Breastfeeding a Toddler- I’m A Little Over It

Freaking breastfeeding. Why’s it always got to be so stupid emotional?

Before I had babies, I could. not. understand. what women meant when they talked about bonding with their babies by putting a boob in their mouth. When they would cry if they couldn’t or when they stopped. Like, really?

But then, yeah, it happened to me, and yeah, I get it.Β So here I am, after 16 months of breastfeeding my 2nd baby (I breastfed my first for about 13), and I’m a conflicted ball of emotions.

To be honest, I want to be done. Well, what I really mean is I want HER to be done. I want her to wake up tomorrow and decide she wants nothing to do with my boobs in her mouth anymore. I’ve always had the goal of breastfeeding until age 1 with both of my kids, and I’ve done that. Yes, yes, I know, the WHO says best until 2. But still, I’m done. Mainly, I’m done with it being a frequent thing. Maybe if I could get her down to just nursing to sleep at night, I’d be okay with that, but she doesn’t show any signs of even wanting to cut back to just that.

She’s 16 months old, and still nurses 4-6 times a day/night. You know what that means? Yup, STILL waking at night to nurse. And that means? Yup, I’m STILL exhausted half the time. I can count on one hand the number of nights she’s slept more than 6 hours straight her whole life.

I would guess her diet is probably 50% or more breast milk at this point. She eats solids and table food, but doesn’t show a huge interest in them. Obviously, this isn’t affecting her growth, so I’m not super concerned about it.

I almost wish it was affecting her (in a not dangerous way), or I had some valid reason for feeling like I want to stop. Although, I think the way I feel and the way it affects me, is pretty valid, I guess.

But, it’s not as easy as saying we’re done. I know it would be hard, and possibly traumatizing (for us both). It’s not really a battle I have the energy to deal with. Plus, it’s a crutch for me right now. I know I can always get her to go to sleep at night if I nurse her. The times that I refuse, she puts up a fight that keeps me awake much longer than a nursing session. Not to mention, it’s not torture. Most of the time it’s still pleasant, and it’s guaranteed snuggle time with a toddler who is always on the go.

I keep thinking, she won’t want to do this forever. She’ll make the decision on her own. I just hope that that decision comes soon. While I have no problems, and certainly admire those who practice extended breastfeeding, I don’t get too excited at the idea when it comes to me. And I’m trying not to let myself feel guilty about that.

I’m not really writing this for advice or to tell you all about my plan. Just… you know, breastfeeding… so stupid emotional. Thought I’d share a little about where we’re at in our journey, which I know can change it’s course without notice at any time. And when it does, I’m sure I’ll be sad I ever wished it away. That’s just the way it goes. I’ll probably come here crying and blog all about it.

Leyna will be 16 months old in 2 days

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  1. DD decided on her own to quit cold turkey at 16 months (wouldn’t you know my goal was 18 – the little goof, always has to have her way!) and I have to admit I wasn’t all that sad about it. Annoyed I didn’t reach my goal but not for lack of trying! It’s ok to want to be done. The emotional part of it alone can be a little … errr… draining. *pardon the pun*

  2. I know you said you weren’t looking for advice, but are you doing anything to gently encourage her to eat more solids or drink WCM instead?

    I was able to cut down to 2 sessions a day pretty easily by just nursing AFTER meals instead of before – so in other words, first solids, then breast milk for “dessert”.

    And any time DS “asked” to nurse, I’d offer a sippy cup of milk first. If he refused, I’d nurse him.

    I still wanted it to be his choice, but to very gently encourage him. I started all of this right at a year.

    It got to the point when I wasn’t around that he was fine with solids and WCM. He only wanted breastmilk if he could nurse, no bottles necessary. So we got down to once in the morning and once at night for a couple of months, then one day at 14 mos I offered the sippy instead and he happily took it and never looked back. So altogether it took about 2 months to wean and the timing felt just right.

    I’m pregnant again now, so who knows how it’ll go with the next child…

  3. Congrats on nursing for so long! DS was 16 months when I night-weaned…and after we night-weaned his daytime sessions decreased a bit, too. He was done by 20 months. I know how you feel.

  4. I’m with you. I weaned my first at 13 months. I probably could have gone longer, but at that point he was down to just one feeding, right before bed, and I figured it was time. Plus, I was just so DONE. I had a lot of trouble pumping, so I was tired of treating the 2 bottles of breastmilk in the freezer like they were gold, and being afraid to go out for dinner or being afraid to have a couple beers at a ball game. I was just over it. I had made it a year, and I was proud of that. Then this mom at a mom’s group started lecturing me about the WHO and the AAP and how I’ve “robbed” my son of that extra time. Ugh. I’m currently 20 weeks pregnant with my second, and I will be keeping a more open mind about when to stop than I did last time, but I’m also pretty sure we won’t go much over a year again. I don’t know, I just have this premonition. Of course, it depends on a lot of things, but I just remember being so tired of feeling tied to it. A full year of watching what you eat/drink PLUS doing the same thing for 9 months while pregnant. I’m ok with making sacrifices for our kids, but when we start being unhappy? We are better parents for also doing what’s right for us, as long as our kids are still happy and healthy.

  5. Mine is only 5 months and I’m over pumping…my poor boobs hurt! Nursing her is actually less painful than pumping right now. I feel like they are becoming resistant to the pump or something. 4 30 min pumping sessions a day + morning/nighttime nursing is taking its toll on the girls.

    Kudos to you…if you want to stop or cut back no one can fault you.

  6. Im SO THERE. My final baby is nearly 14 months old and nurses to sleep, which means he wakes and night and needs more nursing. Which means I’m tired. Also, I’ve been pregnant or nursing for almost 7 YEARS.

    But then I get all melancholy and think, “oh but he’s the last!” and “surely he’ll sleep one day” (ha!)

    I wouldn’t be too terribly distraught if he weaned himself soon. Of course, I say that now. Like you, I’ll probably bawl over it when that happens.

