Are you feeling burnt out from nursing? Is it just not working for you? Gentle weaning can help you wean in a peaceful and respectful way.
If you love nursing, if breastfeeding is working for you then keep going! Save this page for the future if and when you are ready to wean 🙂
If nursing isn’t working for you, if it’s causing you to feel burnt out (checkout more on parental burnout in my podcast episode) here are some tips for gentle weaning.
How to wean in a gentle, respectful, and peaceful way:
#1 Get clear on your why
Whenever we want to set a boundary or make a change in our lives it’s crucial that we get crystal clear on why we are doing so. What reason do you have for this that is logical and based on your deep intuition or common sense? It will be very hard to face our child crying in the middle of the night begging us to nurse if we are not very rooted in our why.
Maybe you are feeling touched out and starting to get resentful of nursing. That is a really good reason or “why” to wean. When you ground yourself in your reason you know that it is worthy of conviction and will better be able to follow through.
#2 Make a decision and write it down
Write down your decision. Write down any boundaries you choose to make when it comes to nursing.
Examples of Gentle Weaning boundaries:
No more comfort nursing – if he gets hurt I will soothe him in other ways without nursing
Times of day – I’m only nursing in the morning, evening and one time in between
Frequency – I’m only nursing every 2 or 3 hours but no more than that
Location – I’m only nursing in the living room or bedroom
Writing down your decision sends a message to your brain that you mean it. That what you’ve written down is something you want to focus on. It reminds you that you made the decision and what that decision and associated boundary was.
When you want to get results you’ve got to put a stake in the ground and say this is what I’m committed to doing.
#3 Establish Alternatives
With your new boundary in place what are you going to offer instead of nursing? How are you going to comfort him when he is upset about the boundary?
This is not about distracting your child. We are trying to transfer the needs that were met by nursing to be met by some other alternative that’s more appropriate now for this new stage that we’re entering. What is another way you can meet that need without nursing? Maybe they are thirsty and you can offer water instead of nursing. Or maybe your child just wants to feel close and connected and you can offer to snuggle up with a special blanket or story to meet that need.
#4 Get others on board
Get other people on board to help you. Whether they help to keep you accountable to the boundaries you set or help support you. Tell those people your new boundary and plan.
#5 Think gradual
Every kind of new behavior is more easily acquired when it is a gradual process, especially with children. Perhaps your baby is nursing every hour right now and that’s too much. So you set the boundary to nurse no more often than every 2 hours. Then from 2 hours you stretch to every 3 hours. Then to only twice a day. At some point along that journey your reason may be resolved.
You wanted to wean because you were feeling resentful but now that you are down to only 2 times a day you actually find you enjoy it again and want to keep going. Or maybe at that point the nursing will fizzle out and your child will self-wean at that point.
It should be a gradual process that you are committed to. You have written it down, you know your plan, your timing, your alternatives, and most importantly, your why.
#6 Have your child spend time with others during those times
If your child is used to having access to you to nurse for comfort. Or if nursing has simply become a regular habit. It becomes much harder to break that habit when the child is constantly with you.
If Daddy or Grandma can come take him for a walk during this time that can be really helpful. Instead of sitting on your lap and smelling the milk and wanting more he’s out watching the birds fly by.
Set your child and you up for success and for less frustration by creating little breaks where you aren’t together.
#7 Accept and invite in the crying
When you do set the boundary chances are your child will have a big emotional reaction to it. It is going to be sad for him. He’s going to want to nurse. Prepare yourself for those emotions and tears. You can comfort and soothe him and let him know you understand.
As much as you can, just sit with the tears, sit with the sad feelings, acknowledge them, validate them and empathize with them. The feelings are okay. Crying is okay. The process is is good, healthy, and healing. (For more on “big bad feelings” checkout this blog post).
Remember this is NOT something terrible you are doing to them. You do not need to feel guilty (more on mom guilt here) or that you are a bad mom for setting this boundary. Many others before you have done this and many after you will as well. Sometimes we need to set these boundaries. Our children can handle it. Our children are allowed to be sad. To grieve and mourn and be disappointed they have to give something up that they love. They will be okay and you will be okay.
#8 Involve them in the process
If your child is verbal enough and can understand enough then involve them in the process. Ask him where he would like to nurse? Ask him what he would like instead when he has to wait for nursing but is hungry or thirsty. You can make them feel more empowered in the process instead of something that is just happening to them.
If you’re feeling burnt out from parenting in ways other than nursing. or if you feel like you’re just dragging yourself through the days and you desperately need a break please checkout my podcast episode here on how to avoid parental burnout.
I would love to hear from you! Have you ever weaned a child from breastfeeding or the bottle? If so let us know what helped you to do it in a conscious mindful way. If you haven’t weaned, I’d love to hear if these steps are steps that you think might be helpful for you on your gentle weaning journey. I know that these conversations can help other parents! Please leave your comments below or over in our (free & awesome) FB community Love Parenting with Avital.
↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