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Thread: How and when to wean

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    53

    Default How and when to wean

    My LO is almost a year- it's been a long, bumpy road with nursing, but I am happy to say that I will reach my goal of a year. Lately however, I have been hoping to continue much longer (as long as my son wants) but he seems to be losing interest in nursing. For the past 4 months we have been nursing through many distractions. He receives exclusively breast milk, but I work so he takes bm from a bottle during the day 5 days/ week. Lately its getting harder and harder to encourage him to nurse- I always offer, but he seems to drink less and less, except before bed and first thing in the am. To complicate things, my LO is a peanut- 1st percentile in weight, 50% in height, so BMI is off the charts. He has been in the first percentile since I went back to work, so needless to say I have been worried for some time. The fact that he is nursing less gives me so much anxiety, and I know that isn't healthy either. While I am sad to think we are coming to an end, I don't know if I can take the worry any longer and if he truely wants to wean, I don't want to force him. So...
    How do I know he is trying to tell me he would rather have a bottle or sippy cup?
    If I drop feedings, should I offer the bottle or sippy?
    How fast/ slow do I proceed? How often should I drop feedings? Should I keep offering and then follow up w/ bottle or sippy or just skip the breast completely?

    I was thinking I'd start with his afternoon feeding because that has been the one that is most difficult, but lately, he doesn't seem interested much at all during the day except before a nap (which is brief). Like I said above, I want to make sure he's getting enough milk. I don't pump much (about 2 oz total during the day each pumping session) and have been taking fenugreek but that doesn't seem to make much of a difference for those afternoon pumping sessions. I feel that I am holding on to something that he is ready to give up and I don't want to make him nurse if he is ready to move on. I'm just a little sad to let go.

    Sorry for the long post, but I am so overwhelmed by this.... change is hard and I've worked so hard to make this work and it has, but I feel we are nearing the end. He's never been a strong nurser... And I don't know any moms that are working and have made it past 6 months, so I need all the advice and support I can get. Thanks in advance mommas. And happy mother's day to you all.
    First-time mom to David Alan, born 5-20-12. Enjoying maternity leave for his 1st 5 months and then returning to full-time work as a school social worker and nursing mom.





  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Posts
    2,207

    Default Re: How and when to wean

    Hi mama,
    First off, congrats for making it to a year! That is a wonderful achievement.

    So, I'm getting a lot of ambivalence from your post about whether to wean or not right now. Which makes me think, why not back off on the weaning idea right now. I don't think your baby is trying to "tell" you anything. If he doesn't want to nurse, he won't. And if he wants to, he will. Whether you want to wean right now is a different story. And I'm not hearing that you are really ready to stop right now. So one idea I want to throw out there is to first focus on pump weaning, then re-assess. Because in my experience, once you pump wean, it it so nice to be able to breastfeed without worrying about how much milk you are pumping for LO, whether it's enough, finding time in your schedule to do so every day multiple times a day, cleaning up your pump parts, putting everything together in the morning, etc. etc.

    The pump weaning process is pretty straightforward. I start with my last pump weaning session of the day. Cut that out, give yourself a few days or a week to adjust. Spread your remaining sessions over the day. Then again, eliminate the last session, spread the remaining sessions out, etc.

    What to replace with? If you wait until a year to do this, then you don't need to replace with formula. If your LO is nursing 3-5 times/24 hours, you don't necessarily need additional dairy. But it sounds like your LO is not necessarily doing that, and because you're worried about his weight, you can transition to cow's milk (assuming he does not have any intolerance). (I'm not suggesting you SHOULD be worried about his weight, by the way. He may just be a lean and tall baby.) You might want to start introducing him to the cow's milk before you start the pump weaning process so he can start getting used to it. After a year I personally work on eliminating the bottle so I would give it in a sippy instead.

    Nights and weekends, you can continue to offer the breast with the same frequency you are now - that will help maintain your supply. It's common for a baby his age to be distractible and uninterested in nursing. You may find that his interest picks up in the next couple months though. That has definitely been the case with my LO who is now 14 months!

    As for working and nursing - I work full time (actually more than full time) - and I've breastfed all three of my kids past a year. It can be done! It does take a lot of persistence - so like I said, it's great that you've made it this far!

    If you do decide to wean completely, I still think it makes sense to first eliminate the daytime pumping. Then you can eliminate whichever nursing he seems least attached to. Often the bedtime session will be the last to go. And again - if you want to hold on to just that session, or the morning and the nighttime session only - that's fine too! There are no rules to this. You've gotten him to a year on your breastmilk, now he's at the point where breastmilk becomes complementary to his solids intake, rather than his primary form of nutrition, so you can nurse him with the frequency that works for both of you.

    Lastly, keep in mind that weaning can be emotional (it always is for me!). And it is for baby too! Make sure he gets plenty of hugs and cuddles.

    Happy mother's day to you too!
    Last edited by @llli*bfwmomof3; May 11th, 2013 at 11:35 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    20,782

    Default Re: How and when to wean

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*bfwmomof3 View Post
    I don't think your baby is trying to "tell" you anything. If he doesn't want to nurse, he won't. And if he wants to, he will. Whether you want to wean right now is a different story. And I'm not hearing that you are really ready to stop right now.
    Couldn't more! Your baby really isn't trying to tell you anything except that he's a very busy little guy, what with the world being full of interesting diversions and all.

    I am also with the PP's suggestion to focus on pump-weaning at or around a year and then see how you feel once that burden is lifted from you. Maybe all of a sudden, when you're not worried about counting ounces and schlepping pump equipment around, nursing will turn into a relaxing moment in your day instead of a source of anxiety.