    It’s a HUGE sacrifice. Anyone who says otherwise is full of crap. Bonding, sure, wonderful, yes. But the time and plugged ducts, and engorgement and night wakings and the like? Sacrifice. And yes, as the other commenter said, draining. Heh.

    Hang in there! Solidarity for the win πŸ™‚

  7. My daughter weened herself at a year and I was shocked she did. She always had refused a bottle, and she showed no signs of wanting to stop nursing. My husband and I had to be out of town for a night, so she stayed with my Inlaws. She wouldn’t take a bottle from them, but would a sippy. When we got home, she didn’t want anything to do with me! I was shocked she reacted that way, but relieved it wasn’t an ongoing battle, because I felt “done” as well. It is nice to have your body all to yourself!

  8. My daughter is 7.5 months old and I am already both dreading and looking forward to stopping. We are planning another soon though so I’m just going to ride the rollercoaster till we are all satisfied and then, like you, I’ll cry and wish we were curled up in bed again every 2 hours! eck – emotions

  9. Willow Matteson on

    Mine is 18 mo and not only still BFing, he now comes up to me, starts pulling up my shirt and saying “BOOB” at the top of his lungs, often in public… I decided I was going to start weaning at about 13 months and had an emotional mini brake down and gave in. I guess it wouldn’t be as bad if he would actually nurse but most of our feeding sessions consist of him latching on for about 2 min then popping off and getting pissed when I start putting myself away. As my mom-inlaw humorously puts it, “He just stops for a nip and is running off again!” He’s also still getting up 4-5 times a night… You saying Leyna has slept 6 hours even once makes me want to cry! Plus my 5 yo has been having nightmares almost every night this week… I’m rambling due to lack of sleep. SO, good luck and I hope some mommy out there posts so good advice that I can use too!

    • At 18 months you can try night weaning. Also look up kellymom nursing manners. There are some behaviors that I won’t put up with and if he wants to continue a nursing session he won’t do. If he does we end the session and wait a bit until he’s a little more serious about it. If you are planning anymore and you don’t like him screaming “Boob!” you can teach your baby a new word for it. My 21 month old asks for milk. He was still waking up to nurse a lot at 18 months and I didn’t night wean him, my pregnancy did that for me a little later. He’s down to a few sessions a day.
      Good luck. I have my days that I want my son to wean too, but mainly its when I’m hormonal and crabby. lol

    • boy oh boy do I know how you feel Willow! (and you to Jill) My second son is almost 7 months, still wakes up every hour or two and my 2 1/2 year old is having night terrors several times a week for the past few months. I am feeling done. I am determined to go to a year but I am exhausted. It’s not that I truly am ready to stop or that I want to put him on formula or anything. I’m just tired of it. Tired of getting bit on a daily basis, tired of not sleeping and of feeling like I am putting off the needs of my eldest because I’m stuck being at the beck and call of the little ones stomach.

      I read an article the other day, don’t remember where, that talked about how there is this illusion, this myth, that we are always supposed to enjoy breastfeeding and it’s just not true. Breastfeeding, is a wonderful beautiful, precious gift, for those who are able to do it and for our children. But it is also hard, exhausting, restrictive, emotional, often painful. I think it’s good to acknowledge those harder sides of it.

      My eldest weaned gradually between 6 and 8 months as I dried up due to the stress and other issues going on at that time. I’ve been nervous that I would dry up again, even though life has settled down but so far at 7 months we’re going strong. I’m a tired momma but I’ll get past this hump. We will have more ups and probably more downs in our breast feeding journey but I really want to make it to a year. Maybe longer, maybe less, we will see when the time feels right for him and I.

  10. My 2nd is almost 23 months old and she is showing no signs of giving it up. I’m now starting to offer the boob as dessert after dinner and offering a sippy of milk (or chocolate milk) first or some other distraction. There are many times it seems she sees me sitting and thinks “oh, I think I’ll have a little snack.” I’m ready to be done, but I know there is a fight coming. We’ll probably start in full force after she turns 2.

  11. This time around we made it to 16 months & to be honest I wasn’t sad. I was pretty happy we made it that far.. but mine got down to just the nighttime feedings and his diet was more like 90% solids and cow’s milk (in a sippy) by that time. Funny thing is I think he knew I was pregnant again or something.. maybe the taste changed? I just kept telling him “You’re a big boy now, you drink a cup of milk” then one night I went to nurse him in the bed & he shakes his head at me and goes “nah” like “I’m a big boy now” and went to sleep! I have to admit that I fell off the wagon a cpl times after that and tried to nurse him anyway I was kind of like “is this really it??”. He wasn’t interested just kept shaking his head no and smiling. It wasn’t nearly as emotional for me as when my 1st son refused to nurse at 6 months & was biting me and jumping around and going wild.. I felt like a real failure then & cried a lot.

    • I cried so much when my first self weaned and I dried up gradually between 6-8 months. There was so much going on but part of it was “nipple confusion”. He wanted a bottle, not me. He would scream and cry when I would put him to my breast and I felt totally rejected. I fought it for awhile but eventually we were down to a 5 minute comfort feeding to put him to sleep and then he moved into a crib instead of our bed and was just done. I’m hoping this time I’ wont be so emotional about it. More of a been there, done that kinda thing. My first son was a super lazy, mellow nurser, never bit me. This 2nd one is constantly biting, kicking, squirming, pinching…. He drives me crazy! lol Some afternoons I seriously ponder expressing into a bottle just to give my poor boobs a break!

  12. I was SO ready to be done with DD when she was 18 months old, she was staying awake, so she could feed longer, she would just feed, play, fight, scream etc etc, ALL night!!!!!!!
    It got to the point where it was do or die, so i made the choice to night ween, it has SAVED us, I no longer have the ‘GET OFF ME’ feelings i was having, i literally wanted to push her off ALL the time, that stopped, she’s busy (2.5 now) so it’s mixed, we feed anything between once-four/five times, and i’m ok with that! I no longer feed her to sleep, Daddy parents her, story’s, cuddles, rocking etc etc, she was CROSS, for about 2 weeks, not distressed, not alone and scared, in Daddy’s arms and angry with me, we dealt with it and everybody is happy again now!
    I don”t know if this will work for you? Might be worth a look? Good luck whatever you chose and WELL DONE for going this far xxxxx

  13. Have you thought about night weaning her? Jessica over at The Leaky Boob did a great series of posts about night weaning their toddler (which resulted in a return of fertility and another baby…so be careful!)

