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Hello, I have a bit of a different question for you, although I think it still involves raising kids. I am a 31 year old mother of a 16 month old girl, whom I've been breast feeding exclusively. Well, I think its time to stop and I don't know how. Lilly still does not sleep through the night, she wakes up about every hour, sometimes every 30 min. to suck. I don't even think she is doing this to eat, just uses me as a pacifier :). She comes up to me and askes, "mommy milk" whenever, she wants to, which sometimes can be ever hour or so. I don't really mind it because it is a bonding experience between us. I do think that its time we stop now, but I just don't know how to. This may sound weird, but I feel like I will loose "us". Its something that Lilly and I do, that nobody can take away from us, so how do we stop? I don't want her to feel rejected, abandoned or that I don't love her. help please! Kathy Russo


Sue Cox Replied: Hello Kathy
How wonderful to have breastfed for this long and to giving your daughter such a wonderful health-start in life and of course the bonding and nurturing that you have done to each other comes through in what you have written.
I am wondering whether you want to stop or whether you are getting ‘encouragement' or pressure from others to believe that 16 months is a long time to breastfeed. The World Health Organization suggest that infants be breastfed to two years and beyond.
If the frequent waking is a problem and you have a partner then maybe he could settle her occasionally when she wakes, particularly if it is a weekend night and he does not need to go to work the next day. If not then if you co-sleep maybe now is the time to see if she will settle in her own cot near your bed and then the smell of your milk will be further away.
If you think about the way people carry water bottles everywhere now then you will realize that frequent sipping is normal. Also everyone, during waking hours, eats or drinks every couple of hours so what she is doing is normal.
I hope that this has been some help. Please write back if I have misunderstood your question

Posted On 2010-12-02 22:59:35
Brenda Nixon, M.A. Replied: Lilly is at the age where developmentally & neurologically she can sleep through the night without waking for food or social interaction. She's "learned" to wake up and you come to her. Stop allowing her to use you as her crutch to go back to sleep. Believe me, bonding is more complex than just nursing and bonding happens as you both age together. Because you care about this issue and want to stop her from nursing, I suggest you weane and offer positive alternatives. Give Lilly a fav stuffed animal to comfort and help her sleep through the night or allow her to have a pacifier to suck on at bedtime. You & Lilly can have other "us" time during the day when you walk in the park, read books together, make playdough or other acceptable forms of mom/daughter activities. I encourage you to read parenting books and get other ideas on bonding. Check out The Birth to Five Book: Confident Childrearing Right from the Start on amazon. Best wishes.
Posted On 2010-11-20 07:36:24
Darlene MacAuley Replied: Hi Kathy, Just like the breastfeeding relationship is unique between a mother and child, so is their weaning process. As in any relationship, it is a two way street, with give and take. It may take a while for you to figure out what will work best for your relationship, and know that it is okay for you to change and adapt your process. It is common for toddlers to enjoy nursing for comfort, and it is also common for mothers to feel like a pacifier. And it's all okay. It sounds like a big concern of yours is that you recognize the nursing as a way for you and Lilly to maintain your close connection, and you don't want her to feel rejected, abandoned or unloved. You may want to look for the book, "Mothering Your Nursing Toddler" by Norma Jane Bumgarner. It offers several ways to gently wean your toddler. My thought is that a gradual weaning could be gentler for both of you. A couple thoughts for your consideration before you begin: *Nursing for comfort is a way Lilly connects physically and emotionally with you. Please understand that to help the process go smoothly, if a nursing session is dropped, it will likely need to be substituted with another form of comfort, say with lots of hugs and kisses. *It's okay in a particularly difficult moment and give in and allow her to nurse sometimes. *Sometimes it's helpful at this age since toddlers are a bit more verbal and you can have a bit of a conversation about nursing. Here are a few suggestions of things to try: 1. Spot weaning - give up one or more nursing sessions a day. For example, some moms have been able to wean at night only. You could have a discussion and say that after xxx date, "mommy milk" will go to sleep at night too, and she can have more when the sun comes up. At night when she wakes up asking to nurse, remind her that mommy milk is asleep and she can have some when the sun comes up. Give her hugs and kisses and back rubs, maybe even get your partner to help comfort her back to sleep. Sometimes at this age, some moms decide that they will lessen their nursing in public, and they talk to their children about waiting until they are at home to nurse. 