We want to start this out by saying: You don’t have to wean your toddler at all! If you and your nursling are still going strong a year or two (or more!) in and it is working, keep going! You are a rock star!
Most children if left to their own devices wean by age 3 or 4. But breastfeeding should be OK with both the breast feeder and the breastfed, right? Right.
But sometimes, you might want to be done nursing your toddler and it’s OK to move toward weaning. It can be done, and gently, if you are ready.
Here are five ways to start weaning your toddler (if you are ready!). Read on:
Find ways to connect sans boob
With toddlers, the breast offers comfort more than it offers nourishment, although there are many benefits to nursing past age 1. Nursing offers cuddle time, connection and bonding. So, with that in mind, one step you can take toward weaning is to offer cuddling and snuggles instead of the breast to replace a nursing session.
Food and drink
Nursing does provide calories and nutrients, so before you think about weaning, take a look at what your toddler is eating and drinking. If they ask to nurse, offer a snack, meal or a drink instead to replace a nursing session.
Don’t sit down and cover up!
One thing that is hard for toddler nurslings is seeing their food source, aka your breasts, out. So, try to keep covered up so your child doesn’t see them and want to randomly nurse. Also, if you stay active and busy, your child likely will too, and may forget about a nursing session.
Offer other comfort
If you notice your toddler nurses when she’s bored or upset, try to offer other comfort first – before offering the breast. Remember, this is a transition, so you are giving her tools to manage her emotions and feelings.
This is a toughie, because it is probably the session you and your child like the most. But if you are going to wean a toddler, you’ll have to stop nursing at night – especially to sleep and when there is a waking. If you have a partner, having them step in and help can make this easier.
At Everything Birth, we love and support our nursing parents – and nurslings!