I loved my breastfeeding journey
Hurray!!! Everyone can congratulate me I HAVE FINALLY WEANED MY LITTLE ONE after successfully breastfeeding him for 19 months. The day I conceived, it was crystal clear to me, if my body and health permits, I am going to breastfeed my son for more than one year. A lot of my friends suggested I should start weaning my son when he turns 10 months because its easier. I agreed with them but when the time came, I just wanted to continue breastfeeding. Those quiet moments when it would be just me and baby, the closeness and calmness which only a mom can feel while breastfeeding was just not comforting for my son but for me as well. Holding him close and maintaining eye contact was one of the most perfect, unadulterated moments I have ever lived in my life. Cherry on the cake is, if breastfeeding has been easy and painless for you, it can be your best friends in a lot of scenarios.
Your baby cries, breastfeed.
Baby hurt herself while playing, breastfeed.
Not sleeping, breastfeed.
Want to make him nap longer, breastfeed.
It took you longer than expected in the market and you are out of snacks, breastfeed.
When a lot of parents are not able to sleep in initial months after the baby is born, for me and my husband, it was not so bad.
Breastfeeding came as a blessing whenever we travelled, especially our first air travel, he slept most of the flight, thanks to breastfeeding. I was breastfeeding him 90% of time. So, weaning him became all the more difficult because he loved it.
My struggle with weaning my son from breastfeeding
When my son turned 15 months I decided now the time has come to wean him. I was done, exhausted and I needed my sleep. His cluster feeds were rapidly increasing. Despite having his meals, he was still getting up at night, more out of the habit. His night feed duration was also increasing and as a result, I was not getting any sleep at all. On top of it he was now transitioning from two naps to one a day, which means even lesser time for me to rest. Like my husband often says toddlers are like energizer bunnies, he is is so active that I was exhausted all the time.
As a result, I had frequent headaches, irritability and emotional eating to overcome exhaustion. Plus, I had lost count of how many times my son bit me while feeding and I can practically see you cringing there. In short, as my son crossed 15 months mark my desperation to wean him increased and his dependency on breastfeeding kept on growing. There was no relief in sight, just mind numbing tiredness.
Despite all my desperation and tiredness one thing was clear to me I couldn’t go COLD TURKEY. Turns out it wasn’t for me. I couldn’t see him cry, especially for something which is just for some duration, it wasn’t. As if he will be breastfeeding for rest of his life, though me and my friends have often joked that we will be breastfeeding our kids till they go to college. Hahaha… but now that I have weaned my son, I am really happy about the approach I took. Before I share things that worked me, let me tell everyone there is no fixed formula. Every baby is different. You will have to find out what works for you. I have friends for whom going cold turkey worked brilliantly. Some friends had no other option but to go cold turkey because they felt sick or their was medical condition involved. I even have friends where their kids just stopped asking for breastfeeds and forgot about it at all after they started solids (yeah! People like that exist… big eye roll). So, it is all about individual approach for different babies. But then the question is why am I even sharing my story? Reason is when I was trying to wean my son I read stories, tips and tricks from several moms. I asked my friends and family, they all shared their experiences. I tried their suggestions some worked brilliantly and some were epic fail for me.
Following are tips and tricks that worked for me
Found the bottle my son loved
A friend had suggested to him expressed milk through the bottle. It will help him transition to bottle feeding but this became such a struggle for me because my son HATED using bottles. I tried so many bottles and he didn’t like any one of those. I even tried giving him milk from sippy cup because he likes it for other liquids, sadly that didn’t work either because he would have a few sips and then just create mess. Until my sister in law who faced similar problem suggested me COMO TOMO bottles, I strongly recommend these bottles for breastfeeding babies. Bottles’ nipples are closest to the shape of boobs and he accepted these bottles happily.
Find milk or formula to substitute breastfeeds
Another big decision for me was which milk or formula to use? Every time I read a blog or ask friends they all said the same thing it is hit and trial. Keep trying till the time he develops taste for one. Oh!! What a bummer. I practically tried all the brands and he didn’t like any. Frankly, I used to think how other babies adapt so easily? Thats when I asked my mom and few other elders in my family. By now my son had turned year and a half, all the elders in my family suggested it is a good time to try pasteurized/boiled cow’s or goat’s milk. At the end organic, grass fed healthy farming cow milk it was. He liked the taste instantly. Having the substitute to breast milk boosted my confidence further more. Now, it was all about gradually weaning – one feed at a time. Which is easy said than done.
Day time breastfeed weaning came first
Weaning in the day was easy till it was nap time. Since, I was nursing him to sleep from the start, making nap time difficult. Usually, people suggest weaning in winters because babies are less thirsty but being stuck at home with a bored toddler on a cold day is not that great for weaning. Any mom can tell you, first thing a toddler does when bored is seek breastfeeding. Anyhow, my trick was very simple, drain that energizer bunny energy but making sure they aren’t over tired either, so when it is nap time he sleeps without fussing. This was a friend’s idea and it worked like a charm. Remember if toddler is over tired then he will be more stubborn about breastfeeding. Playdates, play houses or just walk around the block, whatever works for you. Just get out of the house and come back at the nap time.
Slow and gradual approach for night time weaning
Weaning at night is a different story. There is no play date or play house. It’s just you and your toddler. A friend suggested if you don’t sleep with him and ask someone else in the family to sleep with him he is less likely to seek breastfeeding. So, I asked my husband to sleep with him and soothe him if he wakes up. Damn!!! It didn’t work. He got up screaming, wailing and crying his lungs out, looking for me. I tried this approach for two or three nights but I ended up breastfeeding him again, which is against the rules of weaning and it bothered me and my husband to no end. We even had arguments and disagreements about the whole approach. Which led to more research on my end. I remember reading one particular mom’s experience on one of the community boards. She suggested that you first establish the concept of “finished” to your baby during the day time. Eg breakfast finished, snacks finished etc. Once that is done, when your baby wakes up at night tell him in the most calm voice that milk is finished and now it will come at whatever is the time for his next feed. This approach worked wonders for us. I started doing that with his first feed at night, where I stopped nursing him to sleep and then second feed around midnight. Within 3 days he stopped waking up at midnight for feeds and then magic happened. Just like that one day he slept till 4am without any feeds. After a week, he would toss and turn, I would tell him milk is finished and he would just go back to sleep. I think it is safe to say I have finally weaned my son and that too without losing my peace of mind.
This is how I weaned my son from breastfeeding weaning. Do tell me your journey. Let’s discuss so that all the struggling moms get more and more ideas. You never know what might work for them.