    Having had one child who nursed through toddler-hood and another who weaned in early infancy…I am squarely in the “keep going” camp! You can teach her nursing manners, set her on a schedule that works for you, distract her when it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable… but when she’s 20 months and having a meltdown becasue you don’t know what “bukaru” means there is nothing that will calm her down like a boob.

  14. I was in the exact same position as you so I feel for you. I nursed my first for 13 months and weaned her when I got pregnant. My second showed no signs of stopping. Literally. At Leyla’s age, Kaylee was still getting around 90% of her diet from breast milk. I was exhausted and emotional. I struggled with it every day, and finally decided to wean her at 18 months. It’s what was best for me. She was really hurt by it for a few days, and then gave up trying. Although she still loves to lay on my chest for skin to skin contact at 26 months, so I still get the snuggle time. She just eats and sleeps better now!

  15. I’m glad you aren’t looking for advice b/c I ain’t be gotten none. I breastfed the first girl for 10 months (she started making the ew face at my boobs and um, no one puts my boobs in a corner!), the second girl for 13, and the boy for 15 (or 16 or 14; I honestly cannot remember). I hope when you’re both ready to be done it’s a smooth transition. That’s all I got.

  16. In regards to the WHO recommendation, at the breast feeding class i took the Lactation Consultant (who was a “crunchy type and everything) told us that recommendation was in place for the WORLD because most countries do not have access to good nutrition like we do in the US. That is why the US recommendation is only for 1 year and the World’s is for two. I never once felt guilty about stopping before age 2.

  17. I’m with you. I’m counting down the days until she hits 12 months because I am tired of having an infant or a machine attached to me throughout the day. I wouldn’t mind extended breastfeeding if it was at night before bed (currently it’s more a comfort/unwind thing than an actual meal), I could maybe get on board for a wake up session. I think these things and then I see her attempt a few steps by herself and start yelling at myself in my head “Why are you rushing her to grow up? Let her be a baby forever!!” So yeah I’m a big old mess of confused emotions too.

  18. Thank you so much for writing this. It’s pretty much EXACTLY how I feel. Jack is 14 months and shows no sign of stopping. This week our little family has decided to try to night wean because seriously, this sh*t is crazy. I’m exhausted and it isn’t even helping him sleep anymore – the child is all, “that was AWESOME, let’s play now!” Ugh. I love it and I hate it and I love it and I hate it…

  19. Good for you for going as long as possible!

    I am literally counting down the days until I am done (baby #3 is 9 months old and I breastfed all three of my kids for a year). It might have something to do with the fact that I have been pregnant EVERY year since 2007 and breastfed each kid for a year. Also the fact that baby #3 is a biter…SO DONE!

    The only motivation I have to nurse this one as long as possible is the calorie burn. I have absolutely no motivation to go to the gym and since this very well may be my last baby I might stretch him on out to 18 months to keep burning the extra calories. I have 8 pounds to lose to get back to my pre-pregnancy baby weight (as in what I weighed before I STARTED having kids) and it would be nice to nurse and not have to get my lazy butt to the gym. πŸ™‚

  20. It’s so hard to be honest about such an emotional topic. As usual, you have done so with style and grace. I hope this resolves itself in the best way for you, soon.

  21. Commend you for doing it at all, It was something I could never do (not comfortable, just didn’t work). But I have to ask, where did leyna’s fab outfit come from?

    • LOL Thanks! That’s a pillowcase dress I made for her last year. It’s now an adorable top. This is from a little photo shoot I did for an upcoming blog post, a refresher on how to make pillowcase dresses. Hopefully I’ll have it up next week.

  22. Oh I have been there. Even though I was so ready when my son gave up breastfeeding at 14 months I still cried. I night weaned him at 11 months out of desperation. He was waking up every 1-3 hours at night (we later learned he has sleep apnea, but I thought perhaps it would help him wake up less if I didn’t automatically give him the boob).

    It has taken forever (my son is now 2.5), but he is now falling asleep on his own, in his own bed by himself at night and most nights he sleeps through the night (and no CIO). You will get there too! It feels like it takes forever, but it’s oh so sweet when you do.

  23. Two years one month over here–and I SO feel you! I want him to be ready to stop, but he is still totally into it. I don’t want the end of BFing to be traumatic for him, so I’m kind of at a loss right now about what to do as well…

  24. I know so many mamas can relate to this. Both my boys nursed until they were 15 months, and I felt like a failure in the crunchy world. I’m a LLL leader and had visions of nursing my children until they were ready to be done (which in my head was at least 2 or even 3). But they were done sooner (and so. was. I.) I hope it all works itself out soon.

  25. girl, i feel your pain!! i thought Sydney would self-wean while i was pregnant – nope. she even nursed just a few hours before i gave birth to Myles (which probably helped speed things along!) – after tandem nursing them both for a year, i cut her off just after her 3rd birthday – Myles is 2 years and 3 months and he still nurses if i could just get him to night wean, i’d be happy with that but he won’t be deterred – in the meantime, this mama is EXHAUSTED!!!

  26. So I’ve never tried this so I don’t even know if it works, but our natural baby store has “weaning tea”? I was so torn over how to wean my second baby and then it just sort of happened at 13 months and I can barely remember how?

    Now I’m nursing baby #3 and between the body sharing and the nursing for the last FIVE YEARS I’m so touched out, but I’ll be both over it and horribly sad when she weans. Mother F’ing Hormones.

  27. Oh breastfeeding. Stopping because it affects YOU is definitely a valid reason. I was literally making myself crazy trying to EP for 11 months…I was just 1 month shy of my 1 year goal and I couldn’t do it for a single second later. Looking back, I’m glad I did it for so long but even more glad that I stopped when I did lol. GL making those tough decisions!

