5 Practical Tips for Mother-Led Weaning {Guest Blogger}

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READING TIME: 4 min.

Let’s face it: breastfeeding is not for everyone! For moms who want and are able to, it can be challenging to survive long nursing sessions, sore nipples, engorgement, biting and more. I was one of the lucky ones, though, who had it relatively easy. My son latched correctly just a few minutes after he was born and apart from some small challenges the process was very natural. My pediatrician recommended that I nurse him until at least his first birthday, so that is what I planned to do.

However, as the finish line approached I started to become anxious about weaning. While some moms may wish to continue nursing for longer or wait until their child self-weans, I was (perhaps selfishly) craving my body, and a little independence, back. I started to worry that my son, who was still very attached to nursing, would want my body to serve as a comforter for him for a long time to come.

I began to research the weaning process and was surprised at how few resources there seemed to be. While pregnant, I was gifted La Leche League’s book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. Before my son was born and during his first months of nursing, the book proved to be a great resource; but of the 493 pages only a mere 25 are dedicated to weaning! And the section I needed was titled “How to Wean Faster than Nature Intended” which didn’t make me feel great about my decision. However, in my heart I knew the time was right and that this was best for me and my family. I forged ahead, having conversations with my pediatrician, family and friends about tips for success.

5 Practical Tips (2)

Whether you’re weaning from breast of bottle, here are some tips to try:

  1. Make a schedule and stick to it. When I began weaning, my son was nursing four times a day: when he woke up, 10:30 am, 2:30 pm and before his night time bath. My pediatrician advised dropping one feeding session at a time, so as to not shock him and to help me avoid engorgement. After he had gone 2-3 days without that session, I could drop another. I decided to begin with mid-morning followed by mid-afternoon, as that is when he was most active and naturally less interested in nursing. Which leads me to tip number two…
  2. Keep them busy. The week that I began weaning my son I made sure our schedule was packed. A good friend has suggested that if he was busy chasing after his buddies he’d be less concerned about nursing, as opposed to if we were at home snuggling on the couch. I scheduled lots of play dates with friends and trips to the park. Being out of the environment where he was used to nursing distracted him away from thinking it was time to nurse.
  3. MotherLead Weaning 1New cups. I could probably count on both hands the number of times my son drank from a bottle. He always nursed from the breast, which was part of why I thought breaking the habit would be hard. I decided to buy new cups that were just for milk. This way, he was excited about having something new and different and I could reinforce that we drank milk from this special cup.
  4. Become a milk mixologist. Some babies who are accustomed to breast milk notice the difference in taste or texture and reject cow’s milk. You may consider mixing the two milks at first to help your child adjust to the taste – 75% breast milk and 25% cow’s milk to start. Then, as your child gets used to it, slowly increase the amount of cow’s milk until there is no breast milk in the cup.
  5. Offer snacks. At first my son would only take a few sips of milk and then decide he was done. Since I was fearful he would not drink enough, I offered him snacks that would make him thirsty. After a mouthful of snacks, he wanted something to drink and would easily suck down a cup of milk.

Finally, be sure to also care for yourself while weaning. I was so focused on helping make the process easy for my son that I didn’t think too much about how it would impact me. I did suffer some engorgement and would suggest taking the process slowly, spreading it out over the course of 1 ½ – 2 weeks if you can so your body has time to adjust. Also, be aware of hormonal changes which may make you feel sad. Continuing to make time to cuddle with your baby may help you both feel better, but if you find yourself depressed for a long time be sure to speak up about it and get some support.

While I enjoyed my time nursing my son, he is now completely weaned. He does not seem to miss it, and I love watching him become more independent.

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Guest Writer - RachelRachel is a stay-at-home-Mom to Rosco, who was born in May 2013, and a French bulldog, Tank.  She and her husband Ross met in New York City while she worked as a sales proposal writer at a finance firm.  She loves her faith, family, traveling the world, photography, going out to eat and cheering on the Dallas Cowboys.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Great blog, Rachel! I love the Milk Mixologist idea. When my daughter was weaning, she refused all cow milk. Not sure if it was a texture/viscosity or flavor issue, but my pediatrician encouraged us to try Kefir and she loved it.

  2. Great blog, Rachel! I love the milk mixologist part. My daughter refused to drink cow’s milk, but our pediatrician recommended cow’s milk Kefir. I don’t know if it’s the viscosity or the flavor– she loves it!

  3. Thank you for posting this informative and well-written article! It’s great that you wrote about caring for ourselves during the weaning process. As moms, we often forget this very important step!!!!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Rachel!

  4. I had to wean suddenly because of some protein intolerances (my daughter needed a prescription formula). It was AWFUL!! With 3 years of perspective behind me, I think your recommendations are great, and even if you’re not able to nurse anymore, pumping and weaning from the pump would make life a lot easier. Rarely do people mention hormones when discussing weaning, but it can feel like a MUCH bigger deal than it is (or than you will feel it is years later). Prepare to feel sad, like you’re “less of a mom”, like you’re losing your ability to care for your baby, like your body is “ruined” for “no reason”, or that your baby no longer needs you since they only needed you for milk anyway… NONE OF WHICH ARE TRUE!! The hormones… they do wicked things 🙂 Thanks for posting.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Hollie! I agree with you that hormones can be wicked and are not talked about early enough when it comes to weaning. It’s important for Moms to be aware that while this is a big change for their babes, it can also be a big change for them. Appreciate your reply 🙂

  5. THANK YOU!!! Finally some actual, practical help for weaning moms. I am entering a PhD program and putting my 11 month old daughter (who has taken three bottles ever and is slow on the sippy cup) in day care and the best LLL and other articles can give me are reasons why I should just nurse her until she’s four. Not helpful!

    Question – how do you make sure baby stays hydrated? Chloe loves to eat (yay!) but refuses drink – pumped milk and water – 99% of the time. So all week long she gets constipated while at day care, then I let her nurse all weekend. Not a great system but I don’t know what to do.

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