Friday, March 19, 2010

Weaning: My Winning Strategy!

Long before Sadie was born, I had my breastfeeding plan all worked out. I would nurse her until she was two and then we'd wean.

Once the painful part of learning to nurse wore off (it took about two months) things were wonderful and two years was still twenty-two months away. I loved not having to worry about bottles and boiling water (especially since the only water we have access to comes from a well and is rather frequently muddy when it comes out of the tap, even after filtration).

Fast forward to last fall. When we discovered we were expecting we were thrilled. It did mean that nursing was just about as painful as it had been at the start, but I figured it was a great opportunity to "offer up" the pain. And after about three months nursing went back to normal. However, when I did the math and figured out that the new baby's birthday would only be two weeks after Sadie's (and may be even closer) I started to plan my next step.

I didn't think that weaning Sadie right before her new little sister arrived would be the best thing for their sibling relationship. But I also didn't want to wean just yet!

So here was my plan of action.

At the beginning of 18 months we night weaned Sadie. Up until that point she had been nursing between five and ten times a night. She cried for a couple of minutes the first night she couldn't nurse and then started sleeping much, much better (as did I!).

Later that month I cut her back to three day time nursing. That is, one in the morning, one at nap time and one before bedtime.

AT 19 months we began to eliminate the morning feeding. After about two weeks Sadie had completely forgotten about it.

At 20 months we eliminated the feeding that I was the most nervous about eliminating: nap time. Sadie had started to fall asleep on her own at night, but she had always struggled falling asleep with at nap time (and would wake up instantly if I tried to put her down). In other words for 20 months I had held her through her 1 to 2 hour naps.

Instead I now rock her in her chair, we say a rosary (latin helps her fall asleep quickly for some reason) and then I put her in her bed (this is also why I've had a sudden burst of crafting time!). After a couple of days she was used to the idea and there have been no problems.

I decided to completely wean at 21 months so that Sadie would have 3 months to get used to not nursing before the new baby got there. I am hoping that that will be a long enough buffer so that she doesn't associate weaning with the new baby's arrival.

Apparently I didn't need to worry. I decided to do a test run two nights ago and see what Sadie would do if we just sat in the rocker and said our family nighttime rosary, instead of nursing. She made one little "I want to nurse" sound, then put her head against my shoulder and relaxed. Last night she didn't even make the little sound and went easily into her own bed. Tomorrow she will be 21 months old. And I think I can say, after more than 48 hours of not nursing, that she is weaned.

Another plus is that I got her to stay in her bed all night last night (although it involved me sleeping on the floor next to her for an hour and a half!). That's two victories in two days.

The other plus side of gradually weaning (which is probably actually the result of being pregnant) is that in my case it has been totally painless. It hasn't hurt a bit! And it's been totally tear free (for both of us!).


  1. Congratulations! To both of you on your recent accomplishments! I nursed four out of five babies, and would have my first if I hadn't been in intensive care, then had to go back to school. However, my middle son was the worst to wean! He also slept with me the first four years of his life, and during weaning time when he was over 2, he would 'sneak' Nee-Nees while I was sleeping! I was so used to nursing babies by then, I didn't even wake up!

  2. Glad its gone well. Thankfully Kalila hit 2 much earlier in my pregnancy... and she was not ready to wean, did not take our efforts so well lol. I'd much rather baby led than lead them anyway so I felt bad about trying. At this age I really don't want to tandum though. Anyways, she went another 2 months and then weaned a little more easily. Ours was a bit more rushed (I'd started cramping, unrelated but it scared us pretty bad so I held off for a couple days until I made sure all was well, and by then she was ok w/out it) but thankfully no pain or anything either.

  3. Well done! We just weaned about a week ago and it was so much easier than I thought it would be. He has totally forgotten about nursing! I guess they just get to a stage where they're ready for it.


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