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How to wean a 19-month old

  1. #1
    Buckeroo is offline Registered User
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    How to wean a 19-month old

    I need advice on how I can wean my 19-month old. When at home, she just comes over to me and tries to lift up my shirt whenever she feels like nursing. She's a good eater, takes fresh milk, takes formula... but still likes to nurse. We're not on a schedule; she pretty much comes to me when she feels like it.

    Sometimes when it's not convenient to b'feed her, I'd tell her "Later" and she'd go ballistic.

    I'm just wondering how long it might take if I let her wean herself (maybe never at the rate we're going!) or if I want to wean her before she turns 2... what steps do I need to take?

  2. #2
    noc
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    The rule I heard was "never offer, never refuse," though I guess you are not offering now...

    How many nursing sessions does she have now? Are they for comfort or for food? I read that you can start by replacing a feed with cuddles and some fun activity, like a new book.

  3. #3
    Buckeroo is offline Registered User
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    Nope, not offering now! :)

    If I am at home, I can easily have AT LEAST 5 sessions with her. There is no fixed schedule as such. I generally work from home and she just comes up to me and sometimes would just lift up my shirt and try to help herself! If I am not sitting where I usually sit when I nurse her, she would direct me over to the chair, pat it and say, "Sit!" She'll add an occasional "Please" if she feels like it.

    I know it's not for food. She's a good eater and eats practically everything. She comes to me sometimes when she feels thirsty; I know this because sometimes she would take the water bottle instead if we offer it to her when she comes to me for a feed. But there are times when she wants only to nurse, no matter if we offer her something that she normally love (watch Dora, Cheerios, fish crackers, grapes...) and this is when she gets really upset if she doesn't get to the breast quickly.

    I really don't know what to do, except hope that she'll somehow wean herself, but I'm really worried that this might go on for quite a while longer... So any advice from you guys would be greatly appreciated!

  4. #4
    LLL_Sarah is offline Registered User
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    Some ideas for weaning toddlers are:

    Wean gradually - often the "don't offer, don't refuse" works but slowly - in fact so slowly it may seem like a "don't wean" option!

    Shorten nursings - OK you can nurse for two minutes. One mother I knew used an egg-timer - the child liked watching the sand move and knew he had to stop when it ran out. In fact, my children learnt to count down from 10 to 1 before counting from 1 to 10 because once I'd had enough of a nursing I'd tell them they had ten seconds to stop. They often came off at 3 or 4, like they were in control rather than waiting for me to stop the feeding at 0.

    Postponement - I'll just do X and then I'll feed you. This usually gets easier as the child grows. Often if you are out you can say, "When we get home."

    Substitution - Often toddlers nurse because they are hungry so offering food before they ask to nurse can reduce the number of times they ask. I remember having to teach my son that food was for hunger not milk when he was about 27 months. He liked milk but I felt that I was being drained dry. I coped much better with a short nurse after a meal then a long one before a meal.

    Distraction - children often don't ask to nurse if they are being entertained but ask a lot if they are bored. My toddlers would come and nurse every time I had a breastfeeding help call (I was available sitting by the telephone and they were bored because I was not paying attention to them). I think it is important to distract before they ask otherwise the distraction just feels like a "no".

    Ideas for weaning an older chid are:

    Negotiation with the child - maybe agreeing to stop on a special day - like a birthday. This, of course, takes quite a lot of preparation and discussion before the event.

    Some mothers use bribery, although the word bribe has bad connotations, many mothers feel that it would be unfair to take away something precious without providing some sort of replacement.

    Often children are not ready to wean themselves but they are ready to be weaned. I think it is important to watch the signs that your child is showing you when you wean. If he is very upset and crying a lot then maybe you have weaned too fast but if he is happy and only misses the nursing a little then carry on. It is usually easy for a mother to read the behaviour of their child and understand whether or not they can cope with the situation.

    The book Nursing Mothers Guide to Weaning by Kathleen Huggins goes into much more detail about these ideas.

    This book can be borrowed from the La Leche League library - please contact Maggie on 2827-7475 or [email protected]

    Other books in our library about weaning are:
    How Weaning Happens by Diane Bengson
    Mothering your Nursing Toddler by Norma Jane Bumgarner

    Best wishes,
    SARAH
    La Leche League Leader
    www.lllhk.org

  5. #5
    noc
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    I also read some funny stories about a mom who put band aids on her nipples and told her that her breasts were broken, and she could not nurse anymore. Also, I read about a mom who covered her breasts in soot, drew a scary face on her breasts to scare her child off breastfeeding. These worked, though I think these methods are not recommended, ha ha.

