Updated: Dec 18, 2020
When this was originally written, it read: You guys! It has been 6 days since I breastfed Josiah. SIX DAYS! If I’m being honest, we actually started weaning on October 2nd, and I’ve probably been dreaming about weaning since he turned 2 years old but here we are, 33 months in! Before October 2nd, Josiah would basically just feed on demand, I didn’t have any rules, but I grew tired of always having a child attached to my breast. October 2nd is when it got real. We started a slow process of only breastfeeding 3 times a day for the first week and then we got down to two times and eventually down to 1 (possibly two a day still). We were stuck there, and I was still over it.
Here is the deal, I have READ a lot of things about weaning and really none of them worked individually and it certainly didn’t happen in 3 days, so here is all of the “best” weaning tips from all over the internet in one glorious place. Trial and error my friends, trial and error.
Distraction: seems easy enough, right? Take your kid to the park or on a walk after picking them up from daycare to distract them from the milk couch. WRONG! Not that easy…but it could be (for the lucky ones). You may also have your partner start taking on different feeding times to help ease the transition from breastfeeding to not.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Water: get a spray bottle, mix in some water and ACV and spray on your nipples. Your child may be deterred by the taste or they may continue to suck until the taste disappears. I eventually just put ACV directly on my nipples and it didn’t phase my toddler. Aloe Vera (straight from the plant): it is bitter, so the taste is a deterrent to a breast/chest feeding child…at least for a little while.
Tape/bandaids on nipples: this basically hides your nipple from your child. Tape is a little easier to pull off and obviously see through. Bandaids seem to work better due to the fact that your child can’t actually see your nipple and it stays on longer. PRO TIP: do not take the tape/bandaids off in front of your child, or your trick will be ruined.
No more milk toy (bribery): let your kid pick out a brand new toy, but be sure to let them know if they have this toy they can’t have milk while holding onto it, or take it a step further and say they are getting this toy because they are no longer getting milk anymore.
Sudafed: Sudafed is said to reduce your milk supply by up to 25% which is enough to annoy a tiny toddler…or not. I tried this when Josiah was 2 with no luck. Cold cabbage leaves: do this as frequently as you desire since your goal is to “dry up” you will put them in your bra/shirt until they are warm and switch them out.
Let them pick out a special cup: it’s kind of like letting a kid pick out underwear, I’m not sure they are actually grasping the concept, but you could try this in addition to letting your little one pick a special drink. Josiah really likes Califia Almond Milk Egg Nog. I helped him pick out a special cup many, many, many months ago and he is finally interested in it (he’s almost 3). I also remember trying to wean him by making him a special chamomile tea latte. He enjoyed the warm beverage, but still wanted the house tap. When you are picking a beverage, just make sure it is sweet because human milk is sweet.
Sage: there is sage tea or you can just put sage in some hot water and chug because it won’t be tasty (I wasn’t brave enough to try this option).
Cold Turkey: take a nice vacation somewhere, or runaway for a few days with your partner or a friend. When you come back, your child may be uninterested in the breast/chest…or they will go right back to it! I was gone for 72 hours and when I returned my son greeted me and then searched for the goods (he was 18 months).
A book about weaning: I purchased Mama’s Milk is all Gone and I did read it a few times, but eventually my son would hit the book away or start screaming as soon as he saw me grab it to read it.
Introduce a lovie: If you are a parent you are familiar with the sleep aids that are stuffed animals or in some cases toy cars. Well, perhaps your child would be interested in snuggling up with a lovie to fall asleep rather than fresh warm milk. Obviously, my child was not, but he now sticks his hand in my shirt until he falls asleep. I believe this qualifies me as a lovie.
Tough Love: if you are brave enough and strong enough, this may be the best option; however, you usually have to combine it with at least one other option like bandaids on your nipples.
A few other notes: the hardest times to wean are the first and last nursing sessions of the day. This is where bandaids come in handy, especially when you are in charge of breakfast or bedtime. Don’t say things like “I'm hurt” just say that your milk is all gone, and if you are trying tips 2 or 3 then saying "my milk is icky" could help that process along too. Also, do not allow your child to hit and kick you during this time. Be sure to express understanding of their feelings, but say you are happy to cuddle with them, but that your milk is all gone. You will also have to walk away from some tantrums, but they will come back, cuddle and fall asleep. It’s all part of the process. Finally, no child weans themselves before they are 2 (on occasion 18 month olds will) but these tips are to help you get it done whenever you choose is the best time to wean for you and your family.