  28. I never had a “plan” for when to stop with C…like you, wanted to do at least 12 months and we’d just see what happened after that – made it about 13mths. Looking back on when I stopped, it really was her. It was just a gradual wean that I didn’t really even notice until it was about over. She would wake up at night just wanting to soothe herself using my boob and that was not flying with me who had been sleeping for months (C was a good sleeper) and working full time. So I decided that she was weaning herself and did it. I actually didn’t get overly emotional about it (very surprisingly), I think because it was so gradual and I will say it was quite nice to have my body all back to myself.

    With all this said, I don’t have a “plan” for #2 either, make it to a year and see what happens from there. Like you, I’m hoping my kid will “tell” me & I’ll do my best to listen whenever that will be.

  29. Yes! I feel the EXACT same way/same situation with my 19 month daughter. I’ve been “weaning” her since January, and I really want to be done! We are making gradual progress, but it is so hard for me to say no if she really, really, REALLY wants to nurse and is freaking out and screaming until it happens. For the most part, she nurses three times a day (morning, before nap, before bed). Lately, when I’m trying to put her to bed, if I nurse her a little and she doesn’t want to stop, I’ll hold her standing up and sing to her. Then she’ll stop asking to nurse and will rest her head on my shoulder (if I sit down she still wants to nurse). Also, she is alright missing a nursing session if I’m not around (like at night, once a week I’m out and my husband puts her to sleep).

  30. I feel you. We went through a every emotional roller coaster. I was so ready for her to be done. I kept telling myself just make it to 12 months, but the closer we got the more I wasn’t ready to take it away from her. Elena wanted to nurse. I was going crazy. So we compromised. We started ramping down. We cut out night feeding. That was the hardest time nursing for me, my supply was already low so late, she wasnt getting very much. We added in lots of night time cuddles before bed. I told her that she was a big girl and needed to sleep at night for mommy because mommy needed sleep in order to be a great mommy during the day. She adjusted quickly and now sleeps 12 hours straight every night (9p-9a). From there we were able to get to 5 feedings a day (9a, noon, 3p, 6p, 9p), her increased solid foods easily made up for it. Table food made a big difference. My tiny daughter eats as much as an adult in table food. It was amazing how with the extra table food she started drinking much less.

    Every story is different. You will find what works best for both of you. I just want to say that your sanity is just as important to your daughter as is her breast milk. Do what you need to do to be 100% for her. Night weaning may be the solution.

  31. I would tell you not to feel bad, but I know that’s pointless – because breast feeding is SO EMOTIONAL! But I can tell you that I get how you feel. Noah is only a few weeks older than Leyna and I can’t imagine still doing it. We made it till 9 months and I was proud. I was trying to work from home and be a full time mom and the stress and the schedule interruptions ruined it for us. My goal was 1 year, and now that I’m pregnant again, not sure how that happened, and at home full time we are definitely going to succeed this time around. Wow! Sorry for the super long comment – its amazing how just talking about breast feeding can make you write a book, you know, cause its SO EMOTIONAL! πŸ™‚

  32. I honestly think no matter what age you go to stop, it will be hard. It will be emotional, and you’ll probably still feel guilty. That doesn’t mean you’re making the wrong decision or that you should feel guilty. Human emotions are awesome like that, aren’t they?

    I really admire you, 16 months you’ve breastfed. That’s longer than most women, and you’ve achieved your goal of surpassing the first year. That’s all that matters! <3

  33. I weaned Vicki at 15 months because I was pregnant, and, even though I wanted to do it and she was ready, I still cried. I hear you on how freaking emotional this is. This is super cheesy, but just do what feels right. If that’s to keep BFing, go for it. If it’s to start slowly weaning, do that. And it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, either. Maybe you can find a way to cut down to morning & night nursing and drop the other sessions?

    Good luck with whatever you choose to do, I know it will all work out. πŸ™‚

  34. i stopped at 21 mo with my daughter & was more than ready. or so i thought. i was a huge ball of emotional mess & couldn’t stop crying. thankfully i pulled it together after a few days before i needed to be medicated. hang in there, it’s hugely rough at first but then so awesomely liberating once the whole emotional roller coaster passes

  35. I have finally weaned my 30 month old (yes 2.5 year old) son down to once in the morning when he wakes up. All 3 of my boys nursed into their 2’s. I am not super crunchy. I was over it around the 18 month mark. I made myself stick it out until 24 months and then weaning was just HARD. When my siblings, none of whom have children, bother me about still nursing I tell them that weaning my sons is like staging an intervention. It is a long, emotional battle that, quite frankly, I don’t have the energy for.

    In many years we will enjoy the bond that all of this extra boob time has created between us and our babies. But that’s little consolation *now* while we are wandering around like sleep deprived zombies…

  36. Oh God. So.stupid.emotional. You got that right, sister.

    I think you know some of my struggles. I could seriously write a novel about breastfeeding alone and I only did it for a combined 6 months with both boys. Of course, I would have loved to BF both my boys until 12 months but unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards for me (us). I bawled my eyes out when I had to stop with Brigham. Because I had tried SO hard and had to give it up for what I think of as a selfish reason (medication unsafe for BF).

    God love you (and other women) for succeeding as long as you have. I find that breastfeeding is such a selfless act. You choose to give your body over to your babies every day and it is NOT easy.

    I know you and I think you’ll just keep going until she eases up on her own. You’re doing a GREAT job, Jill. It’s obvious that Leyna loves you very much.

    One of the reasons that I sometimes want another baby is because I would be so sad to never BF again. I mean, even after all the tears I cried over my damn boobs. I still miss it.

  37. I know what you mean; I wished it away on my oldest as I was pg again and it was uncomfortable for me and he did stop on his own. But then, it didn’t work with the new baby and I miss it now and hate that I wished it away…

  38. Oh yes, that was about the time I was over it with my first son. He only nursed at night, but it was time consuming, I needed to resume a medication that was incompatible with breastfeeding, and it was just time to be done with it. I am very proud of myself for nursing him to 16 months and I’d love to nurse my 7-month old that long, but we’ll see. There’s the medication issue, and whether or not he will want to self-wean before then. I love nursing, but it was really nice having my body all to myself (for those two months between completely weaning and getting pregnant again :-/ ).

