Family life

When is the right time to wean your toddler?

With her daughter’s second birthday a month away, our SAHM blogger wonders if there ever is a right time to wean

By Jennifer Pinarski
When is the right time to wean your toddler?

Crdit: Chickpea via Flickr

I know Facebook has some wild voodoo analytics, but it seems that every day there is a post that relates to breastfeeding your toddler. Some posts are for tips on weaning, some on on how to make it last longer. (This hilarious post from Jezebel hits the nail on the head) None of which help my cause — I’m still breastfeeding our nearly 2-year-old daughter and don’t know whether or not to wean or keep going.
I have a love/dislike-because-hate-is-a-bad word relationship with extended breastfeeding. I’ve blogged about it for Today’s Parent before. I joke that her feeds are down to twice a day — once when she wakes up and once before she goes to bed, without a break in between.
  • When our daughter had a wild 36-hour fever over the holidays, the only thing she was taking in was breast milk. 
  • I love the way she snuggles in for “bo.” (Thankfully she’s stopped saying boobies)
  • It heals any ouchie.
  • My husband is a huge supporter.
  • She breastfeeds her dolls and stuffed animals and is the most adorable thing ever.
  • It gets her to sleep and back to sleep at night.
  • Her lack of impulse control means that she’s exposed the Girls in grocery stores, coffee shops, hardware stores and mall food courts. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problems with nursing in public, but the self-serve is humiliating.
  • Being a SAHM mom means that the Girls are on call 24/7. There is no break from it.
  • Having a nearly 25-pound person climbing and pulling on your breasts is no fun.
  • As if my Girls weren’t already trashed, they are absolutely destroyed now.
  • It gets her to sleep and back to sleep at night.
It’s that last one in both the love and dislike lists that I am having the hardest time with and I know it is the worst parenting habit and fall-back to have. After our son, I swore I would never nurse our next baby to sleep because bedtime and night weaning was such an emotional battle. But here I am, in a deeper hole than I was four years ago. I’ve read so many articles and blog posts about sleeping and weaning and night weaning that I know how to go about it. And we have given it a try, but end up caving. One night last week was the best shot we gave it — and no one, except for our son who could sleep through a monster truck rally — got any sleep. For three hours in the middle of the night I tried everything but breastfeeding to get her back to sleep. And it worked — after being up between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. The next day was just so awful between temper tantrums and tears and just plain exhaustion that we went back to night nursing the following night. 
Part of me figures we’ve had a good run, and I’m sure, given a choice, Gillian would breastfeed forever (I also thought the same about our son who self-weaned at 21 months). On the other hand, this is our last baby, and she is growing so fast that I’m clinging to breastfeeding as the last baby-ish thing that I can offer her (I don’t count diapers like Tracy does).
And here I am again, full circle from the beginning of this post. Ready to move on, but not quite. Ready to let go, but still holding tight. 
What has been your experience with weaning your baby?

Photo by Chickpea via Flickr
This article was originally published on Jan 16, 2012

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