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Thread: Weaning an almost 3 year old

  1. #1
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Weaning an almost 3 year old

    I am Mommy to L who is 2 yrs 9 mon old. Our nursing relationship has been strong and steadfast throughout L's first few years. She was an exclusive nurser until 9 mon when she began "playing" with table foods. Really didn't eat for substance until about 2 yrs. And I can tell has substantially cut nursing over the last 6 mon since I now have gained much of my weight back ( ) and seen how she "switches sides" during nursings.

    We are really wanting to have another baby, but I am concerned about "weaning" L. We have always thought that we would be child-led, but I feel like I don't see an end in sight. Although she has substantially cut nursings, she still nurses in the night (2-3 times) and sporadically during the day. Often days might be just in the am and to go to sleep, but also there are days where we nurse several times.

    What I am most concerned with is the fact that she has always been a pretty intense personality child and substitutions (especially at night or going to sleep) just don't work. Nothing will do but nursing. I can distract during the day, but night it just doesn't work.

    We are also facing several changes in our lives. A move this summer, new job for Daddy, beginning school in August, I am concerned that a new baby may just be too much.

    Lots of rambling...but eager to get input.

    M

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Weaning an almost 3 year old

    Have you tried telling her your breasts when night-night and won't be available until the sun comes up?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Weaning an almost 3 year old

    There are several ways you can approach weaning.

    Some mothers begin by shortening times when the child does nurse. "You can nurse for as long as the ABC song, or til I count to 10" Other moms begin by eliminating the least important feedings with distractions such as games, books, walks outside. Or you could do a combination of both.

    Many mothers begin talking to the child about getting love in other ways, such as back rubs, bedtime snuggles, etc.

    Weaning gradually and with love is the key. You will have some soull-searching to see what will be best and if it is working for you and dd.

    Best wishes,

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Weaning an almost 3 year old

    Quote Originally Posted by L'sMommy
    We are really wanting to have another baby, but I am concerned about "weaning" L. We have always thought that we would be child-led, but I feel like I don't see an end in sight. Although she has substantially cut nursings, she still nurses in the night (2-3 times) and sporadically during the day. Often days might be just in the am and to go to sleep, but also there are days where we nurse several times.

    What I am most concerned with is the fact that she has always been a pretty intense personality child and substitutions (especially at night or going to sleep) just don't work. Nothing will do but nursing. I can distract during the day, but night it just doesn't work.

    We are also facing several changes in our lives. A move this summer, new job for Daddy, beginning school in August, I am concerned that a new baby may just be too much.

    M
    Hi L'sMommy
    It sounds like you have some mixed feelings about weaning.
    You are wondering when your daughter will stop nursing, and what you can do to help her along.
    You recognise that right now, nursing is very important to her, especially at night.
    On the other hand, you would like to start a new baby, but you understand that with all the upcoming changes, it might be better to wait on that for a bit.

    Do you have your periods back? I ask, because some women do not get them back as long as the child continues to nurse, and I wondered if that might be a factor. When that happens, sometimes they propose a *weaning by contract* to allow the mother to get pregnant again.

    If that is not a factor, then you should also know that it is possible to nurse the older child through a pregnancy and afterwards in tandem with the new baby. Lots of mothers do that.

    Is your age a consideration? More and more women are having their first babies later in life, and there is often pressure to have second and/or third babies a bit sooner than they might have otherwise chosen.

    Are you being presured to wean? Are you starting to get comments, and wondering if she really is too old to nurse?

    What it comes down to, though, is what will work best for YOUR family. You know your daughter better than anyone else. What are YOUR priorities? How does your partner feel about it?

    Would it perhaps be better to wait until after you have moved and you have all settled in to make a decision? Is there any reason you need to decide right now? It is amazing how much children change within the space of a few months. She may surprise you all by weaning all by herself!

    warmly,
    LLLnormaR
    Moderator

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Weaning an almost 3 year old

    I actually have tried several of the suggestions you guys have shared. Thank you for gently reminding me of them. I do, indeed, have mixed feelings about weaning. I don't feel any "pressure" to wean from the outside because of age or family/friends. I am very satisfied in our choices to breastfeeding at an extended time frame, however, I guess having L as my first child....well I guess I've it's really just about the unknown more than anything. I envisioned having another little one on the way after L turned 3. I would like them not to be too far a part. I know tandem is a consideration, but I feel like at this point, L is old enough to handle some gentle weaning...I'm not sure if I'm cut out for tandem nursing.

    During the day limits and distractions are easier...but like I said in my previous response night time substitutions just don't work...stumped. We've tried "wait until sun comes up", water, hugs, back rubs...any sort of affection on my part (and lots of times during the day too, such as cuddles, hugs, kisses, books, etc.) don't seem to serve as a replacement for nursing but actually trigger L to want to nurse. Does that make sense?

    Maybe any last thoughts?

    M

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Weaning an almost 3 year old

    I can see that night weaning is a difficult thing for you. Sorry I missed the emphasis earlier!

    I does make sense that those things you are doing are triggers for her need to nurse! She is a bright little girl, obviously!

    As far as night weaning is concerned, only you can make the decision that it is time to set more limitations at night. Just a you can make the decision for daytime as well. It sounds as if you have tried all of the gentle suggestions!

