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Thread: Attempting to wean my 3 year old...

  1. #1

    Default Attempting to wean my 3 year old...

    On June 14 the my son celebrated his 3rd birthday. I have been trying to stop breastfeeding on and off since 6 months, but with no luck :-(

    Since my son is a spirited kid, I know it's highly challenging to make him stop breastfeeding. But, I got to do it. It's already late...

    Here is the process I basically want to follow:-


    1)My son calls the "Mother's Milk", "Goo Goo". So I would start telling him that "Goo Goo" has now turned out to be bitter and bad tasting. I would keep telling it to him every hour or so.
    2)Whenever my son wants to breastfeed, I will try offering him alternative milk/juice.
    3)I am trying to employ "Moosambaram", an Indian herb, which is very bitter. I will make a paste of it and would apply on the nipples, whenever my son forces me to breastfeed.
    4)I am hoping my son would develop aversion against breastmilk. But if he wipes away Moosambaram paste and starts drinking the milk, next time, I would apply a thicker paste(which means increased bitterness) the next time.
    5)When he starts crying(he would, this is the hardest part to deal with), because "Goo Goo" is now bitter and he wants the real "Goo Goo", I will try to divert/soothe him by offering the toys he likes or showing him the videos he loves or taking him to the other kids so he can play with them.
    6)It is easier to avoid breastfeeding during the day time. But my son doesn't even go to bed unless breastfed during the night :-( I am hoping after tasting the bitter breast, he would somehow compromise and go to sleep.


    I will provide occassional updates on my progress... I need lot of emotional support to deal with his cryings during the process... :-(

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    240

    Default Re: Attempting to wean my 3 year old...

    Welcome to the forum!

    May I ask why you need to wean? I cdo not blame you and of course t is your choice, but I must admit, your plan sounds very drastic.
    Maybe try a gentle way first and try this bitter herb only as a last resort? I think it is quite hard to wean a 3 year old, but my expereince was that i could reduce it by negotiating and compromising.
    Last edited by @llli*mammi; June 27th, 2013 at 10:03 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    19,889

    Default Re: Attempting to wean my 3 year old...

    with Mammi. There are alternate ways to move the weaning process ahead that don't involve anything that tastes yucky. Mammi mentioned communication and negotiation, and I couldn't agree more that these are the 2 most useful strategies. For example, if the child wants to nurse you say "Not now, we'll nurse when the clock gets to ____ o'clock" or "We will nurse when we get home" or "We will nurse when the sun is up, now it's time for sleep". Time limits are also very useful. You can say things like "You can nurse until I count to 10" or "You can nurse until I finish singing this song." As time goes on, you make the countdown faster and the lullabies shorter. Another mom here mentioned putting band-aids over her nipples and telling her child that she couldn't nurse because she was hurting, and her child respected that. With an older child, you can have a weaning party- the child picks the date and the celebration, and once the party takes place, you wean- and anytime the child asks to nurse (which he probably won't), you remind him that he already had the party.

    You mentioned that you feel it's "already late" for your child to be not yet weaned, and I just wanted to point out that it's very, very normal for a child to nurse until later in childhood, particularly at bedtime when the association between nursing and going to bed is so strong. Many kids don't wean until 4 or 5. And if you are patient enough, all children eventually self-wean. So please don't feel like you are alone in nursing an older child!

    Good luck with the process, mama. I know it's very hard and very emotional, especially when one member of the nursing pair is ready and the other is not.
    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

    Default Re: Attempting to wean my 3 year old...

    Aversion weaning techniques are not recommended by LLL. Your child naturally equates nursing, your milk, and your breasts, with YOU. With momma, love, and comfort. Aversion weaning may create harmful conflict/distance between you and your child.

    If you are ready to stop nursing, then it is of course fine to consider taking steps to wean. There are many tried and true techniques for this. But just fyi, your three year old is entirely normal for wanting to continue to nurse. Many healthy, normal children nurse far longer than age three.

    Weaning typically goes better when it is gradual and gentle and nursing is replaced with other kinds of loving touch, affection, and activities together. Some of the ideas you are trying (offering a healthy snack or water, distraction) work just fine without aversion. You could also try limiting your son to certain specific nursing sessions he really 'needs' each day. Such as bedtime, naptime and morrning. You could limit lenght of sessions, etc. There are many gentle techniques that really do work.

    I suggest the books How Weaning Happens or The Nursing Mothers Guide to Weaning. Both books offer age appropriate weaning tips and explain the normal weaning process.
    While certainly not as in depth, this article has some tips as well: https://www.llli.org/faq/weantoddler.html

  5. #5

    Default Re: Attempting to wean my 3 year old...

    Thank you very much other Mommies and LLL Leader for your valuable suggestions.

