Breastfeeding….When to Wean

Breastfeeding

The past few months I've been wrestling with the idea of weaning my daughter.  With both of my kids, I never really set out with the intention for nursing them for a particular period of time.  For us, breastfeeding has just been easier...when the baby gets fussy, I can nurse her to calm her down....when I'm putting the baby to sleep, it's not a fight to get her down if I nurse her first (usually at least).  We are mostly down to nursing just before naps and bedtime and sometimes if she wakes up in the middle of the night, so 3-4 times a day.

There are a lot of times, however, where I start to just feel sort of 'touched out' if that makes sense.  I remember feeling this exact same way when my son, Lincoln, got this age too.  I nursed him until he was almost 20 months, but I remember the last few weeks just feeling 'ready' to wean.  That's how I'm starting to feel this time around with Phoenix who is now 13 months.

I guess my biggest concern is just that it is a lot easier when I can nurse her instead of having to deal with bottles, sippy cups, etc and nursing calms her down faster than anything else, so I'm not sure if I am ready to give up nursing and trade it in for tantrums or fits.  I don't think she's totally ready to wean yet, even if I am.

Plus (and this is just a minor, minor consideration), I get to eat more when I am nursing and I will gladly take an extra 300-500 calories in my diet each day. *Just a side note, I allowed around 500 calories extra each day when I was exclusively nursing, then after six months when we introduced solids and cut down on nursing a bit I changed it to 300 extra calories a day in my diet.

So, I don't have any wise words of wisdom, or inspiring thoughts in today's blog post.  I'm just simply putting my thoughts on paper and sharing it with you guys.  Do you have any advice for me here?  Have you ever felt similar to how I am feeling now?  How did you decide to handle things?  I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments below.

Breastfeeding-----
Natalie Hodson is a mom of two showing how to balance family, fitness, and a healthy lifestyle.  www.nataliehodson.com

28 Comments

  1. Hi Natalie, I am in the same boat as you. I’m nursing my second child who is now 16 months. My first soon self weaned at 12 months and was not as much of a comfort nurser as my youngest. I work 12 hour shifts at the hospital and my job is very busy so it was getting hard for me to find time to pump. The baby does fine going to sleep for my husband as long as I’m not in the room. If I’m there he wants me. So in order to start weaning from day nursing, I let him put him to bed. I nurse him at night still and occasionally during the day at nap time but I try to do everything I can first to soothe him. I guess what I’m saying is I understand your “touched out” feeling and I find myself with low sloverive while nursing. But I also know this will be my last baby as my husband got “fixed” (lol). These moments are so tender and having them look into your eyes as you breastfeed as to say “thank you mommy” is a feeling no one understands but us. All the advice in the world cannot replace your instincts of when to wean. You are feeling just like most people with kids this age. It’s just so hard to let go because once this stage is over, they move onto another one in the blink of an eye. Good luck mom, you’re doing great!
    Much love, Leanne

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  2. Hey mama!! I just briefly blogged about this yesterday. BF is not something I personally love and
    choose to nurse bc it’s best for baby. With TJ I even considered not doing it but felt so bad about that
    and when he was born I instantly was okay w it. I nursed the girl for 8 months and weaned and didn’t think twice but w TJ I had to really do a gut check. But when he was not sleeping at all during the night for the past few months I knew it was time. I think the guilt of what others would say bothered me more than the thought of bottle feeding. IDK…It’s an emotional moment, and decesion. And yes I know what u mean it’s easier but not all at the same time. TJ didn’t want the bottle at all but I was at a place that knew I was done and so I was able to stick it out. You’ll know when your most ready (never 100% bc were moms and always guilt ourselves) and will have that conviction that it’s time and it’s okay.
    Hugs!!
    Christie Nix

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  3. My daughter is 23 months as of yesterday and I feel exactly the same! Nursing didn’t work out with my first daughter so this has been a very special time but I’m feeling a bit “done” too. No advice just letting you know that you are not alone. 😉

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  4. At 13 months we were exactly where you are. She would only nurse to sleep and when she woke up in the mornings. We started giving her whole milk at meals at 12 months so she could get used to it. My husband and I went for an overnight trip where she didn’t nurse and I didn’t pump for over 24 hours. She drank milk from a cup to go to sleep for my mom who kept her. So the next night I tried that instead of nursing her. I think she was pretty “take it or leave it” with nursing at this point. After that I just nursed less and less until at 13 months and 2 weeks she was completely weaned. I won’t lie, it hit me hard that our journey was over and she didn’t “need” me anymore to supply her with all those great nutrients. I guess weaning is just something the two of you have to mutually agree on. Our weaning was very casual and gradual. Good luck and congratulations on making it this far (and further if you don’t wean her for a while yet)!

