When I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but I was afraid I wouldn’t be successful. I knew I wanted to breastfeed for a year if I could, but I didn’t really think about nursing a toddler. Then, once I had Liam, I thought I would breastfeed for as long as we both wanted to… and I thought that would be when he was close to 2 years old. I know that breast milk is beneficial for children no matter their age and I wanted my son to have as much as I could give him.
From the beginning, I was always producing just enough. I had a small freezer stash before I went back to work when Liam was 4 months old, but it was depleted pretty quickly and we were living bottle to bottle. For a while, I was pumping early in the morning before he woke up just to have enough milk for the day because I wasn’t pumping enough just at work. Then, once he started eating more solids, his milk intake decreased a bit, around 8 or 9 months. It wasn’t by much, but I no longer had to wake up to pump and was able to keep up with what I pumped at work.
When he was 10 or 11 months old, his milk intake went down again and he was only drinking one or two small bottles a day, in addition to eating lots of food. He drank water from a straw cup and was healthy and growing. I knew I wanted to stop pumping when he turned one, so I did, and it was so nice to not have to worry about that anymore. We let him try cow’s and goat’s milk and he didn’t love either, but he would drink a few sips here and there. At his one year well visit, I told the doctor that he was nursing three times per day (morning, when I got home from work around 4, and night), but not drinking much additional milk and he said it was totally fine and that he didn’t need anymore than what he was getting. This was a huge relief because I didn’t feel like I had to push milk or give it warmed up in a bottle – which meant he was completely done with bottles at one year old.
Finally mastering the sippy tilt at 14 months old.
Over the next couple of months, I would sometimes only nurse him twice a day and sometimes three times, depending on his mood and our schedule – on the weekends I would sometimes nurse him laying down so we could nap together. Then, I began summer break at the beginning of June and I was scared I wouldn’t be able to get him down for naps every day without nursing. The nanny can get him down everyday without a bottle, but he knew what I had, so I was worried he’d throw a fit. However, it was much easier to get him down without the boob than I expected. I just bounced and rocked him and that was it. It was faster, too! Once I realized I could get him to sleep without nursing, I decided to try it at bedtime a few days later and it worked. Just like that, we were down to nursing only once a day.
I wanted to keep our morning session a little while longer because I wasn’t ready to give it up. I loved bringing him to bed when he woke up in the morning and cuddling together for 20 minutes or so. When I developed a terrible blocked duct that became infected, I thought I should stop all together to prevent it from happening again. That made me really sad. One day, I decided the next morning would be our last nursing session and I cried just thinking about it. The next day I made sure to not be distracted by my phone and really soak in our time together, but I wasn’t ready to stop. I continued for another couple of weeks because I just couldn’t let it go.
First Starbucks – or milk in a tiny Starbucks cup – at Target.
Then, we were out of town and one morning Liam just wouldn’t latch right. He was kind of biting and not really serious, so I ended the session. He was fine with it and took some cow’s milk in a sippy (he had been drinking a bit more, but still only a couple ounces a day). The next morning, I decided that we were done, since we had gone a whole day without nursing. He asked for it, but didn’t seem upset when I gave him a sippy of milk instead. Surprisingly, I wasn’t even sad about it. I guess I had gotten all of that out of my system because it just felt right.
So, at just under 15 months, Liam was completely weaned. I wanted it to be a slow process, which it was, and I wanted him to be ready. I know he would have nursed longer, but I also know it was good timing for us because he never cried about it and I never felt like I was depriving him. At his 15 month well visit, I told the doctor he was done nursing and drinking 2-3 oz of cow’s milk a day and he was just fine with it. He encouraged me to offer him lots of dark green leafy vegetables (green smoothies are a good way to sneak this in) in addition to yogurt and cheese, so he gets enough calcium, but he said not to worry about him drinking lots of milk.
Did weaning happen gradually for you, or did it happen abruptly?