As a guest blogger on MamaPedia I always see many great questions!
As I was looking through the posts, I found one that was near and dear to me, here.
The subject of weaning always comes up in my little circle of moms. Many times, there are feelings of guilt on mom's part, because of all the pressure from the breastfeeding population to go as long as you possibly can. But for many reasons, we need to start the weaning process. Whether it be because of work, scheduling, low milk supply, or just personal reasons, weaning is something that weighs heavy on the heart.
The first feeding to drop is usually the night time, before bed, feeding. If for nothing else, this is to teach the child to fall asleep while not on the breast. One option is to feed from a bottle, but this usually means that the child will still be dependent on that before bed feeding.
One solution to this is to have dad/partner start doing the night time routine. This will not only give daddy some bonding time, but it will also show the child that they can have someone else put them to bed.
We started my 30 month old, who stopped nursing at 23 months, on this routine around 15-18 months. It took a few nights, as any weaning process will, but eventually he realized that it is OK to have someone else besides mommy put him to sleep.
For some children this may take a few days, and for some a month. The key is to be consistent, and not give in during the process.
The next night time weaning is the middle of the night feeding. Most children over the age of 8 to 10 months wake up for this feeding, not because they are starving, but for the interaction with mommy. Daddy/partner can also help with this, by getting up with the child, either giving the child a bottle, or rocking them back to sleep. Once the child realizes that mommy is no longer going to get them in the middle of the night, they will have a better chance of sleeping through the night.
We co-sleep, and this way still worked for us. So even if you co-sleep, have daddy/partner do these things to help in the weaning process.
Of course, never make the weaning process stressful on your child. There are several studies that have shown forced weaning to be harmful to a child's psychological well being.
Obviously for single moms, they do not have the luxury of a dad/partner, and this proces may take a little while longer. My advice is to just take your time. It will happen.
For either case, you can always use the don't offer/don't refuse method for a while, where you do not offer to nurse them, but don't refuse when they ask. After a week or so of this, try the distraction method. When your child wants to nurse during a time when you are trying to wean, distract them with other things, such as toys, books, etc...
Good luck to those who are in this process! And I promise...they won't be nursing until college!!! :)
Becka has a Bachelors in Early Childhood Education and Development, and has 18 years experience in the field. She is a Certified Parent Educator and Licensed Baby, Toddler, and Preschool Sign Language Instructor. You can visit her site, at www.learnandgrowtogether.com