    I am a little relieved to know that it is perfectly normal for a 3 year old to want to nurse. But, my son developed Tooth Cavities. His front tooth has decayed and broken. Sad part is that I do not know it is all due to night nursing, until recently. I have to stop night nursing now, inorder to save his teeth.

    I am alarmed to know that aversion weaning is not preferable. I myself am not happy following this procedure. Thank you very much for your tips. I will revise my weaning plan and make it more positive.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    19,889

    Default Re: Attempting to wean my 3 year old...

    I'm sorry about the tooth decay, mama! I can only imagine how upsetting that must be for you, as a mom. Just so you know, it's very unlikely that your child's tooth decay is linked to breastfeeding, though many dentists are unaware of this. First of all, the sugars in breastmilk aren't the ones that are linked to decay. Second, when a child is nursing, he must continue to swallow or the milk will stop flowing. That means milk can't pool in the mouth, and it is pooling that causes tooth decay in bottle-fed babies. This link explains more in depth: http://kellymom.com/health/baby-health/tooth-decay/

    Most kids who are nursed into toddlerhood don't have problems with tooth decay. The ones who do are often the ones with weak tooth enamel, which makes them extra susceptible to cavities. You can continue to nurse and also fight the decay. For example, right before bed you can nurse and then brush your child's teeth, or at least wipe them down with a clean, wet washcloth.
    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!"

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    240

    Default Re: Attempting to wean my 3 year old...

    I agree with Mommal, the dentist may tell you there is a link but I did look into this (my son has bad dental material) and the third dentist I went to finally confirmed what I suspected and what my pediatrician also had explained: bad tooth enamel or dental material is something one has or does not. The dentist acutally said that it is - among other things - determined in the womb/affected by nutrition of mother during certain phases of pregnancy. Which does not mean that you can ignore dental hygiene BUT it is no reason to use drastic measures to wean.

    My son is 4 1/2 and he still nurses to sleep most nights. I first came to this forum because I wanted to wean, and instead I found the encouragement and help to reduce to a level managable to me and acceptable to him. I employed the technics mommal describes. I did not realise this was possible but found to my surprise that although it took patience and a few months it did work.

    What worked especially well for me was counting because my son loves numbers. It got so that sometimes he let me count instead of nursing - he was more fasscinated by the counting than my breast. Also singing lullabies, and the delaying technique - I began by telling him that now we could not nurse but we would do it later, and slowly arrived at a situation where he accepted that the only time we nurse is at bedtime. He only nurses very briefly (unless he had a hard day). We brush teeth before that, and usually out of his own choice he follows the brief nursing with a sip of water.

    How often does he nurse and when? I ask because if you can consider the pattern / situation then it will help to find a distraction or alternative. For example i went with my boy to buy a special water bottle he could choose for himself (one of these sports bottles) and told him it was so he could drink when we were in a shop or park or wherever and I no longer wanted to offer breast in such situations. So when he asked for bf during these situations (in a shop for example) I said: we can do that later at home, but for now here is your water bottle. And at home unless he specifically asked I did not offer saying I promised in the shop etc. In general it worked well to simply never offer and only give on demand, and if demand was in a place or time I did not want to do it delay.

    I was so surprised also how ready he was and is to discuss breast feeding or also when we have opportunity to see nursing animals we talk about how one day they finish. I used opportunities when we met babies to tell him that babies nurse all the time, toddlers very often and big boys like him to go to bed only - he actually likes this progession and tells it to me sometimes and adds that he will finish once he is a very big boy with 5 or 6.
    Last edited by @llli*mammi; June 28th, 2013 at 06:23 AM.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Attempting to wean my 3 year old...

    I am very sorry you have been made to feel badly about your nursing your son because of his tooth decay. Tooth decay in a young child is upsetting enough without you being made to feel that your life-giving milk was responsible for it! PP's are right, study's have NOT linked nursing duration or night nursing and tooth decay. Nor have they found that weaning is helpful in reversing tooth decay.

    The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (8th edition) has the clearest discussion of breastfeeding and tooth decay written for mothers I know of. Nothing online is as simple and complete. If you cannot get a copy of this book or find someone to read that section to you, let me know.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    6,564

    Default Re: Attempting to wean my 3 year old...

    I'm sorry that you are having such a hard time! Can your husband help at night? If you do actually want to wean (I can't tell?) you could have your husband start taking over bedtime. Then your son would not expect to nurse. It might be hard at first - it took my older daughter a few days to take to my husband doing bedtime, and then she would happily run off with Daddy. Bedtime is actually one of the few times that my younger daughter seems to want to spend with my husband.
    Tracie

    Mommy to
    Lilah 10/08 nursed 25 months
    Beatrix 01/11 nursed 30 months

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