doing a great job. your worries are really normal but you've been doing such a great job, giving your baby lots of nursing, and that should make you feel confident and good about your baby's health.

weaning can be scary but the thing to remember is that you don't have to do anything you don't feel good about. if you start the weaning process and it feels bad or like it's too soon, then wait a while. don't rush it.

based on my exp having nursed my son till 3 yrs old and still nursing my daughter at 22 months, i would like to give you a different perspective that i think can help.

don't bother with your ped about weaning unless he or she is really especially supportive and already involved; most peds are underinformed about nursing and will usually give one-size-fits-all answers that aren't helpful; why don't you try a La Leche League meeting in your area for some ideas and experience. just google that organization and click on 'resources' for your area to find your local chapter meeting. there you will meet moms who have gone through this and can give you real life answers and experiences to think about.

the La Leche League philosophy has many parts and not every part of it is for everyone, but thier main message is "Take What Helps and Leave The Rest." so try that resource, you might really find it helpful.

next i would say, go very easy with the process for a young baby like yours. ask yourself, Why do you need to wean? is it what you really want? 3-4 nursings a day is not that much and if you feel good about, there is no reason to stop at this age. breastmilk is EXTREMELY good for children. my kids have never had one drop of formula, OR cow's milk, and they are at the top of the charts in all areas. i don't think this is anything other than good genes, and lots of breastmilk. so don't let anyone tell you that you have to stop nursing if you don't want to. its very personal and the choice is yours.

yes, your baby may cry and want to nurse once she is weaned, sure, this is why the process can sometimes be hard. but it is NOT always the case. some babies wean very easily. you can offer her the straw cup or sippy cup with vanilla rice milk or watered-down juice. if she needs comforting you can certainly rock ad hug and kiss her. if she has a binky use that. but the difficulties of weaning may not outweigh the benefits so go slow and take it easy on yourself. remember that you are learning along with your daughter and with all of us.

one reason to wait on weaning if you can is that the older child has much more vocabulary and understanding and you can talk about it and offer other things. at 3 yrs. i weaned my son in a day because we talked about it for a week and then made him a party. it was a happy event. but a 1 yr old doesn't have these skills and may struggle with understanding why the nursing is being taken away. so consider waiting if you can.

don't worry you will get through it, whatever you decide. remember you are the mother and you know best.




answers from New York on

Hi M.-
I have a 13.5 month old, and I'm going through the same thing.. After such a difficult first couple of months with breastfeeding I never thought I'd still be nursing at a year. When she turned 12 months I decided to start to wean.. I stopped pumping at work (I work pt) and slowly cut out some feedings.. Now we are down to morning and night; and on the days i don't work - naptime.. A few times I have tried to not nurse her at naptime and she will cry and wants it, so for now I will still nurse her then. Also there are times when she dosn't need it, for example in the morning if we dont' have alot of time, sometimes I'll just skip nursing and give her breakfast..

At first I was pretty nervous and anxious about the whole weaning thing.. but at this point I think I will just go with the flow. Part of me wants to keep nursing her and another part is ready to be done.. So for now I am trying to just be casual about it and not rush..

From research that I have done, a few suggestions were... to have someone else put them to bed, change your position (don't sit in that chair), go for a ride in the car, go right down to breakfast in the morning...

Good luck! And I think if you listen to your gut, you will know what to do and you will do what is right for you and your baby!




answers from New York on

Do you want to wean her for any particular reason or do you think you have to? You can breastfeed her longer if you are both happy about it. It sounds like you might still be enjoying it and she definitely is. But I understand. With my two, there came a point where I felt like I needed a break, so we weaned very slowly.

You didn't mention if you still nurse to sleep. The night weaning was the hardest for both kids and once we did that, the rest was easy. You can do it as fast or as slow as you like, but if you want her to guide the wean, you might be breastfeeding past one year and there's nothing wrong with that. In every other country, breastfeeding goes well past one year. My daughter was 19 1/2 months and my son was 2 years 4 months. With my daughter, my intention was to go for a year and once we got there, everything still felt fine for both of us so we continued. I started weaning her when I was pregnant with my son about 16 months.

My son was harder to wean, because I didn't have pregnancy hormones to deplete my supply. But he was older, so he took a sippy cup if I offered it when he asked to nurse. I kept the 1st morning nurse and the nap nurse for quite some time, but once it was down to 2-3 brief nurses, I felt like I had my life back and could manage even if that continued for a while. Once he started potty training, the first morning nurse dissipated and the nap turned into a sippy right around the same time. He'd still ask for comfort here and there and I indulged, but eventually he didn't even want it and then forgot how to do it.

