Gently weaning your two year old

My toddler is two years old and I would like to wean him completely in the next couple of months. He only nurses at night after a bath and in the morning (partly to stop him from getting up at 5am). I don't really want to wean him to a bottle at this stage, as then he will need to be weaned off that too. He loves nursing, so I am worried about the trauma he might suffer if I remove this comfort. I really am ready to stop nursing, so how can I gently wean my little guy?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

It sounds like you are ready to wean your little guy from the breast. And you are on the right track. Gentle weaning will be easiest for both of you.

Talk to your toddler about your decision to wean. Cut out his least important feed first. He can help decide which feed is the first to go. That 5am feed may be a bit of a challenge for you. You might need some help from your partner at that time. When your son wakes, he could offer him a drink and then try to get him back to sleep. (5am is early!) Maybe your little one would like to crawl in bed with you and sleep for a couple more hours. If he does, wear a nightgown or shirt that doesn't allow him easy access to your breasts.

When weaning from the breast after one year of age, a bottle does not need to be introduced. Most breastfed babies of this age would never accept a bottle unless they were already accustomed to it. Go directly to offering drinks from a cup. I assume he has already been drinking from a cup for quite a while.

Weaning can make you feel sad for a while. Though it is the end of this stage of your relationship, it doesn't need to be traumatic for your little one. Wean gradually and with love. Talk to your son about your feelings and let him know that even though he won't be breastfeeding anymore, you will always be available for lots of cuddles and hugs. The relationship you established with him through breastfeeding and good mothering will continue to blossom. My best wishes!

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