Ever since I found out I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed my daughter until she was 2 years old. Not only is it recommended by the WHO, but also my religion recommends for mothers to breastfeed their children until then. The reasoning? The child receives about 60% of their immune system support from the mother by the age of 1, and receives 100% of their immune system from the mother by the age of 2 (Read more from the sources at the bottom of this article). Everything that the mother touches and her immune system develops a “vaccine” for in her body, automatically gets transmitted to the child and boosts the childs immune system for these viruses and bacteria as well. With that being said, when I continued breastfeeding my daughter past the age of one, I received a lot of criticism from family and friends. Many were shocked as to why I was still nursing my “talking and walking” child, but I stuck to my guns and said that I’m not stopping nursing her, just because It makes any of you uncomfortable. I know what the best thing for my child is, and It may not have been the same one for them, and that’s okay. Each mother makes her own decision on how she takes care of her child, and what’s best for them.
The biggest issue was that once your child “knows” what nursing is, that it will be extremely difficult to stop. And I get that. That was my first time nursing my child, because she’s my first. I wasn’t terrified at the thought of how I was going to stop, I was more terrified at the thought of actually stopping. It was such a bonding experience between my daughter and I, that I really didn’t want to lose with especially me being the more disciplinary parent. I felt like that was our only bonding moment where there weren’t any rules or disciplining, just love, support and bonding beyond parenting.
My biggest fear was my daughter thinking that I am all of a sudden rejecting her. I really didn’t want her to feel like I all of us a sudden didn’t want her to nurse. At that time we had gone down to 1 nursing session per day, that was at night. I decided to make the process of weaning gradual, nothing cold cut and dramatic. Within two months before she turned 2, I asked my husband to help support the weaning process by tucking her in her bed. I started out by doing one day me (and nursing) and one day him (and not nursing). It was difficult, and she would ask to nurse after she woke up to make up for not nursing at night. And some days I nursed her then, and some days I didn’t. There are no specific “rules” or “guidelines” on how to stop. You just have to listen to your child’s needs. If you feel like they really want to nurse one day, nurse them. If you can extend it out and remind them that now they’re older, and they don’t need to nurse anymore, that would be better. I also prepared Organic Kefir Milk for her every single morning before she woke up to give to her right away. This made it SO much easier in having her stop nursing, and she truly enjoyed the milk so most of time she accepted with no resistance and we moved on with our day.
Then one month before she turned two, we lengthened out the process by doing 2 days in between with no nursing. After she turned 2, we decided to push it longer, about 5 days in between, until we slowly stopped. On her own, she stopped asking to be nursed, and I always explained to her if she ever did that she’s grown up now, and that she didn’t need Momma’s milk anymore. Organic Kefir Milk always substituted for a dropped session since she turned one. I never gave her Organic Whole Milk because Kefir Milk provides so many more beneficial gut bacteria and benefits than whole milk does. Not only that, but it also contains a lot more protein than regular milk. But I will save more information on that for another post. If you are trying to wean your little one, here are my recommendations:
- It’s a gradual process, not cold turkey. Remember, you have bonded with your child since birth while nursing, and you shouldn’t just cut it out one day. They love your bonding sessions more than anything, and need it to thrive and grow. Let it be gradual for both of you.
- It’s not perfect. There is no specific rule or guideline on how to do that. Feel out your childs needs, but at the same time let there be some form of cut off point. Don’t nurse your 2 year old 5 times a day, because they just ask for it. If I nursed my daughter every single time she asked for it, at 2 years old she would’ve been nursing all day!
- Substitute a dropped session with a healthy alternative such as Organic Kefir Milk, which is my recommendation. It will draw their attention away from nursing, and will keep them happy and healthy.
- Be proud of yourself and your child. It’s not easy, and it sure is bittersweet when it happens. Find some support from moms around you who have weaned or are in the process of weaning. It wasn’t just something comforting for your child, Moms receive enormous benefits from breastfeeding their children as well.
These are my recommendations for weaning at my daughters specific age, of 2 years old. But this process may be done as well for any child over 1 years old, since at that point they don’t benefit from formula as much as they did prior to that. Paediatricians are now recommending that a formula fed child to be transitioned to whole milk after turning 1, and if have been nursing and need to stop then, you can also transition to Organic Kefir Milk instead.
More Sources On Extended Breastfeeding: