Before we get started, I just want to say no matter what you choose, FED IS BEST.
So, a little back story - my little one is currently 16 months old and as of last week I have been working my way to wean him off. Mentally, physically & emotionally I am done - I didn't even think I would make it to 1 month after an infection on my right breast due to latching issues, but here I am 16 months down and I am so grateful my little body was able to nourish & comfort my little babe. But let’s be real it is exhausting... my son refused formula, cow’s milk and any type of bottle! He would scream if we even put an empty bottle in his lap, so I kept saying to myself by 18 months I will wean him off so I could give myself a break before we try for baby #2. Here we are 1.5 weeks into the weaning process and to be honest some days are great and others I feel like I am back in the newborn stage (he's known as a boobie monster) but in saying that we have now gotten him to only breastfeed between the hours of 2am-6am (small wins). I know the road will be long until he is completely off but to other mama's who are feeling what I felt, just know it can be done and there are gentle ways to wean.
A couple of tips / tricks that have been working for us are:
- slow it down
Now I know it sounds daunting but let’s be honest it’s going to take you and baby some time to adjust - for me the first 3 days were the worst! Don’t put a time frame on it, just take each day as it comes.
- Don't offer & Don't refuse
This tip you probably have seen everywhere and at the start I didn't really believe it would help but it’s absolutely spot on! Especially if you’re wanting to take the gentle approach to weaning, I use to just pull out my boob whenever I thought he needed a feed / some comfort so I stopped doing that and now he barely pulls my shirt down!
Now again, you have probably seen this everywhere but think about it, the more they eat during the day the less likely they are to have any big intakes at night. We started adding more snacks in between meals and after 3 days he stopped asking to be nursed to sleep! (WINNING)
Oh my… distraction is KEY with toddlers, kids in general! Any time he would sort of look at my chest or signal he wanted to be nursed I would take him to his play room or outside and he'd be so distracted he wouldn't even try or ask to be fed.
The big one - after a couple of days of less nursing I started to feel a bit sad, angry, happy all at the same time. I couldn't work out why I was feeling so many different things until I read about the emotional toll after weaning - a blog I always go back to puts it perfectly – I am Sad To End Our Breastfeeding Journey But So Ready To
I hope some of these tips and personal experience can help you in any way! If you have any tips or tricks of your own, please feel free to leave a comment!