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Thread: Weaning my 3 year old son. Questions....

  1. #1
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    Default Weaning my 3 year old son. Questions....

    Hi! I am new here & I am SO glad that I've found this forum. I wish I'd thought to look here long ago for support!

    My beautiful son is 3 years & 2 months old. He has been a voracious nurser since the minute he was born & it's been a wonderful relationship that we have both enjoyed.

    At this point he nurses for comfort... if he's upset or tired. He sleeps with us & wakes several times during the night asking to be nursed & then he goes right back to sleep.

    I am 3 months pregnant with baby#2 & I feel that for us, it's time to wean. I've been very sick with this pregnancy & my breasts are sore. I admire the women who do tandem nurse, but I personally just don't want to do that.

    So, I would like to wean my son very soon --- months before the new baby is born & he sees the new baby nursing. Our first pediatrician was on me to wean him from about 15 months. I wasn't about to wean him then & he didn't want to. We switched pediatricians. The new pediatrician supports the extended bf. I've asked her for advice on how to wean. She says to just stop. She said that he'll be angry with me for a while, but it will not emotionally scar him in any way (my biggest fear). I of course haven't attempted this at all yet & feel stuck.

    Do I just "stop"? Do I explain to him for a week or two that we're not going to bf anymore & then follow through? Is that mean? Will I scar him in any way by doing that? I'm just dreading the whole process.

    Any thoughts or advice are really appreciated.
    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Weaning my 3 year old son. Questions....

    Congratulations on your new pregnancy and enjoying such a lovely nursing relationship with your son! IMO it is not at all mean and will not scar your ds if you begin some parent-led weaning at this point. I think he is old enough to understand that you are ready to move on to a new phase in your relationship and this by all means does not imply that you will not be there for him to give cuddles and love and all else that a little boy needs!

    What I would be careful not to do is to relate your interest/need for weaning to your pregnancy and new baby, at this point anyway. He is old enough to get that the new baby is going to nurse, and I'm sure he knows that is how babies are fed! But right now I would probably just talk to him about how you feel it is time and that you are going to start doing OTHER special things together. I started doing this with my older dd when I knew that I was ready to start the weaning process. I talked to her about the fun things that we could do, such as a trip to the bakery for a cupcake, a lunch out without little sis. And we also discussed things that wouldn't change, such as bedtime routines of snuggling and "touching eyes" (her habit of stroking my eyes and eyebrows as she fell asleep). We did buy a little cake and celebrate her weaning and this gave her something to be proud of and happy about.

    You can think about backing off slowly in two ways: frequency and duration. When I began to be a little bothered with nursing my older daughter, I told her she could nurse for as long as the "ABC song" or a count to 10 (varying the speed of counting depending on my state of mind/discomfort). I also began limiting times when she asked and I new she could be distracted with something else. "Not right now, but we will do that later when we get home...do you want to go get a drink?"

    Right now we are struggling with my younger dd asking a LOT at our LLL meetings...of course!!! I spend the majority of the time saying "We will later", holding her on my lap, and then getting up for snacks and water. Later never comes, because at 3 years and 4 months other things come up.

    As far as your ped's advice. I would not quit cold turkey, but talk to ds about it and let him know what is coming up and at the same time start with limiting when and how long...gauging when he really needs it the most and saving those times for the last ones to be eliminated.

    I wish you lots of luck and good thoughts on this! I tandem nursed, but never had any sickness or nipple soreness, so I can't imagine...but I am sure it must be getting sort of tough on you. Thinking of weaning is hard for us mothers, even when we know we are ready. Be kind to yourself, and give ds lots of love and support and I'm sure the process will go just fine! I don't think he will be ANGRY with you! But he will be struggling with something new and as long as you are in-tuned to that, he will do ok!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Weaning my 3 year old son. Questions....

    I forgot to mention...I absolutely LOVED the book "How Weaning Happens" by Diane Bengson. It had so many wonderful ideas and situations and I highly recommend it! It is an LLL-published book and available here on the LLLI website.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Weaning my 3 year old son. Questions....

