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How I’ve Weaned My Exclusively Breast Fed Baby

April 11, 2019

My goal with both of my daughters was to nurse them for 12 months. I was open to the idea of formula if I needed it, but tried and successfully breastfed both exclusively the duration of my goal. Both of my girls had different allergies (Piper had GI allergies and Flora has IgE mediated food allergies) which caused me to be on strict diets the majority of my time nursing. It was NOT EASY – being a new mom and having a newborn and not being able to eat anything was trying to say the least. Piper’s allergies were so bad if I consumed the smallest amount of dairy she’d have blood in her stools the next day or be spitting it up. I was also not eating soy because our doctors thought she was allergic to that too (still not convinced on that one) It was scary and so I avoided it at all costs. I was very eager to stop nursing her at 12 months because her dairy lovin’ mama wanted her cheese. I was emotional about it, but knew I wanted another baby so I hoped it wouldn’t be the last time I had the experience.

With Flora, we finally determined the cause of her severe Eczema was her food allergies at 4 months. So from that point on until 12 months I avoided dairy, egg, fish and nuts, doctor’s orders. It was not fun, but it drastically improved her skin so that made it all worth it. My plan was to wean Flora around 12 months as we figured out more of her allergy issues and again, I was ready to eat normally again.  Well 12 months quickly turned into 13 months which turned into 14 months. We tried every non-dairy, non-nut milk out there (oat, coconut, pea protien, flax) sweetened, unsweetened etc. but she wasn’t (and still isn’t) into it. Piper immediately loved her cows milk (she outgrew her GI allergy) and weaning was really easy.

SO- that’s the background info, Flora not taking any form of milk in her cup has weighed on my and caused me stress, I worry about her getting enough liquids every day and missing out on the obvious benefits that drinking any form of milk (dariy or non-dairy) provides. So I kept up nursing a little longer…..

She’s about to be 16 months. I’m almost emotionally ready. We don’t know if we will have another baby, I think deep down I want one so I don’t feel sad about never nursing again. But I think it’s emotional when you stop breastfeeding regardless. We are down to one feeding but honestly I think she’d be ok stopping now.

Though it sounds far from it, weaning for me has been pretty simple, and I think if Flora liked drinking milk from her cup like most kids do, it would be even easier!

Here’s what we’ve done.

+At 12 months we started feeding her 3 solid, well-rounded meals a day. Prior to that she was having solids at meal times, but still depending on her milk. Serving 3 meals a day + snacks +still nursing meant that she was rarely hungry.

+We always have been on a nurse when wake up routine (with the exception of her pumped bottle of milk about 10 minutes before her bedtime) so naturally, as her number of naps decreased, so did her feedings.

+When we transitioned Flora to 1 nap a day around 13/14 months she was only nursing in the morning when she woke up (right away, girlfriend does not like to wait), when she woke up from her nap and then before bed.

+Up until 15 months, I’d still nurse Flora on demand when she tugged at my shirt and wanted it but slowly began to tell her ‘no, not now’ and quickly within a matter of weeks she’s really stopped asking. Overall throughout our entire journey we were on a schedule, but I was lax and fed her if she wanted it otherwise. Because we were on such a good schedule, she rarely asked unless she was sick, upset, tired etc.

+Pick a feed to drop and stick with it! First we stopped her bedtime feed. It made the most sense since I stopped pumping at 12 months we no longer had a bottle of milk chilling in the fridge so at that point I would try to nurse her but always doubted how much milk I really had. We focused on filling her up at dinner and then most nights Austin was home he put her to bed because she would try and nurse if I was doing it.

+ We went on with that routine for a good month and then just a few weeks ago I cut out her afternoon post-nap feed. I’ll admit this one was hard (as the morning one will be). Flora usually wakes up from her nap cranky, and nursing her is such a nice way for both of us to ease into the witching hour. It took a few days but now she’s usually excited to eat her snack instead!!

+Our next step, will be stopping our morning feed. Selfishly, I love this feeding. We cozy up in our big leather chair with the blanket when no one else is up, I watch the news and she nurses and then happily pops up when she hears Piper’s voice. It’s just comforting and NICE. But, she’s nursing for less and less time every morning. She’s dreaming about those Multigrain O’s. I’ll follow the same plan, instead of nursing I’ll have food ready for her and a cup of (most likely) water.

Before I was a mom I could never imagine nursing until my baby was 2. But now I get it.  Now that we are almost at 18 months it doesn’t feel so far off.  It feels manageable. Because of Flora’s life threatening allergies, I also mourn the fact that I can no longer 100% protect her, and nourish her. She has to eat on her own. I think that’s part of what has made this so hard for me to do. I’ve really tried to let her take the lead, and I think she’s doing just that, weaning me slowly <3

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  1. Jenna at Boston Chic Party

    April 11th, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    Caitlin, your posts always seem to come at just the right time for me! My son is eleven months old and seeming to be less interested in nursing- this mama is pretty emotional about it. As he has some similar allergies to Flora (egg and nut) I am hoping the transition goes smoothly!
    Thanks for sharing!
    xoxo, Jenna
    Bostonchicparty.com

  2. Sara

    April 15th, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    My daughter really loved out nursing time together. She would never take a bottle from me, but would from other mostly reliably during her first 12 months. Then she stopped. From 12-22 months I continued nursing her first thing in the AM and before bed, and then dropped the morning nursing and ultimately the night one, too. For us, continuing with the two breastfeeds a day for the second year lessened my concern for her lack of interest in milk or any sort that didn’t come from my breast into her mouth, and also made the weaning process really gradual and comfortable both physically and psychologically. Also never thought I’d keep it up for that long, but it felt natural and is recommended so I embraced it. Thanks for the great post!