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Thread: Has anyone ever weaned half a tandem pair?

  1. #1
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    Default Has anyone ever weaned half a tandem pair?

    I wasn't sure whether I should put this in the tandem nursing section or here, but figured I might get more responses here. sorry if it's the wrong place.
    My older son is 4yrs 8 months, and nurses morning and night, ocassionally more if he's unwell or something.
    I'm in no huge hurry to wean him, but he does have to finish eventually, and he's not showing any real signs of losing interest. My eldest self weaned at around 3 and a half years, so I'm just a bit suprised to find him still so enthusiastic.
    I'm assuming this is, at least in part, due to the fact that I'm tandem nursing. I imagine my supply would have dwindled a fair bit by now otherwise, and that may have encouraged the weaning process.
    Anyway, as I said, I've no specific date in mind that I want him finished by, but with his 5th birthday just around the corner, I have been thinking about it a bit. The problem is, my younger son is only 2 and a half, and I have absolutely no wish to wean him yet. (Don't think I could even if I wanted tbh!)
    Does anybody have any ideas how I might gently wean DS1, whilst continuing to nurse DS2, without upsetting DS1 too much? No particular time frame in mind, but assuming DS2 continues for another 1-2 years, if DS1 keeps nursing whilst his brother does, that will take him to nearly 7, and I think I'd like to be done before then.
    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Has anyone ever weaned half a tandem pair?

    I have no advice, but did want to say good luck!! I am sure it will come.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Has anyone ever weaned half a tandem pair?

    I haven't tandem nursed, but I did think of a couple of suggestions that might help.

    I've noticed with my DS#2 (who's 2 years old now) that if I get up before him, and have breakfast going, that he doesn't remember to nurse when he wakes up. Especially if he wakes up while Daddy is still here in the morning. If he sees Daddy, he'll instantly run to him because he knows Daddy is going to work and will be gone all day, and he'll be too busy after that to stop and think about nursing.

    In our household, I'm not trying to wean DS#2, but I will tell him he can't nurse until after a meal if I'm in the middle of fixing a meal, or if its really close to a meal time. He never remembers after the meal, because big brother runs off to play with something, and DS#2 follows and wants to be just like big brother.

    So anyway, what if you tried that. Get up first, and make sure you're in the middle of making breakfast for them when your older son wakes up. Then, instead of stopping to nurse him, ask him to set the table, or butter the toast, or make the juice. He's capable of helping out where little brother can't, so give him tasks to do to help with breakfast, and hopefully, he'll forget the missed session. You could also make up a box of cool art supplies with scissors and glue and glitter, and have that available to distract him from nursing. I don't know about your DS, but my 5 year old is easily distracted by glue and scissors....and pretty much anything that DS#2 doesn't get to do yet, like watercolor paint without me sitting right there.

    So what do you think would happen if your DS wakes up, and runs out and wants to nurse, but instead, you show him a pad of paper, and a tray of watercolor paints for him to use while you're getting breakfast ready?

    You could also take the straightforward approach, and tell him in advance that on X day, that he's going to be only nursing at night and not in the morning. He's older, he can comprehend more, and I think if you tell him outright that nursing only lasts so many years, and that you'll find him other cool things to do instead, that little brother can't do yet, that he'll understand. He might want to continue nursing, but you don't want to get to the point where you're resenting him because he wants to continue and you want him to stop. Even if he doesn't like it, he'll adjust and turn out just fine.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Has anyone ever weaned half a tandem pair?

    I haven't tandem nursed either, but I led weaning with an older child. Yes, a dwindling supply sure helps. For us, I never had to say "never" but instead just needed to get her out of the "habit" of nursing daily. It was very easy from there. First, it really helps if you don't put it on him at all. No, "you're too old, when are you going to stop, etc." I've said these things and it only pushes the weaning process backwards. I put it all on me. Which would be hard when I'm nursing another kid, but I think it's doable. I told dd that I would always be willing to nurse her if she really needed it but that I didn't want to do it everyday anymore. You could still say that you really want to spend less time nursing and since the other nursling is younger and still needs it, you need the older child to cut back.