  39. Sheesh, by many peoples standards you’re a way “better” mom than me! I stopped night nursing at 5 months old because I sleep trained and he’s been STTN since then. There is no way a 16 month old still NEEDS to eat at night for nutrition, that’s just pure comfort. I know you’re exhausted and have said it before, that’s just my personal opinion and what my research on sleeping/eating/nursing states – doesn’t mean I’m right, so don’t feel the need to listen to me! You have to do what works best for you. I know WHO says 2 years, but I’m way too selfish, and fully admit it, to nurse a toddler. I am a nurse, I work full-time (when I can) and I simply could not work in my profession if I nursed my toddler 4-6 times a day. I love my work and it keeps me sane, I never wanted to be “tied down” to nursing a toddler, I wanted nights away to spend with my husband and to be able to enjoy my “me” time.

    But at the end of the day, we always have to do what works best for us and our babies & families. No judgement here – ever. If you want to wean, wean…if you don’t…don’t!

  40. My daughter was like that. Not a whole lot of interest in food and nursing 3-4 times a night until she was about 20 months if I remember correctly. Then it was nursing 1-2 times a night until she was 26 or 27 months. At that point I got serious about night weaning her and it only took a couple weeks before she was pretty much down to bed time and naps.

  41. Rachel Lehman on

    +100. I stopped at 18mos with my son for all the reasons you mention. He learned to go to sleep on his own an STTN directly after I weaned him. Yes, I do miss nursing him sometimes, and I know he misses it too – one of his favorite comfort things to do is to pull up my shirt and rest his cheek on my belly and I know it’s because he misses that skin to skin contact. Makes me sad. But now we both get a better night’s sleep and he eats solid foods like a champ, so I think it was worth it.

  42. I SO get it. I was feeling done around 13 months with my first, but he showed NO interest in stopping. I finally sucked it up and night weaned him then (surprisingly and luckily, it only took one night), but he was still nursing twice a day before nap and bed. I could tell it was more routine than need, but he wouldn’t budge.

    I was also ready to get pregnant again, but my body was not getting the message as long as he was still nursing. I finally got my period at 14 months PP. Just before he turned 15 months old, my husband and I went away for our anniversary for the weekend. I worried about him not nursing the whole time. When we got home, he didn’t ask, so I didn’t offer. That night he sat on my lap, pointed at my boobs and said, “no, no, no”, then walked away. That was it!

    I’m glad it happened that way. I didn’t know our last time was THE last time, and it seemed to be his decision, not mine. I did get some wicked clogged ducts the next few days though. And, nine days after we got home, I got a positive pregnancy test. (Happy anniversary! ;)) I’m hoping to reach the one year goal again with #2, but we’ll see what happens!

  43. I hear you. I was the same way with my youngest (singleton after twins). I SO wanted to be done, but couldn’t pull the proverbial plug myself. Nursing her at nap and before bed were rare quiet times, and the latter got me out of bedtime with the twins. πŸ™‚ But still. I took a 5 day trip out of state when she was 18 months and that was that! Easy peasy.

  44. Oh, I so get this! I HATED breastfeeding for the first 2 or so months. Then I fell in love with it and the bonding it provided for me and my son (not to mention, he hasn’t been sick once since he was born in December 2010). My goals increased, and then I decided that it was so easy and perfect for us, that I had no end goal in sight.

    I would probably still be feeling the same way (with the probable intention of stopping around 2 years) except I got pregnant again. So my new goal became 18 months of nursing for my son (he’s just about 16.5 months now) because I wasn’t interested in tandem nursing. And that was fine at first because I wasn’t sore when he nursed.

    Well, I’m now 17.5 weeks pregnant and it HURTS to nurse him. Yet, for some reason, that goal of 18 months finally means something to me and I’m being stubborn about making it these last 6 weeks. Plus, he’s so cute when he signs “milk” and excitedly says, “Nonnnn!” (his word for milk – not sure why).

    We’re down to only 2x a day (morning and before bath/bed), but I’m about ready to make that 1x, before bath/bed. But I’m having a hard time actually DOING that, despite the pain. What is wrong with me?! : )

  45. Hugs! I know I will be there with my daughter soon enough– my son was weaning when he was her age (11 months), but she has shown no signs of stopping… in fact she must have just had a growth spurt. *sigh* It feels good that we’ll hit 12 months no problem, though. It is so wonderful you met your goals!!

  46. I know how you feel. My second was like that. I force-weaned him at 18 months because I did not want to be nursing past two. My advice, when you do it, is to hide well any nursing “gear” that might remind her of it. My little one was following me around carrying his boppy and crying. It was heart-wrenching! I finally found a place to hide the thing he couldn’t get at, and it got better after that.

  47. Good luck! Keep doing whatever works for you all. Sleeping is most important to me. So I always try to do what is best for our sleep routines! πŸ™‚

  48. Ok, I know exactly how you feel! I’m ready to be done breastfeeding (my kiddo is now over 2), but I want HER to decide she’s done. I don’t want to take it away. I don’t want to go through the “trauma” (yes I know it’s not traumatic, but it will feel like it at the time) of force weaning her. I know she will eventually stop on her own, but I also don’t think I’m ready to be the mom who breastfeeds her 4 year old. Thanks for putting into words what I’m thinking!

