Weaning a Toddler

To nurse or not to nurse? That was never really a question in our house.

I always knew I’d breastfeed my daughter. I mean, I apparently breastfed until I was about three years old, or so the story goes.

However, I had assumed it would come more naturally. I did not expect my daughter to have such a horrible latch. In fact, during her first few hours of life, I was left bloody and sore from her nursing.

I knew from a breastfeeding class I took while pregnant that nursing wasn’t supposed to hurt, but all the nurses post-birth kept telling me I was being a bit wimpy about it. So, I persevered.

Then I got a little mad and DEMANDED to see the lactation consultant. (My baby was born at the busiest time of the year, so we did not get great treatment due to the high number of babies being born during that time.)

And the lactation consultant got my baby supplementing with formula. While I wanted so much to breastfeed, I was so happy she stepped in so my baby could eat. She also gave me shells and lanolin to help with the healing.

And last of all, she gave me breast shields to use when nursing. While these were supposed to be used as a temporary crutch, we ended up using them for all 21 months of nursing.

Yes, I said it. Twenty-one months!

Was it easy! Um, no! That baby stayed attached to my breast, day and night, for almost a year. I just sort of had to find ways to settle in with her and have everything I needed within reach.

She did not want to be away from me or the breasts, meaning finding time or opportunity to pump was almost impossible.

This high-needs baby of mine was a milkaholic. She loved her “booby”.

But I was done with breastfeeding long before I made her wean at 21 months. In fact, I had been done for a while.

You see, when I started Keto when she was around 19 months, I found that the new me was focused on tackling issues in my life. Of course, for those who weren’t able to breastfeed this doesn’t seem like a valid issue since I was one of the lucky ones able to breastfeed. And, I assure you. I fought hard to breastfeed, and I felt like I sacrificed a lot to breastfeed. Another lactation consultant, two weeks postpartum, even handed me some formula and told me to stop trying to breastfeed and just give her formula. To say I was stubborn might be an understatement.

Yet, still, though I fought so hard to make it happen, at this point it was an issue and was greatly affecting my sleep.

So, with this newfound confidence that the Keto diet gave me, I decided to be more proactive and get her to wean.

Thus, we started talking about “booby milk” and how booby milk is for babies. Every time we’d see a baby, we’d talk about babies getting “booby milk” not big girls. Then, I’d ask her if she was a baby or a big girl, and she’d say “girl”.

Once it was clear she understood this, I decided to drop the middle of the night feedings. Meaning, when she woke up to nurse, I would just snuggle her. Did this tick my toddler off at first? Yes, yes it did. But she only really cried for a minute or two before going back to sleep. Of course, I’d remind her during this time that booby milk was for babies and she was a big girl. We had to keep this up for a week or two before she completely stopped expecting it at night. And some nights were a little rough, although not nearly as rough as I had expected.

Then, I gradually shortened our time nursing to sleep. (Yes, this was the only way I had been able to get my little one to sleep, unfortunately).

And finally, on June 9, 2018. I just didn’t nurse and held her to sleep. By this point, she seemed fine with not having the “booby” and didn’t ask for it. She hasn’t asked for it since.

Now, we snuggle to sleep every night, and, honestly, (and I’m probably in the minority here) I much prefer this to nursing.

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