    Now, even though you are making his nursing/weaning YOUR choice (thus taking it off of him) it also helps to reward him for the hard work that weaning involves. For dd, there was a point where after she had gone a few days without it, I would take her to the candy store and let her get a bag full of treats. This was her "weaning candy" and she got to eat a little on the days she didn't nurse. You need to do lots of replacement activities. Many can be healthier than candy.. book time, etc. I'd try to think of something he can do that the two year old can't do. Something that's "too big for little kids who nurse everyday"? Hmmm what could that be...

    At some point I let her take over the choice, and she more often chose candy over the breast (which I guess in my head I knew she would do someday but it seemed crazy at the time, ya know?). But she still had very strict times when it was even a choice.

    Short separations are helpful too. You know the "out of sight out of mind" saying? Well, if you aren't around and he's having a good time, then he's learning to go without the breast. Before weaning, dd and her daddy went on a camping trip together. It gave her a little practice waking up without nursing. Of course when she returned nothing had changed, but she knew she could go without it. She later enjoyed spending the night at grandma's once in a while.

    You need to have an answer to the question "why?" when you tell him no, and it needs to be about you and not him. When you've got that down, he will accept it and move with you. If you are ambivalent about it, he may cling.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Has anyone ever weaned half a tandem pair?

    Thanks for your comments ladies.
    I do appreciate your input, but unfortunately I don't think any of them would fit with our situation.
    I'm impressed that anyone can have paints out before breakfast mind you! For me the start of the day is a rather chaotic battle to get DD and DS1 to school, then DS2 to daycare before I go to work. I can't imagine what would happen if I offered any alternative activities in the morning!
    I have tried talking to him about how he's a bigger boy than his little brother, and can do thinggs DS2 can't, but he's happy to forgo "big boy" activities in favour of milk.
    I gues he's just not ready yet. Things will work out in their own time I suppose.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Has anyone ever weaned half a tandem pair?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrsavocet View Post
    Thanks for your comments ladies.
    I do appreciate your input, but unfortunately I don't think any of them would fit with our situation.
    I'm impressed that anyone can have paints out before breakfast mind you! For me the start of the day is a rather chaotic battle to get DD and DS1 to school, then DS2 to daycare before I go to work. I can't imagine what would happen if I offered any alternative activities in the morning!
    I have tried talking to him about how he's a bigger boy than his little brother, and can do thinggs DS2 can't, but he's happy to forgo "big boy" activities in favour of milk.
    I gues he's just not ready yet. Things will work out in their own time I suppose.
    Sorry I couldn't help!

    Just offering suggestions, obviously I haven't btdt with tandem nursing and all. If nothing else, maybe brainstorming will help you figure out the answer to your Q because you can eliminate my suggestions as ones that won't work, LOL.

    J/C, but what happens if you just don't offer to nurse him for a session? Like the morning session? Will he have a meltdown without it? How does he get through other meltdowns if he has them? Is there any set way that will help him calm down during other times of the day that you could use in the morning?

    What about just coming up with an arbitrary date when he will have his last morning nursing session and talking to him about it? Do you think he would understand that he could nurse in the evening, but not in the morning anymore if you discussed it with him?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Has anyone ever weaned half a tandem pair?

    I am so very with you right now. I'd really like my 3.5 year old ds to wean, as we have a third baby coming in September, but it is hard, because I have no intention of weaning his almost 2 year old sister any time soon.

    First, it really helps if you don't put it on him at all. No, "you're too old, when are you going to stop, etc." I've said these things and it only pushes the weaning process backwards.
    This is very much my experience. I tried talking to him about getting "so big that he won't want to nurse anymore" and that didn't do any good at all.

