Yes, I weaned a toddler from breastfeeding. With no fuss. 🙂
Even though our breastfeeding experience did not exactly start off well, I’m happy and proud to say that I was able to breastfeed my baby for 2 and a half years, with months 2 to 6 almost exclusively, with just an occasional bottle of formula a day to tide him over till I get home from work. I recall how I used to lug around my bag containing my breastpump, bottles and cleaning paraphernalia, and a cooler to the office everyday, so that I can pump while working. Sometimes I even brought the pump to clients’ offices, where I pumped in the restroom while waiting for a meeting to start. I’ve also tried pumping while in a moving car. I even attempted to do so while driving, but found it to be very difficult (an accident waiting to happen, really), so I did not proceed. For the first few months after I gave birth, my schedule was pretty much controlled by Gabby’s feeding schedule, and finding opportunities to sneak in pumping sessions in between. It was hard, but I kept at it until breastfeeding and pumping came easily. It was a rewarding and fulfilling experience, and it allowed Gabby and me to bond.
Whenever I was not able to pump and nurse for long periods of time due to some circumstance beyond my control, I’d feel guilty. I became a sort of an addict, actually. But I loved doing it, because I knew I’m doing what is best for my baby.
At around the 10-month mark, my milk supply started to noticeably decrease. It saddened me, but the overwhelming feeling at first was actually panic. I tried whatever I could to increase it again. But even though I was not able to do so, I still kept breastfeeding, figuring that any amount of breastmilk I can provide is better than none at all. At least, I was also very slowly getting used to the idea of weaning my baby from breastfeeding.
Now, at 2 1/2 years old, Gabby is weaned completely from nursing. It’s been more than a week now since I last nursed him. And, while he’d still ask to nurse once in a while, I’ve been able to persuade him not to.
How did we do it? Our process was verrrrrry gradual, which is how I preferred it (because, while I believe that moms should not be pressured into breastfeeding exclusively, I also believe in breastfeeding your baby as long as you can).
1. When he turned 1, I stopped pumping when I’m at the office; I just nursed him whenever we were together. At this point, requests to nurse when outside the house became very rare, until it completely stopped. I nursed him when he woke up in the morning, then once more before I go to the office. When I get home, I also nurse on demand, then once before he goes to sleep, and a couple of times more during the night. During weekends he gets to nurse on demand.
2. When he turned 2, I stopped nursing him in the mornings, and confined nursing to before bedtime and when he woke up during the night.
3. At 2 and a half, I’d nurse at bedtime, but tried to limit the time (i.e. around 10-15 minutes only), and not let him go to sleep while nursing. I’d say, “that’s enough, baby,” and while he’d sometimes bargain for “last na lang,” usually he’d stop and turn away from me and ask that I tap him in the bum to make him sleepy.
4. Lately I either get him to go to sleep on his own without nursing, or ask his yaya to get him to sleep (more of the latter, because it reduces the chances of him asking to nurse). Then when he’s already asleep, he’s transferred to our room so he can sleep with us. He doesn’t wake up anymore in the middle of the night to nurse, and during the rare occasion when he did so, I just told him to go back to sleep and tapped him softly.
I think that part of our success in weaning is Gabby’s maturity. He understands and comprehends explanations now. He’s also rarely controlled now by his need to throw a tantrum when he cannot get his way. Even when he does, the tantrums are short and not as intense as before. We can now actually reason with him.
Also, I think I waited for the right time. There were attempts to wean before (halfhearted on my part, haha), but the protests were such that I figured he was not ready yet. And since I wanted to nurse as long as possible, I did not have to force him and me to wean even when we were not yet ready.
While we’ve been successful in weaning though, to be honest, there’s a part of me that’s sad–sad because this phase in our relationship has ended, and I feel that somehow I’ve lost some sort of unique connection with him. But I’m also happy. Happy, because he’s sort of moving on to other things. Happy, because he no longer uses nursing as a sleeping aid. Happy, because he can fall asleep on his own (sometimes). And happy, because since he does not wake up to nurse in the middle of the night anymore, he now sleeps through the night.
And, let’s face it: happy, because nursing a toddler with almost a full set of baby teeth actually hurts a bit.