2. Distraction - This may take some pre-planning on your part to have suggestions to offer to her. If she just wants a cuddle, you could do just that, or perhaps ask if she'd like you to read her a book or do a puzzle while she sits in your lap. You don't have to do this every time she asks, but it may help her to know that there are ways she can get a cuddle from you without nursing. If she needs more excitement offer a fun activity to do. Distractions often work better if you can anticipate and offer that distraction before she asks you to nurse. Substitution - If she is truly hungry, you might substitute food for breastfeeding. Again, as with distraction, offering a snack or meal prior to being asked to nurse usually works better than offering food after she's asked to nurse. Postponement - Asking your child to wait can be another way to approach weaning as well. The book I mentioned has a lengthier description of these strategies and offers additional ones as well. Gentle weaning is possible, but expect it to take some planning, along with some trial and error. It is also helpful sometimes to find other moms who are going through this stage, either through La Leche League, or even some online forums. You could search for "Extended Breastfeeding" or "Weaning a Toddler" for more suggestions and support. Good luck! Darlene
Posted On 2010-11-18 19:15:05
Janet Whalley Replied: When a mother is planning to wean her child, she needs to think about the physical and emotional aspects for both herself and her child. Physical aspects for the mother: You may want to gradually decrease your milk supply to reduce the discomfort you'll feel when you stop breastfeeding altogether. This often takes several weeks or several months depending how much milk the mom is making. With your little girl feeding as often as she is, it may take you a couple months or more. You can reduce your milk supply by dropping one or more feedings each day. A common feeding pattern for a toddler like Lilly might include about 4-6 feedings a day -- for example, feeding after waking up, after breakfast/before a morning nap, after lunch/before an afternoon nap, at bedtime, and once during the night. I suggest that you work toward a similar schedule before you try to wean further. However, it helps if you set the schedule for yourself so you are committed to following it. (It is much easier to endure a child who is wanting to breastfeed if you really don't want to do it.) After you have planned a schedule, you need to tell your daughter when it is time for "mommy's milk" or not. Sometimes it helps to say that you only feed in the bedroom or at a certain time of the day. Then you have to be consistent to help her adjust to the new schedule. Setting limits for a child is not always easy, but it's a natural thing for parents to do as their child grows older. Once you are down to 4-5 feedings a day, then you can drop one of them. Think about which one she is least interested in or the one that you want to eliminate. You could reduce the length of that feeding or just drop it. It is common when a mother goes down to only one feeding a day, for her to keep the bedtime feeding at night. Physical aspects for the child: As you are reducing the amount of breastmilk given, you need to increase the amount of table foods that your little girl eats. As a toddler, she will be eating a large variety of foods, but fairly small quantities each time. Having three meals and two snacks per day are common at this age. Finger foods are popular at this age and many toddlers like trying to use a spoon. It's messy, but it's necessary for her to learn the skills of feeding herself. If you have questions about the foods to offer your daughter, I suggest that you talk to her doctor for some suggestions. Emotional aspects of weaning for both of you: It's common for a mother to have mixed feelings about weaning - wanting to have more control over her own life and feeling sad about giving up this wonderful aspect of mothering. Many children are also upset about losing a reliable comforting method. Luckily, the way to reduce your anxiety about weaning is the same way to help your daughter to cope with it - add new comforting skills/mothering techniques in your child's life. These techniques can be used anytime of the day, but are especially helpful at naptime and bedtime. Also, most toddlers need a predictable routine before going to sleep. A common routine for a toddler might include breastfeeding, tooth brushing, story time, singing and rocking. If you breastfeed as the last thing before bedtime, add some or all of the suggested activities before you breastfeed. Then gradually you move breastfeeding to the first item of the routine and then wean totally. Rocking and singing are especially soothing right before going to bed. During the daytime, use your favorite comforting techniques or do a fun activity when Lilly needs your attention. And in the middle of the night, use your most soothing techniques to help her go back to sleep. A couple books that may be helpful at this stage are: "Touchpoints - The Essential Reference: Your Child's Emotional and Behavioral Development" by T. Berry Brazelton, MD, which has great information about child development and excellent parenting tips. Also, a good book about helping your child sleep is, "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley. Best wishes, Janet Whalley
Posted On 2010-11-17 19:14:57
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