How to Wean Your Breastfed Toddler Without Losing Your Sh*t

As much as I complain about people telling me it’s time to stop breastfeeding, a very small part of me is looking forward to closing this chapter of our book. As of last Friday, it’s been four days since Beckham had a daytime nursing session. This is a huge step for us, as I have always nursed him “on demand.”

In case you’re unfamiliar with “on demand” nursing, it means whenever my little sour patch kid demands it. — I’m partially kidding, because we all know I have a sweet baby angel not a sour patch kid. LOL

Day 1 of Weaning my 19-Month-Old Toddler

The first day of our weaning journey — how do I put this nicely — it was hell. There were tears. Most of you who follow along my parenting blog know that I am all about attachment parenting and I want NO part in any cry-it-out method. But this was was just different.

So we changed pediatricians and last week was Beckham’s (late) 18-month check up and our first time meeting the doctor. They took his height and weight and informed me that he was measuring below the average in weight for his age.

As a mother, hearing your child is below on anything makes your stomach kind of turn. She questioned what I was feeding him and when I expressed to her that he eats normal and nurses, she pulled her glasses down and gave me a look. She then proceeded to tell me, “You’ve got to stop feeding him breastmilk. Nursing is no longer providing him with the valuable nutrients it did as an infant.”

“You’ve got to stop feeding him breastmilk. Nursing is no longer providing him with the valuable nutrients it did as an infant.”

I chuckled in my head, as I’ve done PLENTY of research and nursing during toddlerhood, does in fact offer a plethora of nutritional benefits. I knew she was wrong. (Here’s more proof.) But I wasn’t going to argue. I wanted to hear her out. I wanted to know how I could help my baby grow and qualify as average.

Beck’s pediatrician told me I needed to increase his whole milk intake, eat more protein, and quit breastfeeding. By the time I left the appointment I was a little beat down. I felt like a failure of a mother.

When we got home it was time for Beckham’s afternoon nap. Our usual nap routine consisted of me nursing my baby boy down to sleep. Instead, I tried to rock him to sleep. Of course he fiddled with my shirt and tried to get “boo boo” but I gently told him “no” and redirected his hands.

He started to cry.. I shh’d him and tried to pat his back. It infuriated him. Then the real tears started to fall. “Mama,” he cried, as he tried to lift my shirt. I felt so terrible. Then he started slapping me. Crying more heavily.

I caved and I started crying too.

On my first day of weaning, I gave in and I nursed. I nursed my sad baby as I wiped the tears from his eyes.

We’ll have to try again tomorrow, I thought to myself.

When my husband got home I told him about my failed attempt to quit breastfeeding Beckham. He laughed and assured me, “It’s only day one baby, don’t get discouraged. This is going to take time so take it slow.”

He was right. At that moment I decided we would start slow. As I mentioned early, it’s been four days now, since I dropped our daytime feedings. I plan to keep this going for another week and then try dropping the night time feedings. I know that’s going to be the worst.

The side effects of weaning

My breasts were hard and uncomfortable: My breasts hardened. Like really hard and were uncomfortable for a few days.

I had to self express: I leaked around his normal feeding time so I definitely recommend breast pads. I tried my very best not to touch my breasts but I did have to self express a few times to relieve the pain.

I used cabbage: Yep, I stuck cabbage in my bra to relieve the pain. I’m still not sure if it’s really helped or if it’s all in my head. FAIR WARNING: YOU WILL SMELL LIKE CABBAGE IF YOU DO THIS.

I felt really sad: I’ve read everywhere that it’s totally normal to feel a little down during the weaning process. It sucks. I already struggle with depression/anxiety so this has been really hard on me.

How to start the weaning process without losing your shit

Start small: Try to only skip one feeding session a day, at a time. Me and Beckham were mostly down to nap time and night time nursing so I chose to drop the nap time session first.

Give your body ample time to wean: My biggest tip for not losing your sh*t during this process is to accept that it takes time. DO NOT try to wean cold turkey. I tried this a couple of months ago when I had to leave for a business trip for a few days and it was one of the worst experiences, ever.

Be nice to your toddler: More than likely, you and your toddler are going to “get into it” over this. Try you’re best to be empathetic and understanding.

Drink lots of water: Stay hydrated during this process

Buy lots of cabbage: You can easily go through a head of cabbage in one day. I suggest 3–4 heads of cabbage for the week.

Pain Reliever: Get an over-the-counter pain reliever to relieve the breast pain.

Xanax: Get your doctor to prescribe you a whole bottle of xanax. Stay heavily medicated during the entire weaning process and you’ll be golden.*

*I’m totally kidding! I don’t think Xanax is recommended while breastfeeding. I’m also not a doctor so do not take this blog post as medical advice.

Night time weaning

Next week I will begin the night time weaning process. I promise to document how, when, and what happens. In the mean time, PLEASE share with me any of your weaning tips and tricks.

They all tell you how amazing breastfeeding is, but no one ever tells you how unbelievably hard and sad the weaning process is. Especially for a toddler and his newbie mama.

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Author: Smother Mother Kate

Katelyn isn't a regular mom. She's a cool mom and creator of The Smother Mother.

7 thoughts

  1. My son (26 months) has recently stopped feeding during the day. There’s still the odd cheeky feed when times are hard but mostly he’s happy provided I make sure he doesn’t get hungry (lots of biscuits and chocolate milk to hand!) I know you’ve already achieved this, but I can’t tell you how much this has benefited our breastfeeding relationship. I have much more energy and his eating and drinking has really increased. There have been so many times I’ve considered fully weaning only for him to get sick, which always makes me relieved we’re still feeding because then he never loses enough calories to lose weight or get dehydrated. But of course there are lots of women who don’t breastfeed and find ways round this anyway. I’m sure you’re already aware of this and I totally support women who decide they need to wean. So I suppose I just wanted to say you may find yourself happy with where you’ve got to for now. Good luck!

    1. I really appreciate your comment. I am always going back and forth with my love/hate relationship of nursing. A part of me is not ready to full wean whereas the other part is. We’re definitely taking it slow. <3

  2. I like your blog! Very straight to the point and relatable. I also read your work from home piece and loved it. I work full time and just about to start working from home 2 days a week, I really hope it goes smoothly… my baby is 7 months old. Any pointers?

    1. Hey Leslie! My biggest pointer is to stay on a schedule. For the sake of your babe and you, you’ll want to make sure both you (your work) and your babe are getting enough attention!

  3. Sorry you felt pressured to wean. You could have pointed out the WHO’s recommendation of breastfeeding to 2 years and beyond (if mama and baby both want to) to your woefully misinformed paediatrician. It is ludicrous of your paediatrician to suggest cow’s milk will provide better / more tailored nutrition than human milk. As long as also eating solids well, human milk is the best possible source of calcium and other goodies for a small human. Also please do remember that HALF of all children by definition MUST be below the 50th centile i.e. the average weight for their age!

    1. @Shireen thank you so much for taking the time to comment on this post. I am so thankful for the support. I will remember this next time when we try for baby #2! Especially the “HALF of all children by definition MUST be below the 50th centile i.e. the average weight for their age!” part… that makes so much sense!

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