When you decide to start weaning your toddler off breastfeeding there can be a ton of emotions and questions. Such as “is my baby ready?” and “How do I start weaning?”
When I was thinking of when to start weaning my toddler off it was shortly after her first birthday. I loved breastfeeding her but I could tell she was starting to lose interest. I had in my head to breastfeed her at least until she was 18 months old.
I was not ready to stop breasting her because I was sad that I was going to lose our special bonding time. Plus our daughter had some very severe food allergies so I was so scared to feed her real food.
I was terrified that I was going to get clogged milk ducts and get Mastitis and I was not ready for saggy boobs. Plus with the hormonal changes, your body goes through when you stop breastfeeding it made me very emotional.
However, my biggest question I had was…HOW DO I START?
I was so lost and overwhelmed at how to even begin the process of weaning off breastfeeding. Since I have completed stopped breastfeeding my daughter I can say it was very successful! I never got a clogged milk duct, my mommy guilt went away, and my breasts stayed perkier than I expected!
So how did I do it!? In this post, I am going to go over how I knew my toddler was ready, how I started, how I prepared myself, and what our schedule looked like! so let’s get started!
First, let me say this. If you are prone to getting clogged ducts you may when you start weaning. I never had a clogged milk duct and my breasts were big but if you have large breasts yours may sag a little bit more than mine did. So keep that in mind. Every woman’s body is different.
Mama Are You READY?
I’ll tell you what. I was not ready to stop breastfeeding but my toddler was. Mom’s guilt was hitting hard because I felt bad that my daughter was no longer going to be getting liquid gold from me. I was sad that our special bonding time was coming to an end. Besides knowing if your toddler is ready you need to be ready to mama.
You don’t want to just cut cold turkey. That is a HUGE NO NO! why? because if you do it is very painful! I had a friend who cut cold turkey and she got Mastitis twice, had to bind her breasts and she was in so much pain!
Also, your toddler for their first year or longer of life has bonded with your through breastfeeding so you don’t want to just cut it out. That can create some separation anxiety for your toddler. You want to take it slow for yourself and your toddler. Weaning is a process that takes time to adjust to. Don’t rush the weaning process.
Be prepared for a lot of emotions and hormonal changes. Just because breastfeeding is coming to an end doesn’t mean you still can’t have sweet bonding moments with your toddler.
After you prepare yourself you need to watch for the signs that your baby is ready. You may have already picked up on some but below are some other signs to look for.
Signs That Your Baby Is Ready To Wean
Every baby is different. What my baby’s signs were may be different from what your baby’s signs are. I knew my baby was ready because she started losing interest in her afternoon feedings. She was distracted and would never sit still long enough to get a full feeding. One day I didn’t do her afternoon breastfeeding and gave her food instead.
And I was surprised at how awesome she did! Here are some other signs to look for.
- Show signs that they are more interested in more than just milk
- Sitting up independently
- Holding head upright
- Coordinating hands, eyes, and mouth – can they grasp objects, like teethers, and put them into their mouth?
- Interested in your food – do they watch you eat or try to take food from your plate?
- Able to swallow food and are they chewing soft foods with their gums? – babies who aren’t yet ready will push their food back out
- Still hungry after a milk feed – this could be a sign, or they might be growing
- Do they push your breast away when trying to breastfeed? – or do they keep spitting your nipple out
- Do they hold still long enough for a full feeding? – or are they more interested in what is going on around them
- Are they eating more food?
- Do they have a good range of foods they already eat?
You know your baby the best. As moms, we have a sixth sense to these things.
Weaning Schedule And How To Start
Your schedule may look different than mine. My daughter was only nursing 3 times a day. Your baby may be doing more than mine was so again you are going to have to take this process a little slower if you’re breastfeeding your baby more. But before we get to the schedule this is how to start the weaning processes.
Step 1: Drop ONE feeding
- Like I mentioned early you don’t want to quit cold turkey! Drop the feeding that your baby is less interested in. For me, that was my daughter’s afternoon feeding. She would not hold still long enough to nurse EVEN when I went somewhere quiet. My daughter was not interested in breastfeeding for her afternoon feeding
- Replace your dropped feeding with food. That way your baby gets adjusted to eating food instead of milk.
- Dropping an afternoon feeding is a little easier. At least I think so. Nighttime can be hard especially if your baby still relies on breastmilk to fall asleep and have a full belly. And morning can be hard because you are often more full in the mornings. I suggest dropping the afternoon feeding.
- You can drop one feeding for a week, 2 weeks, or even longer if you would like. I went for 3 weeks because I wanted to give my daughter time to get adjusted and I wanted time for my body to adjust before dropping another feeding.
Step 2: Drop Another Feeding
- Once you drop one feeding after a while your body will stop producing so much milk. So it makes it easier to drop the second feeding.
- After 3 weeks I dropped my daughter’s morning feeding. She still relied on her bedtime feeding so I didn’t want to drop that one yet. Since my body was not making as much milk I was not as full in the mornings.
- Once you drop your second feeding keep just one feeding for a week or longer.
Step 3: Can You Guess What’s Next? You Got It! Drop your last feeding
- Dropping the nighttime feeding can be the hardest to drop. Nighttime feeding is what helps your baby to go to bed. It is your most special bonding moment. Dropping my daughter’s nighttime feeding was the hardest and the longest to drop.
- Don’t drop nighttime feeding until your baby can eat a lot of real food. That way they go to bed on a full stomach.
- If your baby has transitioned over to cow’s milk or different milk you could give a bottle before bed.
- You may have to wait until your baby is older to drop the nighttime feeding.
- My daughter was 14 months old before fully dropping her nighttime feeding.
- When you are dropping the nighttime feeding spend extra time reading books, snuggling, and bonding with each other.
I know that is a lot to take and but remember to go slow and take your time with this. Going slowly will benefit you and your baby. I enjoyed weaning my daughter slowly. It made the weaning process more enjoyable and less painful. Plus going slow can help keep your breasts perkier instead of cutting the cold turkey.
P.S. pushups are amazing to help keep your breasts perky 😉
Is your baby ready to be weaned off breastfeeding? What signs are they showing?