Breastfeeding is a beautiful way to bond with your baby. It’s hard, but it’s amazing to know that you are your baby’s safest place. However, it eventually comes to an end. Whether it’s you or baby who decides when it’s time, your baby will need to switch to milk (cow’s, coconut, almond, etc!) eventually!
I breastfed my first for 15 months and he nursed every 2 hours up until that age. I wanted to quit so many times because it was exhausting, but weaning seemed impossible. It was overwhelming and gave me anxiety to think about, but we made it through! Here’s some tips to help make your weaning transition easier!
1. Cold Turkey: How did we end up weaning our 15 month old? We had to go cold turkey. It wasn’t so much a weaning experience for him, but I wanted you to know this is an option. It’s hard, but it worked for us. I got mastitis and the pain was unbearable that I couldn’t handle his latch any longer. We used stored-up breast milk for about 2 weeks and actually had a friend donate some of hers to help him transition longer. We gradually added more and more cow’s milk to the bottle before he was fully switched.
2. Get Your Partner to do Bottle Feedings: My husband took over all the feedings while I hid out in the other room. Our son cried and cried and it was so sad for my mama heart, but after 2-3 days he adjusted to having bottles at bed. Giving your partner a shirt that you slept in the day before is really helpful so that baby can still smell your scent. If baby is old enough (over 1 year old) you can give them your shirt in their bed overnight.
3. Gradually Drop Feedings: A great way to transition is do one less feeding every 2-3 days. Replace those other feedings with a bottle from your partner. Make sure to continue to pump for a few minutes when baby is getting those bottles to avoid getting a clogged duct or mastitis. This can take several weeks. With a 15-month-old it took me about a week and a half to stop pumping and fully dry up.
4. Pacifiers: Infant pacifiers are a huge help during the weaning process! Many times with breastfeeding your baby or toddler just likes the comfort of being on the breast. A newborn pacifier will help immensely for them to continue that comforting sucking motion. The Ingy Bingy Band will be a great tool for those weaning their children from about 4 months on. The Ingy Bingy Band is a pacifier wristband that helps baby to locate the pacifier earlier than ever. This will help baby to self-soothe when they would normally use the breast for comfort.
5. Stay Firm: When we were together and he would reach for my shirt, I had to keep saying no. He would get upset, but if you keep going back and forth between breast and bottle for long periods of time.
6. Lactation Consultant: If none of these things are working or you feel your breasts getting painful during the weaning process contact a lactation consultant for help! You can do this mamas!