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It Is Time

Time to wean my 33-month old, that is. And not necessarily a complete and immediate full-stop on breastfeeding, but a gradual reduction from what it currently is. Now, before you think I'm still nursing every 3-4 hours, I'm not. Not even close.

33 months of this little monkey drinking my milk and sleeping beside me

What does breastfeeding an almost-3-year-old look like here? On a regular day:
- A cuddle/nursing session when she wakes up
- One 2-minute quickie in the afternoon if she's feeling "off"
- Nursing down for a nap (if it happens, which is only like 40% of the time now)
- A couple of false-start nursing sessions when she is supposed to be going to bed (not every night)
- A mid-sleep nursing session

However, I'm kind of reaching that point when I want to reclaim my breasts. I think she's ready-ish.

To prep Little L, I started reading her Nursies When the Sun Shines. Since it features a toddler with crazy sleep hair like hers, it was an instant hit. Also, there is only one kid in the story, much like our situation. She enjoyed reading the book over and over, and after a few days of reading, I told her that my nye-nye needed to go to sleep too. Like the kid in the book, my nye-nye would be asleep once I fell asleep, and she would need to wait until the morning time before she could have some again.

Then I put the plan into action, and when my half-conscious toddler started rooting in the middle of the night, I gently whispered reminders to her about what we had talked about. Then I cuddled her close to me, she rested her head against my breasts and she went back to sleep. Just like that. Night two and three were similar, and on night 4 she half-whimpered in her sleep for a few minutes before settling herself down by snuggling into the pillows, a la child's pose. She didn't want to even be near me at all for the rest of that night.

It has now been over two weeks of this, and we've essentially cut out the mid-sleep nursing session. Next up will be the mid-afternoon and late evening ones. On some busy days, Little L doesn't even request the 2-minuter anymore, so I don't think it will be hard to distract her from asking.

Then I figure the morning one will be next to go, since she usually wakes up pretty excited and if I can rouse her into full awake mode right away, she will want to head off the bed to go potty and play. The trick is to wake her up fully, though, because when she is half-asleep, she will want to root and try to go back to sleep, and it's always tempting for me to let her nurse so that I can catch a few more minutes of blissful slumber.

The hardest one is probably going to be the nurse-to-sleep one, since my kid has always favoured that method of conking out. Someone suggested that I allow her to nurse, but not in the family bed or even the bedroom, and then have Hubbs tuck her in for a few nights. That way, the association between nursing and sleep can be broken and she might find a different way to settle down to sleep. If I can get Hubbs to agree to this potentially-tear-inducing method, I might try it out. Another approach is to simply tell her that God needs to take Mommy's nye-nye away because she is a big girl now. Somehow, I doubt she will accept that one without a big fight, though.

Anyway, the process might be slow and painful, and there's a huge potential for regression should Little L fall ill with a seasonal cold or flu. I am hoping that she stays healthy this winter season, and that we can slowly work towards a weaning. Hubbs wants her to be done by the time she's 3, so I have about 3 months.

Here we go.


Oh my friend. This brought back the memories and tears. It sounds like it's time. For us it was instant. He had spent the week biting, pinching and constantly moving around while nursing. I had finally had it! Plus, he was 2 1/2 and mid-summer, so the timing felt right there. I was surprised to see how easily it was for him to stop, with the help of hubs at night, and that I did not become engorged at all. After talking with a friend with 23-years of being a lactation specialist and pediatric nurse, se said it sounded like I was really producing much, and that it was more comfort nursing.

Still, some days I do miss the closeness. and when he is really upset he will rest his head on my shoulder and palm on the top of my boob and settle right down.

Good luck Mrs. L. This is BIG. HUGS.

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