    I have set some limits based on how I feel (sore nipples, nausea, etc.), but they are really a pregnancy thing, so I don't think they would work in your situation.

    What has seemed to work lately, ironically, is the "smother mother" technique...that is, giving him more cuddling, hugging, and kissing than a little boy can stand. I've been talking to him a lot about my memories of him when he was a little baby, all while cradling him in my arms. (sometimes against his protests...laughing and saying, "no, no, no! don't snuggle me...I'm not a baby anymore!) Unless I have a really good reason not to, I am not denying requests to nurse anymore. I am making a concerted effort (and sometimes it is hard) to say "yes" with a smile as opposed to sending confusing mixed messages. He seems to be enjoying the times we do nurse more, and asking less often. I think it is a security issue, and I feel pretty dumb for not having figured that out sooner.

    The fact that spring is finally here and we can spend more time outdoors and away from the couch is helping a lot, too.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Has anyone ever weaned half a tandem pair?

    Quote Originally Posted by Leigh323 View Post
    What has seemed to work lately, ironically, is the "smother mother" technique...that is, giving him more cuddling, hugging, and kissing than a little boy can stand. I've been talking to him a lot about my memories of him when he was a little baby, all while cradling him in my arms. (sometimes against his protests...laughing and saying, "no, no, no! don't snuggle me...I'm not a baby anymore!) Unless I have a really good reason not to, I am not denying requests to nurse anymore. I am making a concerted effort (and sometimes it is hard) to say "yes" with a smile as opposed to sending confusing mixed messages. He seems to be enjoying the times we do nurse more, and asking less often. I think it is a security issue, and I feel pretty dumb for not having figured that out sooner.
    That's good. That is very wise and makes a lot of sense. It took me a long time to figure that part out as well. Even though I have always recognized it in other people's kids. Plus her dad really used to make me second guess my impulse to reassure. But he gets it now too. Now that she needs very little reassurance. Lots of growth in that area from three to four!!

    I remember that cuddling without nursing was tricky for me at a point in the weaning process. I just can't remember how physical affection started happening without nursing. But I do remember when I realized I could cradle her without her asking to nurse. Even now it's a tiny bit weird to hold her that way and not have her ask. She has absolutely no interest now...
    hmm...
    Maybe there was a lot of dancing and back scratching and foot rubbing and other ways of touching that didn't make her think of nursing...
    And there was no sitting down...
    Oh I'm getting tired just remembering it.

    Yes it will come. I'm proud of you for your patience, mrsavocet.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Has anyone ever weaned half a tandem pair?

    Quote Originally Posted by awnja View Post
    Plus her dad really used to make me second guess my impulse to reassure. But he gets it now too.
    This was a big thing for us, too. My dh, bless his heart, is from a family that employed the bottle-in-the-crib method of parenting, so this whole extended nursing thing is pretty foreign to him. He has been an awesome support to me with breastfeeding, especially in the early days when his mother thought I was "feeding him too much", or when his grandmother demanded that I wean him when I was pg with his sister because she thought I'd kill the baby. But nursing past three...that's been something for him to wrap his head around.

    For a while, he was saying things to both me and our son about him being too old to be asking to nurse so much. It really hurt my feelings (and made ds angry...he can have quite the temper). What I didn't realize was that he saw that I was frustrated and thought he was helping. Once we had an honest conversation about it, things got a lot better. He basically told me that it was my decision--either wean or don't--and that he'd support me either way. It was the mixed messages that were driving him crazy, because he thought (probably accurately) that I wanted to say "no" but didn't know how. I don't know if that makes any sense or not. Anyway, once I knew that he did support me if I continued to nurse ds, I began to feel a lot more confident about what I was doing and why.

    It's really nice to know some other people who have been down this road. Most of my friends didn't even make it to a year. Of those who did, very few of them nursed much longer than that. Come to think of it, I do know a few people IRL who have nursed older children, but I haven't heard them talk about weaning much. Weaning an older child is probably pretty hard to talk about.

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