17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Weaning 101

I can't believe it's almost been a year. Baby T is 11 months old. It's true what they say, time really does fly. I feel like my first year as a mom has been filled with many accomplishments. One of them is that I breastfed T for a year.

I'm actually really surprised that I made it this long (an ugly battle with thrush almost made me give up). I went into it with no expectations and hoped to make it to 6 months. Well here I am a year later looking toward his 1 yr. birthday in February and starting to ask around and read up on weaning. I'm thinking those daytime feedings won't be so hard to let go of. But I am a little nervous about the middle of the night feeding(s). Baby T occasionally wakes up to feed at night. I'm figuring that nighttime feeding will be the last to go. But still, I'd like to let go of it sooner rather than later (and get T sleeping thru the night more often - ugh!). I also have some anxiety about making sure that T is getting all the nutrition he needs. It's so easy to rely on breastmilk to do that. I guess I need to do some menu planning.

Any advice from moms who have weaned their babies? What worked for you? What didn't? Was it emotionally difficult? If so how did you deal with that? I know every mom and every baby is different, but maybe some of you out there have some killer advice or tricks up your sleeve that might be worth a try. Any advice is welcome!


  • One woman's opinion (I think the Dr. Sears family would disagree with me):

    I cannot believe that you are still feeding that baby in the middle of the night. Of course the baby wants it, but it's ok with YOU?

    This is going to be difficult because the night feedings will complicate it.

    I would suggest first cutting those out completely. It is time to let him cry it out. He is NOT HUNGRY. Krista gave me the best advice: at 4 months, baby's get this magic hormone that makes them feel full all night long, so it is ok to NOT feed them starting at that time (special health circumstances pending of course).

    I feel if the night feedings are the LAST to go, that will cause a lot of trauma for all of you. So, those should be the first to go, and do not wean any further until he is sleeping through the night consistently. Then choose either the breakfast or dinner feeding to cut out, and do that for a while, and then finally cut out the last one. Probably take 2 to 4 weeks to wean completely.

    Emotions: I think this will be hard on both of you b/c it is connected to soothing in the night and because you did it for 1 year. You don't HAVE to stop, if this is really important for the both of you.

    For me...I stopped with both by 7 months. first baby had no difficult with emotions, just had pms-like symptoms with my mood/grouchiness while the valves were turning off..and a lot of breast tenderness.

    Baby #2 was much easier...it helped to switch from the mini pill to the reg. pill as well. I wanted to breastfeed her longer b/c she wasn't a cuddly baby, and that is when we bonded, but those emotions were easy to get over.
    posted by Anonymous kristyglass at 1/26/2007 05:46:00 AM  

  • Congrats on making it through 11 months of motherhood! :-)

    I nursed Max until about 13 months, and at the end, it was really for me, not for him - I don't think he even blinked when we stopped, but I was a bit teary the first couple of days. I almost gave up on breastfeeding at about 9 months, but convinced myself to hold on until a year when I didn't have to deal with formula, and I'm glad I did - I think it was easier to go to food and milk in sippy cups, rather than trying to go to a bottle. Here's what I did:

    1. Cut out all middle of the night feedings - I've got to agree with kristy/kage on this one - you'll need to do this first. We did it at about 8 months. You and DH need to be in agreement that you're going to do it, and in general it will be 3 or so painful nights, but then it will be over. Now I have to add a caveat to this - all babies and all mommies are different. If you want to keep doing the middle-of-the-night comforting, go for it. And if he screams for hours and makes himself vomit (It's not pretty) you might need to try a different tactic. But if it's 45 minutes of crying, just know when you're huddled in your bed in the middle of the night, listening to him cry, that you are a good mom and that it WILL end and you WILL have a happy little boy who sleeps through the night very soon!

    2. Cut out mid-day feedings - this happened gradually, probably from when Max first started eating solids. I don't remember having any really plan to it, it just happened naturally to cut out daytime feedings and replace them with solids.

    3. wake-up and go to sleep - these were the last two feedings, and for the last couple of months, these were the only two we were doing. When it came time to end it, I planned a time when I knew DH would be around, so that he could do the put-down and wake-up to break the nursing rhythm, and we went for it. Again, it might take a couple of days, or your DS might not even notice it.

    Like I said, all mommies and babies are different. This is what worked for me, but I know others that have had different experiences. I think the important thing is to decide a course of action and be firm with yourself.
    posted by Blogger marian at 1/26/2007 07:07:00 AM  

  • Hi, I'm a long time reader, but hardly ever commenting. I love this site!

    I'm a mother of three and nursed them all to 12-13 months. After my third baby, a friend told me about Nuby cups. They are available in bottles and sippy cups and I found them at my local Walmart. I loved this item. The lid is soft silicone and resembles the breast. Did I mention it's spill proof! I introduced a sippy cup when baby mastered solid foods and hand coordination then when weaning came around, if baby 3 woke up at night I would give it a cup of water. Helped with breaking her of wanting to nurse at night. I'm sure you can do this method with any cup, but I found this one easiest. It really is a personal decision. I know some mothers wouldn't think of introducing a sippy cup in bed. I think it's okay as long as it's just water. Congrats on nursing this far. It truely is a challange.