  49. Ugh, I know how you feel. Neither of my kids slept through the night until after they were weaned. The first one wasn’t SO awful, he weaned himself around 17 months, but I was also pregnant with the second. The second one I force weaned at about 21 months, because I went on a trip for almost a week. Turns out he wasn’t nursing so much as just using me for a paci. πŸ™ Now he’s turned into a thumb sucker, but at least he’s not hanging off of me. πŸ˜€

  50. The funny thing is your post about weaning Kendall was my go-to-guide for weaning Caroline. I didn’t have to wean my first, because I got pregnant and my supply dropped so much he quit on his own – something I NEVER thought he was going to do – although I was very ready to be done. I told myself I’d nursing Caroline until she was 2 but the chance to take a kid-free vacation came up and she’s never willingly accepted a bottle (it was HORRIBLE when I was gone for BlogHer) so I decided to start trying right around a year. Although she’s only been weaned for 6 weeks now I can barely even remember HOW we did it. But yeah, I was D O N E. Which is kind of crazy, because everything about nursing #2 was so much easier I sort of thought I’d want to do it forever.

    I can’t say I am AT ALL sad about getting to sleep through the night. Not even once for the entire 15 months we were nursing – and BAM – as soon as she weaned she slept.

  51. I’m not sure what I could tell you that the 63 other people that have commented haven’t already. I bf’d my first until 17 months-ish. The first 3 were pumping months, and I wanted a full year on-tap so to speak. My second is 8 months and she’s teething. No pacifier, no tylenol, nothing, except me. Apparently the nursing eases the pain. Dammit. So instead of sleeping through the night she’s up 2-4x per night. I’m exhausted. My other kid is up between 6:30 and 7 a.m. and then there’s my husband who gets up at 4 or 5. Therefore, I might get woken up at 11, 1, 3, 4, and 6. Eventually, I just give up. It’s horrible. But my first kid? Healthiest damn thing I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure I want to give up that protection for a few more hours of sleep. I guess my point is? I get it. Basically, I ended up putting my first one off, I’d distract her or offer her a snack when she got hungry. I didn’t hold her as much, because holding = nearness to the yummy smell of milk. Then when it was time to break the night time feeding? Daddy put her to bed. Maybe you’ll have a vacation coming up where you can lower the feedings per day and add in some more heavy-calorie snacks at night?

  52. I hear you! I’m only at the 13 month mark, but my sweet girl still is up during the night and nurses between 4-6 times a day. She’s been having problems with dairy and will take sips of almond milk, but this girl LOVES breastfeeding! I love the connection with her, and like you, I LOVE that she easily is soothed to napping/going to bed for the day. But, it’s the “still being up in the middle of the night” that is sucking my energy. I’m still have pregnancy brain, which really is lack of sleep brain. I’d love ideas on how to get her to drink something other than water. She does great with water and great with mama’s milk out of a bottle, but besides that…and the bottle is only when I’m not around. She doesn’t use a pacifier, and she doesn’t suck her thumb. That means…mama’s boob is her paci. Sigh. It’s a good problem to have, I know. But I’d LOVE to sleep through the night sometime soon….

  53. I feel you! I was done too. I decided to wean her cold turkey this past Sunday. Guess what? She’s slept 12+ hours straight the last 4 nights (knock on wood, please don’t let this jinx it!) She NEVER slept through the night before. And the only one who was in pain (or missing it at all) was me! Good luck to you and never feel guilty about weaning, sometimes it’s just what is right for YOU!

  54. I definitely understand. My toddler was (mostly) weaned because I couldn’t take it anymore, being several months pregnant at the time. Hormones suck. Because even when she decides she needs to nurse more than once or twice a day, I flip out and cut her off again. I still don’t want to give it up completely, though, so I let her nurse every now and then when she asks. I’m 26 weeks now, and I’m not sure if she’ll wean before this baby comes. Oh well. I’m sure I’ll cry about it at some point.

  55. I know how you feel! My little guy is 16 months old and still nurses 6-8 times a day (and night!) I am exhausted and would love to have my body back, but I am also attached to nursing him. I love looking down at him and seeing him smile up at me. I love how he sticks his feet in my face for me to kiss. Hang in there.

  56. you know, what you just wrote is exactly what i am going through with my LO, except he is 15mo. Even though his ped. says ‘nurse as long as you want’ she still raises her eyebrow when i say he nurses 4-6 times a day and wakes up at night to nurse. and the constant ‘still??? don’t you think he’s a bit old??’ from almost everyone around me. i am getting to be a bit over it myself too. at 13mo we finally got down to nursing only twice-nap time and bed time and i was totally cool with that. then he got a cold and ever since then he wants to nurse almost allllllll the time.
    i just wanted to say i am there too!!!!!! and it’s comforting for me to read that other women are going through the same thing, and i am not just incapable of weaning my kid– i don’t have the energy either!!!! i have a toddler!!!!!!!!!! it is so much easier to just stuff a boob in his face when he is crying than to listen to it and have him throw sippy cups and crackers across the floor.

  57. I don’t know if this helps but when some of mine were around that age (I have nursed 6 babies from 18 months to 2 1/2 years) they were constantly nursing and somehow in the next couple of months after that they just cut down on their own. I honestly gave up and used CIO with some of my over 12 month old little ones who wouldn’t sleep at night. I would never, ever use CIO with an infant but in the interest of my sanity I used it with a couple of my toddlers. I’ll bet if you can get her sleeping at night you’ll feel a lot more positive about those daytime nursing sessions.

  58. Autumn'sMommy on

    Ugh, I know how you feel…well, not exactly…but sort of. I have been pumping since Autumn was 7 days old…and am still pumping. She is 10 months. Autumn never learned how to latch so after 5 months of triple feeding (nurse, pump, bottle, start over in 15 minutes) I stopped trying to nurse her. No problem for her but I felt like a failure and people told me I would never be able to pump enough. I stocked my freezer. I mean STOCKED. I was pumping over 40oz a day and freezing whatever I didn’t need for Autumn. I had 3 months stocked in my freezer and just rotated it out…until…Autumn started refusing her bottles. My milk went sour when it froze. That was 4 months ago and guess what. It’s still in the freezer because I just can’t bring myself to throw it away. I am hoping baby number 2 (in the far future) will know how to latch:) Good luck with your weaning and you are amazing for still doing it. Oh, I am still pumping but only about 15oz a day and I will continue until I run dry!

