Weaning

The time will eventually come when you will either need or want to wean your child. There are so many viewpoints on this, how to do it, what age is best, and so on. Everyone has their own opinion so I won’t get into that. Instead, I will just tell you what worked for me.

I got preganant with Lila when Logan was only 9 months old. I kept on nursing him as long as I could, but by the time I was 2 months along, I knew I had to wean him. My body felt as if there was something permanently sucking my energy and ability to do anything. I was drained 24/7. I didn’t feel better until Logan was weaned.
It is possible to continue to breastfeed your first during your pregnancy and even nurse both children after your delivery, but it is not for everyone. If this is something you want to try, I’d advise you to reasearch it well, but in the end, listen to your body. You will know if you can do it or not.
Back to Logan: When he was 11 months old, I slowly introduced him to the bottle. At this time he was already eating solids well, having meals with nursing inbetween. He liked food and ate well, so the bottle was mainly for nightime and before naps.
I didn’t feel he needed formula, since he ate such a variety of food already, so I opted to give him milk in the day and yougurt and banana at night.(Cow’s milk should be introduced slowly, because in young children, it can cause alergies and constipation. My kids are not alergic but Lila did experience the constipation caused by too much too fast. Be careful.)
I gave Logan milk twice daily in 4 oz. bottles, slowly increasing the amount as he got used to it. At first I had to focus on replacing the nursing with the bottle. Sometimes he would nurse a little and then take the bottle, but by his first birthday, he was completely weaned off the breast. At night, I gave him 2 8 oz. bottles of yoghurt and banana. I gave him this cause I felt he was too hungry in the night and that was why he woke up so much. Later I realised that the banana wasn’t needed so I eliminated it when he was 13 months old.
To make these bottles I would mash a banana, mix it with about 6 oz. of yoghurt, and top it with water. They had to be shaken well to mix and then kept in the fridge until he needed them. The problem was that I had to make an extra large hole in the nipple to allow for the banana to pass through, and if he fell asleep without finishing it, it would leak all over. So I don’t recommend doing it with the banana. I didn’t do it for Lila and she was fine at night with just the yoghurt.
Shortly before Lila was born, I decided Logan no longer needed his nighttime bottles, so I slowly got him off of them by each night, replacing one ounce of yoghurt with water. Then after he was off the first bottle I did the second. Once he was off the yoghurt, he kept having water at night, but I let him have water bottles too long, until after he was 2. He didn’t need so much water in the night and because of this, his diaper would leak. When I took the bottles away and gave him water in a cup when he woke up, he started sleeping so much better at night, and eventually slept through the night.
Lila also had to be weaned early, but being a food-loving Tarus, it took longer with her. She didn’t take to the bottle as easily as Logan had, especially at night, but I had to persist. She also took longer to be weaned from her night bottles. Logan was weaned off them by 17 months, but I think Lila was almost 20 months when she was weaned. Every child is different. She would scream and freak out if I didn’t give her the bottle, keeping all of us up in the night, so in her case, it was better to go slow. After a rough first try, I waited a few weeks and tried again, and she accepted with no fuss.
I also gave her too much milk too fast. Wearas Logan tolerated it well by 12 months, Lila had problems with getting constipated until she was at least 14 months. Her body just took longer to adjust to milk, so I gave her more yoghurt and less milk until she didn’t get constipated any more.

My plan with Scarlett will be to breastfeed her for as long as possible. Since I can no longer get pregnant (I had a tubal ligation with Scarlett’s delivery), I hope to continue until she is at least 15 months, but we’ll see. Maybe she won’t even need to take bottles.

So to sum this up:

– The age at which you wean your child is up to you, when both you and baby are ready to quit.
– If you have to wean early, you will need to introduce bottles. Some babies take to the bottle faster than others, so have patience.
– If your child is already eating solids well, you shouldn’t need to use formula. But if your baby is still mainly breastfeeding and for some reason you have to quit, find a formula that works for you and is for your baby’s age. Babies who aren’t regularly eating solids get their main nutrition from their milk and need a good balance of vitamins and minerals. Ask your doctor what they recommend.
– Go slow with weaning. If you go cold turkey, you may get painful breasts and it could lead to infections. I found that slowly replacing one nurse at a time with either a bottle or meal of solids worked for me. By the time they stopped nursing, I had only been giving it once a day so I only had a little milk and never had any problem. Breast milk is produced by demand from your baby, so the less baby nurses, the less milk you will have.
– When you are ready to get your baby off the bottle, slowly replace one ounce of milk, formula, or yoghurt (whichever you are using) with one ounce of water. This dilutes it and gradually they get used to the taste of water and will take that.
– There is no need to continue water bottles at night. If they wake for water, give them some in a cup so that they see it as something different. If you want them to have milk in a cup instead of a bottle, either introduce it early (such as for their daytime milk while weaning) or explain to your older child that they are now big enough for a cup and that bottles are for babies. Of course, you don’t want to rush it. Follow your child’s lead. Your older toddler could even help you pick a cup to encourage them to use it.
– Make sure that your child is eating solids well before taking their bottles away. On the other hand, if you have a toddler who only wants milk all day and refuses food, you will have to cut the milk down somehow. Don’t be afraid to experiment and see what works for you.
– Above all, have patience. Weaning can take time, and it can be tempting to rush it when you are newly pregnant, overtired, and just need some sleep. If you have someone who can help you during this time, all the better. But if not, just remind yourself that it won’t last forever and that you will succeed.

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