  6. #6
    mumsy is offline Registered User
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    I had originally planned on breastfeeding for only 1 year myself, but this dragged on and on until I finally weaned my little boy at 3yrs 3mths!

    My circumstances are very different but there are some points that might help you.

    Like your little one, my son would feed whenever he felt like it. But as he got older the frequency would decrease. I think around 2 yrs old he would still feed about 3-4 times a day but each session would be very short for only a minute or two.

    For me, I would have preferred my son to wean himself but he never seemed to want to stop, nor did he like drinking fresh milk/soy. I was never very good at expressing but some mothers mix breastmilk with fresh milk and slowly reduce the ratio of breastmilk over time. This can work if your girl is ok with drinking milk out of a cup/bottle - mine wasn't so all I could do was offer diluted fruit juice a bit more often so he wouldn't be so thirsty for breastmilk.

    I also found distraction to be a good way of reducing the feeds, especially taking my son out of the house more. But this still didn't help with the morning and night feeds.

    I think I breastfed for so long because I was a stay at home mom with no helper and no parents/in-laws in HK, so it was basically just me and my son 24hrs a day. Although I would have liked to stop breastfeeding earlier, at the same time I was also in no rush to stop because my son was going to have an operation and so needed all of the antibodies he could get. In fact it was only when he got admitted to hospital that I realised this was my best opportunity to wean him, and we did so without any tears or tantrums on his first day. I was still able to stay with him practically 24/7 and occasionally he would ask for a breastfeed, but I would tell him that we had now finished breastfeeding, that he was a big boy now and that only small babies have breastmilk, and I would offer water instead. I can't quite believe he didn't protest/cry but I guess with the unfamiliar surroundings he didn't feel comfortable/safe enough to start a tantrum.

    Based on this and if you've had no success with the other methods. I would suggest you get out of the house for a full day and leave your children with relatives/babysitter or let your hubby take over at the weekend, so you're 'out of sight, out of mind' and also so that your girl does not have a choice in the matter.

    Or alternatively go on a weekend trip together so hopefully the new surroundings/activities will be enough to distract her from breastfeeding. I think once you get through the first 24hrs without breastfeeding, that's a major breakthrough.

    You'll need to decide whether to wean gradually or suddenly though, and I think with a stubborn child a stricter approach is needed or else you'll send out a message that the breast will be
    available if she gets too distressed.

    Anyway, good luck!

    Onto another funny method, my mom told me to put some tiger balm near the breast so that it looked dirty and the strong smell would be offputting!
    Last edited by mumsy; 12-13-2008 at 04:34 PM. Reason: broken paragraph

  7. #7
    Buckeroo is offline Registered User
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    Thanks, everyone, for the very good tips. Now, if I can get them to work for me...

    Noc - Haha, I've heard the one about the Band-Aids on the nipples. :)

    Mumsy - My helper also suggested that I rub garlic on my breast so that the strong smell/taste would put her off. Have yet to try this, though.

    When I am out of sight, she's fine and will take other milk (formula or fresh). She even occasionally asks for them --even when I'm around. But when I am back, it's as if I never left.

    You are all right about "distraction." We've actually gone a whole day (not counting early morning and bedtime sessions) without nursing because we were out and she was so busy playing. The minute we got back to the house, though, it was "Sit! Milk!"

    About going on a weekend together -- We just came back from a 5-day overseas trip and while she didn't nurse as often as when we're home, she'd still ask to. She even wanted to nurse while we were in the taxi heading back to the hotel and was quite upset when I told her, "Later."

    Anyway, thanks again, ladies.

  8. #8
    capital is offline Banned
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    I nursed one to 20 months and 1 to 25 months.

    We had an abrupt partial weaning with both when I went back to work full time at around 1 year, so during the week they would eat twice inthe morning and twice after work, and whenever, every few hours on my days off. Over time as we got busier on the weekends, they wouldn't feed when we were out of the house, as they were too busy.

    With the 20 month old we were down to nursing only once/day and It was extrememly painful for me (i was 4 months pregnant) and I didn't know what to do becasue I couldn't go on and he wanted to keep going. Then one morning, out of the blue he refused and never went back!


    With my 25 monther I was ready to be done, so we basically didn't offer/didn't refuse for the last few months. I cut out all night feeds and night wakings after a trip while we all went through jet lag (23 months), and then kept him really busy a few days where he hardly nursed at all, and then told him it was all gone, he asked a few times the next few days and then forgot about it for a day or two. Then asked a few more times again, I told him he was a big boy not a baby and mommy milk goes away when there are no babies in the house. Mommy milk is only for babies, we also really played up the big boy thing in other areas during this time as well.

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