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Thread: Weaning a 2 1/2 year old

  1. #1

    Default Weaning a 2 1/2 year old

    I'm new here. This is my first post, although I have enjoyed reading the various resources LLLI has on its website.

    Here's my situation. DS is 31 months and is still BFing before bed (not to sleep, but as part of his routine) and first thing in the morning. He's still in our room, in his own crib ('cot' if you live in the UK like us), but he moves into his own room this weekend. !! DH is assuming BF will stop about now. Any tips? thoughts? I'm not sure I'm ready! I doubt DS is ready. He loves his 'mommy milk' and almost never can be convinced to drink cow's milk. That's a main reason I BF beyond a year--he wouldn't take any other liquid! Not formula, not cow's milk, not a lot of water or juice. And from six months onwards, even if (as in the early days!) he was just having BM and pureed prunes or other fruit, he's been severely constipated and on various daily regimens of medication. (First Movicol, then lactulose and senna, then back at age two to Movicol, then increased amounts of Movicol, up to three sachets a day, then back to one sachet but adding back senna, etc. etc. argh!) Anyway, as a result of the constipation issues and the refusal to take other liquid, and the pain and suffering he went through for months and months, I kept BF. Every 2-3 hours through the night until he was 26 months old when DH had a little talk with him and he finally started sleeping through the night.....!

    DS is our first, maybe our only (see my alias....!), and so I don't have a clue how to wean, especially a very bright and determined toddler. It was such a struggle to BF the first six months or so as he had reflux and would scream and arch away from me. Now it's a joy and very easy. We just have the two sessions each day, and if I'm out in the evening (on a rare date with DH or at an event), DS doesn't seem to mind that he misses his evening feed. So maybe it won't be so hard to drop the morning one. But how? How long is too long to BF? (Boy I bet I could get a lot of answers on that one!!!) DH has been supportive but it's clear that at this point he thinks it should be over. Here in the UK only a tiny percentage (like 7% or is it 17%?) of moms BF past six weeks, so not a lot of people to talk to about this one! Even the official guidelines here only ask for moms to BF for six months. If you're BF after a year, you get told by health officials 'But he doesn't need it anymore,' 'It's not doing him any good now', 'He isn't getting any nutritional benefit from BF', yada yada yada.

    Anyway, at some point I have to wean. I talked to one friend who did extended breastfeeding, and she said that most toddlers seem to wean themselves at about 2 1/2 yo. So I thought, 'Okay, the end is in sight.' But he's now past that milestone, and just as enthusiastic as ever. DH is scared he will be BF at 5 or 15! I guess I've been waiting for him to stop, but he doesn't show any signs of stopping. Does weaning not happen with toddlers unless the mom initiates it?

    Any thoughts gladly received!

    Thanks for reading!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2006

    Default Re: Weaning a 2 1/2 year old

    First, great j ob on BF your child through all of that! You sound like a very loving a committed mama.
    It sounds like your toddler is a lot like mine. Smart, determined, and seemingly nowhere near weaning on her own (mine is 33 mos old). She still nurse 1-2 times per day but does fine without nursing when we are apart.
    Sometimes I wonder when she will be ready. What I know for now is that she is not ready at all. That keeps me going above all else- the sheer reality that she would feel devastated and betrayed if I forced her to stop nursing. I'm not saying that the sky's the limit, but I know we haven't reached it yet. From the tone of your post, it seems like you might feel the same?
    There may be an average age of self-weaning, but that doesn't mean it's the age your child will choose, kwim?
    The other thing I keep in mind is that this time in my child's life is so short in the scheme of things. And BFing continues to be a great source of comfort/closeness, immunological benefits, and even nutrition for toddlers. There is some great info on all that here: Extended Breastfeeding Benefits
    I'm not trying to discourage you from weaning if you are ready, but maybe my experience and the information provided in the linked page will help you in some way.
    I also really like the book How Weaning Happens for advice on how to wean and limit nursing. It is short and full of practical tips for weaning at all ages. (I linked to the Amazon page but you can probably get it through your local public or LLL library )
    Last edited by @llli*mollyb; June 20th, 2008 at 01:18 PM. Reason: screwed up the link, sorry!