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  5. I’m getting closer to wanting to wean, but it’s so easy to “stick a boob in his mouth” and I will have to reconsider my calorie intake. I am also afraid of how difficult or uncomfortable it will be to stop nursing, even if I do it gradually.

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  6. I struggled to get the hang of nursing for 9 weeks… it was the most painful thing ever but I never gave up and Im so proud of myself for not giving up. I love nursing my son who is now 11.5 months old and a lot of my friends and peers started weaning at 11 months… I simply wasnt ready at 11 months and Im still not ready 2 weeks later. I dont know when he or I will be done but I have heard that, like you, I will know when Im ready. I think that is key, listen to yourself. You will know when you are ready and Phoenix will follow. I have the same “fears” as you, I dont know how else to calm him down, I dont know what I would do if he woke up in the middle of the night, its just so natural to pop him on and back to sleep my sweet baby goes. We are about to travel also, so being able to nurse on the plane for take off and landing will be so helpful. Keep it up, until you KNOW you are done. Especially if this is maybe your last baby, you wont get this again so your last day nursing Phoenix will be your last day nursing period. You are an amazing person and mom and wife and I look up to you DAILY for inspiration. Thank you! and Great Job for hangining in there this long.

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  7. You need to do what feels right for you, and for your daughter. I am a breastfeeding mom right now to my second son, who is eight months old, and I love it for the same reasons you do. With my first, I weaned him at 11 months because I was going back to work and I had the same concerns you do. I skipped bottles altogether, I didn’t want that headache, and he adjusted to sippy cups just fine. I used to nurse him in his room, in his rocking chair, and for the first little bit I couldn’t sit in that chair without him running towards me, wanting to nurse (ouch- it hurt my heart!). I would give him his sippy cup on the couch or wherever, and just cuddle and rock him. Eventually the rocking chair in his room became our cuddle spot, and it amazed me that for him, he just needed that close time with me.

    She and you will create new forms of comfort…good luck!

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  8. I’ve been struggling with this same thing for about the last six months. My daughter just turned three and I have gone through several periods of being “touched out” but at this point I’ve been sharing my body with her for almost four years! I’ve put it off for all the same reasons you listed but also because she is my last and the only one out of five whom I’ve been able to nurse. This has been a very special relationship and I’m a little sad it will be ending soon. On the other hand, I want my body back to myself! Right now I’m waiting to go out of town in May to wean her because we’ve tried just saying no and distraction and it didn’t work. I keep hoping she will self-wean but it doesn’t look like that will happen.

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  9. I think if your ready she probably is also. You weant above and beyond since she is over a year. With both my boys I was so scared to wean but was pleasantly surprised how well they did. I actually dropped 5lbs after weaning both my boys. I wasn’t like other mom’s who lost all the baby weight with the aid of breast feeding. With my first son I thought it was my new mom body then it changed and I was not worried when my 2nd son came along.

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  10. This is such a tough decision that only those who have gone through it can really understand. I nursed both of my daughters a little over a year. With my first, it was almost “in the cards” for me to stop nursing. I got preggers (yup, nursing) when my first daughter was just 9.5 months old. I continued nursing her, since she was already primarily on solids and was only really BF in the morning and at night, but only until the 1 year mark. It was hard to wean her because I think she “knew” why I was weaning. My mother always says that when you wean you have to supplement the connection you are losing with bountiful amounts of love and affection. I did that. A lot of hugs, cuddling, kisses, and she weaned completely in about 2 months without any issues (except she didn’t like cow milk and we had her on toddler formula for a little while until she got used to it) … My second was much tougher. However, at about a year her sleeping habits got worse and worse, and by the 14th month I wasn’t sleeping more than 2 hrs a night. She was so used to getting up and nursing that we really had to stop the night nursing abruptly to get her to sleep again. It was tough, but daddy really stepped up to the plate, offering water at the wee hours of the night until she started sleeping again. Now two rambunctious toddlers, they are both lovely, happy little girls. I’m sure you will do what’s right when the time is right. Much love! Lili