    Keep up the great site girls! It's fantastic and truely inspirational!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/26/2007 07:37:00 AM  

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    posted by Blogger Beth at 1/26/2007 11:09:00 AM  

  • I can't believe your still doing the middle of the night feedings! Those kill me. Dot is four months old and the minute the doctor gave me the Ok to stop those feedings I jumped on it. It's just way to hard on me to get up even once a night. (I just barely posted about our success and Dr. suggested method if you want to check it out www.nothinghardaboutit.blogspot.com).

    As for weaning completely I really can't help you much there. With my 1st she decided she was done nursing at 4 months. It was definetly hard on me emotionally, but I was finally able to get my body back (I can't lose weight while I'm nursing).

    I wouldn't worry about rushing into weaning with the morning and before bed feedings. I think those are the most special bonding times and there is no rule that says you need to stop by 1 year. Eventually all babies give those up on their own (or so I've been told).
    posted by Anonymous Trivial Mom at 1/26/2007 11:09:00 AM  

  • All of the advice I've gotten so far is to cut out the day feedings first so these are interesting comments and something to think about. Thank you so much. Just to clear something up, I'm not feeding him during the night all the time, and he oftentimes cries it out. Occasionally he will be really worked up and I will feed him (partly out of my own laziness and exhaustion) b/c I know he will eat for ten minutes and fall asleep until 8am or so. Actually the last week he has slept from 9pm to 9am straight! YEAH! It's great to read about other mom's experiences.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 1/26/2007 11:15:00 AM  

  • Congrats, congrats, congrats on making it to this HUGE milestone! Hooray!

    Who says you have to stop? Who says your milk is the perfect food on day 364, and suddenly and irrevocably goes rotten on day 365?

    At one year I looked at the extensive studies, the WHO recommendations, the scientific evidence, and most of all my heart and his. We decided that we would nurse until DS was two. It really worked for us because he weaned himself at his own pace with no tears and no guilt. They're only little once.

    Enough about me for a minute.

    I agree with PP: I would recommend cutting out the night time feedings first. Go in and comfort (this is more for you than him, because he'll just be more angry.) Or, if you have a spouse to help out, it can be his turn to go to your child.

    If you feel like you need to offer something, bring in a sippy with water. This will take a few nights but eventually he'll decide that water isn't worth waking up for. IF you give in and nurse, your very smart child will know that he needs to cry at LEAST as long as it took the last time you gave in. It takes nerves of steel I tell you! Parent-led weaning is hardly ever easy.

    We went to three times a day at 13 months, twice a day at 16 (that's what prompted Flo to return,) once a day at 22, once every couple days at 27, then nothing at all at 29. It was so easy because each time we dropped a session it was because he was ready.

    I got the comfort of knowing that my perfect milk bridged his finicky toddler appetites with the best balance of fats and content (including continued immunological benefits.) At 17 months (after a long airline flight) DS came down with a horrendous case of strep and other problems. The _only_ thing he would take in was breastmilk. My Ped told me that had I not been nursing him, he would have been hospitalized.

    Anyway, the decision is totally yours--you're the mom, you know best!
    However, I thought I'd lend another perspective, just in case you or any other readers were interested.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/26/2007 12:24:00 PM  

  • Thanks azucar, well said.
    posted by Blogger marian at 1/26/2007 12:54:00 PM  

  • Congratulations! I just wanted to second the recommendation for the Nuby cups--my pediatrician said they counted as cups, not bottles, which was good news because they were the only thing my little girl would take for a while after being weaned (13 months worked for us). Now she's finallly branching out into other cups/lids/straws/etc., but the Nubys sure made the transition easier for us.
    posted by Anonymous JennyW at 1/26/2007 01:17:00 PM  

  • Weaning. Ahh, weaning!

    Well, whatever method you choose, just pick a good one for you that you can then apply to other things such as binkies, bottles, blankies, potty training, etc. because in all reality, they are pretty much the same.

    It's about teaching your children how to let go of things they no longer need, and sometimes it is hard work. In all reality, though, it is not the child who will suffer --they tend to change (if it's not TOO abrupt) quite easily. It's mom and dad.

    Mom and Dad don't want to have to deal with crying children ("I must be a bad mom for letting him cry!"), or whiny children ("I should give in or else he'll think I'm mean!") or the inconvenience ("What? Stay home for a week to potty train? I have a life, I can't do that!").

    If you are resovled to wean him, then you will do it. Just do it gradually (kristy's timeline was right on if you want to do it quickly --just depends on how many feedings you have) and your son will be okay. And you will have accomplished something big. Seriously! I know it is big! And then you can apply it to harder things in the future (so far it's potty training for me --2 down, 2 to go!)

