I was in great dilemma whether to post this or not in my blog 🙂 Breastfeeding is a sensitive topic and each & everyone’s opinion about feeding, weaning off their child might vary. Was bit skeptical about how other mums would take it but then thought there might be 100s of other mums who are struggling like me to wean a toddler and this post might help them.
Disclaimer : If you are breastfeeding a toddler and are not happy with the idea of going cold turkey then kindly ignore the post. You can try other gentle ways to gradually wean your child.
A little about Aadhu’s breastfeeding journey & the reason why i decided to wean her at 18 months :
Aadhu was exclusively breastfed (till 6 months) and then on-demand until 18 months
No bottles or formula milk
Co-Sleeping since Day1
She only falls asleep while breast feeding. Then I transfer her from lap to bed. Shorter naps or longer naps she never sleeps by any other method. Be it rocking, singing, reading bedtime stories nothing can make her sleep. Hence all her nap times are less than 20 mins. She drinks milk again and then continue her nap on my lap for other few minutes
Once she started walking things got a bit difficult for me. She would demand to nurse inbetween meals, reject solids, would nurse after every major meal, snacks. I tried to limit the number of feeds during day time, tried distraction & postponing feeds but nothing worked out. She would compensate for all the missed feeds by constantly attaching to my breast at night 🙄🙄
Many suggested Jay Gordon’s method of night weaning first and then to wean her off completely. We started that and Shiva was planning to take care of her at nights but that didnt go too well. She cried uncontrollably for hours together and mom-guilt made me go back to feeding her. In the meantime our visa ended and we were planning for our Chennai trip.
July 2018-October 2018 were extremely tough & exhausting for me. With all the trial & error weaning methods, packing, clearing our things, sorting our stuff to come back to India, I just couldnt concentrate on my health..
The week we landed here in October I decided to meet a Gynacologist to discuss about this. The more I wanted to wean her the more I wanted to keep her close & didnt want to let go off the bond 🙂 It made me stressful & emotional. Gynac was super helpful and friendly. I teared up and she comforted me, made me calm down and adviced me to let go off guilt, stress during the weaning process. She suggested to take Prolactin hormone related pills for 5 days which would reduce the milk secretion, some antibiotics to relieve pain from engorgement of breast & infections caused by that..
Luckily my parents were with me for two weeks in chennai. They took care of all the household chores, prepared healthy food for us and it helped me to focus completely on pacifying Aadhu. They are my biggest strength.
If you are going cold turkey and decided to stop feeding then please remember the following :
Once you have decided to wean then dont keep going back feeding them. It will make the process difficult for both kid & us. Talk to your partner and take their help at nights to comfort the kid and put them back to sleep.
Keep talking to your toddler atleast a week before and explain them that they have grown bigger, they no longer need milk from breast and instead drink from a glass/tumbler. Aadhu has been drinking water, juice, cow’s milk et al from stainless tumbler since 15 months. Though she didnt understand much I kept explaining & kept repeating it for her
It took 3 days to stop feeding, to make her forget the routine of going to sleep on breast & 5 more days to get past that sleep regression, waking up at middle of night & crying and atlast to set a routine. Again it might vary from kid to kid
Pills didnt mess with my menstural cycle. I got my periods as usual and am glad i took the pills..The engorgement pain was bit severe on Day1. It gradually got reduced
Wear a tight bra
Do not squeeze milk in hands (or in pump) or keep checking if the secretion has stopped
Try to have their favorite snacks handy. Reserve one or two special treats for them when they scream madly at nights. In Aadhu’s case I bought Rusks and that were given to her only during midnight not during daytime. This way it made her think that she was given something special instead of breastmilk. Though she resisted eating it on Day 1 she gradually started holding it in one hand and went off to sleep at midnight on Day 2 & Day 3
It is easier to distract them in the mornings, keep playing with them, give filling dinner & evening snacks. At night they will be super cranky expecting us to feed them. But keep comforting them by hugs & kisses. Keep cuddling them and assure them that bond, securedness is still there.
Put them on your shoulders, pat them, start singing lullabies and eventually they will sleep off after few minutes/hours.. Day 1 Aadhu slept on me and I dozed off the on my sofa itself.
When Aadhu woke up at middle of night I kept a small glass of cow’s milk and told her that her special milk is ready for her. She drank it and after crying for few minutes she went back to sleep.
Remember Day 2 & Day 3 will be the toughest. They will cry their lungs out 🙁 It will be tough for us too but just remember we are doing what is best for both of us.
No ipads, mobile phones or other gadget based distractions before sleeptime. That will mske them even more crankier. Just keep reading stories, play with them and play mild music or white noise to comfort them while crying.
A rough time schedule that I followed the first three days (Time schedule can vary & kindly adjust based on your kid)
– Dinner at around 8:30-9:00pm.
– Playing & Storytime till 10:00pm.
– Turn off lights and they will start their crying 😉 Try to cuddle and talk to them. Explain them that we are doing it for their good etc etc. Slowly after few minutes ask your partner to take over and let the kid sleep on their shoulders or lap.
– Midnight at 1:30am when Aadhu woke up i gave her a glass of milk and went back to sleep at around 2:30am
– Early morning 5:00am : Gave a piece of Rusk and water. Went back to sleep at 6:00am and got up at around 8:00am
How to overcome sleep regression issue and prepare them for a full night sleep :
Aadhu started forcing herself to be awake at night and started screaming endlessly :
On Day 4 & Day 5 when Aadhu woke up at midnight I had cut down cow’s milk and just gave her water. She started crying & walking around the house for few minutes. Told her, the treat will be given in the morning
After resisting few minutes she came back and hugged me and started to sleep
When she woke up early morning gave her a piece of rusk and water. She slept quietly
Day 6 & Day 7 : We didnt give water and rusk too. Whenever she woke up I just cuddled her and kept singing lullabies and started telling some stories in husky softer tone, gently patting her back.
Day 8 she almost slept from 11:30pm to 5:30am.
Its been three weeks since her weaning process now her evening schedule is below (timing and food might vary based on what she had that day) :
5:00pm – Bathing and get ready to go to apartment play area
5:30-6:30pm – Playtime with other kids
6:30pm – Porridge or light snack
8:30-9:00pm – Dinner
10:00pm-10:30 – Story time and generally play time with both Appa, Amma.
Aadhu prefers to play with us more than reading books. I read a book or two and simply tell imaginary stories with any of her toys. She loves being silly with us and keep pulling our hair, cheeks and do some naughty stuff and by 10:45pm I turn off the bedroom light. She automatically comes and hugs me, sleeps near me in 10 minutes. I just keep patting her neck and massaging her legs, hands..
Her afternoon nap time routine is we have our lunch around 1:00pm and i close my bedroom door. She plays with me inside the room for 30-35 minutes and I keep telling her that her naptime is about to start. She comes and cuddles me. Will sleep in 10-15 minutes time. There are days when she wanted to keep palying, roaming around our house. I just let her do that. By 3pm she will be super tired and would head straight to bed. Her afternoon naps are mostly 45-50 minutes.
Kids love routine. Keep repeating what we will be doing, keep talking to them, explain them. They will gradually understand us and will follow our words. Dont let the mom guilt sink in when you are weaning off breastmilk. I have added maximum information. Hope this helps ❤️❤️
Note : This post is just an assurance for Moms who are struggling to stop feeding, who are still on dilemma & guilt of not wanting to make their kids suffer, who still thinks “what if kid didnt get enough nutrients from solids” 😊 My way might not be conventional but I assure you Moms needs rest too. It is OK to put your mental health in priority over breastfeeding. Goodluck!