Monday, January 12, 2009

Outsmarted

Pumpkin (who is now 21.5 months old) is still nursing. I stopped pumping when Pumpkin was 17 months old, but have still been nursing her pretty much whenever she wants it. For the last few months, I've been following the "don't offer, don't refuse" school of weaning. Using this method (and by staying pretty busy during the day on weekends for a few weeks), Pumpkin dropped down to three nursings: first thing in the morning, after work/day care, and in the middle of the night.

I've recently decided that I'd like to try to encourage weaning a bit more quickly. I read some advice in my favorite toddler book (The Mother of All Toddler Books, by Ann Douglas) to start offering alternatives. So now when Pumpkin announces "Boppy!" I offer her milk, or a favored snack, or to read a story. This has helped a little bit, but Pumpkin is often very hard to distract from her intention to nurse. She'll say "Boppy!" and I'll say "Do you want some milk?" and she'll say "Boppy!!" and run off to find the Boppy for me.

The advice I read also suggested that I try to remove the nursing she cared least about first. That seemed to be the after day care nursing, so I started trying to distract her with walks, DVDs, snacks- whatever. Things were going OK, but she still nursed at least 50% of the days. Then we went on vacation, and she completely dropped the nursing at about 5 p.m.- but she started wanting to nurse right before bed.

I decided that after we got back from our Christmas trip to Kauai I would try to get her to skip her morning nursing, since that now seemed to be the one that mattered least. Well, now she wakes up 30-60 minutes before she'll be up for the day and asks to nurse.

So I went from an OK schedule, where the only inconvenient nursing session was the one in the middle of the night, to a pretty annoying schedule, where all three nursing sessions are fairly inconvenient. I've definitely been outsmarted.

Mothers who remember what their toddler was like at ~21 months are probably shaking their heads at my timing- I decided to get serious about weaning smack in the middle of a big fussy/clingy period. Several sources mention the 18-22 month time frame as being a difficult one for toddlers, and we are definitely in the middle of a "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy" phase here. So I think I'll put the active weaning plans on hold for another month.

Now I just need to figure out what my best strategy will be once I decide to try again. Given Pumpkin's tendency to just move her nursing sessions around, I am considering going cold turkey on these final three sessions. I'm not sure Hubby or I can take the extreme grumpiness that is likely to come with that, so I am also thinking about more limited options. I could limit nursing to nighttime, to try to get rid of the morning session, or attempt to fully nightwean again (we had mostly nightweaned at 10 months, but could never get rid of the last nursing, and eventually let that drift back to about 2 a.m).

Advice? Stories? Anything at all to help me figure out what my next move should be? It is embarrassing to be outsmarted by my toddler.

5 comments:

  1. I think I weaned Swee'pea around 21 months old, but he never really seemed to care that much. The only time he specifically asked to nurse was in the first several months of me back to work and him starting daycare, right after we got home. Like he needed to reconnect. So I don't really have advice. I did the don't offer, don't refuse thing, and he mostly didn't ask. Sorry.

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  2. I'd wait a month or two, until the clinginess seems to have passed, and try again what you are trying now. I think the easiest weaning points, development/age-wise, are 15-18 months (turbo kid newly fast and easily distracted) and around 2. Do not wait until 2 and a half, which is where we are now - Dillo fell back in LOVE with nursing about 6 weeks ago.

    I would re-night-wean first, then develop a cool breakfast routine that makes her forget the AM nursing (hey, let's get up and have strawberries!!!) and leave the going-to-sleep nursing for last to drop. With my older one, we did that and had a weaning party (gave a week's warning, with cutting off nursing after 5 minutes for that week, then baked a cake and bought her a stuffed animal). It worked for her at about 2 years 4 months.

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  3. I definitely think wait a month. There's been a noticible difference in the Pumpkin in the last week or so (and she just turned 22 months).

    Other than that, I don't have much advice. I was fortunate to hit a time when the Pumpkin was not really into nursing when I weaned. And we went to bottles. I've got her on a sippy cup of milk in the mornings now, but she still takes a bottle for naps and bedtime. I have no idea how or when we'll stop that.

    Good luck!

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  4. Pumpkin is a fussy eater. She might have a sensitive digestive system. She seems to prefer breast milk over other calorie sources. Breast milk is free, you carry it with you at all times, and it carries beneficial antibodies, live cells and cultures--all the things she needs if she does have digestive problems.

    You find breastfeeding inconvenient, but not painful. I don't see the rush to wean until she can tolerate more foods.

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  5. @badmomgoodmom- I actually don't find breastfeeding inconvenient- or I didn't before I messed up our nice schedule. I enjoy breastfeeding, which is one of the reasons we're still going at 21.5 months. But I have some reasons for wanting to wean in the not too distant future, so I'm trying to move us in that direction.

    I suspect one of the reasons that I'm resisting the "cold turkey" idea is that I don't like the sound of that anymore than I think Pumpkin would!

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