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Could it be This Easy? Weaning Update

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Monday, December 31, 2007

I've held off posting this for a few days because I have an irrational fear of jinxing things. ;)

But, for those who have wondered how our continued weaning efforts have gone over the holidays (especially now that you know we've all been sick) here's an update.

I *think* (knock on wood, cross your fingers, say a prayer and all that jazz) we may be done.

Emmitt hasn't nursed in 9 days.

As you know, Greg took over putting him to bed the first week of December. We got zero arguments out of Emmitt about this and viola, he was weaned from his before-bed nursing. About every third night, he drinks a bit of milk in the rocking chair with Greg before going to bed, but most night, they just go in and rock in the chair while Greg sings and then puts Emmitt in his crib. This left him nursing only when he woke up during the night.

For most of December, Emmitt woke up once or twice a night. Generally, he'd nurse the first time he woke up and would simply want comforted (i.e. picked up and gently rocked for a few minutes) the second time.) Starting the week before Christmas, he only woke up once a night to nurse and then went back to sleep.

We went to my parents the weekend before Christmas to visit and while there, Emmitt managed to once again get the beginnings of a cold. The first night we were (Friday the 21st) there, he woke up three times, nursing two of them. The second night (Saturday) he woke up once. I went in and got him, offered to nurse and he turned his head away and said "no." Not one to argue, I simply rocked him for a few minutes and put him back in bed.

He slept until morning.

On Sunday night, he slept from 8pm to 7am.

Monday we drove home, took him to urgent care and got a script for his once again raging sinus infection. (ears were clear, yay!)

Monday night, he slept through the night.

And Tuesday, and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday.

Saturday he woke up twice, but since I was sick, Greg got up with him. He rocked him a few minutes each time and Emmitt went right back to sleep.

Last night he slept from 8pm to 9am.

No crying, no fighting and the only refusing going on was from him that last night I offered to nurse.

So I think we may be done for good. (Yay!)

Honestly, I seem to have gotten off pretty easy. Since night-nursing was all we had left and since he's suddenly sleeping through the night, I didn't really have to "cut" any more sessions. Heck, even the ones I did cut, we never got any argument from him over. I simply stopped offering and he didn't miss them. It took about three months total to wean him this way, but there were no tears or torment involved.

(Which seems ironic in light of the heat I took over my so called "forced" weaning of him.)

That said, I did figure we needed a plan for moving forward. Right now, it's easy not to nurse a kid who isn't waking up. I'm not sure how this will go if he does start waking up again.

What we're going to do is start switching who puts Emmitt to bed. Greg and I will take turns back and forth between putting each of the kids to bed. (Right now, he puts Emmitt to bed and I put Nora to bed.) It's been a full month since he nursed before bed, so I'm confident I can get him to bed at night without him wanting to nurse.

Then I'll have to ask Greg to suck it up for a month and get up with him if he wakes up at night. If that goes well with no complains, then we'll start taking turns getting up with him.

Overall, I'm feeling pretty confident though. I think taking things as slowly as we did has worked really well. We also planned it so we'd be weaning between 13 and 15 months. I'd talked to several LCs and child development experts who said there's are several "stages" where kids are more open to having their daily routines changed up and that these are the idea times to wean. Most agreed that between 13 and 15 months was a pretty easy time to wean, but that if you made it to 16 months, you generally needed to wait until 19-22 months for another "window."

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  1. Blogger Eilat | 1:35 PM |  

    So, Im just curious, are your breasts no longer producing milk? Did you have engorgement issues?
    Congrats on finally getting there, and finally getting some long stretches of sleep!

  2. Anonymous natalie w | 3:06 PM |  

    Thanks for the update--I have been following this closely as my son is the same age as Emmitt and is an all-night nurser just as yours was. (your post about the dark side of nursing sounded as if you'd pulled it straight out of my own head at that time) Due to the fact that we still don't have a separate bedroom for him, I haven't even tried starting the weaning process, but I will definitely be coming back to reread these posts when the time comes, for some reassurance and guidance. Although, from your closing statement, that may be a ways off... :)

  3. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 3:20 PM |  

    I can still hand express a little if I try, so I know there's still some milk in there, but no, I never had any issues with engorgement.

    I really thought I would, since weaning from the pump was pretty painful and resulted in lots of use of nursing pads. ;)

    I think it was a gradual enough cut down that my body was just like "yeah, ok, we're done."

  4. Blogger Natalie | 5:50 PM |  

    I gently weaned Olivia, now three-years-old, from months 15-18 w/o much difficulty. In fact, she started sleeping through the night too as we weaned.