    Loving mama to JP (DS, 1/03 ~ nursed 6 mos), EL (DD1, 9/05 ~ nursed 4 yrs), EJ (DD2, 3/08 ~ nursed 3 yrs 9 mos), and
    JM (DD3, 6/12 ~ currently nursing), all born naturally
    Devoted wife to SAHD P, my hero
    A few of my favorite things that I've discovered on the forum: co-sleeping, baby-wearing, tandem nursing, baby-led solids, cloth diapering, APing, selective vaccination...the list goes on

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: Weaning a 2 1/2 year old

    i think the change to his new room is a perfect opportunity for a new routine....thats how we stopped nursing to sleep.....try to be creative on what he could do instead.....carrying his own cup of water to his room and having it to drink whenever he asks even if it seems like a stall tactic has been a big hit for us.....also giving lots of choices...do you want your nightlight on?? do you want your closet door open or shut?? anything that makes them feel like they are in control..

    as far as the morning...is your husband home when he wakes up?? maybe if you jump in the shower before he sees you he can get out of that sleepy wanting to nurse awake stage.....if im the first person my lo stumbles out to he climbs right in my lap, but if dh is awake and im not in sight, he gets distracted and totally skips the morning session....

    awhile ago i tried skipping the after nap nursing by getting all excited that the mail man came as soon as he woke up....he would get all excited too and the walk to the mailbox was a perfect distraction.....or putting him right in the car to go somewhere....
    ~To the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world~

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: Weaning a 2 1/2 year old

    my dd weaned shortly after her 4th birthday.
    No tears.

    You do what workes best for you guys and nobody else has to even know about it. Nurse as long as you both would like.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    Default Re: Weaning a 2 1/2 year old

    I was hoping my dd would be one of those who'd wean on her own around 2 1/2. But deep down I knew that wasn't happening. She was still nursing at 3. But I tell you, after that third birthday, it was a LOT easier to put it off. Her need to suck disappeared and her only issue at that point was that she was used to it. It had become like a teddy bear that a kid doesn't need anymore but can't bring herself to give away. I hate to compare it to an addiction, but for me, it was easier to quit smoking when I told myself that I'd have a cigarette once a year.. because then it never felt like my LAST ONE EVER. This worked for my dd too. I cut her down to only Sundays. Then she skipped a Sunday here and there. She knew that she could have it if she ever "needed" it, but she was ready to wean and said so. We had a weaning party. She didn't nurse for a long time and then tried again and there was no milk. Still, she wanted to know that she could if she really needed to nurse. Now she's almost 4 1/2 and she thinks "mama's milk" is "gross"! She doesn't even remember nursing!!! Waaa!!! And she told me recently that I probably didn't need to cut her back like I did.. that she would have quit on her own by now anyway. Maybe that's true.

    Anyway, I am happy I nursed her for over three years. I didn't plan on it and didn't really want to go that long, but today I'm glad I did.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Weaning a 2 1/2 year old

    Thanks for all your thoughts and stories. It's nice to know I'm not the only one BF a toddler....!

    Tonight DS went to bed in his new room for the very first time. New toddler bed, new bedding (he's been in sleeping bags from a few months old until a week or two ago), new everything just about. He was soooooooo excited! When he woke up from his afternoon nap, we showed him what we had been working on while he was sleeping--hanging two framed Babar posters that he had not yet seen and his new bed made up with all his new sheets and quilts and pillows (another first for him!). He was amazed, pointing at everything and talking about it. So when bedtime came, he was really ready to crawl into bed--although he has called out for MaMa about three times already, I think mostly because he's too excited to sleep and wants to talk about his room some more--and ask for more of his stuffed animals from his old crib (we'd only put a few in his new bed....)!!

