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After 16 long months of breastfeeding, my toddler is officially weaned! It was a process that took about 4 months to do. I was dead set on weaning her the day after her first birthday but it didn’t quite go as planned. We were dead in the middle of quarantine and a global pandemic. Therefore, I kept breastfeeding because breastmilk contains antibodies that help fight infections in your baby. When my girl was 13 months old, our house came down with COVID-19 (thankfully Vivian never shows symptoms) so our journey wasn’t close to being done. But once we were clear of COVID-19, I decided it was time to wean!
Adding a Lovey
Vivian never became attached to anything. I tried everything: pacifier, blankets, stuffed animals, NOTHING… So I gave up trying until I realize that she used my boob as comfort. When she was upset, she wouldn’t come down until I fed her and even then she just used me as a paci. Lots of moms raved about Slumberkins so I took the plunge and ordered one with hopes she’d use this as her comfort. I started with putting it between us during a few feeds so she would get used to it. Then I’d put it into her crib when she went to bed (although AAP suggests an empty crib, we do what is best for our family and deem safe). Now she grabs her Unicorn Slumberkin when it’s time for nap or bed.
This was the hardest! Vivian fed 6-10 times a day up until she was 15 months old. Every morning and night feeding was a given. Our routine was always to wake up and go to the couch and she’d feed for 20+ minutes. What I did was start to wean the daytime feeds first. I noticed she fed more when we were just sitting at home. When she’d come for a feed, I’d steer her direction to a toy or give her a snack instead. This actually worked pretty well! Eventually we were down to 2-3 feeds a day which was huge.
Replacing with Cow Milk
I tried transitioning Vivian to cow’s milk directly at 1 year but she didn’t care for it so I gave up until 16 months. Milk is naturally thicker and creamer than breastmilk which is a bit more watery. So I started with Horizon Organic Whole Milk with DHA Omega-3 mixed with water and warmed up (she won’t drink it cold). She liked this way more than just straight milk! As the days have gone on, I put less water in to eventually make it complete milk. I offer 10 ounces of milk as soon as she wakes up and at bedtime. She will only use the Munchkin Weight Straw Cup for her milk which also are great because they don’t leak!
Cutting Bedtime Feeds
Since we barely ever used bottles and I was able to stay home with her, I was always the one her put Vivian to bed. TakingCaraBabies helped me set a healthy sleep routine before we even decided to wean. I hadn’t breastfed her to sleep since she was like 6 months old. So she only ever fed for about 5 minutes during bedtime routine. This part was pretty easy because the first night that I offered her milk at bedtime, she didn’t even go for the boob so I just ran with that. If she tried then I would just encourage her milk in the cup and read more books.
Middle of the Night Feeds
Our bad habit was middle of the night feeds. These were always the hardest because she was inconsolable she if woke up in the night so I’d just feed her for a few minutes so we could go back to bed. I was concerned for this part. A few days into our wean, she woke up in the night and went straight to breastfeed. I refused her request and just held her and rocked her in the chair to show that I can still be used for comfort but breastfeeding isn’t what we do anymore. She’s been fine since!
I knew I was ready to wean from breastfeeding when I would get extreme anxiety every time she wanted to feed. She basically did gymnastics while feeding and would insist on playing with my nipple.. I HATED it. I was so uncomfortable and had the worst anxiety. So I was ready to call it quits on my end.
Thankfully, I didn’t have an issue with this. I truthfully never experienced latch issues, clogged ducts or mastitis. I was always a “just-enougher” so I was never an over producer and didn’t had a huge freezer stash of breastmilk. But, I’ve heard that putting cabbage leaves in your bra help dry up your milk! My sister in law swears by it as well as her friends.
I am beyond thankful for out 16 month long breastfeeding journey. My goal initially was one year and I can’t believe I surpassed it! Every breastfeeding journey is so different so don’t be discouraged if yours isn’t what you read here or what you see on social media. Also, every baby will wean when they’re ready BUT if you feel your mental health is taking more of a toll then do what is best for you and baby! Being the best mom doesn’t always mean breastfeeding while you feel uncomfortable.