    Twogirlsmom:

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful & caring reply. You give some sound advice & I really appreciate it. It makes a lot of sense to discuss the weaning with my son & prepare him for it in that way.

    I do have that book you mentioned, by the way. I thought it was very good, too. When I read it I didn't find any magic answers for myself in there, but I realized that each mother & child have a different breastfeeding relationship & there is no "pat" answer or direction manual to weaning. It does help hearing other women's experiences though & being reassured & supported.

    Thanks so much again,
    StayathomeMommy


    Quote Originally Posted by twogirlsmom
    Congratulations on your new pregnancy and enjoying such a lovely nursing relationship with your son! IMO it is not at all mean and will not scar your ds if you begin some parent-led weaning at this point. I think he is old enough to understand that you are ready to move on to a new phase in your relationship and this by all means does not imply that you will not be there for him to give cuddles and love and all else that a little boy needs!

    What I would be careful not to do is to relate your interest/need for weaning to your pregnancy and new baby, at this point anyway. He is old enough to get that the new baby is going to nurse, and I'm sure he knows that is how babies are fed! But right now I would probably just talk to him about how you feel it is time and that you are going to start doing OTHER special things together. I started doing this with my older dd when I knew that I was ready to start the weaning process. I talked to her about the fun things that we could do, such as a trip to the bakery for a cupcake, a lunch out without little sis. And we also discussed things that wouldn't change, such as bedtime routines of snuggling and "touching eyes" (her habit of stroking my eyes and eyebrows as she fell asleep). We did buy a little cake and celebrate her weaning and this gave her something to be proud of and happy about.

    You can think about backing off slowly in two ways: frequency and duration. When I began to be a little bothered with nursing my older daughter, I told her she could nurse for as long as the "ABC song" or a count to 10 (varying the speed of counting depending on my state of mind/discomfort). I also began limiting times when she asked and I new she could be distracted with something else. "Not right now, but we will do that later when we get home...do you want to go get a drink?"

    Right now we are struggling with my younger dd asking a LOT at our LLL meetings...of course!!! I spend the majority of the time saying "We will later", holding her on my lap, and then getting up for snacks and water. Later never comes, because at 3 years and 4 months other things come up.

    As far as your ped's advice. I would not quit cold turkey, but talk to ds about it and let him know what is coming up and at the same time start with limiting when and how long...gauging when he really needs it the most and saving those times for the last ones to be eliminated.

    I wish you lots of luck and good thoughts on this! I tandem nursed, but never had any sickness or nipple soreness, so I can't imagine...but I am sure it must be getting sort of tough on you. Thinking of weaning is hard for us mothers, even when we know we are ready. Be kind to yourself, and give ds lots of love and support and I'm sure the process will go just fine! I don't think he will be ANGRY with you! But he will be struggling with something new and as long as you are in-tuned to that, he will do ok!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Weaning my 3 year old son. Questions....

    I am in the process of weaning myself, so I have gone through a lot of the same feelings you are having. You have received a lot of great advice already, just thought I would add my 2 cents.
    I have been told that some kids cut down on the nursing quite a bit when the milk supply dwindles. I did not experience this myself but my son was much younger when I got pregnant. I noticed a drastic reduction in my supply around 12 weeks or so (I was still pumping at work so it was very obvious). My son started nursing longer at night because he was not getting what he was used to and I ended up night weaning due to nipple pain. I told him they were going to sleep and replaced the nursing with a back rub and a song.
    I have been working towards weaning seriously for the past 2 months (although I have reduced the duration of nursing since my daughter was born). The one thing that hasn't been mentioned that really worked for me in cutting down the nursing sessions (he is a needy kid who wants to argue about everything!) was to start using "nursing coins". I heard about this at a conference. I gave him 3 coins (poker chips) a day and told him he could redeem them when he wanted, but when he used them up he was all done for the day. I would not try to distract him or put him off when he wanted to redeem them (unless I really couldn't nurse him at that time) and he could pick the number we would count to (it was never over 20, usually 18 or 19). It really cut down on the frequent asking and made him think about when it was most important to him (after all, he had to give up one of his precious coins). We did this for a week or 2, then reduced it to 2 coins (with warning). Now we don't use the coins but have kept the "2 a day" idea. We are supposed to be done completely in 2 days if all goes as planned. I think I will have to let him do it as much as he wants on the last day, though, as it will be bittersweet Good luck and congrats on the new babe!

