Monday, January 20, 2014

some thoughts and tips on weaning

Whew. I'm so glad I got all that out the other day. Thanks for "listening" and even if you didn't, it helped me feel better to just get it out there.

As Emerson is nearing his first birthday (crazy!) we are working on completely weaning him from nursing. From before he was born my goal was to nurse him for the first year of his life, I am thankful that we are still nursing as I know a lot of mamma's for whatever reason can't always make it work. I'm not saying it's better to nurse or formula feed, I'm just saying it's what we chose to do. I will admit that for the first four to five months of Emerson's life nursing was, well, horrible, painful, and torturous. From the start he had trouble latching on, then we both had thrush, I had mastitis, I dreaded having to nurse him again and again. It seemed like he was always eating (probably because he was). He ate every two hours for the first few months and the every three hours. Each time he ate it took him about 50 minutes to nurse. I nearly gave up nursing when he was around three months old just because it hurt so much, every time he ate. Which is when I realized we both had thrush and I had mastitis. Thankfully we eventually got over those and nursing was not something I dreaded any more. And eventually (around nine months) he started becoming a faster eater, 20 minutes! And recently just about 10 minutes. Amazing! That's the short and sweet version, if you want you can read all about our nursing experience here and here.

about one week new 

Anyhow, my point is that a lot of people talk about nursing: how to get a good latch, how often to nurse, what to eat while nursing.... the list goes on. But when it came time to start weaning him I found that no one really talked about that. Why not?! There was a lot of talk (articles, blogs) on starting solids, the best foods to introduce baby to when to start solids, different routes to go with solids (prurees, cereal, baby lead weaning...), and the list goes on. But nothing I found really talked about weaning baby from breastmilk/formula while introducing solids.

six and a half months old 

Maybe because it's supposed to be one of those 'it happens naturally' things or 'you just know how to do it' or 'obviously all you do is...' type of things, but to me it was not so obvious. After E was eating cereals and purées for a month or two I figured I needed to slowly start weaning him off of nursing. I figured it would e easier on both of us if the transition was slow. So after talking to my sisters, doing some reading about weaning (though none of it was the weaning I was trying to do), and making sure E was eating solids at the same time every day (about 7-8 months) I started our weaning journey. 

This is what I did:
- picked one nursing session to cut out (I decided to cut the lunch time session first)
- when it came time for said nursing session I just fed him his lunch instead (some cereal and a puréed fruit or veggie) 
- did not pump

Sounds simple, right? Eh, I guess it is. But it wasn't at the time. At least, it didn't seem so simple. I just didn't know how to go about starting to wean him. Call me crazy. I do think cutting the lunch one out first was the easiest though, at least for us.

seven(ish) months 

My plan was to cut out one a nursing session each month, that way by the time he would be 12 months, he would be down to just one (or two) sessions. I say maybe two because I wasn't sure about cutting out the before bed nursing time at 11 months. 

For the most part I was able to stick to my plan. The only hiccup was having to wait two weeks longer to cut out the mid afternoon because we were traveling and visiting family over Christmas (which is when it was time to cut the feeding out). He wasn't about to stop nursing then; he wasn't home, he didn't have his own room, bed, and his routine had been all messed up. In fact, he started nursing more than he typically did at home while we were at my in-laws house. Mostly at night, but still. It made for crazy and very sleepless nights. Once we got home and settled back into our routine is when I finally cut that session out (and he stopped the crazy night nursing again). 

ten months

And now we are only one day away from him being 12 months old (?!?!?!!!). I cut the night feeding out last week and am down to just one in the morning. At night I have been giving him a sippy cup with some milk I had saved in the freezer because I thought it would be good for him to still get the milk before bed and also because I needed to use it. Thankfully he seemed to naturally wean himself off of the night time feeding, he is more interested in reading stories or playing so, that was helpful.

The morning one is the one I am the most anxious about. Not because I don't want to stop nursing him (I do!) but because he wakes up in the morning anywhere from 5-6:30ish at which point I nurse him and lay him back down. He sleeps for an hour or so longer (if I'm lucky) before he wakes up for the day. I refuse to let him start him day at such a dark hour, so he must go back to sleep (or just sleep later). My worry is that he will just be up at an all too early hour once I stop nursing him. Will he go back to sleep? Will he let me give him a bottle or sippy cup of milk and then go back to sleep? I need him to go back to sleep (or just sleep an hour longer than usual). What am I going to do? If you have any experience or tips about this, please share!

ten months

But other than that, I think it is safe to say I figured out how to slowly wean a baby from the bottle/boob to solids so that you aren't making drastic cut backs from nursing. The most important thing, apart from making sure you feed your baby good solid food, is to wait a few days (maybe 5-7) before you cut out another nursing session. You don't want to get clogged milk ducts!

If you have any tips or other thoughts on the whole weaning off of bottle/nursing I'd love to hear your thoughts! Especially if your tips can help me with the morning one that is about to go on Tuesday! 


Susannah said...

Thanks for writing all about this!!! I'm glad you're finding the way weaning worked (or didn't work) for you. I really hope that you and your little one find a way to keep him sleeping in the mornining after he's completely weaned!!!

Lauren said...

great post! as I look back on how I weaned Elyse it was just a gradual process and I'm not even sure how it just did. As for the early wake thing...Elyse's earliest feeding for awhile was 7:30 so this wasn't an issue for us. And after I weaned her I made a rule that we wouldn't get her from her crib until 6:30 (this of course was subject to change depending on the circumstances) but this seemed to work for us. This does mean using a little bit of the cry it out method, but we all made it through with flying colors. You may have to deal with him waking a tiny bit earlier, but I would say it won't be that hard to push him to a 6:30 wake time consistently. I guess I would ask this...does he actually eat a ton when he wakes early or does he just want your comfort? This might indicate whether he's waking out of hunger or just wanting to snuggle (which isn't a bad thing either!)

Good luck momma, I know you'll find a way to make it work for both of you!

Rachel Lynn said...

You're right! I haven't read much about the actual process of weaning (not that I have kids yet, but I read a lot in preparation). Thanks for writing your process!

My Wholesome Home

Nina Robinson said...

Thanks for the tips! How did it work out for you when you finally cut out the morning feeding? I've just begun the weaning process, but my little one still wakes up once in the middle of the night and once in the early morning, so I'm not sure how to cut those feedings...

The Joni Journey