Breastfeeding & Weaning

I’m about to begin breastfeeding again in just a few weeks and I am happily looking forward to it! :) It’s not that nursing is easy or without its challenges, but it is SO rewarding and enjoyable once any issues are resolved. I truly have loved breastfeeding my kids. ♥

Weaning is bittersweet, though. I have always found it to be a relief, of sorts, when the time has come because it really is a big job that takes a physical (if not emotional) toll on me. But, I also never really feel completely ready for the effect weaning has on my relationship with my baby. Of course it’s necessary, but it’s still hard.

Related post: Homemade Nursing Necklace

I have no idea how nursing will go with baby Elizabeth, or how/when weaning will go down, but I wanted to share my three weaning experiences so far because they are all so different from each other, even though I am (obviously) the same mama!

Baby Maggie

I had a very easy time with her, both with the actual nursing part and then with weaning. She took bottles of expressed milk from my husband while I worked part time and had no real issues to speak of with breastfeeding from me. She slept through the night by four months. Easy, right?! I had decided that breastfeeding for exactly one year was my goal and it seemed to really match up with her personality, so it was a breeze to implement. I didn’t just stop nursing her at twelve months, though; I wanted it to be a gentle and gradual process.

Because she enjoyed eating solid foods in her highchair, I just started replacing nursing sessions with meals at the table after her first birthday. First we got rid of the morning feed; instead of milk, she had French toast, cereal, or eggs. She still nursed mid-morning. Then, a week or two later we did away with the lunchtime feed and she ate a sandwich, or pieces of ham and cheese, fruits, etc. instead. Mid-afternoon was still milk. Then, dinner went a few weeks later, and finally the evening/bedtime nursing was replaced by snuggles on the couch and a bottle of water. She was fourteen months old when she was completely weaned.

Baby Joshua

He wasn’t exactly difficult to breastfeed, but he was challenging at times. He was a big boy, eating almost all the time. He was 8lbs1oz at birth and was 20lbs at just six months. It was hard for me to keep up with his appetite. He wouldn’t take a bottle from anyone (but I no longer worked outside the home, so it wasn’t a catastrophe). He woke to nurse all through the night, every night, and by the time he was one year old, and weighing 28lbs, I couldn’t see continuing for much longer. But we did for a few more months.

He nursed to go to sleep for naps and bed at night, so weaning was not the easiest thing to do. It wasn’t just a matter of replacing feeds with meals at the table. I tried different things to change our routine for going to sleep, and in the middle of the night, I attempted to just cuddle instead of nurse. But he was pretty unhappy. He fought me and wouldn’t let me cuddle him – but when I’d give in and nurse, he wasn’t happy, either. Finally, at sixteen months, my husband and I decided it was going to have to be that he take over bedtimes for a whole weekend and see if Joshua would adjust.

It was miraculous. Remove breasts from the room and he was happy as could be. Go figure! And once bedtimes didn’t include nursing anymore, he started sleeping through the night. He was completely done at sixteen months.

Baby Samuel

This little guy was my most enthusiastic nursling. He didn’t eat any more than his older siblings did as a little baby, but how long and how often he nursed as he got older made them look as if they’d been totally uninterested! As a toddler, he requested milk (or, “nook”) throughout the day and would just grab a burp cloth and climb up into my lap. He was a little sweetie pie! I had a fair number of problems with the actual nursing part; from clogged milk ducts to having a severely painful (tiny) cut on my nipple after being bitten, it was not easy to continue breastfeeding him.

As we approached his second birthday, I was feeling like it was becoming too much. I wanted to be done, mainly because my husband and I were trying for another baby, but also because I didn’t like the idea of nursing beyond the age of two. I gently weaned him by limiting feeds to nap and bedtime. He didn’t like it, but it helped to make the transition. When he was 25 months old, I got a painful breast infection that required antibiotics. Because of my allergies and the already-limited meds allowed during breastfeeding, I ended up taking a drug that required me to wean. He actually took it quite well, and after just two days, he stopped asking. That was it, we were done.

♦  ♦  ♦

Emotionally, I found it the hardest to wean Samuel, perhaps because we weren’t given a choice in the matter but I also think it had to do with how happy and interested he still was in nursing at the time we weaned. My advice for weaning any age is to do it as gradually as possible; the breasts are able to adjust more comfortably and emotions don’t run quite so high. ;)

16 thoughts on “Breastfeeding & Weaning

  1. I got off easy with both of my girls. The first I nursed till about 10 months but she took a bottle pretty regularly so it was easy to switch her over to a homemade formula until she started drinking cow’s milk. She never missed the nursing. With my second, she refused a bottle. Even when I went to the ER fror 12 hours, she would not eat from a bottle.We thought she was so attached that she’d never wean but about 16 months, she got out of my lap one day and never came back. It was strange, but neither of us had any emotional problems with it. I guess it was just time, and it worked for us. But I know that as we have more babies, I’m bound to have a rough go at some point!

    I’m really looking forward to nursing #3! It’s funny how you miss something like that. The first time it seemed like such a hassle, like a sacrifice of your time and energy. But looking back, I miss it so much and I can’t wait for baby to get here!

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    1. “she got out of my lap one day and never came back” – too funny!
      It really is an interesting emotion to feel desire for something that, in reality, is quite taxing, isn’t it? Even though it’s demanding, it’s just so sweet seeing your baby SO content at the breast. I love it!

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  2. I’m still nursing my 15 month old, only once at night, but I love this time we spend. Last night he actually fell asleep nursing, which he hasnt’ done in ages! It was incredibly sweet! I feel that he could ween any day though, which would be OK with me as I’d rather not nurse into my pregnancy anyways :)

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  3. What special experiences you’ve had nursing these babies and giving them a secure start in their very early lives. I am grateful for these experiences too with our seven. They are all such different and wonderful personalities. Grateful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Totally agree with weaning gradually.. i don’t have any trouble with the breasts/emotions at all.. but kudos to you for breastfeeding all your soon to be 4 babies.. i am totally thinking of feeding my second baby (someday) expressed milk thru bottles.. but we shall see when it happen.. haha

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  5. So great that you’ve had the fortune to breastfeed naturally! It’s been a real struggle for me as it just didn’t come naturally at all…but your post has given me hope. Maybe the next baby will be different.

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  6. Both of my boys were breastfed but the older one had to be weaned because he had a kidney disease and the doctor wanted to know exactly how much he was eating. As soon as he went on the bottle he lost weight.
    The younger boy was a really enthusiastic nurser but he decided one day he was just done. No ceremony. I put him on my lap for the morning feed, he looked at my breast and climbed down. I’d lost him at 10 months!
    Both were a bit emotional for me but the boys were fine with it.

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