Breastfeeding Mailbox Mondays

Cloth Diaper Advice – Mailbox Mondays 6/18/12 – Weaning

Weaning via @chgdiapers #breastfeeding

Do you have a question for me? Every Monday, I take a reader submission and answer it on the blog!

Questions don’t have to be cloth diaper related, just email maria at with “Mailbox Mondays” in the subject, or fill out my contact form for readers, which you will always be able to find on my Contact Page.

Heather says::

How do you go about weaning?

I am a firm believer that breastfeeding should continue as long as baby and mom desire. When you hit bumps in the road, it’s not always necessary to wean, but I think every mom knows when she’s ready. When you are ready to wean, there’s no shame or guilt necessary, I just want to put that out there since often questions of “how do I wean” are met with “why are you weaning?” or “don’t wean.”

I posted about my breastfeeding experiences last year, and I briefly mentioned our weaning experiences. My daughter gradually cut back on her nursing sessions, but she continued to nurse after I was ready to be done, and what made it worse is that it was “dry nursing” thanks to hormonal birth control eliminating my milk supply. I started by using the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” method, where I didn’t ask if she wanted to nurse, or offer, but if she asked, I allowed it. After a while, I started to offer something in it’s place; a drink if she was thirsty, or cuddles if she was after the comfort. Eventually, we were down to night time nursing only, and in time, she no longer needed that. She weaned at 21 1/2 months.

My son loved to nurse, and even when he was nearly two, he was nursing 8 or more times per day. I started to develop a nursing aversion when he was around 18 months (same as with my daughter) but I was not on any birth control this time. I suspect this was caused by hormonal changes as my fertility returned. My son would fall asleep nursing in the afternoons, and that was the only way he would nap. Despite feeling like I wanted to be done nursing, I fell into the guilt trap of not wanting to push him to wean, and wanting to allow him to wean on his own terms, when he was ready. I became pregnant with his brother two months before he turned two, and despite my best efforts to maintain my supply, it virtually disappeared.

Unlike my daughter, who gradually dropped nursings, my son weaned quite abruptly. He would latch on and almost instantly yank himself off and push away. Over the course of a few weeks he would try here and there (mostly comfort sucking while dozing off) and go a few days without nursing, then try again. He finally nursed for the last time right around his second birthday.

While it was always bittersweet to leave that part of our lives behind, I don’t think it’s good for anyone to continue to nurse if Mom really doesn’t want to.

I’ve heard of some people taking drastic measures, like leaving their child with a relative for a few days, putting bitter tasting things on their nipples and the like, but I feel gradual, gentle weaning is easier on everyone. I can’t speak for everyone of course, since I’ve never had any trouble and I know some kids just don’t want to let go as easily as mine did!

How did you wean?

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Maria Moser
Maria is the mother of 3, writing about cloth diapers & going green. You'll often find her juggling her preschooler and typing 1-handed in between sips of cold coffee. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development and other services.
  • Amy S
    June 18, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    I was working full time when DD was a baby. I hated pumping and stopped at 12 months. There were a combination of factors that contributed, but she gradually stopped asking to nurse. She was a few days shy of 15 months when she flat out refused the breast for 5 days in a row. She never asked again and didn’t seem to miss the cuddles with me. I was a little saddened that I never realized she was done until afterwards. I would have enjoyed that last session a little more if I had known it was the last one.

    I’m a SAHM now. DS is now 15 months old and still nurses 4-6 times a day. He has dropped the first thing in the morning nursing on his own. He still needs me to calm him down for naptime and bedtime, but luckily he is able to fall asleep in his own crib. I’m not sure how long this will continue one, but my goal is no longer than 24 months. I really hope it’s baby-led and not mom-led, but when mom is ready to quit then it’s time.

  • June 18, 2012 at 9:33 am

    When it was time to drop a session (I dropped say one every 2 weeks, so it was very slow and almost unnoticeable to the baby), I offered a snack at that time, with a cup of milk and some food. A full baby doesn’t need to nurse and can go about their day. In addition, I tried pushing the sessions further apart. So for instance, instead of a 9 am nursing, it would be 9:30 and then 10, and then 10:30 until we dropped one altogether. Mine still nursed until she was 17 months, leaving just the morning and night sessions, the morning one I dropped by immediately putting her in the high chair for food and then standing up so she wasn’t near my chest until she kind of forgot about it, and the night one, her dad put her to bed instead of me. We made sure she was really tired. I don’t think this baby is going to do as well with it as the first one, because she nurses 8-12 times per day including a bunch of night nurses during teething. She doesn’t really like a bunch of ‘real’ food at 10 months, so it’s slow going even thinking about weaning.

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