Now, at 29 months, we have been weaned for about 3 months now. I say "we" because it was a relationship that we have had her entire life and we both had to adjust to the idea of it no longer being a part of our routine and life. Even now, when she is really upset, she will sometimes ask for "baba" and I always say yes. A few months ago, this would be a few minutes of nursing. Most recently (this week) she asked and after barely a second on the breast, she giggled and said, "I don't need baba", redressed me (yes, you read that right! lol), and then snuggled.
So how did we go from an exclusively breastfed baby to one that would take a breast milk bottle when mommy is away, to a toddler that is very independent while still needing her mommy for lots of snuggles and love? Let's take a closer look.
First 3.5 months of life: Exclusively breastfed except for a small 2-3 oz BM bottle that Noah would give her in the evenings to help her adjust to the bottle. Surprisingly, our little bird did quite well with the bottle. As long as I wasn't in the room, she was good! I know that this is certainly not the case for all breastfed babies!!...and for that I am thankful. That made my stress of going back to work a little easier.
3.5 months - 6/7 months:
- Exclusively breastfed when Mommy was home
- BM bottles while Mommy was at work. Click HERE to read more about pumping and prep
7/8 Months-13 months:
- Breastfed when Mommy was home.
- Began to incorporate small foods into her diet at dinner time. Click HERE for Baby-Led Weaning
- Began to incorporate small snack foods during the afternoons.
- Minimum food at daycare
Life without pumping was wonderful! If she wanted milk, we breastfed, otherwise, she drank water from a 360 cup and ate food.
13 months-15 months
We consistently nursed first thing in the morning, leading up to her naps (morning and afternoon), and prior to bed. She nursed at other times during the day as well, but these were less scheduled and more sporadic. As the summer got farther along, these sporadic nursing sessions naturally decreased.
At this age, she was also still nursing at night. At this point, she was not nursing for a true need of milk, but she was using me as a pacifier.
15 months- 21 months
I was officially back to school (Remember, I'm a Chemistry teacher!). I sent milk on the first day as a "just in case" but I had already talked to daycare about the fact that she hadn't taken a bottle since the last day she was with them in June, and the fact that she was eating really well now. When I went to pick her up, she had only had food and water all day! They said she didn't even ask for milk! (Trust me, when a kid is breastfed, they don't think they can get milk unless they see mama) As soon as we got home, she was ready to nurse and this led into her afternoon nap.
As we drew closer to the 1.5 year mark and on toward the 2 year mark, the nursing continued to decrease as the food and water intake increased. This was a very natural process. Never once did I deny her a nursing if she asked**. She simply stopped asking as much as she had other options. However, what was consistent: Morning nursing, once in the afternoon, bedtime nursing.
**Clarification: I would deny her nursing, IF I was in the middle of an important task. If I was washing dishes or cooking supper, and she asked for baba, I told her that she had to be patient. That mommy couldn't give her any milk right then. While she got very frustrated at times, she learned that there was a time and place to nurse, and that there were times when she had to wait.
Still through this entire window of time, she was still using nursing as a pacifier during the night.
Prior to 21 months, we never intentionally decreased our nursing, it just happened. It was the perfect concept of natural weaning. At 21 months, I was EXHAUSTED! Not from nursing, but from lack of SLEEP!!! She was still not sleeping through the night and I was suffering the consequences. While my little one caught up on her sleep with extra naps at daycare, I was not that lucky. It is hard to explain to your coworkers my level of exhaustion. Questions/comments like "Shes almost two! My kid starting sleeping through the night after a few months!" "You still nurse at night?" and so on....
Yes, I was still nursing at night. No she didn't need the milk--honestly, my body had adjusted to the point that very little milk was being produced at night. She nursed as a pacifier to get back to sleep every time she woke. That meant she would cry for mommy, I would go into her room, nurse her for 5 minutes max, then she would fall back asleep. I would get her back in her crib and head back to my room. Just to do it ALL OVER AGAIN the next hour, two hours, or if I was really lucky after 3-4 hours.
So, finally, when she was 21 months, Noah and I decided to make some BIG changes. We purchased a toddler bed, removed the crib, added a sound machine and night light (red bulb to promote sleeping while still letting her see her surroundings) and we decided NO more nursing to sleep. This was the first time I didn't do child-led weaning.
Was my daughter ready for this? NO... (mainly because she had never once gone to sleep for the night without being nursed to sleep.) Did I feel really really guilty? YES. Could I have kept doing the same thing...sure, but my personal sanity was on the line, and I have an obligation to my students, husband, and daughter, to be a sane person.
So, night 1 was tough... I won't go into the details again, but please read my post about Sleep if you have not already. It goes into detail about the transition to the toddler bed and how we adjusted to having no nursing at night.
Long story short!---after one week, she stopped asking for baba at night and she then was only nursing in the morning and 1-2 times in the after noon. Side note: she started sleeping through the night!!! Can I get an AMEN!
21.5 months-24 months
- Morning nursing
- 1 afternoon nursing session
- If she didn't ask for more, I didn't offer more. ***BIG RULE: One of the key rules in natural weaning is to let the child lead. This also means letting them reduce sessions on their own. If my little one is tired, I KNOW that offering to nurse will put her right to sleep, but this has to be a decision she makes. If you actually want to begin weaning, you cannot continue to use nursing as a fix-all crutch. (Which I did often!...trust me) If she she asked to nurse, I was happy to provide. BUT, if she didn't ask, I would not offer.
- She also started potty training at 23.5 months
- Morning nursing IF she asked--this was greatly decreasing since our morning before school was now focused on going pee pee in the potty!!
- Occasionally in the afternoon--normally, she was only asking if she was really tired, grumpy, or got a boo boo
- Our mornings started with focusing on going potty.
- Once she was up and going, she wanted breakfast and that was that!
- She usually requested to nurse at some point during the day, and we would, but she started refusing after a few minutes and redressing me. It was like she wanted to make sure nursing was still an option for her, while not really wanting it.
|All the snuggles|
IF I had not stopped night nursing, and if I had not had potty training to keep a lot of her focus, I truly believe that she would still be nursing now! She was a big nurser. She loved it. It was her go-to. If we were still nursing I would be fine with that. Am I completely content not nursing right now? Yes. My little one and I have such a strong relationship. We snuggle all the time. When she needs comfort, I am still her go-to. With or without nursing, I am still providing her with the love, support, and comfort that she needs.
What I feel now? A complete satisfaction. I am so PROUD to have nursed for a solid 25 months. I am proud of the bond that my daughter and I have. I am so happy to know that I am still her source of comfort even though nursing is not longer in the equation. I am excited to begin this new phase in our lives!