Image source: aknittingblog.com
Buh-bye hooter hider.
Your little baby’s not so little any more. And now that she eats anything she can reach (that is, anything EXCEPT what you’re actually trying to feed her) you’re starting to wonder about weaning. And the way she reacts when you sit down to nurse, well, makes you think she’s starting to wonder too. So, is it really time to put this cow out to pasture?
Raise a sippy-cup.
Sooner or later you’ll sit down to nurse and find your little monkey wants to… monkey around. She’s discovered that there’s a whole world out there and it’s a lot more interesting than the stuff she’s been drinking since the day your milk came in. At first, moving to a boring room (one that doesn’t have a TV/iPad/energetic sib to distract her) might be enough to persuade her to get down to business. But soon enough, even that won’t work. You’ll pop her on, she’ll pop back off. You’ll try again, she’ll pull away and smile. So then you’ll smile. So she’ll laugh. So you’ll laugh. Um, yeah, not a chance nursing’s happening now.
If you’ve stopped singing/cooing/looking at your babe to encourage her to focus, and she’s still fussy or pulls away to stare at you/the mobile/the chair/the wall, it might be a nursing strike. Or it might be time to think about dropping a feeding session or three. A few questions to ask yourself before getting your doc’s A-OK:
- Has she started drinking milk? Or would you be comfortable introducing formula at this stage?
- Is she eating a variety of food? Playground sand/mulch/grass doesn’t count.
- Are you going back to work soon? Or doing anything else that’ll make your current nursing schedule difficult to maintain? If you’ve got another bun in the oven and answered no… maybe give it a second thought.
- Does thinking about weaning make you tear up or happy dance? No shame in admitting it’s a little of both.
Once you’ve decided you’re ready, the easiest way for both of you to get used to the new norm is to:
- Skip the snack where she’s the least interested or eats the smallest amount.
- Distract her during the time she’d normally nurse (using food, toys, or just head outside).
- Be a little extra affectionate whenever you can – probably more for your benefit than hers!
- Wait at least a week before dropping the next feed. The next one to drop should NOT be immediately before or after the one you’ve just successfully cut out (unless you miss those early days of engorgement or have some cabbage wilting in the fridge that you’d like to use up!).
If you have a vague idea of when you want to be completely donezo, you can work backwards to figure out when to start dropping. If you’re not sure which snack to drop first, just pick the one that’s the most inconvenient. I always weaned mid-morning first, followed by mid-afternoon (not only were they the times when my babies were the least hungry, but when baba number three came along, those feeds coincided with the morning nursery-school pick-up and the afternoon school pick-up. Um, yeah, just a little inconvenient). Lunch and then evening feeds were the next to go. The morning wake-up call (or, rather, snooze-latch) was my favourite, so I held onto it for as long as I could – until we both knew it was time to quit. I also waited three to four weeks before dropping each feed; the super-gradual process took about five months, which made it easier on all of us.
The right time to stop breastfeeding is whenever either one of you start to feel reluctant. Making the decision to wean is often harder than weaning itself. With a little planning, you’ll both adapt to a life without leak pads, nursing bras, and breast pumps. Sure, you’ll have moments when you miss those super sweet cuddles, but nothing a tickle-fight won’t cure. Or, ya know, a long overdue drink. Cheers!
Email us if you need help getting on a nursing schedule before you can even think about weaning, or if you want to get a striking nurseling back to work!