I need help with weaning my 19 month old

He is so attached to nursing that it’s exhausting at this point!

Dear Is This Normal,

Is it normal to have such a difficult time weaning my 19 month old? He is so attached to nursing that it’s exhausting at this point! I’ve tried all suggestions on weaning, I feel like my only resort is to stay in a hotel for a day or two to really accomplish the weaning. Help!!

Tired Tatas

Dear Tatas,

You know, I don’t think I really considered the long-term implications of nursing both my kids. Sure, it was awesome and such an amazing experience. I wouldn’t do anything different. But weaning off breastfeeding is … not the best! And weaning a toddler is the least best.

Once they can start asking for it, it gets a bit harder to not give it to them, you know? You’ve done such an incredible thing here, mama! You should be proud. But when you’re done, you’re done. There’s no shame in weaning off breastfeeding at any age, but it can get trickier as your babe gets older. Now to get your boob-loving toddler on the same page.

I feel like everyone weans in their own way. You mentioned you’ve tried all the suggestions, and I did, too! I did the gentle weaning thing for a while. I dropped nursing sessions and shortened the ones we kept. They were only allowed to nurse in the evening, in the special chair in their rooms. I talked to them both about stopping breastfeeding constantly—about how it was time to say goodbye to meese (their word for it), because they were becoming big girls who didn’t need it anymore.

I didn’t offer the boob when they were tired or fell down and hurt their knee. I really tried to make nursing NOT A BIG DEAL anymore.  It was no longer this thing that was keeping them alive. They could both scarf down an entire hamburger by the time they eventually stopped nursing. And then I tried to make it more of a chore for them. I’d say things like, “Well, we could have meese right now, or we could read this new book we got today, or watch a show on TV together!” I offered them better, more exciting alternatives. And that worked … for a while.

But I’m going to level with you: as long as I was around, and, by extension, my boobs were around, it was always something they wanted/asked for/enjoyed. So I did just what you’re considering doing I went away for a couple of nights. I removed myself and the milk bags from the situation. Out of sight, out of mind.

We chose to do it on a weekend when, if it came down to it, bedtimes being a bit later wouldn’t be that big of a deal. I packed an overnight bag and I spent two nights away with friends. Luckily by that point, I wasn’t producing enough milk to make it physically uncomfortable (which is something to consider). And my girls? Had a wonderful weekend with their dad, didn’t cry about the AWOL boobs even once and went to sleep just fine each night.

I did this twice, with each of my daughters, and both times it went about as perfectly as it could have possibly gone. When I came back home, they were super happy to see me, my meager milk supply was 100% gone, and there was no incentive for them to even try nursing again. And that was it! Two nights away was what it took.

A lot of mamas need to work their way up to this, and that is totally fine. You SHOULD try weaning off breastfeeding using different methods to taper off before going cold-turkey, if it comes to that. For a lot of kids, the gentle, gradual weaning process is what will work (plus  it can be easier on everyone involved).

But, I offer you this advice if you wean: have a hard and fast start and end date, be consistent, and stick to your guns. And if it doesn’t work, don’t feel guilty about taking the boobs off the table completely for a couple of days with your planned absence. As I said before, you should be INCREDIBLY proud of getting this far. But all good things must come to an end. You and your children have many more wonderful bonding moments in your future—that don’t involve your boobs.

Enjoy Your Boob Retirement,

Is This Normal


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