    How is your LO with solids? Is he interested and eating lots of them, or could he take them or leave them?

    Finally, I just have to say that being lean for your height is not a problem, not in an otherwise healthy baby. Believe me, in a few years all the concern over your "skinny" baby is going to turn into kudos for the way you've saved your child from the epidemic of childhood obesity!
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    5,254

    Default Re: How and when to wean

    When to wean-when you and your baby want. Sometimes baby wants to wean before mom is ready, sometimes mom is done before baby. But unless a baby has gotten lots of bottles as a replacement for the breast, and/or is being subtly/unintentionally or not so subtly/unintentionally discouraged from nursing, it is unlikely a child will ever 'prefer' bottles.

    No one can force a child to nurse. Offering is not forcing. Offering is a normal part of breastfeeding. You can feel fine offering to nurse for owies, for tiredness, for snuggles, just because, etc. Nursing has never been only about food for your child, so I suggest, don’t let your fears about your child's weight make it be only about food for you either. Baby expects you to feel as positive about nursing as he does, so your feelings of ambivalence may effect him. Nursing is a relationship. Even if your child needed supplemental feedings, that need not ever harm or shorten the nursing relationship.

    Weaning means, to 'solid' food, so baby has to be at least a year (usually much older) and eating solids very well to safely wean. If instead, your baby weans totally from the breast to the bottle or cups of formula, baby will have to wean a second time off the bottles/cups.

    How to wean- ideally, gradually and with love and respect for mother and baby. Weaning is a process that starts with babies first bite of solid foods and ends with that last nursing session. This process can take many months or even years.

    good books- How Weaning Happens and The Nursing Mothers Guide to Weaning.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: How and when to wean

    Thank you for your replies. To answer a few questions, typically on work days, I nurse before I leave, then again when I return, before dinner, and before bed (4x)- it used to be more often, but he has been taking less and less these past months. In terms of him preferring the bottle- he does get a bottle at least 3x/ day when I'm at work and when my husband is home, sometimes he refuses to nurse, but then will take a bottle happily and because of his weight, I'm always worried not to offer the bottle if DH is home and LO is not nursing well. I so long for the day that nursing is no longer a source of anxiety- because of his low weight, I've been anxious since I returned to work. That is why I am considering nursing because that takes the enjoyment out of it, probably for both of us. Then again, when he is eager to nurse (like before bed or sometimes during other sessions) and he grabs my hand tightly and snuggles up with me, I melt and think, how will I ever let this go? Why would I want to stop now if it is still working? I guess I have a lot of ambivalence about this myself and a lot of sadness about ending this beautiful relationship. I like the idea about pump weaning. Next week is his 1st birthday, so for now I am planning to wait until then and then start the pump weaning process and go from there. I just fear he is not getting all the milk he needs if I don't wean sooner and just give him bottles instead- I still have a large enough frozen supply to make it several more weeks, so I also am planning to start the transition to whole milk this month as my frozen supply dwindles.

    Any other suggestions? How much milk does a one year old need? How much liquids? He doesn't get anything but the breast on days when I am home with him- is this ok? (in terms of liquids- he does eat three meals a day. Breakfast is a good size, but lunch and dinner varies depending on the day- sometimes he eats a good size meal, sometimes he barely nibbles and then shakes his head no more.) Should I start offering him water or whole milk from the sippy more often and see where that leads us? Sorry for all my questions- I never thought the whole feeding baby process would make me feel so lost- thanks for all your help!!
    First-time mom to David Alan, born 5-20-12. Enjoying maternity leave for his 1st 5 months and then returning to full-time work as a school social worker and nursing mom.





  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Posts
    2,207

    Default Re: How and when to wean

    Hi davidsmomma, I guess one thing I don't understand is how breastfeeding could be bad for him if you are worried about weight? It is THE most nutritious, calorie-packed form of food that you can give him! If he wants a bottle and you have the EBM and it makes you feel better - well, at this point, if that's what it takes for you to keep nursing (which I still think it sounds like you want to keep doing, from what you write) - go ahead and give it. If it helps you can think of nursing as an "extra" that you're giving him - extra nutrition and extra love!

    There's no absolute answer to how much liquid an individual needs during the day. It depends on water losses in the stool, sweat, etc (for example, if it's hot, you need more) and on solute intake. But thirst is one of the most powerful drives we have. Even a slight decrease in the amount of water in the body will powerfully stimulate thirst. So as long as you make liquids available to your LO, he will drink the amount he needs.

    Here's a link to kelly mom in terms of toddler nutritional needs, the need for cow's milk etc.: http://kellymom.com/nutrition/starti...toddler-foods/

    ETA: Yes, I think it's fine to start offering him water from a sippy or cow's milk if you like, along with his meals of solids. It's also fine to do nothing but breastfeed when you are together! That's what I do.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    5,254

    Default Re: How and when to wean

    with bfwmomof3

    My 9 month old drinks almost no water. And it's HOT here. She nurses lots instead. I know she nurses when she is thirsty because she won't drink when eating solids (even if we offer she seldom drinks much) but often wants to nurse right after 'eating.' I see no problem with offering small amounts of water at a time from the sippy as you like, but if your baby nurses due to being thirsty, (as well as hungry or just 'cause) that is fine and normal too.

    Where water (or cow milk or juice for that matter) intake might be a problem is when babies are given large bottles/cups full, and this fills the tummy with a nutritionally inferior substance and thus decreases their interest in nursing.

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