    As LLLnormaR said above, only you can make these decisions based on what you believe is right for you and your family. Many wome continue to nurse children your dd's age and many women chose to initiate weaning. You must do what you believe feels right in your heart.

    Good luck,

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Weaning an almost 3 year old

    [quote=L'sMommy] I know tandem is a consideration, but I feel like at this point, L is old enough to handle some gentle weaning...I'm not sure if I'm cut out for tandem nursing.<

    I think that there are very few women who start out saying that their aim is to tandem nurse It is something that usually happens by default. If you are sure that this is not an option for you, that is fine! You don't HAVE to do it

    >During the day limits and distractions are easier...but like I said in my previous response night time substitutions just don't work...stumped. We've tried "wait until sun comes up", water, hugs, back rubs...any sort of affection on my part (and lots of times during the day too, such as cuddles, hugs, kisses, books, etc.) don't seem to serve as a replacement for nursing but actually trigger L to want to nurse. Does that make sense?<

    Yes, it does make sense.
    Many mothers find that the more they push the weaning - even in the gentle, considerate ways that you are doing - the more the child wants to nurse.
    The reverse is often true too. Many times, just when a mother has pulled back and decided to let her child wean at his own pace, he makes great strides in that direction.
    Think of it this way. If you are trying to give up...oh... say... chocolate, then it is very hard to think of anything BUT chocolate, isn't it? What often DOES help, though is to have so many OTHER yummy foods available that the chocolate becomes less important. And that is why distraction is such a great tool, and why you can always spot a mother who is trying to encourage her child to wean: she never sits down!


    Remember, whatever you decide to (or not to do,) your child will wean.
    Honest!

    LLLnormaR
    Moderator

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Weaning an almost 3 year old

    I just finished weaning my youngest son and night time feedings were the hardest to end. I found any efforts to soothe or comfort him without allowing him to nurse were met with angry tantrums. In the end persistance was the key. No matter the temptation, I didn't give in. I layed on a mattress next to his crib and held his hand (when he'd let me) and just quietly reassured him that I was right there and I wouldn't leave. After a few nights, that sippy cup didn't come flying back over the rail at my head and he began to find ways to soothe himself. (As long as I was is sight.) He now drifts off to sleep without a word and has only investigated if he could nurse (lifting my shirt) a few times. With a firm but gentle no, he hops back down and hunts down his favorite monkey and book and we read together instead. It was a very difficult transition, (for me especially as he is our last child) but I am very pleased with the outcome.

    I wish you lots of luck in making your decision and may all the coming transitions; moving, new job, and school, go smoothly for you and your family.

  9. #9
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    Feb 2006
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    Default Re: Weaning an almost 3 year old

    My dd is 3 years and 1 month. Things have really changed a lot over the last few months as she has given up NIP, daytime nursing with few exceptions and nighttime nursing is down to going to sleep and early morning. At bedtime I will let her nurse for a few minutes and tell her I am tired. She will fall asleep hugging me. If she is thirsty she will ask Dad to get her milk from the fridge or water. There have been times in the middle of the night when I will feel her start to toss around and search for me, when she was younger I would roll over into a nursing position, now I just stay still to see what will happen. She will find my breast and hug it in her sleep but does not usually latch on. If she does latch on I will tell her after a moment that I am done and have to go back to sleep. We still have tantrums at times because if for some reason she is fully awake I can't reason with her. Dad has tried taking her but that makes her even more upset. The only way we all get back to sleep is to let her nurse for a few minutes. More and more she is sleeping through the night and the nursings are very brief. We even have more and more times that she will fall asleep on her own since dad lets her watch tv when she is tired.
    We have tried moving her to her own room but that has not been working for us right now.
    We also are ttc and started the process this past July. Since we have infertility issues we go to a clinic and have had other issues to resolve so there hasn't been a need to wean yet. We are in process of beginning IVF and while the doctor recommends weaning I do know other moms who have continued to nurse their toddlers through treatment and have given birth to healthy babies. We have researched and found that it is perfectly safe for us to go through cycle and to nurse dd as well. Due to her age she is not dependent on my milk and is getting only drops a few times a day.
    We have not made a big push towards weaning because we always felt our current relationship was more important than the remote possibility of another baby (for us the chances of conceiving again are slim and not likely to be much improved by forced weaning).
    Weaning is happening for us but it has been a very slow process like described in the LLL book, "How Weaning Happens". This book really helped me understand the process. It is also helpful to talk with other moms of toddlers that I have met at LLL meetings and to know that my dd's weaning pattern is very much the norm.
    Daytime happened very easily and naturally for us but we still continue to struggle at night. I do see it changing more and more and I am happy with our decision to be patient and to wait for her to outgrow her need for nighttime nursing.

    momuvseven

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Weaning an almost 3 year old

    One more thing~Dad makes sure that dd gets a bedtime snack and uses the potty. We found some of her night waking was caused by wet diapers and since she has potty trained it helps to take her to the potty right at bedtime and she is now dry at night. He spoon feeds her a substantial snack, usually a bowl of cereal and will rock her and let her watch a favorite show. Of course she knows how to feed herself but he is trying to duplicate the closeness and snuggling of breastfeeding. When he has to work nights I do the same. I can't say enough about how wonderful it is to have a husband's support during weaning.

    momuvseven

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