If your daughter doesn't take a bottle or sippy cup yet, it will make it harder for you and her to do the wean. You don't want to make it traumatic or stressful so she feels you are rejecting her. I'd say to start giving her a regular cup or sippy at mealtimes and during the day when she asks to nurse. Just have it available to her. If she seems to really "need" to breastfeed, indulge, but if she's just asking to ask, give her the sippy. That's what worked for both of my children.

Feel free to email me offline if you want to talk more about this.




answers from New York on


It seems like you have a lot of doubts about weaning. When I was pregnant, I said I would breastfeed for 12 months-tops. My son is now 20 months old and still actively nursing on demand whenever we are together (I WOTH). Why do you want to wean at 12 months? Or are you getting pressure from family, friends, society? I am now convinced that "natural weaning" is the way to go for us. If you are interested, you may want to take a look at La Leche League's website or Kellymom to read more about it. Good luck with whatever you decide!!



answers from New York on

Hi M.,

I went through the exact same thing. I found that my daughter loved organic whole cow milk just as much as breast milk. You can just wait a couple more months and continue to nurse her. Then when you switch to cow's milk, she might take really well to it - much more than formula. Whatever you do - do it slowly. I ended up with nursing my daughter only one time a day (in the PM) and then decided to stop when she was taking the cow's milk so well. She didn't have a problem with it. Just keep trying with the sippy cup too. You can try to take the valve out of it, my daughter couldn't drink from it with the valve.

I was surprised how well my daughter weaned from nursing, it was more of myself who had the difficult time. My daughter forgot about nursing 2 weeks after and doesn't look for it anymore. She will find other ways to sooth herself.



answers from New York on

First, ask you pediatrician. My baby too hates the bottle. I nursed my first child for 16 months. My second is 11 1/2 months and I nurse her, still. I can't see her giving up nursing any time soon. My pediatrician (and AAP) recommends breast milk or formula be the main source of nutrition for the first year. I have started giving my baby a sippy cup of warm milk whenever we are in the car or stroller. Sometimes she drinks it, sometimes she just throws it on the floor.
I hope this helps.



answers from New York on

hi M.! my daughter turned one last july and i had the same worries that you did. i started weaning her at one year by dropping one feeding at a time. i started with lunch because that seemed the easiest. i gave her a sippy cup of milk after she ate her lunch and before i put her down for a nap. she didn't love it at first, but she drank a few ounces and i would save what she didn't drink so she could finish it after she woke up. once she got the hang of the lunch time milk, i dropped the bed time nursing, which i thought would be totally traumatic, but she was fine with it! by then she was getting used to the milk and she went down okay. the early morning feeding was the toughest one to let go of - for me more than her. she fought it and cried the first day and i ended up giving in and nursing her ( i couldn't imagine never nursing her again!!). the second day i stuck to my guns and only offered her the sippy of milk. i changed our routine too. i used to nurse her in her bedroom and rock her back to sleep, but this time i brought her downstairs and gave her the sippy of milk. we played with some toys as a distraction. we did that for two days and then she stopped waking up so early. instead of getting up at 6, she slept until 7:30ish. by then we just started getting up and going downstairs for milk and breakfast. honestly, by then it was me who was more upset about it than her!

as for the soothing - i had that same worry. my daughter doesn't really have a "woobie." she's not overly attached to a blanket or stuffed animal, but she did start wanting her pacifier more often. i let her use it more to help her self soothe. your daughter will find some sort of "transitional object" to latch on to i'm sure. good luck! remember, it's always harder on the mom than it is on the baby!




answers from Binghamton on

Why do you want to wean? I'm just curious. Are YOU wanting to wean, is it cultural pressure or the feeling that you should? I don't know how I would have soothed my daughter without nursing and I'm so glad I didn't wean when I was "supposed" to. To wean actually means "to be ready" and it doesn't sound like your daughter is ready. If she took a bottle she would transfer the need to suckle to the bottle. But she doesn't so she would lose her source of comfort if you wean. My recommendation is to re think weaning and give her a bit more time.



answers from Albany on

What I did with both my boys...introduced the cup around 6 months with watered down juice and no plug in it until they got the hang of it. It was "extra" fluids - I continued breastfeeding three times/day after they were eating three meals a day. Then, when I was ready to wean, I removed one nursing "meal" a week (so it took 2 weeks to wean). I started with the lunchtime feeding (pre-nap), then did the morning, and finally the before bed one. (That one had to be done with DH's help, as he put the boys to bed for a good two weeks at that point, til they were completely uninterested in nursing.)

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