“I had given him so much throughout our time breastfeeding, and how it ended wouldn’t and didn’t take anything away from that” ~ Allyson Lux
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, 4 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 elder 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.
With my third, I think the combination of having 2 elder siblings, using a bottle (explained below) more, and having a better sleep routine, made it really easy to have him wean. It took about a week but we were done pretty fast! It was my hardest experience though, I was not emotionally ready for the rollercoaster!
This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure at the end of the post.
Having weaned 3 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. With my 3rd I felt like I was going through pregnancy/postpartum emotions all over again. It took me about 2-3 weeks to feel normal again and while I couldn’t understand what was happening at the time, I realized later that, because our bodies are adapting to NOT breastfeeding anymore, we will feel a little out of wack.
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 eldest son from nursing to nap 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.
When weaning my third The guilt of weaning him earlier than my younger kids made me want to use a product of high quality rather than transition him to cows milk immediately. I introduced Kabrita Goat Milk Formula & started giving it him after his first birthday in a bottle occasionally as part of his dinner routine. Eventually when he was 15 months, breastfeeding was down to maybe once a day and eventually he was weaned! It tastes very similar to breast milk and he loves it (still drinks it now at 23 months).
Kabritais a non-gmo high quality formula made in Europe with gentle proteins, good fats, probiotics and lots of nutrition!!! How can you say no to that? The biggest win for me though was noticing the difference in my sons digestion/dirty diapers. When he had Kabritait was normal, but the moment I gave him regular cows milk, he had upset an tummy & it would reflect in his dirty diapers. That’s when I knew Kabrita was the best choice I had made for the weaning transition.
You can get a FREE Sample Pack of Kabrita Milk Formulato 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/Or Vinegar
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.
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 6 – Take a 2 Day Weekend Trip
This has worked for many mothers and also serves as a great break and relaxing experience. Having that time away and leaving baby with either grandma, aunts or friends will get them into a routine of not needing to feed, not smelling your breastmilk and craving it, and also your supply will start to dip when you go a few days without nursing.
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 Tips 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.
With my third, he got addicted to the pacifier after weaning him but I am letting it take it’s course and will work on weaning the pacifier once he turns 2.
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 but you 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.