I want to preface this by saying that all children are different, what worked for me, may not work for y’all. But I wanted to chronicle this for myself, and for all the weaning caregivers out there.
My child has breastfeed on demand day and night from the time she was born up until I decided to wean. Once she hit age 1 ½, she learned to get what she needed faster, but she still nursed to sleep for naps and bedtime as well as during the night.
When she turned two I developed a nursing aversion which I remedied by cutting out nursing during the daytime. By 2½ my aversion was back in full force and I knew I was on the path to weaning her completely.
Because my child is very sensitive, loving, and cuddly, I knew our weaning journey would have to be slow and gradual in order to avoid a big dustup. Some caregivers can wean cold turkey, but I wanted the shift to be gentle both for her, and for my body and hormones.
I started out by reading books to her about weaning. My favorite being Sally Weans from Night Nursing because it had a black mom and daughter in it. We read it often for a few months, I talked to her about it, and told her soon, she would be like Sally and be done with nursing at night too.
In the mean time I cut out all morning and nap nursing times. She was unhappy, but I assured her that she could nurse at bedtime, and that typically got her through. She started rarely napping, but it worked out better because she sleep for 10 hours at night with no nap. At bedtime as she was nursing, I would kiss her, and remind that soon, when she turned 3, “boobers” as we called it, would be all gone.
I also enlisted the help of my spouse, her godmother, and my friends to talk to her about it OFTEN when it rose up in conversation. So she good and well knew what to expect.
A month before her 3rd birthday, I began the process of cutting out night nursing. We nursed to sleep, and maybe again if she woke up before 11 pm. After that, any other requests for milk were met with a “I know you’re upset, I’m sorry, boobers is all gone for now” . Sometimes I offered water, or a piece of apple, but typically she fussed, sometimes even full out hollered, but I just stayed with her, acknowledged her feelings, and she would fall back asleep within 10 minutes. Only once did she stay up for an hour and half.
After two weeks of only nursing to sleep, other than the occasional dustup, she was sleeping through the night. I continued to read the book, remind her DAILY that on her birthday, that boobers would be gone. I even did 10 day countdown. I emphasized how she was a big girl, and we encouraged her to drink water to stay hydrated. I made sure she was getting healthy fats in the form of a DHA supplement.
Then the big day arrived, the night before her third birthday. I explained that this was her last boobers, and that tomorrow on her birthday , boobers was gone. I kissed her loads, took some pics, and she feel asleep on the breast.
The next day, the festivities wore her out and she passed out on her own without even asking.
Since then, she has only asked once, and fussed a little bit. For the most part, she sleeps through the night, outside of some annoying itchy big bites, or waking up for a water or some apple.
Getting her to sleep consists switching between lots of active play in the evening to tire her out, backwearing, guided children’s meditation, back rubs, soothing music, soothing baths and lots of stern “we’re done talking, lets focus on sleeping now” from an exhausted mom or dad.
My kiddo has gone through lots of changes recently, transitioning to her own bed, potty learning, and weaning. I have had no engorgement or mood swings that sometimes come with weaning. I think taking it slow and being gentle with the both of us has been our saving grace. I am over the MOOOON to be done, I also feel a little guilty that she won’t have mama milk if she get’s sick to keep her healthy. But, I believe in myself, herbal medicine, and her immune system, I know she will be fine.
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I hope this helps someone!