Just skip this post if you are interested in quilts! I want to share some advice for weaning a toddler who is not ready to stop breastfeeding. I’m 35 years old, been breastfeeding over 7 years of my life, which adds up to about 20% of my lifetime. I have three kids and the first two started sleeping through the night and breastfeeding less as they passed the one year mark. Both stopped nursing altogether on their own around 2-2.5 years. But my youngest, who is 2.5, has not stopped waking up several times at night to nurse and still was nursing all day long. In fact, she liked to “snack” more times than a baby would probably nurse. I was getting so tired from not sleeping and annoyed throughout the day when she’d ask to nurse every 20 minutes that it was time to stop. It was interfering with our lives. I couldn’t sit on the couch or a chair without her wanting to nurse, she’d try to nurse during dinner, and we couldn’t make it through reading a board book without tears over nursing.
A few friends suggested ways to wean her. One directed me to some information about using vinegar. We followed the directions exactly and my daughter understood about becoming a “big girl.” The only problem was, she was more than willing to nurse through the vinegar taste. It didn’t slow her down her for a second. So I went around for 3 days wearing a vinegar soaked paper towel in my bra and smelling like a pickle only to have it not work. I didn’t go out in public those days because I stunk and the vinegar would eventually soak through to my shirt, but I’m sure that the Schwan’s guy who stopped by one night wondered what was up!
At this point I looked online and found tons of information from the La Leche League and attachment parenting forums that basically suggested not stopping. I felt really guilty after reading the information on those sites. See, I definitely an am attachment parent and I strongly believe that mothers and babies should nurse as long as they want to. But it was getting so out of hand that she’d prefer to nurse instead of eating and I literally felt like my shirt was pulled up 24 hours a day.
I decided to follow some of the advice I found on these sites and not put limits on the nursing so that she didn’t feel like stopping was imminent or that our relationship was tenuous. It actually worked for a few days…the more willing I was to nurse in whatever situation the less she asked. But then it just started up again one day and she was back to nursing constantly, no matter how cooperative I was. The last straw was when we had a few tantrums in the waiting room at dance and I literally had to take her out to the car to nurse to calm her down. It was getting even more out of hand than before.
I needed a way to wean her that wouldn’t make her feel sad or forsaken. It seems to me that my kids have equated nursing with mother’s love, so I didn’t want her to think it had anything to do with loving her less. And it had to be something tangible, not symbolic, so I could make sure she understood 100%. Then one day while I was folding laundry it came to me!
I ran upstairs and put a bandaid right over my nipple. (I should tell you that for the past year and a half she’s only nursed on one side, but I think this would work for someone who nurses on both sides. Just put bandaids on both.) The next time she asked to nurse, I pulled up my shirt and showed her that I had a boo boo and couldn’t nurse right now, but she could have a milk in a cup or a juice. It worked!!!!!! She’s asked lots of questions about the boo boo, so I have elaborated where necessary. But I have not removed the bandaid. She seems to accept that it’s “out of order” for the time being.
At first I just used the square bandaids that come in a multi-box (Cars of course!), but they were a real pain to remove. So I switched to this brand which doesn’t hurt at all.
It’s been four days now and she hasn’t nursed at all. What’s more, she’s actually slept completely through the night the past two nights. She is in a better mood during the day and there has been a lot less crying. I feel like a new woman and a happier mommy. And we can share a cuddle on the couch or read a book together without nursing interfering.
I hope this post can help someone who is not finding success using traditional weaning methods. Good luck!