Weaning Leo at 15 Months Old
It's so funny how weaning Leo totally coincided with his first haircut! It's like he turned into a big boy overnight.
My original goal was to get to 12 months, but it's so hard to wean abruptly at any given time... so we ended up going well past his first birthday.
We decided it was time to wean at almost 15 months because my little lion was still waking up multiple times a night to nurse. I could tell he was comfort nursing to fall back asleep, and that he just wanted to come in bed with me. It wasn't because he was hungry.
Weaning my first born vs. my second born
Most mamas start the weaning process by taking away the middle of the night feedings, which is how I did it with big brother Ryan around the same age. With Leo, we had to take a different approach.
With all of the Happy Mom Conference planning going on, I was away from the house way more than usual during the day to work while Ryan was in school. This made it easy to wean Leo off his day feedings while my mother in law offered almond milk with meals and snacks in place of mama's milk. We also incorporated a daily yogurt and cheese. In that sense, the transition during the day was made much easier on Leo since I wasn't around to remind him of what he was missing!
Unfortunately, I would end my days so engorged with milk that I couldn't cut the night feedings out as quickly.
I needed the milk to go somewhere, and I didn't like the idea of pumping and dumping. So, I'd continue feeding to bedtime and I also continued the middle of the night nursing sessions for a while for two reasons:
1. I felt it was too much to take mama's milk away altogether all at once, and
2. He had a few horrible teething nights and sickie nights where I felt bad not consoling him when he needed me.
Finally weaning at night
After a few weeks of this routine (and once teething and illness were behind us), we started night weaning a week before the Happy Mom Conference.
Mama needed her sleep more than ever as it was getting closer and closer to the date of the event, and it was time for Leo—both Daddy and I felt it. Leo was drinking his almond milk like a champ, and he didn't need me biologically any more.
Transitioning away from night nursing
Ryan has a full size bed, so I slept next to him for about a week to help him during the transition and through what we expected would be some crying spells from his baby brother Leo.
Daddy took on Leo duty in the middle of the night.
Our new routine looked something like this:
First, instead of nursing Leo to sleep, I started nursing him 30 minutes before bed and then Daddy would bring him to his bed. When he woke 1, 2, sometimes 3 (!) times in the middle of the night, Daddy would offer him water and then rock or soothe him back to sleep.
He had a few nights where he cried hard for me. He tried to tug his body out of daddy's arms trying to look for and get to me. He had been so accustomed to mama coming in the middle of the night that he did NOT like his replacement.
After a few nights of crying, he learned he wasn't going to be put to breast anymore when he woke up at night... and guess what y'all, we've now had a few nights of Leo sleeping through the night!
My #1 tip for weaning baby off breastfeeding
This is what worked for us, and I'm not saying it will for everyone, but waiting to wean until when Leo could fully understand and comprehend us was key.
Even though he doesn't speak in sentences yet, he fully understands what we are saying. Daddy would tell him "no more of mama's milk" and he seemed to understand because the transition hasn't been nearly as tough as we imagined it would be!
Finally, when we noticed he was doing well in the middle of the night, we replaced the right-before-bedtime feed to a cup of almond milk, and we make sure he drinks his 8oz so he's full and can sleep on a full stomach.
We're officially "mostly" weaned...
I say "mostly" because while Leo is full-time weaned, he has had a couple of nights where he was under the weather, so I put him to breast to soothe and comfort him during the rough times.
It helped him, but I can hear that he's not getting much milk. And since there isn't really any milk left anymore, nursing was super painful for me! I never had any pain while breastfeeding, so it was a surprise how much it hurt! It still felt nice to still be able to offer comfort my little lion when he really needed it, though.
Unlike with my first breastfeeding journey—when I was SO ready to stop and couldn't go another day longer—I'm a little sad this time around. I'm going to miss nursing my little Leo... maybe it's because he might be my last baby. But unlike big brother Ryan, who can be a pickier eater, Leo loves to eat which makes me feel more comfortable with the weaning process. I know he doesn't NEED mama's milk so much anymore.
Share your weaning story in the comments
I would love to hear from other breastfeeding mamas who have weaned off breastmilk. Which type of milk did you switch to for baby? There are so many options, and it's hard to know which one is the "right" one.
Ryan gagged at the taste of cow's milk, and I tried several times with him after we weaned. He just wouldn't drink it, so he's always had unsweetened almond milk and I made sure to get in extra cheeses and yogurt daily for protein and fats.
With Leo I haven't even offered cow's milk, we just graduated him to the same almond milk big brother Ryan drinks. We don't drink cow's milk in our home so it almost doesn't make sense or feel organic (no pun intended) to offer it.
I've often wondered if other breastfeeding mamas had the same experience with a child refusing to transition to cow's milk from breastmilk.