Help a Mama Out: Weaning a Toddler

‘Help a Mama Out’ Topic of the Week: Tips for Weaning a Toddler


Kelly: Take it slow and take cues from your toddler.  We haven’t completely weaned yet, but in order for ME to keep our breastfeeding relationship in a good place, I had to take is down to 3x a day.  While I wanted to distract and push away when the little one wanted to breastfeed, what he really needed was a few minutes of cuddling before he was on to the next thing.  Once I figured that out, taking it down to 3x a day was a breeze and I feel like I could do this forever now (or at least until HE wants.)

Heather: Honestly, let the toddler decide when to wean.  That is what I plan on doing with my daughter.  She is 18 months and still nursing strong!

Heidi: Sit them down and have a little heart-to-heart – worked with both of mine!  It’s incredible how much they really ‘get it.’

Lolis: I got pregnant!  Just cut out feedings by distracting her.  Nursing is a two-way relationship and if you don’t want to do it anymore, then your feelings should be respected, too.  I thought I would end up tandem nursing, but she weaned when I was 30 weeks pregnant and has tried a few times since then, but I just distracted her to take her mind off of it.  I’ve said ‘no’ a few times, too.  Try to also offer a drink when they are trying to nurse because sometimes they are just thirsty.  I also wear shirts that make the boobies inaccessible.  We made it to 21 months and I’m completely ok with that.

Theresa: When my daughter was a little over 2 years old I became pregnant and nursing was suddenly very uncomfortable for me.  We took weaning very slowly and gradually, cutting it back to naptime and before bed.  We had lots of honest talks about how mommy’s body was changing and that nursing was uncomfortable for me (not that she hurt me) because of those changes.  I incorporated giving her a cup of unsweetened coconut milk before going to bed as ‘big girl milk.’  I really emphasized how special our snuggle time was to me and reassured her that it wouldn’t stop just because she wasn’t having mommy milk anymore.  It took several months and, to be honest, a few teary times for both of us.  She breastfed for the last time when she was 32 months and started referring to it as ‘baby milk’ instead of ‘mommy milk.’  Also, once I stopped nursing, I switched from wearing nursing tanks to a bra and T-shirt.  It seemed to make it easier for her to accept a gentle ‘I can’t.  Mommy is not wearing the right type of shirt,’ on the random times when she still wanted to try.

Susan: Just finished weaning my 15 month old and low supply played the biggest role.  Once those first few days of sadness was over (for me), it was a relief to know she was happy as a clam getting a full 6-8 oz of non-dairy milk and I felt great knowing she is healthy and thriving.  I’ve realized we all take a different path in this motherhood and nursing thing and we all do what we can for the well-being of our children.  I totally agree with Lolis that nursing must be a mutual two-way enjoyable experience and if mommy is done that must be respected as well.

Adrienne: Having specific times of the day for nursing helped us.  We loved first thing in the morning, naptime, and bedtime.  Then I could say ‘not now, but we can nurse at naptime.’ This made her actually ask to go to bed.  Of course, there were exceptions for major physical and emotional injuries, but this worked for us.  Distraction, staying busy, avoiding places that reminded her of nursing, offering something else instead (like a book, snack, drink, cuddle, etc.) also helped.

Donna: I use distraction as much as possible and tell him that they are empty when they are.  Eventually they forget and nursing is replaced by cuddles J

Kathy: ‘Don’t offer, don’t refuse’ worked best for me and my son.  Shortly after his second birthday, he just stopped asking one day.  Seems like a lifetime ago and I miss it!


Don't miss our Boob Group podcast episode: Breastfeeding Toddlers: Night Nursing and Weaning

Here are a few more articles on weaning and toddlers on our blog:

Gentle Weaning: What is the Process? 

Gentle Weaning: Techniques and Resources 

Toddler Nursing Part II: Toddler vs. Breastfeeding 

Toddler Nursing Part III: Super Breastfed Baby!