    And.... he never once asked for mommy milk. WAHHHHHHHHHHHHH! After tucking him in and leaving the room, I burst into tears. I don't know if he was just too excited to ask and forgot or the new routine or what. There's no place to nurse in the new room--at least not yet. The toddler bed probably isn't strong enough and certainly isn't long enough! There's not a lot of padding under the carpet, so that really isn't an option. We could maybe move a chair in there, or take him back into our room to nurse and then bring him back into his room--I don't know. I haven't really worked out HOW to do the new bedtime routine and keep nursing in the equation. I overheard DH telling him something earlier in the day about having milk or water in a cup at bedtime if he wanted, so maybe DH was trying to tip the scales as he really thinks it's past time to stop. We'll see what happens in the morning and tomorrow night....
    Last edited by @llli*antiquemom; June 21st, 2008 at 04:03 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: Weaning a 2 1/2 year old

    thats so exciting! you must have been nervous about his reaction, im glad you got the best it could be!
    youre brave...i insisted on a full size bed in our lo's new room so i could fit!! it sounds like it went really well! does he wake at night to nurse? i had planned to night nurse and jump back in my own bed....but its ended up that i fall asleep in his bed after his first nursing at night....maybe a toddler bed is the way to go for us too....

    i have found that since we dont nurse to sleep, my lo is VERY thirsty...he will drink a full cup of water after we read before falling asleep.....i was just thinking tonight of offering it to him in the middle of the night when he wakes
    ~To the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world~

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default Re: Weaning a 2 1/2 year old

    Your doing a great job! It's a relationship, so that means considering everyones feelings. Including your own!

    You've got some great info and advice, and I think if you follow your son and your heart you will find yourself happy in the end.

    I wanted to tell you about how we introduce ourselves at our "in real life" LLL meetings (it has a point, I promise). We do a round robin and we each say what our name is, and how old our kids are, and then if they are nursing or weaned. We have a couple of Leaders who have kids who are older. They really offer some perspective that this time is so short, even though it seems like forever. They always say, my name is "Jessica" I've got 4 kids the youngest is 15, and they are all weaned.

    They don't and won't nurse forever, promise!
    LLL Leader

    Breastfeeding is an instinctual and natural act, but it is also an art that is learned day by day.

    Visit LLL of Ashburn PM's Blog!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Weaning a 2 1/2 year old

    DS eventually fell asleep and slept until we went in to wake him up this morning. Not surprising as he didn't fall asleep until very very late!

    He was equally excited about his new room this morning and kept saying 'I'm a big boy now!' On the one hand I'm proud and on the other I'm very sad. Their babyhood does pass so very very quickly, as several of you have said. It's funny, lately he's been saying 'I'm not a big boy, I'm a little boy,' especially when I'm asking him to do something that he thinks is too hard or beyond him somehow. So to hear him say suddenly 'I'm a big boy--big as Babar! Big as Daddy!' was a surprise!

    He didn't ask for milk this morning, and I had to go in our room and sob. I'm just really sad. I didn't realize that yesterday morning might very well be the last time we spent nursing. I feel like I didn't pay close enough attention to it, or have a chance to talk to LO about it. DH says, 'Don't worry--he'll ask for millk again once he's calmed down a bit--maybe tonight or tomorrow.' I'm not counting on it, and I'm just so very sad about the whole thing. I really didn't expect to nurse this long, but now I don't want to stop!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: Weaning a 2 1/2 year old

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*antiquemom View Post
    It's funny, lately he's been saying 'I'm not a big boy, I'm a little boy,'
    my lo does this too

    i almost cried reading your post...i know exactly what you mean....part of you wants it and another part will miss it terribly!
    im no expert, but i would say hes not all done....does he ever nurse for comfort like when he gets hurt or is angry? thats cool your dh is being supportive even though his goal is to wean
    ~To the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world~

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