Behavior & Development • Sep 13, 2012

Take Your Hand Out of My Shirt!

Starting to breast feed was hard; stopping was harder.

I am stubborn – or determined, as I like to think. This tenacity was very helpful when my son was born and breastfeeding was top on the list of ways to promote good health and nutrition in my child. Most women who have done this will tell you it was harder then they thought it would be, but extremely rewarding. I could write about the benefits of human milk all day, but this post is about what happens when it is time to move on.

At 27 months, I was ready to wean my precious son. He, not surprisingly, was also “determined” and not interested in giving this activity up. “Sit. Nurse. PLEASE!” my son would beg or sob. Very hard to resist. Weaning can happen naturally in several ways. Some moms lose their milk for a variety of reasons. Some children wean themselves. Eventually, both of these things will happen, but what do you do when neither of these occurs on the desired or required time-line?  Hopefully, one of these methods will work for you. Every mom-baby pair is unique. Weaning should not be physically or emotionally difficult if you are both ready.

1)      Gradual forced weaning: gently removing one scheduled feed every few days or weeks at a pace that works for your family. I tried this and failed. It seemed to work on weekdays but on weekends when it was 24/7 access he wanted 24/7 access.

2)      Distract and Delay: Exactly as it sounds. They want to nurse; you suggest another activity or tell them they can nurse at some later period of time. This worked on occasion for us, but not completely and not consistently.

3)      Separation: Sounds harsh but it works for some moms and there is nothing wrong with taking some time for yourself and/or your marriage. My son spent 5 days with his dad at his grandparents’ house and tolerated the time better then I did. As soon as he was home… “NURSE!”.

4)      Mix-it-up: Success! What worked for us was a one week trip to visit cousins. A new environment provided the constant distraction of other children, activities, and toys. This allowed us to spend time together without the constant presence of the usual cues and schedules that would trigger his intense need to nurse. He got used to being around me without being attached to me.

This really is s good “problem” to have. Hang in there. Good Luck!