    Good luck!!

    P.S. Any advice you take from the other commenters is smart --they all know what they are doing, too! :)
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/26/2007 01:33:00 PM  

  • Weaning is PAINFUL. Just so you know. Since he is a little older, I am assuming he is taking solid foods as well as breast milk,so you have probably already cut down on the milk, but unless you are in a rush to wean (like because you're going back to work, or he's going to Grandma's for a few days or something) I would recommend one feeding at a time. That way is easier for your breasts, and the world doesn't end if your kid is older than a year when he weans.
    posted by Blogger The Wiz at 1/26/2007 03:05:00 PM  

  • Every one of my 4 girls woke up to nurse in the middle of the night AT LEAST once through their first year. Not a big deal to me....it's just about what you can handle. It wasn't harder to wean either. I think it happens more naturally at that age than we know. Ya, you get tired, but if you're ok with it then....anyways, I think there have been great suggestions given already. One of my great friends does it cold turkey after a year by going on a "vacation" with her DH and the in-laws come to take care of the babe. She loves that method! Good luck!
    posted by Anonymous cali at 1/26/2007 05:55:00 PM  

  • I expected weaning to be hard for me emotionally (my daughter gave up on me when she was nine months), but it actually wasn't. I remember just being a tiny bit sad thinking about the end of an era (as is the case with everything in our children's lives, right?), but actually not doing the feedings turned out to be quite liberating. No sadness for us--it probably helped that her teeth came in with a vengence at that point, and I was never bitten--thank you!

    Congratualtions on feeding the whole year--that was my goal, but daughter had other ideas. You guys are champs. Good luck with the next step.
    posted by Blogger a spectator at 1/27/2007 09:01:00 AM  

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    posted by Blogger a spectator at 1/27/2007 09:04:00 AM  

  • Thanks for all of the great comments!

    azucar - What great links! Thanks for those. Your comments were very helpful. I think you're right that parent-led weaning can be difficult. I definitely don't think my milk will go bad on day 365, but I am looking forward to more freedom post-weaning. That being said, I want to take cues off of my little one, too, and go slowly. If it takes 13, 14, 15 months then I'm fine with that. (Plus, the extra calorie burn is GREAT!)

    a spectator - I like what you said about it being an "end of an era". That's sort of how I think of it. It's a little sad, but there is so much to look forward to.

    kristina & jennyw - I will have to check out those Nuby cups next time I'm at the store. Thanks for the tip.

    cali - Thanks for the kind words. Sometimes it has DEFINITELY been easier to feed, or get up and comfort my crying baby in the middle of the night than to let him cry it out for an hour. Not a big deal to me, either. I think you're right that it is different for everyone and it just depends on what you can handle. DH is definitely a help those nights.

    Should be an adventure. These comments are all really helpful and definitely have me thinking. Thanks so much for them.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 1/27/2007 09:52:00 PM  

  • I just went on a vacation without my 10 month old so I weaned him. I thought it would be a lot harder than it actually was. About two weeks before our vacation I started feeding him in the morning when he woke up and at night before he went to bed. During the day I did bottles once or twice with his feedings of solid foods. The first day I was a little uncomfortable and by the end of the night READY to nurse him, but after that my body adjusted to the new schedule and it was fine.
    He is a pretty easy baby so I didn't have to deal with any of the issues (baby not wanting to stop, not taking a bottle, not liking formula, etc) that a lot of other moms deal with. I'm lucky on this one. The last night I nursed him I thought about it being my last time ever feeding him and I was sad, but not as emotional as I thought I would be.
    Toward the end of my vacation I started to feel a little uncomfortable and when I got home last night tried to nurse him and he took right to it. I was shocked, but I think I am going to continue the night feedings (right before bed) until he is about 12 months.
    I agree that it is probably different for everyone and to take all the advice into consideration, but when it comes down to it, it's you and baby T that have to figure out what is going to work. Good luck!
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 1/29/2007 02:56:00 PM  

  • Thanks Melissa. How long were you gone on your vacation? I am trying to plan a trip (by myself) to NYC this spring but am hestitant to buy my plane ticket until I see how the weaning is going. Part of me thinks if I buy it, I will just decide that that is the end date for nursing. We'll see how it goes. He is sleeping thru the night like a champ right now, so I'll probably start weaning one of the daytime feeds next and keep up the morning/nighttime ones.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 1/29/2007 07:37:00 PM  

  • Melissa, Did you pump at night before bed while you were on vacation? I am about to go on vacation and am weaning from daytime feedings but want to continue to feed him once before bed each night when I return until he is 12-14 months old. I am afraid that if I don't pump at night during the 5 nights I'll be gone, that my milk won't come in at nighttime when I get back. Any advice on not nursing/pumping for 5-6 days and still hoping for a milk supply when I get home from vacation? Any advice from anyone would be so helpful! thanks!
    posted by Blogger april at 5/14/2007 08:03:00 AM  

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