How to Gently Wean a Toddler Without Buying Them Something
As a CLC... I get asked how I weaned G a lot, mainly because I am a CLC and my friends know that I nursed him into toddlerhood. Many people throw their children weaning parties or buy them a weaning gift. Here is the deal: I think buying a toddler a weaning gift is a good motivator, but we live in an Airstream and don't need anymore things. I also think weaning parties (where you throw the child a party and that signals the end of the nursing) are really fun but again, we live in an Airstream so I thought inviting our campground friends, whom we just met, over for some boob cake might have been awkward. So, how did I wean my toddler?
I prepared him verbally. This will only work for children who have a good understanding of language. The process was more emotional for me in the end. I was done. He was almost 3.5 and I had been tandem nursing for almost 1.5 yrs of that. He was nursing in the morning and at night.
- Get down to 1 nursing session a day. For us that was the evening session before bed. I had, over time, replaced the other sessions with snacks and the morning session with breakfast (basically just getting up quicker to get him his breakfast.)
- Here is where the real verbal communication begins. I started by telling him that he no longer needed my milk and while he may have enjoyed nursing it was just for comfort at this point; not nutrition. Explaining that Isla (his little sister) needed it for nutrition.
- After you have communicated this to your toddler several times, mention that one day soon it will be the last time he/she has milk. Either pick a date right away or give this stage some time to set in.
- Pick the date and stick to it. I gave him a week. Every night I would tell him how many nights remained. On the last night, I mentioned it was the last time, I made sure it was just the two of us in the room, and I made it our special quiet time. When he was done nursing I gave him a kiss. He looked at me and said, "it tasted like cinnamon toast bread." Which is hilarious because that is one of my favorite foods. I asked if he was ok with it being the last time he had mommy milk. He smiled and then said, "I am going to go take a bath." That was that.
Our last time nursing was June 23rd, 2016.
Their is a stigma around nursing toddlers in the US but that doesn't deter me from nursing them. The time spent nursing a toddler is a great time to have quiet moments with an otherwise busy child. It provides for them their vital energy and helps them stay healthy. Plus, it helps prevent breast cancer for me. (Another plus is that when another baby is born there is no engorgement phase if you are still nursing the first child... and it is perfectly fine to breastfeed during pregnancy.)
Check out this post on Kelly Mom about nursing toddlers.
I included photos of my daughter nursing (she is almost 2) because the #treeoflife photo style is so popular right now and I don't have good photos of my son nursing on hand. Maybe one day I will find them.