When I decided to breastfeed Max, my original goal was 6 months. I reached 6 months in no time and thought to myself, I can make it to 12 months. Well, 12 months came and went and I never made an effort to wean him because I really wanted him to self-wean. Everyone kept reassuring me that he would stop when he’s ready.
Finally, at 18 months I decided it was time to try to make a nudge in that direction. He clearly wasn’t going to give up boobie so I had to do something. We worked our way down on feedings to start. I weaned him off the left side to just the right because it produced more. From there I slowly started to take away feedings until we were down to just night feedings.
This is where the fun began. Taking away feedings were so easy that I thought taking away night time feedings would be a breeze. Wrong. Max had a meltdown, he cried harder than I had ever heard him cry before. He was in extreme emotional pain that I just couldn’t do it. My heart hurt seeing him that upset and so the boob was his again.
My Story on Extended Breastfeeding
I posted a photo of Max and I nursing a couple of weeks ago and though I loved the photo, I realized I was finished. I needed my body back and Max has wide enough dietary options that he would be fine. Starting that night, I stated several times to Max that boobie was going to go bye bye. He would just say no of course and get his way but I decided to tell him this for a few days before implementing it.
A week passed and decided now is the time. I had the weekend off from work and let me husband know that this was finally the day. We climbed into bed ready to go to sleep when Max came over to do his normal snuggle. I sat him up and explained that boobie had gone bye-bye and there was no milky. I was prepared for that terrible cry again but instead was welcomed by a whiny cry. He was irritated but honestly not that upset.
My husband and I just sort of looked at each other in amazement. He tried again and again for about 30 minutes before he finally gave up and went to sleep. We couldn’t believe our eyes! After 27.5 months it was working! From that night on we kept up the same routine. He’d ask for boobie, I’d deny, he’d get mad and fling his arms then move on. A few minutes later he would be snuggled up with dad and pass out.
Though it took a lot of self will to tell him no and stand my ground, I am so happy to state that we have stopped extended breastfeeding. I get sad occasionally knowing that its over and never again will we nurse but at the same time, I’m so happy to not stress over it anymore. He can stay the night with grandpa or his aunts and I won’t have to worry if he’s going to wake up screaming because there’s no boob. It’s such a relief.
With my success, I decided to create a list of quick tips I think really helped us bring our extended breastfeeding to an end. I also decided to add in some suggestions I received from others that didn’t work for me but may work for you. No matter how long you made it on your journey, I hope you have a smooth transition when that time comes.
How to Stop Extended Breastfeeding
- Bandaids/ouchies – One of the suggestions I received was putting bandaids over your nipples. I wanted to try this but my skin is so sensitive to adhesives that I was too scared to do it. All I could think about was the layer of skin that would be pulled off with it. However, as you read above, so I had “boo boos” worked pretty well for us. He was mad but sort of accepted it.
- Distraction – Many people have had luck with using distraction as a method when it came time to nurse. When they’d reach for it, mom would quickly ask if they want to watch a movie, play with toys, or even read a book. Max loves books but not more than boobie.
- Get Marinated – Okay, I couldn’t help myself with that one but really. It was suggested that I rub something odd tasting on my nips to keep the suckling at bay. Many people suggest citruses like lemons and limes.
- Minimize Opportunities – This was something I tried constantly. I tried to avoid any “trigger” that would call for feeding sesh as much as possible. Situations like sitting down, avoid it if possible.
- Get Dad – This is one of your greatest vices. Dad has been off the hook for years now so it’s up to him to step up his game and play his part in the weaning. Every time Max wanted to eat I would hand him to dad and walk away. If we were in bed dad would try to cuddle him or walk around with him. Dad is a big key to weaning!
- Be Patient – The greatest tip I can give anyone who’s extended breastfeeding. Be patient. It’s probably not going to be easy and if you try and it doesn’t work, give it time and try again. As you read earlier, it didn’t go well the first time we tried to wean but the second time was successful.