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Thread: Support, help weaning a 19 month old during a difficult time

  1. #1

    Default Support, help weaning a 19 month old during a difficult time

    Hi, thanks for reading/responding. I am in the midst of weaning my nearly 19 month old son. I am trying to be as gentle as possible and over the past couple of months had been successful at eliminating his normal first thing in the morning nurse and his after work nurse - he was only nursing once a day (just before bed), and for the most part was okay with it. He mostly sleeps through the night and very rarely nurses during the night (my husband handles night wakings).

    However, my husband hurt his back a couple of weeks ago, and then re aggravated it on the weekend, and it's been a big change in our life, as he can no longer take our son at night, and is no longer as available for other things, as he cannot lift him at all.

    Possibly as a consequence (?), my son is now waking multiple times at night, demanding vociferously to nurse (he says nurse, points at his chair, and starts to yell no and thrash about if I try to distract him with other comforts such as holding him in his carrier, or reading to him).

    I need help/ideas on how to cope with this. I'm not sure how long until my husband will be back on his feet. I often give in to my son when he demands to nurse repeatedly, but it feels like I'm sending him confusing messages, since we had worked hard on the idea of him nursing just before bed until now. But he is so visibly upset, so forceful in his desire to nurse, it feels mean to deny him. If I do nurse him, he calms rapidly, and often will fall back asleep.

    But I would like to get back to where we were - am I being too confusing by allowing him to nurse when he is so upset? Are there other tools I'm missing? Any ideas on how to deal with this would be super appreciated.

    Thanks!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    21,349

    Default Re: Support, help weaning a 19 month old during a difficult

    Welcome to the forum! The first thing I thought, when I read your post, is that your baby is quite young to be completely weaned. Are you at all open to continuing to nurse, or are you definitely ready to be done? The reason I ask is that continuing to nurse would be hands down the easiest course of action, and sometimes giving in to a child's demands is so reassuring to the child that the level of demand ultimately goes down. No pressure to continue, of course! If you're ready to be done, that's fine- I just don't want you to push weaning because someone is pressuring you.

    If you're absolutely ready to be done, there's no one right answer to what you should do. On the one hand, consistency and not giving in to the demands is important, and probably the fastest way to complete weaning. And in my experience, you should expect more demand and less sleep when you're in the process of eliminating the last feedings- toddlers don't usually give in without a fight! But on the other hand, you know your child best. If you feel he is really in distress, and it feels cruel not to nurse him, then you do what you have to do. Weaning can be a "2 steps forward, 1 step back" experience, and it's not wrong to allow it to proceed more slowly and more flexibly than you originally intended.
    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!"

  3. #3

    Default Re: Support, help weaning a 19 month old during a difficult

    Thanks! Yes, I kind of agree that he is young. Unfortunately I have a medical procedure in 6 weeks (rather not go into too much detail) that requires him to be weaned. So I guess I am ambivalent about weaning which perhaps makes me less strict....

    It was working quite well, he is well comforted by my husband, but I think when it's me he knows I will nurse him, or he just remembers that he wants to. So this back thing is quite a set back.

    The two steps forward one step back feels about right. I feel so sad for him, taking away his comfort and what seems like earlier than he would like. But I also really want to have the procedure over with, so I have to continue. I have been trying to be gentle and it seemed like we were making real progress with it. But now it feels like a struggle. Maybe you are right that it was inevitable...

  4. #4
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    May 2006
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    Default Re: Support, help weaning a 19 month old during a difficult

    Mama, the forum is about as anonymous as you can get. I understand your reluctance to share your medical details online, but if you decide you can do so, or would like to private message me or one of the LLL leaders, we may be able to reassure you. There may even be someone here who shares your particular circumstance and can offer informed advice. The reason I ask is that often women are told that they must wean even when it is completely unnecessary.
    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!"

  5. #5

    Default Re: Support, help weaning a 19 month old during a difficult

    The main reason to wean is that I have to go on a course of Doxycylcine, to prevent an infection from the procedure. It is kind of a nasty antibiotic, and it would stay in my system for 4-5 days after the last pill. I don't have any milk stored (and no longer pump), so I think it makes more sense to have him used to the idea of not nursing before I start taking it (in 6 weeks). Apparently it can turn a baby's teeth yellow, and I guess there are likely other costs to the toddler. I just don't want to take the risk. My doctor told me you can't nurse on Doxycycline. I looked it up on MotherRisk, which said it is contraindicated long term, but I guess it just scares me and I don't want to risk him having a reaction, or teeth yellowing.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Default Re: Support, help weaning a 19 month old during a difficult

    You might want to call Infant Risk and ask them what they advise: http://www.infantrisk.com. Perhaps there is a possibility of using an alternate antibiotic, or of limiting nursing at the time when you're taking the drug so as to minimize your baby's exposure. You could even use the pump to empty the breast before nursing, so that you would retain nursing as a mothering tool while keeping the baby's milk intake as minimal as possible.
    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
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    Default Re: Support, help weaning a 19 month old during a difficult

    I think the change in your life with your husband's injury may indeed be part of what is going on. Children pick up on our stress and react in various ways. Also, my daughter who is 21 months old is night nursing a lot these days due to teething pain.

    I understand wanting to wean slowly and gradually and gently. That is the ideal. But sometimes life intervenes and the ideal is not possible. Also, another ideal with weaning is not to move faster than a child is ready for. It sounds like your child is telling you 'I am not ready."

    What would be easier for YOU right now, at such a stressful and difficult time? Would it be easiest to back off on the weaning and just nurse as much and when you and your son like? If so, that may be the best course for you even if it means more abrupt weaning later. I don't think you need to be concerned about 'confusing' your son because his weaning process does not follow some continuous graduating pattern. Weaning is usually very much a process that goes in stops and starts. Most 'gentle' weaning recommendations include backing off on the weaning process if the child shows signs of distress, and also to not drop nursing sessions at particularly stressful times. (Again, ideally.)

    As far as your medication, I agree with mommal it makes sense to make sure you understand what the risks are and what alternatives there may be so you are clear on your options. I think a discussion with the folks at infantrisk will help a lot. It is important to talk to someone who can give you an clear explanation because the dose you will be on, how long you will be on it, the age and size of the child, how often they nurse, etc. all matters when thinking about what exposure a child will have to a medication a mother takes. There are many types of antibiotcs, and most are considered usually safe to take when breastfeeding.

    But if your medical procedure/medications indeed do require weaning, or you simply wish to wean by that time, you can consider the option of holding off on weaning until that point. No it will not be easy for your son or for you if he must wean more abruptly. But it sounds as if he is not happy with the way weaning is going now either! He will be over a month older, and perhaps (I hope) your husband will be getting better and be able to help more at that point, or perhaps you can plan ahead for getting more help at that time from other family, or even delay your procedure if that is possible.

    If you decide to go the route of more abrupt weaning, you may need to pump for a bit to ensure you do not experience engorged breasts. It also may help to start now with reading books about weaning, or making up stories about weaning, talking about weaning in very simple terms to begin to prepare your son. Yes your son is young for that kind of communication but toddlers usually understand much more than they are able to express.

    Besides redirecting, which you are already trying without success it sounds like, The tool I found most helpful when gently encouraging weaning (with a slightly older child) was to set a time limit. So rather than saying no, saying yes, for as long as _______. Whatever. Usually for the length of a short song I would sing. But I did not do this at night, when it was way easier to just nurse my child back to sleep.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Support, help weaning a 19 month old during a difficult

    thank you!

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