If you’re an extended breast feeding mother who is desperate to stop nursing (or not desperate but ready) and at your wits end, have lost hope, and not sure where to turn to for help and REAL guidance on how to wean your breast milk obsessed toddler, look no further. This post is for you.
It was the night of Feb 27th 2017. It was an ordinary night for us. The day was spent breastfeeding on demand and fear of night time battles.
My night time battles with Audree (26 months old at the time), were hurrendous. Have been since birth. Co-slept since birth. Breastfed on demand since birth. Very attached and clingy. Colicky. Never slept through the night not even once. Slept in 1-2 hour increments. We were both running on energy levels that were not optimum whatsoever. I couldn’t even get out of bed without her waking up at the quietest noise and crying for boob.
During the day wasn’t so bad, I would take her out of the house and it was only when I was sitting on the couch she would desperately try ripping my shirt apart to nurse. (Also in public).
I didn’t even want to nurse for as long as I did. I watched my friends on social media breast feed then wean and I would become very envious, and disheartened. I didn’t know how to go about it, how was I to sit there all night and hear my baby cry for me in agony and not do anything about it.
I’ve had multiple failed attempts at weaning. It was a joke amongst people I knew that I would probably be breastfeeding till my kid was in high school.
But on that night of feb 27th, as I put her to bed, in my head and in my heart I felt a change. Something told me she was ready. It was a gut feeling. And part of me was ready too. I wanted my body back. I was over touched, over stimulated all day and was finding myself hormonally unbalanced and needed to get myself back. I also knew she desperately needed the sleep as much as I did.
Now, if I go into exact detail of every step of Project Wean Audree, this post will be far too long. So I’ll stick to the most important information I can share with you.
First of all, I’m not big on crying it out. I don’t knock any other parent for how they raise their child, but for my fiancé, Audree and I. It didn’t work in the past, I felt an enormous amount of grief, and realized quickly this was not the route we wanted to take. Which is probably why it took us 27 months to be able to wean.
My method that I firmly stood by, was when WE were ready, it will happen. I listened to countless people give me advice and what they did that worked. But every baby/ toddler is different. After I tried all their advice I decided we were going to throw all of it out the window and the only way we were going to move forward was strictly intuition.
That intuition came on Feb 27. And it was on that day where I felt it in my heart that this time we were going to make it work.
After I nursed her down to sleep around midnight (she stayed awake with me, and went to bed with me because I couldn’t leave her alone sleeping or she will wake up immediately screaming, so she learned to stay awake till we went to bed). She woke back up 2 hour later crying and I held her close and told her very matter of factly but in a loving nurturing way, that the boobies were asleep till the sun comes up. I know most of you have probably heard of that method, being it’s a very popular one. Ferber was it? I can’t remember. I told her stories of how all the princesses went to bed on their own and didn’t need mommies milk to sleep. Well that first night we stayed awake for a few hours, I had taken her down stairs and held her, rocked her, cried with her, sang to her, kept her busy with toys, put on a movie… anything to tire her out and forget about the breast.
Late into the night I couldn’t hang any longer and I went up into our shared bed, locked the bedroom door so she wouldn’t escape, and I put The Good Dinosaur on for her with the tv dimmed low, and I fell asleep. I think it was around 3-4 am. I woke up at around 5 am and she was asleep on the bed with me. I was in SHOCK.
She stayed asleep till about 7 am. I considered that night a huge victory for us. I told my fiancé that it was so damn easy that it felt too good to be true. Well, yeah. I was right.
The following week, she was catching on to my “boobies at sunrise technique” and she would fall asleep to the boob, wake up a few hours later and stay awake till the sun came up. It cracks me up thinking about it now cause my little girl was beyond smart. Back then I was extremely exhausted.
So at this point, the only time I nursed her was first thing in the morning, for her naps, and at night. I completely cut out all the unnecessary in betweens.
Night 3 was when she finally learned to fall asleep on her own, and maintained it night after night. It just kept getting easier. She would still wake up in the middle of the night and literally yank me off the bed to make her food down stairs. She did this up until about a week ago, where she demanded to eat in the middle of the night and fall asleep with food in her hand. I think it is because she was so used to a full belly all night from breast feeding and she was hungry during night weaning.
Our awesome breakthrough was around day 7, she fell asleep on my lap at a decent hour and I was able to put her in bed without her waking up in transition. She slept a long time that night.
Around night 11, I realized that I just had to break the nurse to sleep habit. She was waking up in the middle of the night and staying awake for hours and I had enough. That was the hardest part of this whole ordeal. We pretty much had to pack her belly with food before bed, give her lots of relaxing cuddles and a lot of patience and she finally figured it out on her own. Oh and there was a lot of crying but she was never left to cry alone, she was always in either mine or her daddy’s arms. This is when the criticle moment happened. She started sleeping longer!!
The next step I wanted to cut out was morning nursing. I knew she was ready when she would wake up in the morning and ask for breakfast. That was a relief. She did that all on her own. Easiest one to break.
Last but not least, the nap nurse. I was so afraid to drop this one, because I didn’t want her to stay awake all day and be a monster because she didn’t have a boob to put her out. This is when she finally started falling asleep in the car ! Which NEVER HAPPENS!!!! That’s pretty much the only time besides a few times at home where she has taken a nap since we cut the nap nursing out of our day. I nursed her down for a nap for the last time at Knotts Berry Farm.
It took 33 days to FULLY wean Audree, she is now 27 months. Now throughout this process, there was a lot of crying and heart break. But I fully believe that when you listen to your motherly intuition, you will know when the right time is, and when your child is ready for this next big step in life.
Audree doesn’t nap, I think she is high energy enough to not need one anymore, unless she’s completely warn out. But she puts herself to sleep anywhere between 7:30-9 every night now. I’m giddy thinking about it. It took up until last week for her to get over demanding food in the middle of the night, she settles just fine with water now.
It’s now April 19th, and looking back on those 33 days, I can say I feel incredibly proud of myself to have made it. I honestly thought I was going to be breast feeding for life. But when it’s time, it’s time! And if you aren’t there yet, then that’s ok! When you are there and your child is there right with you, you will know. You will feel it in your heart and the process of it all will become so much easier for you. I know as mothers it can be difficult to not be able to give your baby what it so desperately wants, the boob. But stay strong moms! If I could do it, YOU CAN DO IT! Trust me when I say that. There is hope for you!
Audree is now sleeping through the night. She isn’t easily startled anymore, and even snores! My favorite is when she tells us when she is ready for “night night” and then just dozes off. She wakes me up with smiles and most mornings tickles me. Its a joy.
I’m getting the most sleep I have gotten in years.
Next step: putting her into her big girl bed in her room.
I really hope this helps you in some sort of way. Or even if you don’t take my advice or follow how I did things, just know that there is hope for you. ❤️
My next blog post, since it’s getting late and I need to go to bed, is going to be about the emotional and hormonal changes that happened to me after weaning. It’s going to be a good one, so be on the look out for it. I will be posting it very soon.