Weaning from Breast: Some Troubleshooting


I just finished this post, then it wouldn’t post it and it was all deleted. Very frustrating :). Here we go again.

I have a friend who is weaning from breast right now and is experiencing a couple of difficulties. I thought I would share my responses to those.

While I do have pain and/or discomfort when my milk comes in, I have few problems when weaning. Not all women are so lucky, though.

  • Your obvious methods for drying up milk. Cabbage, tight sports bra, etc. I wouldn’t use cabbage in excess until you are ready for milk to be gone, though.
  • Compresses.
  • Pump enough to alleviate pain.
  • Take it more slowly. I mentioned this in my In Action: Weaning from Breast post, but here it is again. Something I did with Kaitlyn was I would feed her 4 ounces and then follow up with nursing for the session I was dropping. I did that the first day. You could do that for a few days and take it slower. You could then slowly add ounces and decrease nursing amount. That might help your body adjust more easily. So, say you were dropping the lunchtime nursing. I would prepare 4 ounces (or whatever amount you know will leave your child wanting more). Feed that to him, then follow up with nursing. Your child will nurse, but not long enough to create a full feeding. Do that for a couple of days, then increase the prepared ounces and decrease the length of the nursing. This way, your body can slowly adjust.

Child Resistance
Some children have an affinity for nursing, especially right before bed. Brayden sucked for comfort before I started Babywise at 9 weeks. Kaitlyn has never been a comfort nurser.

  • Prevention. Try to avoid nursing becoming a soothing ritual. Avoid nursing right before bed. While this is easy to do for your first three feedings, many “top off” right before bed. If this is you, change your routine. Nurse and then do PJs and story and whatever you do. With Kaitlyn, her final nursing of the day came 45 minutes before she actually went to bed.
  • Drop the favored nursing session last. By that point, he might be ready for it to go. This was the case with Brayden.
  • Hold him while he drinks his milk. I hold my kids for a few months past weaning to ensure we still get that quiet cuddle time together. This is already a time of day you are used to sitting down and holding your child. With Brayden, it was the only time he would hold still. Kaitlyn loves to be cuddled and held, so she enjoys me holding her and feeding her.
  • Something you might try is doing a bottle at the favored feeding for now. I did that with Brayden. After he had been weaned completely for a couple of weeks, I started the weaning from the bottle. It was all very smooth and seamless.

Good luck in your weaning process! Here are some other posts on the topic:

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5 thoughts on “Weaning from Breast: Some Troubleshooting”

  1. I'm seeking your thoughts regarding my daughter's post-weaning behavior. We have been Babywise-ing since she was born, so breastfeeding was not used to soothe her and we have been on a good feeding schedule. I spent about a month weaning her. I gradually reduced nursing duration as well as number of feedings per day. She is 12.5 months old. The last time I nursed her was 1.5 weeks ago. Almost immediately, she started sucking her thumb more (she used to only suck if she was hungry or tired.) I've even caught her pulling her hair (while thumb sucking) about five times. I offer her cow milk and water throughout the day, so she's not thirsty.Did your kiddos' behaviors change when they were weaned? How concerned do you think I should be about the thumb sucking and hair pulling? I'm feeling guilty that I have caused her some kind of stress or anxiety with this change.

  2. Sarah,I don't think there was any change in my kids' behavior, but it does make sense. She will be sucking on something soothing less, so it makes sense that she would suck on her thumb more. See if you can find some way of offering comfort to her. She might be one who likes physical touch, and often with weaning comes less cuddle time overall throughout the day. If so, she might like to sit and cuddle. See the love languages blog label for more ideas on showing love.

  3. Oh, another thing, remember that correlation doesn't mean causation. She might be sucking her thumb and pulling hair for some other reason. I haven't ever had this question before, so it obviously isn't common. She might be sick or something, so do be on the lookout for other possible causes for the behavior.

  4. Question: I'm interested in weaning my strictly breastfed 9 month old baby. (She occasionally takes a sippy cup of juice or water.) My goal has always been to nurse for 1 year, and to have my child completely weaned by her first birthday, but I'm feeling a little too 'tethered' lately, and am anxious for some flexibility in my schedule. My baby nurses before solid foods at 8am, 12pm, and 4pm and has a nighttime feeding at 7pm before bed at 8pm. I'm curious to know if I can wean her from the 12pm and 4pm feedings for the next three months without giving up the nighttime and morning feedings. Will I be able to maintain my milk supply? Or should I just try to pump for the noon and 4pm feeding for the next three months when I do need the flexibility. (I just hate pumping though.)AND what would be the big deal if I didn't make it to the year mark anyway?? THANK YOU for your help!

  5. Rachel,I think it is pretty well accepted that the longer you can breastfeed, the healthier your baby should be. But you are farther than most people even get. Do what works for your family.As for if your milk supply would stay up, there is no way to know. Some women can maintain it. Those who do "extending breastfeeing" past one year often only feed 1-2 times a day from the breast. So it works for some.But not for all. So if you want to still nurse twice a day, I would be prepared to need to pump at least one time a day, possibly twice. A nice thing about that is that you could give her the breastmilk in a bottle/sippy and she would still get the benefits of breastmilk 🙂


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