  59. My son weaned himself at 11 months, he did it pretty slowly dropping a nursing session about every 2 weeks until he was down to just nursing at night before bed then one day he just refused to nurse and it was the end, I had plenty of milk to spare and ended up pumping for a while after just to keep myself comfortable until I dried up. I bawled my eyes out, I planned to try weaning on his birthday and for some reason I wanted it to be my idea not his, I felt rejected and no longer needed lol! My daughter is 8 1/2 months and hasn’t been as big a fan of nursing as my son was, she only wants to nurse before sleeping, any time in between is considered torture in her mind and she fights me. I have a feeling she’s going to wean herself just like her brother did, I can only hope it won’t be any earlier than 11 months, mostly because she refuses a bottle as well and I have no idea how I’ll ever get enough milk in her if she quits nursing too early.

    • My 1st son weaned gradually between 6-8 months old. If she weans herself and wont take a bottle, a tippy cup might work. We tried a trainer sippy cup with a soft top on it at months. He wanted nothing whatsoever to do with the bottle ever again. He loved that he could hold it and the milk came out easier. I would not try it until you’re ready for her to be done nursing or she weans herself though because it really sped up the process for my son. Nursing was work, tippy cup was easy and fast.

  60. I feel like you’re in my brain circa 9 months ago. Ava was 18 months old, still waking up at night, still nursing. I felt the same way, like a mix of it being a crutch because I knew it could calm her/get her back to sleep, and 50% like life would be easier without it.

    I’d give you advice, but to be honest, I kind of just let things run their course. I wanted to let her decide when to wean (within reason) on her own, without just cutting things off, and so kept up with it, though I did finally night wean, which took all of one night. Totally worth it. Once that happened, she started sleeping much better, which made everything easier for everyone in the household, and then gradually she lost interest. We just finally weaned last month.

    I guess my point is – hang in there! And also, 16 months is amazing. You should be proud!

  61. I know this feeling so well. I nursed my son until 22 months, I actually wanted to make it to 24, but I just couldn’t do it, and a lot of that reasoning revolved around sleep as well. The thing is, my toddler and I found so many new ways to bond and after weaning (it was sooo hard) I felt like our relationship became more diverse because his expectations of me became much more varied, no more was it a breast for everything gone wrong. And I really, really loved being able to comfort him in other ways than nursing. He also started sleeping later (it took a while, but it happened) when he didn’t have nursing to look forward to in the mornings. But it was hard to not fall back on nursing when he would refuse to nap etc…it is such a great crutch, or tool to have when you need it, comes at a cost though, doesn’t it! With my second one, I’m not giving myself a timeline, I’m just trusting myself to know when the time is right, whether he’s 12 months or 2.5 years. A mom knows when she’s a better mom without having to nurse. Good luck and trust yourself – you’ll know when the time is right.

  62. I didn’t read all the other comments, but I say stop. Give her a bottle or sippy cup and be done. Maybe thats being heartless but I have 3 kids. Nursing didn’t work for us. With my 3rd…the day I stopped nursing and gave her a bottle with formula (I know….what a horrible mother I am), that baby slept through the night and didn’t cry all day long! It was magical. Don’t feel guilty. Babies don’t need to be nursed for 2 years.

  63. I felt done nursing with my first earlier than she did, too… I also didn’t want to just “be done”, though. I know you weren’t asking for advice, so that’s not what this is, just sharing my experience =) what worked for us was that I would offer her a sippy cup or bottle (I forget which) of milk starting with her naptime feeding and we gradually just cut back. if she ever protested more than a tiny bit then I would just give her the boob, so some days she nursed more than others. shortly before she turned 2 she was fine with just the regular milk. I would always still cuddle her to sleep while she drank her milk, so that way we both got our cuddle time =) good luck with your journey, I agree it is a weirdly emotional thing =)

  64. I have totally been there. Weird thing happened though, at 15 months, when I was SOOOO over it (and feeling guilty that I was over it) my milk turned sour! Baby boy latched on, took a huge gulp, then he looked at me like “mom, WTH did you EAT???” and spit it all over my chest, That was the end of the boob buffet. The funny thing is, I didn’t change anything. My Nana (who BF’d 7 babies) told me my feelings turned it sour, she said it happened to her. Don’t feel bad. You’re a good mom. Leyna still has rolly legs and cankles and we all want to squish her!

  65. I haven’t read all the other posts but this is my two cents. You have to do what is right for your family. If she still needs to nurse, then let her. You know her best. It is such a small blip in the grand scheme of your entire life. I know it’s trying, but lots of things we do for our kids are trying. That doesn’t mean you have to nurse her every single time she asks though. It’s ok to occasionally say no. One thing that helped for me was to hold my daughter different ways, like in my lap but facing out, or high up on my shoulder. Positions that would not lend themselves to nursing. That way I could still comfort her, but not tempt her. You mentioned recently that you’re finally starting to feel more balanced, so maybe adding this kind of guilt (sudden weaning) is not a good idea for you right now. But you should be able to find a happy medium.

    That being said my 2.5 year old still doesn’t sleep through the night. She has ruined me. If I get more than six hours of sleep in any given night, I can’t sleep the next night because I’m not exhausted enough. So, weaning might not necessarily be the cure for what ails you ;).

  66. I am still nursing my 3 year old, so maybe you don’t want my advice! I found dealing with the emotional thunderstorms of two so much easier with the extra tool of breastfeeding. Of course I used other approaches too!

    We night weaneda while ago and that made a huge difference (I also stopped nursing her to sleep at that time) basically just told her that when Mr Sun went to bed it wasn’t nursing time anymore. It took about a week but now she a) puts herself to sleep and b) sleeps all night. We had lots of water available but nothing else. And my husband did all the night visits that first week. “Elizabeth, Mr Sun is sleeping. Mommy is sleeping. It’s not nursing time. Would you like some water? Ok. Go back to sleep!” anyway, start with night weaning. That’s my advice!

  67. I can totally relate. I nursed our first son till he was 17 months old. Towards the end I was not enjoying it anymore and from 16-17 months old I wouldn’t nurse him during the day anymore. He dropped his before bed nursing session at 17 months and never looked back.

