I have mentioned before my desire to stop breastfeeding Miss E. Part of me knows how much I am going to miss it but for several reasons I think it is the right time to gradually start weaning her off. At the end of last year I was breastfeeding her six times a day; morning feed at 5am, morning nap at 8.30am, afternoon nap at 1.30, her bedtime feed at 6pm month and two nighttime feeds at 11pm and 2.30am. A few weeks ago she spontaneously (!) started sleeping through the night so dropped the two nighttime naps but she still has four during the day. I think NHS Health Visitors recommend she has one feed a day a 15 months…
I think the time to begin weaning is right for us now because my personal reasons for wanting to stop aside I am worried about her solid food intake. The last few days she has eaten less and less, and I know she is relying on the boob when she is hungry. Also I thought I would be less tired now she is sleeping through but if anything I feel much more exhausted – but I’m hoping this is just because I’m taking some time to adapt to the change in routine. She naps on my lap and constantly suckles for comfort which is lovely but draining too. I was hoping to wait until the weather improved to start weaning her off more feeds as she loves going outside and it would work as a great distraction.
We could eat outside for breakfast and lunch too if the weather was better. I’m not worried about her losing weight and she is hitting all her development milestones but something needs to change. For example, yesterday she ate a yoghurt for breakfast, a few bits of a cream cheese sandwich for lunch and some grated cheese and a fromage frais for dinner. I am guilty of giving her snacks in between just because I know she will eat them. I am not going to wean her off quickly and see it as a process that will take about six month.
My three big goals I want to reach by summer are:
1. Put Missy in cot for morning nap. No more nursery naps but I have tried this several times without much luck. Truth is she might nap in her cot for half an hour – if I’m lucky enough to get her to settle in it – but she will nap for up to two hours on me. I tried again this morning to put her in her cot once she had fallen asleep on me but the transition is very difficult to do without waking her – and upsetting her.
Cut her down to one nap a day (after lunch). Go mad trying to distract her from the boob in the process. Try to encourage her to nap in cot.
2. Improve solid food intake. I don’t know if there is anything I could have done differently when we first started to offer her solid food. I didn’t make my own – that is something I would do differently next time – but she never had the urge to take food off my plate or showed much interest in what we were eating. If anything I would breastfeed exclusively for longer and not be in a rush to get her to the next stage of her development.
I can’t and will not force feed her. I can only continue to offer her food (and stop giving her anything resembling a sugary treat). She will try most things – but will pull a face and spit anything out that isn’t a dairy product. Except for cow’s milk – of course she doesn’t like it – and won’t even try it…unless it’s chocolate milk which I don’t want to encourage.
3. Gently wean her off morning, nap time and evening feeds. I understand why some mums decide to go cold turkey and stop breastfeeding abruptly and not gradually. But the thought of breast engorgement and a very unhappy toddler makes it unappealing.
I will cut out the morning feed first and offer her an early breakfast…then work on the other two feeds.
While I have tried researching online for helpful tips on weaning most forums only encourage child-led weaning. Which is really great and all – but not helpful to me at this time. Miss E has never had a bottle and she is a big fan of breast milk so I can’t see her choosing not to feed anytime soon. I have set myself an end date of June 2014. If she is even close to weaning by then I will be happier. I’ll be honest though – weaning her from the breast going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, I have no idea what I will do when her back teeth come in, and whether she will nap at all without the boob. I’ve heard of women falling into depression when they wean before they are ready and over a short period of time; and if I feel like that I will have to seriously reconsider if it’s the right thing to do…
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!