I know first hand how hard it is to wean a toddler. It is one of the hardest parts of a breastfeeding journey for most. If you are like me and had kids who relied on breastfeeding to nap/go to sleep at night then you know how hard the thought of weaning is.
At the same time, you know how exciting the thought of your baby sleeping without having to nurse can be! All my kids who are now 5, 3 and 1 year, have nursed to sleep. It was not something I encouraged but it just always “happened”.
How I Weaned My Toddlers
Breastfeeding was one of those things that went pretty well for me for all my 3 kids. It started off difficult for my first, as with any mother. Thankfully I didn’t have low supply but I did have latch issues that quickly resolved.
My babies loved the boob and were super attached to me. My first 2 never really took the bottle AT ALL, and after learning the hard way through them I have not made that same mistake with my 3rdwho now can be left with someone he is comfortable with and can drink from a bottle.
With both my toddlers I weaned mainly because I was pregnant. It was traumatic with my first. I didn’t think I could wean a toddler but I eventually did it, pretty unexpectedly and kind of cold turkey. He was 16 months & being my first child, and new parents, it was difficult to hear him cry especially at night.
My husband and I fought about it a few times, I think he just felt it wasn’t necessary to put him through that. However, I couldn’t nurse and handle nausea and exhaustion in my first trimester so it had to be done.
Weaning with my daughter was a little easier. She was 20 months when I started weaning and I gradually started to get her used to fewer feeds and falling asleep without nursing. I started giving her milk more before she slept and also gave her the pacifier more.
That worked out great except around 2 years old (after weaning from the pacifier) she regressed and wanted the pacifier ALL day.
How To Wean Your Breastfeeding Toddler
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Having weaned 2 kids I thought I would share a few tips, for now, I made it work and how to prepare yourself to wean a toddler:
Weaning Tips 1 – Mentally prepare yourself
Weaning is emotionally draining. So make sure you are ready and understand that it may be really hard or it may be really easy. Both have their advantages and disadvantages because even if your toddler gives you an easier time, it may be hard emotionally to deal with ending that breastfeeding bond.
Weaning Tips 2 – Sleeping in the Car Hack
If your toddler is reliant on nursing to sleep try to spend a few days out during nap times and bedtime. The reason for this is so that they fall asleep in the car they sleep without that feed.
This was the secret to weaning my son off naps during the day. The less I fed him the less my supply was. When we didn’t end up driving during nap time I would distract him from daytime feeds towards a snack or a toy.
Weaning Tips 3 – Introduce Another Type of Milk
Introduce cows milk or goat milk formula or kefir/yogurt milk with honey – Depending on what you prefer, you can start introducing milk around 12 months slowly. Their little tummies will need time to get used to it.
With my eldest two, they didn’t like the taste of cows milk on its own so I would warm it up with a drop of honey or mix it with Flavored Berry Kefir milk and that worked great but I have really cut out Cow’s milk from their everyday routine and made it a 3-4 times a week thing as opposed to a few times a day everyday.
With my third, I have just introduced Kabrita Goat Milk Formula and it tastes very similar to breast milk and he loves it so far. We have just finished our first tin! You can get a FREE Sample Pack of Kabrita Milk Formula to try and only pay a shipping fee of $8.99.
Weaning Tips 4 – Engorgement Hacks
The more you don’t feed the more your body will get engorged until it starts to realize that you are not nursing anymore and slowly stops producing. For the engorgement don’t make the mistake of using a hot towel, but instead, try these gel pads from Lanisoh to ease the pain from being engorged.
Weaning Tips 5 – Cabbage Leaves
Cabbage leaves are helpful for reducing supply and also easing engorgement during weaning. Place a cold cabbage leaf on each breast and change every 2 hours until breast engorgement has passed. You can also take a pain reliever if you have lots of discomforts.
Weaning Tips 6 – Applying Vinegar
When a baby latches on they don’t want to taste anything else except breastmilk. Applying vinegar on your nipples will have baby scowling at you and unlatching due to the taste. For some babies, they may not care, but a lot of babies will just unlatch.
Weaning Tips 7 – Use a Band-Aid
For older babies, you can use a band-aid over your nipple to encourage weaning. Tell your baby that you have an ouchy and with time they may realize they can’t feed. I say “may” because every mom is different!
Weaning Tips 8 – Prepare Your Baby
This never worked for my eldest but it did work for my middle child and I would tell her (alongside distractions and not feeding her at night), that she was a big girl and she could drink from the bottle now. It eventually worked.
Weaning Tip 10 – Get a Comforting Replacement
Distractions work amazing with children, so have something that you can distract them with. Whether it’s a toy, or the pacifier, or a snack or even just milk as long as it’s something comforting. With time it will become something they get used to
Weaning Tips 11 – Using a Pacifier
I used this A LOT with both my children. As much as I hated it, it was what helped me through the night when I was weaning. Most babies use us as a pacifier through the night so doing this really helped. My son weaned himself off the pacifier luckily 1 month after.
My daughter did the same, however, she ended up regressing around 2 years old and the pacifier became something for comfort till she was around 28 months when we finally managed to wean her off the pacifier.
Weaning Tips 12 – Peppermint Tea
This is something that there is speculation on but a lot of people avoid Mint when breastfeeding. For me personally, I didn’t notice a difference but it is something you could try. Who doesn’t love a refreshing cup of mint tea or mint lemonade!
I hope these tips were useful for you. If you need any help with weaning your toddler, please reach out to me by commenting below or sending me an email! I know how hard it can be and now with my 3rd, I am dreading the weaning process. We will get through it, mama!
Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may get a commission if you use it to make a purchase. However, it costs you nothing and I only ever recommend products I use and love myself.