    However, a few months ago, while I was still pregnant, he was jumping on his bed, hit his mouth and when I scooped him up he unsnapped my maternity/nursing bra and stuck his hand down my shirt. He asked to nurse and I had no idea how to respond, we hadn’t nursed since last June and it was now January. I went into little brothers nursery and he was able to just cuddle my boob to feel secure.

  68. I have nothing to offer but commiseration. My girl is almost two. I thought I’d be done brastfeeding at one. But no, she’s still going strong. I’ve cut down to mornings and night times and still, multiple times per day she asks for amm amm. Asking is the wrong word. Demands. Protests the injustice of the world. Throws herself on the floor in frustration. I’ve yet to give in, but still. Persistance, thy name is toddler.

  69. my daughter is almost 11 months old and I am still breastfeeding her at least 3 times a day plus nightime feeds……I know I will want to stop eventually but the knowledge that I can stop her crying by feeding her is priceless….I see people give older babies/toddlers bottles and I don’t comment so why comment on what breastfeeding mothers are doing?

  70. Oh, this brings back memories. Before my son’s 1st birthday I’d spontaneously burst into tears at the thought of having to wean him–it was such a special time, it felt right, and I couldn’t imagine stopping it all just because other people thought we should. So we didn’t. And then by the time he was 18 months I was doooooooooone. So done. But he wasn’t ready. So I hung in there, and little by little I nudged him, but NEVER forced him, to wean. I started with naptime and other daytime nursings (when I had the time and energy to distract him and patiently rock him and keep him happy and soothed in other creative ways). When he tried to nurse I’d kind of giggle like he had done the funniest thing and say “You’re soooo silly! Big boys don’t nurse at nap time/after breakfast/etc.” And then I’d tickle him and cuddle him and he’d somewhat bemusedly settle in for sleepy-time without having nursed. It almost turned into a game where he’d pretend to want to nurse and then say, before I could “Nooo—big boy!” and laugh. Soooooo much better than super-sad tears or having to let dad do all the rocking to sleep. If he was ever having a really hard time with it (sick, overly tired, just needy) and couldn’t settle without nursing, I let him. I didn’t want it to be a battle. Nursing was my favorite part of his babyhood, and I didn’t want it to end on a sour (haha–see what I did there?) note.

    Bedtime and middle-of-the-night nursings stuck around to the end (easiest for me, less traumatizing for him…I was still soooo desperate for sleep, and wanted to soak in those last special snuggle times). Then I realized that, slowly, I was able to get him to bed and then back to sleep without nursing him (he still never fully slept through the night until he was 2.5 yrs old, but that’s another story).

    The morning he turned 20 months old was the last time he nursed…I wanted an extra few minutes of sleep, and popping a boob in his mouth was usually a surefire way to make it happen. He nursed for about 15 seconds, and then hopped right out of bed, ready to play and start our day. He may have asked a couple more times after that in the days following, but was so easily distracted that it was a non-issue. And I was so, so relieved to have weaned him without tears, without losing sleep, without having to pop in ear plugs and guzzle a glass of wine (a method recommended to me), and when he seemed truly ready, even if it did take a little nudging from me over the course of a couple of months. And especially now that he’s a rowdy 3 year old making poop jokes and turning everything into a weapon (obviously you know all about this!), I realize that as old as everyone thought he was when they gave me the side-eye for nursing my 13…14…16…18 month old, he really was still just my baby, and I have no regrets about nursing as long as we did. I look back with fondness, but never miss it because it ended at the right time. I do miss my big ole nursing boobs, though.

    • Every time I see you comment, I smile. I’m not used to seeing the name Leyna from anyone else! Thanks for the insight and advice.

  71. Dear Jill,

    This may well be too late, but I just saw this because I kind of feel like a freak nursing my 21 month old. Even in my mommy groups, Laura seems to be the oldest breastfed kid, BUT there is a strong part of me glad to keep doing it. I look at the standing baby in your photo and I think “she’s so babyish, still”, so my advice is this: Stop breastfeeding through the night. Pick her up, give her water to sleep with, answer every cry, rock her if she needs to be held, but be boring and don’t offer breastfeeding. At least, that is what is working for me and Laura. I nurse her to sleep still and am glad to do so. It is what we have been provided to do. Lately, Laura has been pulling books off of the shelves after I get her into her jammies, so I know we are at the beginnings of some kind of childhood routine, but I am letting it develop organically. She sleeps really well, though 1 wake-up or 2, probably teething, for 12 hours or so. I nurse her when she wakes up, she even asks for it and demands that I wear the beaded nursing necklace I made. I also nurse her before her nap and late afternoon. That takes care of me too. I hope this helps you.

  72. I’m going through the same thing. I sometimes get upset because she will kiss her Teddy bears and dolls but refuses to give me kisses she only ever wants boobs. She’s 15 months and she just wants to nurse when she pleases. I’m trying to get her to wean but it seems like mission impossible right now. Her biggest joy literally is to nurse so I feel guilty taking it from her but I’m really ready for her to move on!

  73. Jennifer Kruger on

    You have completely summed up my feelings and situation tonight. I’m so done and my baby is 19 months. I feel so alone and tired all the time.

  74. I googled “I’m so tired of nursing my toddler” while nursing my toddler. She just nursed two hours ago. She’ll probably nurse one more time before her bedtime nurse, then 1-2 more times throughout the night, then she’ll probably wake up wanting to nurse. I’m so tired… What you wrote is exactly what I’m going through. Why is it so hard?!

  75. Lily Anne Hallmark on

    Oh my God. I’m so glad I found your blog. I was starting to think I must be crazy with all the other blogs and articles talking about “remind yourself it’s good for the baby.” Well, I’m over it, and trying to convince my 18 mo to be over it too is like torture and demon possession all in one small toddler. I know that I’ll miss it one day when she doesn’t need me, but right now, I just want to be done. (And we’re weaning gradually, but that doesn’t make the tantrums any better.)

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