Today Ezie is officially one week breast milk sober. Weaning a toddler hasn’t been easy, but on the other hand it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I had a lot of reasons that I chose to nurse Ezie until he was two. Well, technically he hasn’t turned two yet, but I wanted to schedule the weaning for a time that I knew we didn’t have a lot of other obligations because I figured we were in for some sleeplessness nights, and I was right.
Weaning a Toddler
Out of my three children I nursed Ezie the longest.
Z was weaned at about 16 months. I knew we were down to very few feedings and when we spent the night at his cousin’s house one day he was so busy and tired that he just went all day and night without wanting to nurse. When he woke the next day I realized it had been over 24 hours and I wasn’t about to turn back. He probably would have continued to nurse if I had planned to, but I never offered it again. It was kind of child-led.
Then I breast fed SJ until she was a little over a year. She never cared about nursing though. Unlike her brothers she was very practical about the whole thing. If she was hurt or upset I would often try to feed her to calm her down, except she would just push away and give me this confused baby look like, I am not hungry, I am hurt. Totally opposite of her bros. However, she did have a pacifier and when we took that away just before her 2nd birthday she had 3 days of hardcore rehab. There was thrashing and screaming throughout the night, but by the end of day 3 it was like she was completely detoxed.
I figured it would be the same if not worse for Ezie, because I have been his “pacifier” for 2 years and I can’t exactly removed myself from the situation like I could with a binky.
The first night he was pretty upset about not getting his “night night milk” as he calls it. The next day he was so exhausted from not getting any sleep that he fell asleep on the way to drop his siblings off at school. He stayed asleep when I took him out at the grocery store. I decided to put him in the Ergo and he continued to sleep the whole time I shopped no matter how much movement, squatting down and bending over him that I did. He was out!
It’s gotten a little easier each day and once again it only took about 3 days for him to forget about it. However he still wakes up in the middle of the night and he’s had some nights where I couldn’t get him back to sleep for the longest time. I no longer have a magic potion, but I know he’ll adjust.
The thing I have found to be most effective was trying not to trigger his urge to nurse. ThisP meant high collared shirts with layers if necessary and even crossing my arms if I was laying next to him. I also had to stand up with him a lot because sometimes laying down and cuddling was just too difficult, as you can imagine. Lastly, because “night night milk” was what we always called breastmilk I had to pull every synonym for night night out of my mental thesaurus and use a lot of words that could be calming and get him ready for bed, but distract him from what that used to mean. For example
“Let’s go to BED, and lay down with an animal, and pillow, and blanket”
“It’s time to go to SLEEP”
“Are you ready to shut your eyes? Do you hear the music? Are you tired?”
So, that’s my experience and advice for anyone that is in a similar boat where maybe you lay down with your baby/toddler and nurse them to sleep. It’s been bitter sweet for sure. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of the familiar and step into new seasons, but I am definitely relieved to have it over with. Next up potty training.