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    Default Re: Weaning my 3 year old son. Questions....

    I could have written your post back in the fall! DD was about 40 months old, was only nursing at night to go to sleep, and I was a few months PG. My pregnancy sickness was horrible... the pain was unbearable... and I began to grow horribly resentful of our nursing relationship which up to that point had always been a source of joy for me... It was really traumatic for me. The idea of weaning was just so sad for me...

    Since DD was only nursing at night to go to sleep, or was nursing when she was sick, I waited until a time when she was feeling well and didn't seem to be going through anything else (no other new things in her life). Then, we just told her that in a few days, we'd be snuggling to sleep instead of having "this and other side" as she called it. When the day arrived, it was like she didn't believe me... She was upset, but she fussed (and by fussing, I mean just a little bit of balking at the idea and asking to nurse) for about a minute and then she closed her eyes and went right to sleep - with me cuddling her the entire time. It took a good week for that to come to an end, I'll be honest... and then another couple of weeks for her to not ask at all. I explained to her that Mommy was just very sore and that it was just not something that I could do anymore... Since then, we've snuggled to sleep every night. Even DH can snuggle her to sleep now, which is an even more amazing accomplishment.

    I agonized over this... I beat myself up something horribly! I admit it! I so wanted a child-led weaning and this was not what I envisioned for us. I was so disappointed with myself. However, DD adjusted beautifully! She is actually getting better and more sleep now that she's not expecting to nurse whenever she wakes up... and our relationship doesn't have that strain of my pain causing me to resent the fact that she was still nursing. It really did take me a couple of weeks to get past my own feelings of failure and missing that aspect of our relationship.

    Anyway... I just wanted to let you know that you aren't alone, that your feelings are perfectly normal, and however you choose to go about it, so long as you acknowledge the feelings of your child and find other ways to comfort, it will all work out just fine.

    Jacqui

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    Default Re: Weaning my 3 year old son. Questions....

    Wow. Ladies, I again WISH I had found this forum LONG ago. This is just so great. I don’t feel so alone anymore! I’ve certainly had my share of admonishments & disapproving gazes & lectures from people who just think it is bizarre that I am still nursing my 3 year old. What a community this is. I’m so glad to meet all of you.

    Jacqui: Thank you so much for your post! Your routine is basically what we’re doing now. If we’re home, my son wants to nurse more throughout the day, but I try to distract with a cup of milk, juice or a snack & that works a lot of the time – unless he’s just not feeling well. But when he’s tired, that is THE way we get him to go to sleep! (It’s been this way from the beginning & our old pediatrician admonished me for it when he was only 9 months or so.) And throughout the night, he wakes & needs to nurse to go back to sleep. So I’ve been dreading the whole weaning process & wondering how awful it’s going to be. At this age when they are prone to tantrums & learning to be assertive.

    I just had no clue when I became a Mommy! I thought the baby would just stop nursing when they were ready to. Around a year old. HA! I can’t believe I was so naive. BUT, as I said, it has been a wonderful experience for both of us & my husband has been very supportive too. The only downside to it has been the mean people who have made unkind comments & jokes about it.

    Zanymama: I’m right at 12 weeks PG today & my milk supply has been really low for a while now too. I really think it’s more of a “pacifier” thing for my son. Lots of times he’ll be “nursing” & then ask for a cup of milk. The coin idea is a good one. I hadn’t heard about that. Another good tool to consider.

    Just hearing your stories & being reassured that I’m not going to do anything detrimental to my child’s well-being is HUGE for me. Thank you all very much.

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    Default Re: Weaning my 3 year old son. Questions....

    Really... it will all be okay.

    Jacqui

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