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.
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 and it was time to stop breastfeeding my toddler. But 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 or disappearing for a few nights, nothing felt quite right. I wanted to do it gently, do it ‘our’ way, without tears or trauma.
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 council 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 always 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. It started 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 heart-breaking 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 decided that breastfeed for my toddler would not be a meal anymore. We ensured that when it was time for her feed, we distracted her into creative activities and gave her some healthy snack 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 an act meant to soothe her. It took time, but we finally succeeded.
I’m glad I chose to follow my instincts, my route, and my style, by-the-way, it all went smooth and both of us saw a seamless, organic transition. 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