    Reply
    • Hi Lili,
      I had to leave a comment. I’m not glad glad for others struggles but happy to hear some moms that have had the same issues and that it’s normal. 🙂 All the sudden my 13 month old has been wanting to nurse more and is waking more often at night wanting to nurse. Neither of us is getting good sleep. I’ll be calling in daddy for reinforcement I guess lol Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
  11. I nursed my girls for 27 months for the first and 3+ years for the second. With my first I wanted to wean around 18 months for the same reason as you, feeling touched out. I spoke to my mom quite a bit about it and hearing it out loud I realized I was making it all about me and not my daughter. For me, it made me realize she was only little for a brief period in my life and I would never get this type of bonding with her again. For me, it made me realize that for this brief period in my life I needed to put her needs before mine. We went another 9 months and I had my second during this time. I tandem nurses for 2 months and my oldest was then ready to wean. I’m glad I was able to wait as it helped her with the transition of being the baby to being the big sister. My experience is mine, not saying you should keep nursing, just letting you know my experience. And kudos to you for nursing your littles for as long as you have!

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  12. I completely understand where you’re coming from. My nursling will be 2 in July. However, I tandem nursed her and her sister for over a year. I have been nursing for almost 4 straight years. I nursed #3 until the day she turned 3 and between everyone pushing me to stop nursing her and just being touched out between the two nursing I put an end to her nursing. I still regret it to this day and she will watch her sister nurse and I can just sense the sadness from her. She misses it and I feel so bad. Maybe try taking a day away just to refresh yourself and see if you’re really ready to stop.

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  13. When the time is right for both of you, you will know. If you really don’t want to do it anymore, she will probably stop having as much interest and you will wean together. My son nursed for 15 months and then he was just done, where as my daughter only made it to 12 months because I was determined to make it that far. I had production problems and had to supplement with formula, and she just flat out wasn’t that interested in the boob. Once she found sippy cups, that’s all she was interested in and I started putting pumped breast milk in cups for her. The only time she really wanted to nurse was bed time after about 9 months. I also missed the extra calories, lol, but you can always use the extra time you’re not nursing to work out more and build more muscle to raise your metabolic rate 😉 or ya know, nap… I’d opt for a nap.

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  14. I’m still nursing my 16 month old and and ready to stop nursing.. He has been a lot different than my older son– he loves nursing, he is a little snacker! He prefers nursing over solids still– although he eats them, I can tell he would rather not. It’s been really hard for me to take it away from him, but I have to at some point. He still wakes 2-3 a night just to comfort nurse and I’m so tired!!!! I want sleep so bad.
    On the other hand, I’m a stay at home mom and am here to nurse him freely, so I’m in a bind.. It is the best way to sooth him and easiest way to get him to sleep. I feel ya on this, it’s a tough call to stop, especially if they love it so much. I wish a little ferry waved her wand and he stopped by himself, that would be so much easier! 🙂

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  15. I am right there with you! It’s like you read my mind.!! I have been going through this all in my head and reading & researching like crazy because I didn’t last longer than 3 months with my first two babies and my son now is 13 months and we are still going strong. Lol I feel guilty because I’m really feeling ready to wean but I know my son isn’t, I’ll be sticking it out a while longer.. I feel it’s definitely his comfort and he’s attached.. I know I will miss the closeness and sweet smiles of nursing just means extra love and cuddles! 🙂 Thank you for the post along with comments so helpful and reassuring. Good luck

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  16. I am in the same boat, though my son is 13 months and he has been working on weaning himself over the last couple months. I’m happy that it’s been happening naturally, I didn’t have a set time frame in mind, I just wanted to follow his lead. I work full time outside of the home and a while back he started to refuse bottles which was fine. I stopped pumping at work last week (I gradually reduced one session every week, I was doing 3 a day). And now he only nurses before bed and when he wakes up at night which is 1 time, MAYBE 2 if he’s teething. Some days I feel happy about the idea of being completely done but other times I feel sad thinking about missing that time with him and like you said, how easy it is to calm him down if needed! Just keep following her lead, you two will figure out something that works for the both of you. 🙂 You’re doing great already!

