Gentle Steps to Weaning

By Kaci Dyson

January 29, 2021

L&D RN/Wife/Mom of two on a MISSION to make MOM-ING EASIER. Prenatal & Childbirth Educator/Sleep Training/Lactation Counselor in San Angelo, TX

Just when I was SO ready to be done with nursing my 15-month-old, my Mama emotions went crazy. The reality of it sunk in HARD. Did I even know how to Mom without my secret superpower?! Did I really want to wean, or did I feel the pressure of society?!

It was one of the hardest times with the most confusing emotions ever. I wanted to be done. But I didn’t want to be done. I was ready. But I really wasn’t ready. I was all over the place mentally and emotionally. Add in the pressure from society that nursing a toddler is “weird” or “not normal.” Furthermore, it didn’t help that my baby was nowhere ready to wean. She loved nursing so much.

Soooo…. it took (wait for it…) 6 long months for me to completely wean her. At the time I thought I was nuts. Now, I know it was totally fine. We did what worked for us. Weaning is a process. It takes time, and when it comes to weaning off the breast, there is no “right” amount of time it takes. It’s just a matter of what is right for you and your little one.

Basically, YOU get to decide what weaning looks like for you and your babe. People will have their opinions, and that is totally ok. Let them. Below I have listed some gentle ways to help wean your little one off the breast:

  1. Pick your babies least favorite feed of the day and replace it with something else.  For example, solid foods, sippy cup/bottle of milk/formula/breast milk, lots of snuggles.  Slowly repeat this step one feed at a time until eventually, your baby is weaned completely off.

  2. Don’t offer the breast, but don’t deny giving it to the baby if they ask.  This process can be a very long process as it lets the baby decide when to wean.

  3. Save weaning the Bedtime and Naptime nursing sessions for the very last, as these are usually the most difficult and emotional for your little one.

  4. Change your routine.  For example, if your baby likes to nurse before nap, replace it with reading a book.  Or maybe have Dad put the baby down for bed.

  5. Decrease the duration of feeds a little at a time.  For example, if your baby typically nurses for 20 mins before bedtime or nap, decrease it to 10 for a few days or weeks.  Then when you are ready decrease the session to 5 minutes… so on and so forth.

  6. If your baby is old enough that he can pull your shirt down/up to get what he needs, make this a little more difficult for him.  Wear a sports bra or shirt that is not easily accessible.

  7. If you know your little one wants only a sip for hydration, offer him/her a sippy cup instead.  Then wean off the actual nursing sessions (usually this looks like a morning feed and bedtime feed) a week or two later.

  8. If your baby is old enough to understand, take public nursing away.  Only nurse at home.  If in public give a snack or hydration of choice.

  9. When you are ready to start drying up your milk you can start taking supplements to slow production as well.  Sage, Parsley, or Peppermint teas. Earth Mama Organics makes a great weaning tea.  Rolled Cabbage leaves topically on breasts.  Change leaves after they wilt.  There are also over the counter medications that can help decrease supply as well.  Ask your doctor what you can take.

Weaning doesn’t have to be done cold turkey (a lot of folks think it is). Now, that’s not to say you can’t cold turkey. You can. If that is what works best for you. If you need help setting up and executing a weaning plan, we at the mama coach are just a click away.

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