    Olivia once went five days without nursing and then asked again and I let her. However, by the time we made it two weeks w/o nursing and she asked again, she no longer knew how to nurse properly. As in, lightly bit my nipple, laughed and got down. The LLL leader I spoke to about this told me that many toddlers "forget" how to nurse after just a few weeks. In my case, it was true. So, I wouldn't worry too much about major set backs if you make it a bit further. Though, I would like to know if anyone went past the two or three week mark and had a toddler deside to start nursing again and did it efficiantly...

  5. Anonymous Jenn | 5:57 PM |  

    That's pretty much how it happened for us. I knew they were ready (refusing sometimes, etc.) so I just stopped offering a feed here and there and they never missed it at all. No engorgement here either. I don't even think I leaked at all.

  6. Blogger Anna | 7:22 AM |  

    Congratulations! I found your last paragraph very interesting. I started don't offer/don't refuse with both Gracie and Levi probably when they were around 14 months old. It wasn't really with the intention of weaning... I guess I just figured if they wanted it, they'd ask for it (and they certainly did!) They both wound up weaning themselves in the 19-22 month window (Levi might have been a little earlier, around 18.5mos - I honestly have no idea exactly when he weaned).

    I agree with Olivia, btw. If you do have a "setback," it's likely that Emmit just wants to know you won't turn him down. He probably won't actually latch on, or if he does, once a couple of weeks of not nursing have gone by, he won't remember what to do. It's good to have a plan, but it's likely you're not going to have to go to any great lengths in order for him to stay weaned.

  7. Anonymous ImpostorMom | 9:36 AM |  

    I suppose now that Boog is a year I need to think about how/if/when I'm going to start weaning him. He's down to just morning and night and if he wakes up one of us gives him a bottle.

    I thought that I might just leave it up to him but I'm not sure. Honestly he's only been mildly interested the past week or so. I think if I went to "don't offer/don't refuse" he'd probably just give it up all together. Now I just need to decide if I'm ready to give it up.

  8. Blogger Kathie | 10:55 AM |  

    Your comment about the "windows" of development where kids are more open to change was interesting. I've got a master's in cognition and development and NEVER heard of that (not that I'm disputing it...I focused on cognition). Do you know when the next windows (after 19-22 months) are? I'm thinking that might be a good time to start potty training my son, since I missed the 19-22 month window!

  9. Blogger Ahmie | 1:06 PM |  

    regarding toddlers forgetting how to latch, not necessarily - my 1st weaned when I was about 12 weeks pregnant with my 2nd, he has asked and been "granted access" a few times since his brother was born (occasionally I've managed both at once). He was about 31mo when he weaned during the pregnancy, he is 43mo now (and little brother is 6mo). He latches on about once a week lately, been regressing a bit with the holiday stress I think (also putting toys and such in his mouth again like a teething baby - I think he's imitating his brother). His latch isn't as good as it was before, sometimes I get mild teeth marks, especially when he's squirmy (or trying to rearrange himself so as to not get kicked by baby bro), but he's definitely getting milk from me.

    And Jen, I'll get that product review to you soon - I was waiting for a friend who had a baby recently, I got a chance to try it with a newborn then the holidays hit. Hopefully in the next few days I'll get a chance to write it.

  10. Anonymous Jessica | 5:24 AM |  

    Hmm... Natalya must not be in a weaning window! She is going strong as ever at 14 months. I am thrilled she still is nursing. I hope to continue for a year, or two or even longer. Working outside the home just KILLS me. It breaks my heart. I never thought I would feel that way. I relish the time we spend nursing (yes, even the three times overnight she wakes up for nursing), because of being away from her all day.

  11. Blogger Shay | 8:41 AM |  

    Where did you hear about these windows? I would love to read more about it. My DS didn't have a disinterest in it from 13-15 months(since he'll be 15 months in a couple weeks) so maybe if I know more I can shoot for weaning sometime between 19-22 months.

  12. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 10:41 AM |  

    I don't think they are "weaning windows" per say. Simply that these are ages when kids are at a developmental stage that makes it a little easier to wean them.

    Linda Smith mentioned them a few months back when I was emailing with her about plans to wean Emmitt.

  13. Blogger Ethel | 1:33 PM |  

    Our kids have slightly different weaning windows apparently - they got very close to weaning at 18 months, then went back to nursing a ton at 20 months.

    I was hoping that the increased nursing was just a stage, and was suspecting that there might be phases where it is easier to wean. I wasn't quite ready to encourage weaning last time, but am definitely going to take advantage of the next time they cut back to encourage weaning. Knowing that the experts say that there are windows helps me have the confidence to nurse on demand for a while longer (well, when I am home at least) until we get to another low-demand phase - then it will definitely be mother-encouraged weaning. Hopefully they'll be so ready by then that it will look just like child-led weaning, though.

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