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  17. I loved breast feeding, the second time around my daughter weaned herself at 16 months and although I was happy to have my body back I was sad to think that this was my baby, and as such the last time I would be breast feeding… Ever:( however, your body is a vessel when nursing, albeit beautiful you are a means to an end, feeding your child. It does get old that anytime comforting or feeding needs done you are the exclusive source for this, and after an excess of a year, you deserve a break! We all sympathize the good and the bad of this conundrum you’re in and I think you explained it best as feeling “overtouched”.
    For me….Cut ahead 9 years and I’m divorced and in a new relationship with the possibility of one more baby. I am thrilled at the idea of breast feeding again. But I am the fattest breast feeding momma on the planet , it doesn’t speed my metabolism but I want to graze all day and have uncontrollable urges for dairy and sugar. I’m sure I’ll be turning to you for help with that when te time comes!

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  18. Thank you for this. I’ve been weaning my 20 month old. I nursed his brother for about 17 months. With both of them it seemed to coincide for readiness for other things: using the potty, sleeping in a bed. It is harder for me this time because I’m leaning toward being done having babies … so this could be the end of an era. Still, he has not been a good sleeper and that was taking a toll on me after nearly two years. After night weaning him, he is now doing better at sleeping through the night.

    I remember last time I gained a bunch of weight after weaning and my boobs shrank to middle school size. Not cool. So far I have not been uncomfortably engorged and I am planning to finally get serious about my fitness.

    You are so real and therefore all the more inspirational. Whatever you decide will be right for your family.

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  19. My son is 13 months right now too and I’m constantly asked by certain family members and friends how long I plan to continue nursing him. But like you, I’ve never had a plan! I just go with the flow! (No pun intended, hehe.) This is my 3rd baby. and quite possibly my last, so I’m planning on letting him self wean BUT I do sort of have a cut off age in mind.

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  20. I’m currently breastfeeding my 4th baby who is 6 mo. old. with my 3rd, I stopped at 12 mo.since she was able to drink regular milk then. With my first 2, I stopped around 10-12 months only because they were ready to wean. . I completely hear ya when you say it’s easier to bf especially when it gets them to stop fussing. this helps calm my baby down as well, but if you’re ready then it’s time. Plus, she should be at the age now where she can drink whole milk right?

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  21. My first child weaned around 12 months, we didn’t set out to do it right then but she just stopped wanting it so we switched to milk. With my second I lost my milk around 9 months, due to stress (we were in the middle of an international move when my husband had an emergency appendectomy, so a lot going on!) and I didn’t have the time to try and pump and get my supply back so we switched to formula. I’m still sad that we were cut short, I did try and keep it going, she nursing morning and night for awhile after that but she stopped wanting to nurse, there just wasn’t much milk left. Even though I was sad when it ended both times, it was also nice to be able to wear what I wanted again and not have to plan my outfits around breast accessibility, and it gave me some freedom again, Daddy could now put them to bed!

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  22. Thank you for your post. I am pregnant with my third and plan to nurse as long as possible. Because I had to work full time with the first two, I was nursing as much as I could but found I ended up pumping more often then not. So I felt touched out around 6 months with both of them. I was often in tears that last month. The pumping at work, nursing at home & the babies taking a bottle better then me made me feel like it was becoming impossible to continue nursing at the time. In the end I made it 7 months with my first & 8 months with my second. As I read many if the other posts, I would live to be able to have nursed for longer like many, but I needed to do what was best for me & my family. So, yes it is about your child but it is also about you. For us, it was a decision made by both me & my husband. Don’t feel like you are a quitter or that you “can’t” any more. It’s really up to you, your husband & your baby. Don’t let anyone else tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. You will know when it’s time to wean. Talk it through with those that are the most important in your life & you will make the right decision for you & your family.

