Motherhood is blissful, and a blessing! Yes, we’ve heard this time and again and many of us have been lucky enough to live these moments. To look at the wonder you’ve created with a wow, and to nurture them every single day is a priceless feeling. Yet, it has the other side, often less spoken of. Being a mom is a constant challenge. Think of a breastfeeding toddler – isn’t it an exhilarating and simultaneously frightening experience?
Exploring, discovering, unfolding, and learning something new every single day. The first struggle that a new mum faces is to start breastfeeding her baby- help them latch, lactate enough, and feed them well. The warmth of your little snuggled up to you and feel of their breath on your skin – nothing can define this feeling in the world. Yet, it’s tiring; it can take a toll on you physically and mentally. There are prying eyes all around to see and judge if you’re doing good at the mommy job.
Tears or trauma? The journey of a breastfeeding toddler and her mother
I spent some laborious months, sitting up to sleep-deprived at crazy hours, trying to reassure myself that by nursing the little one I was giving her one of the best gifts and it will only help us grow intimate. As the years went by, breastfeeding became a daily ritual and an irreplaceable part of our ‘us’ time, till the day I realized that my little one was not so little anymore. As I said, came another challenge. Our nursing relationship felt complete. I had to step out to work and my milk supply wasn’t enough anyway (so breast pump was out of the question). It was time to stop.
Breastfeeding my toddler has been the best bonding experience for the two of us.
But it had to come to an end. And I didn’t know where to start. I read all the possible books, searched through the internet, spoke to family and friends. After a flood of trial and error methods of trying to fool her with a bottle of disappearing for a few nights, nothing felt quite right. I wanted to do it gently, do it ‘our’ way, without tears or trauma.
Extended breastfeeding problems
Many women experience a lot of pain due to sore nipples, cracks and cuts, and engorgement and blocked ducts. Discomfort becomes a constant companion and can cause annoyance to a young mother.
My easy weaning tips for a breastfeeding toddler:
However important it is to breastfeed a 1-3-year-old, weaning off a breastfeeding toddler of their greatest source of comfort, nourishment, and the connection is not quite easy. I decided to take small steps that would distract and comfort her at the same time.
1. Tried to make my baby feel like a big girl
I made attempts to counsel her on how she’s not so little anymore. I tried to encourage her into doing things that toddlers do, often doing things together and making her feel slightly grown-up and independent. What really helped while doing all this, was repeatedly talking her through things that are meant only for babies. Telling her that giving up on breastfeed (of course in her language) is a part of it, and while I know it’s hard and different, it’s also brave and a proud thing to do. That she’s the best, I love her and will always be there for her.
2. Reduce the number of feeding sessions
I decided to reduce the number of times I breastfed my toddler in a day but it was tough. From three, it first went to two, and finally one. It was discomforting for her at first, for she was used to the soothing sessions. It was unnerving for me but the tough hour was shorter than the day before. Then came the decision to put a final full stop. She wailed all along, it was heartbreaking for me, but I went on with it and soothed her each time. Within a few days, the tears were gone.
3. Substitute feed time with snack time
One thing my husband and I consciously agreed on was that breastfeeding would not be a 100% wholesome meal anymore. We ensured that when it was time for her feed, we distracted her into creative activities and gave her some healthy snacks to munch on while at it. By doing this we made sure she wasn’t hungry and wouldn’t ask for breastfeeding as an alternative to food. Gradually it was reduced to a soothing act. It took time, but we finally succeeded.
I’m glad I chose to follow my instincts, my route, and my styl.Bby-the-way, it all went smooth and both of us saw a seamless, organic transition.
Breastfeeding after 2 years (non-stop)?
After a while, putting a stop to breastfeeding my toddler seemed like no big deal. I’m glad I decided to take this step one day. We enjoyed each mommy-baby moment as she stuck to me all those years. Now, we have newer reasons to bond, more occasions to celebrate, and a lot of time to discover love and life.
by Swati Mehra