I just completely weaned my daughter a few days ago. I had this idea that babies were easy to wean, and you just give them cow’s milk and off they go. Why would I have that impression? Because that’s exactly what my twins did. Right at the 1 year mark I took off one feeding at a time and had very little fussing from either of them. My daughter was not the same.
I always had the goal of breastfeeding for a year and then stopping just as I did with my sons. I didn’t realize it would be a much longer and more difficult process. She is an opinionated lady already, and she let me know each step of the way that she didn’t like change.
To be honest, at a year I wasn’t completely ready to stop so I just let her nurse whenever she wanted. She was still waking up several times a night and the only way to get her to go back to sleep was to nurse her. I know that some of that is my fault. The sooner I stopped nursing her to sleep the sooner she would stop needing to be nursed to sleep.
We waited until she was 14 months old before really starting to wean. This was right after all the holiday commotions and I was ready to stop nursing. I started with her little snack feedings. She would often come up to me and nurse for a few minutes then hop down and continue playing. When I eliminated those, it would take us down to 3 feedings a day plus all of her night wake ups. She was a bit resentful at first and would scratch at my chest and face. I told my husband she was never going to wean and she would be this bratty teenager still wanting to nurse. I know it’s a bit of an exaggeration but sometimes when you’re in the motherhood trenches that’s what it feels like. I stuck with it for a week, and eventually the scratches on my neck healed and she stopped asking.
The next week I worked on her afternoon feeding. Although she fought it for a few days, she eventually relaxed and took her sippy cup. It helped that this coincided with her nap so she didn’t have a lot of fight in her. She would be so tired that she would give up, take the cup and start to fall asleep. We were trying to get her sleeping habits under control so after she drank her milk, I would lay her down in her crib for a nap.
Next came the hardest part. I wanted to leave the morning and night for last just for my own comfort. So the battle of night weaning began. My little lady is stubborn and has an excellent set of lungs on her. When I refused to nurse her in the middle of the night, she would throw a tantrum to beat all other tantrums. I was afraid she would wake the entire house. She would scream for 2-3 hours without stopping. I tried for a few nights but then I had to call in the big guns. It was Mr. Train’s turn.
He always gets called in for the tough things like sleep training and weaning. For a few nights he woke up with our sweet little tantrum throwing lady and worked to get her back to bed. Sometimes it would take hours to get her to go back down. As you can imagine our household was a bit grouchy for a few days. Miraculously after dealing with a year of sleepless nights, my little girl started sleeping through the night. I can count on one hand how many times in the last four years I have slept for longer than 6 hours at a time. It was glorious! Although it felt like an eternity, she was night weaned in about a week. An extra bonus is Mr. Train got to have some opportunities to be with our daughter one on one, which was rare in the first year. He may have preferred it to not be at 3 in the morning, but us parents have to take what we can get.
That took us to mid January. I was starting to miss our nursing time together, but I knew that it needed to be done. I have been TTC, pregnant or nursing for almost 7 years. I am ready to have my body be mine. We also have a weekend away in February and I wanted her to be completely weaned by then. I decided to drop the morning feeding first. I started, but after a few days of screaming fits and scratched skin, I called in Mr. Train again. He woke up with her for a few days in a row and gave her a sippy cup of milk and voila, she dropped that feeding. You’d think I would get the pattern by now, but I always try to do it first and it’s a horrible failure so I bring in Daddy to do the job.
At last it came down to our final feeding. Our evening feeding was one of my favorite times. I would take her into our bedroom away from her noisy brothers. I would usually get a good 20-30 minutes of enjoyable snuggle time out of it. I was a little sad to see it go so I didn’t push it that much. One evening she nursed but only did it for a minute or two on each side. Then she sat up, slid off the bed and left our bedroom. She walked over to her brother, took his sippy cup and cried for an animal cracker. I got the hint I guess she would be fine without our evenings together.
I really didn’t want that silly 2 minute feeding to be our last, so the following night I knew in my heart it would be the last time. I let her completely fall asleep with me and I snuggled her for a little longer that night before putting her in her crib. I also admittedly cried a little bit. She is my last child and this was my last time nursing a baby. I let myself be emotional and knew that in a few days it would pass.
Well here we are a few days past that and things are fine. My mommy sadness as subsided and I am looking forward to that much needed weekend away.
Did you have a difficult time weaning or was it easy?