what would you do? thoughts on weaning a toddler, etc.

Gentle readers, I have a dilemma.

My wonderful husband and I will be celebrating 5 years of marriage in May, and we’ve thrown around the idea of leaving Sam with my mom and dad and going away for a long weekend, just the two of us.

Sam will be a few days shy of 16 months.

As of right now, he’s still nursing. Quite a bit. He sleeps all night now (YAY!!!) but during the day he nurses fairly frequently, in the typical toddler fashion of 2 minutes per session about a million times a day.

That is, unless we’re busy. If we’re running errands or playing with friends, he hardly ever asks to nurse. With real food and just being busy playing, he will sometimes go 6 or 7 hours without nursing.  So, on days where we are particularly busy, he nurses maybe 3 or 4 times all day. Once at 6am when he wakes up, once at 7:30 or 8 when he wakes up for the day, before naptime, and before bedtime. Sometimes he wants to nurse when he wakes up from his nap, too, but I can usually distract him with his sippy and a snack.

So, if we go on this little trip in May, I’d assume we’d need him to be weaned by then, yes? I’ve considered not weaning him completely and still going (and pumping or hand expressing for my own comfort while we were gone) but I don’t really know how he’d handle that. I’m sure my mom, loving grandma that she is, would prefer to not have an inconsolable toddler for a few days. But then I wonder…he doesn’t seem to even miss or think about nursing when I am not around, or if we’re busy, so would it really bother him if he wasn’t weaned but we took the trip anyway?

I am worried though that if we took the trip and he didn’t nurse for 3-4 days, he’d just be done nursing.

You might be saying, but isn’t that what you want? To be done? Well…yes and no.

I do want to get away with my hubby for a few days. That sounds fun and relaxing. We could sleep as much as we wanted! Go shopping! Have meals where no food is thrown on the floor!

I do kind of want my body back, just for a little bit, before I get knocked up again.

I do want to wear dresses and things again without having to think about how I’d nurse in it.

I am looking forward to wearing a normal bra again.

However…

Sam and I worked so hard to be able to nurse at all in the beginning, and I am not sure I am ready to give that up yet.

I know he’d still be getting immunological benefits from my milk, and it is such a comfort to know that when he is sick, he’s still getting fluids and nourishment from me, even if he doesn’t want anything else or can’t keep anything else down.

He’s still sensitive to dairy (I think — although I will confess that I have been cheating and eating dairy since he started sleeping through the night, but he has not been reintroduced yet), so he couldn’t have cow’s milk to drink, and I’m not giving him soy milk ever because it’s bad for boys, and rice milk is mostly sugar. Coconut milk is my preferred option, as it’s high in medium chain fatty acids and lauric acid, which is found in breast milk, but coconut milk is expensive. (You can read about how awesome coconut oil and milk is here).  So, I am not sure what I would wean him to, and I feel a little guilty about giving him something that’s second best (and more money) when I have the best thing to offer him, and it’s free, too!

I know that studies show that the longer a kid is breastfed, the smarter he or she is. With me as his mom, he’s going to need all the help he can get (although his daddy is very smart).

But aside from the many benefits of nursing a toddler, I would  miss nursing him. I know I would. I love having that chance to connect with him even if he does latch on and off to “talk” to me 457x a session or tries to put his feet in my face or stick his fingers up my nose or in my mouth or pinch me or rub his hands in my cleavage. One time when we was like, 8 months old, he farted while nursing, and I said to him, “Uh oh! I heard a little toot, toot, toooot!” and he came off and laughed. So now when he’s nursing I can say to him, “Toot toot tooot?” and he’ll giggle with my nipple in his mouth. It’s like an inside joke. I will miss that, you know? Even now as I type this out it makes my heart hurt to think about him not nursing anymore.

Ultimately, I want to wean him gently, over a period of time, so we can both adjust. Sometimes he can be distracted with a toy or a snack or his sippy, but other times only mama and her milk will do.

I’m just really torn about what to do. Do I go on the getaway with my hubby? Do I try to wean Sam before we leave? Do I go on the getaway but not wean him first and hope for the best? Or do we just put the plans to go on a trip on hold until after Sam self-weans (providing I am not, then, also nursing a newborn)?

What would you do? Have any tips on gently weaning a toddler? Is 16 months too young?

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3 responses to “what would you do? thoughts on weaning a toddler, etc.

  1. I have wondered about that question too! I think I would enjoy the time away and I am sure Sam will eat more solid food to make up for the lack of nursing. That’s what Michaela does when she’s at grandparents for a day. She comes back very eager to nurse but she doesn’t seem to mind the break in nursing. It’s only if I am there that she misses it. I must remind her of nursing!!

    It sounds like it would be a fantastic get away for you and your hubby! I hope you can enjoy it! I am sure Sam will enjoy his grandparents too!

  2. You could just plan to pump enough in advance and freeze it so Sam could have a few sippies of breastmilk every day that you’re gone. I bet by that point it won’t be super uncomfortable for you to be gone a day or two. Jack had a nursing strike at about 15 or 16 months old and didn’t nurse for a few days before going back to it, and I was fine. You might want to bring your pump just in case you need it while you’re gone, but I bet Sam will be fine, and he’d probably go back to nursing when you returned. Unless he self-weans before then or is ready to self-wean when you get back.

    Hannah abruptly weaned herself from 4 times nursing a day to nothing at 15 months. Just cold turkey. I was 30 weeks pregnant with Jack at that point.

    Anyway, my point is that you don’t have to make a huge song and dance of weaning just to go away for a few days at this point. I think just stick with baby led weaning and even if Sam is still nursing a bunch before your trip he’ll keep nursing after you get back.

  3. I’m going away with my boyfriend for the first time in April, leaving our kids with my mom. My nursing son will be 20 months. I feel a lot like you do, almost done but not quite. What helped me a lot was cutting back on day nursings, sticking to right before nap, bedtime and once during the night and morning. i think child led weaning is really what’s the most emotionally healthy for them, once they are toddlers and concious of the relationship. but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to make the relationship more comfortable for you. i am in the process of cutting the night nurse so i can get some more sleep 🙂

    i was googling this topic, and found this thread very supportive.

    http://community.babycenter.com/post/a24482479/going_away_-_afraid_my_milk_will_dry_up#leaveyourcomment

    i am leaving milk for him and will express while we are gone- in hopes my son will get right back to nursing when we return, but i am also prepared for him to have weaned.

    good luck 🙂

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