After nursing for a full year, I wanted to know how to stop breastfeeding. These gentle weaning tips made the process painless for mama and baby!
Yes, I know Lydia is almost three. No, we didn't just finish breastfeeding. If you read my post a couple weeks back about how to breastfeed and pump at work……then you know that we exclusively breastfed for a full year. A full year of nursing or pumping. I have to be honest, as we approached Lydia's first birthday….I felt very conflicted about whether to stop breastfeeding. Pumping at work multiple times a day was difficult, and exhausting. I felt it was a huge accomplishment that I had made it that long. But I also didn't want to take away something that was important and comforting to Lydia.
My compromise? I decided to stop pumping at work after her birthday, and that we would continue nursing morning and night until she weaned herself. It ended up being a MUCH easier process than I anticipated…….by 13 months old, Lydia had finished breastfeeding and was perfectly happy.
How to Stop Breastfeeding:
We introduced cow's milk for tasting purposes only the week before Lydia turned 1. She had used a sippy cup since she was 8 months old. Initially at 7 days before her birthday, we tried a few ounces of cow's milk. The goal? To see how she responded to the taste and to be sure she didn't have any strange reactions to cow's milk. She LOVED it! Had I been a stay at home mom who used a bottle or cup less frequently, I probably would have started this process a bit earlier. If your baby is not accustomed to having a cup or bottle on a regular basis, I would suggest starting to pump once or twice a day and using a sippy cup. It's important to not make both transitions at once….that can be a LOT for an infant!
Each day of the week, we combined breastmilk and cow's milk in all of Lydia's sippy cups while I was at work. The first day we did 1/4 cow's milk and 3/4 breastmilk. A few days later 1/2 and 1/2. Slowly, we transitioned her to drinking a full cup of milk by her first birthday. We monitored her for signs of intolerance or frustration. This process could have easily been drawn out longer if necessary.
As we increased her cow's milk intake, I lowered the amount of minutes I was pumping at work for each session. While I had been pumping for 20 minutes three times I day, I dropped down to 17 minutes then to 15 minutes. Slowly, I pumped less. After about two weeks, when I was down to under 5 minutes…..I stopped pumping at work. I still BROUGHT the pump for another week in case I felt uncomfortable.
After Lydia's first birthday, I continued to nurse both morning and evening. At that point, she would nurse AND I would offer her a cup of cow's milk. For a few weeks, she did both.
One evening, she stopped nursing. Just like that, she reached for her sippy cup…..and we were done. She never wanted to nurse AGAIN. I was shocked!
Now do I think it's that easy with every child? Absolutely NOT. But, I do think the fact that it was a slow and gentle process helped. I also think she was accustomed to me being at work and drinking from a cup, so that transition had already happened for us.
Do you have any tips for how to stop breastfeeding? Leave them in the comments for your fellow mamas!