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  23. I had the opposite problem as you so this post may seem completely irrelevant but I figured I would let you know my experience 🙂 My daughter is now 15 months but I had to stop breast feeding her at 8 months because I simply was not making any milk. I had returned back to work when she was 3 months and I consistently pumped, and tried everything to keep up my milk supply but it just wasn’t happening for me. I felt like I had completely failed (especially as a 1st time mom) and would constantly question the bond my baby and I were going or not going to have if I stopped nursing her. In addition to my own self doubt I was feeling an immense amount of pressure to continue nursing from my mom and other mothers but that only made me more mentally exhausted and mad at myself. I still remember rocking my daughter while she pretty much just “suckled” and finally deciding this was going to be the last time I was going to nurse her. I was afraid that we would lose that bond that you get from breastfeeding but honestly that day I decided to quite nursing her I felt so relieved. As much as I wanted to continue to breastfeed my daughter the stress and feeling of inadequacy was taking away from the joys and true bonding experience because I could never satisfy her. I know that our bond only got stronger after I stopped breastfeeding and she is the happiest little girl and healthy as can be (Thank the Lord)! What a blessing it has been for you and your daughter to have the wonderful bonding experience that nursing brings for as long as you have. Just know that no matter what you decide to do on weaning you are a wonderful mother and love your babies, and as you know the bond only gets stronger!

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  24. It’s cheaper than formula, milk, and especially goat milk(my kids tolerate this better). It’s special to nurse, but also bit relieving to stop. Every baby is different. My first son nursed for over 15 months because he was six weeks premature, my daughter nursed for 13 months, and my youngest son is solely nursing and is only two months old. I drew the line on nursing each of my babies when they started biting(ouch), and seemed extremely distracted during nursing. The last feedings to go are always the very first and the very last, but the biting and smiles made it easier for me(rascals). You will know when you are done, or she will BITE you and let you know she is done, lol.

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  25. Hi Natalie, I loved nursing my daughter but at 17 months when she was reaching down my shirt or lifting up my shirt to want to nurse I knew it had to be time.It was a comfort and easy thing for both of us. So i thought! Once she stopped I actually find she has developed more independence which is great in the morning. We still snuggle when she first wakes up. Then I cook breakfast for us both. Before, while nursing, that breakfast was pushed back a bit until I was done nursing. It was definitely a transition but when you feel it’s time then you are good to start weaning. I would recommend completely eliminating that middle of the night feed no matter what. Then the after noon feed and do only the night time feed. It will be easiest to wean that last because you can change things up a bit at night and start just putting straight to the crib. I hear you on the calories bonus too! It’s been 2 months and I need to check myself on eating habits again. A few too many sweets that I was not over indulging in before. Great post!

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  26. My daughter is 16 months, and she hasn’t nursed since nap time on Sunday. I can relate to everything you said. I knew it was time because for the past 2 months she has been waking up 5-7 times at night to nurse. I was definitely feeling “touched out” as well. I decided to just start with trying a different bedtime routine and see how my daughter responded. I went in with the attitude that if she showed any signs that things were moving too fast that we would stop and try again in a few weeks. Nursing has always been my quick way to quiet a fussy baby, and I was terrified to stop. So far though, neither one of us has seemed to miss it nearly as much as I thought we would! I offer a cup with room temperature water at night when she wakes up, and last night she only woke up twice and didn’t cry at all. I hope that your transition goes as smoothly as ours has whenever you decide to make it 🙂

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  27. Hi,

    My youngest is 18 months and is still nursing. I just started going back to the gym. I am totally clueless on how many calories I should be taking in, each day, or if there is a good protein powder or shake out there that is okay to have while breastfeeding, that will keep me full. What do you suggest? I read that you have to burn more calories than you eat, if you want to lose any weight or have working out be beneficial. It’s really sad how little I burned off the other day at my first workout in a few years 😉 Around 200-300. And there’s 200 calories just in a little package of peanut butter crackers. lol. I’ve been reading labels a lot now and realizing just how many calories are in foods! I haven’t had any junk food in 4 days just because I can’t wrap my mind around how many calories there are, and it makes me think of what all I went through at my first workout just to burn that many. Anyway, if you have any suggestions or advice on where to start, I would greatly appreciate it! (not sure if this is beneficial, but I’m about 5’3″ or 5’4″ and 140 lbs.).

    Reply

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