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Weaning Plan, Take 3

Yes, I know, been-there-done-that moms everywhere are probably still laughing at me for my naïve expectations that Plan 1 or Plan 2 would actually work.

Or, for that matter, that I still hold out hope of Maddie following any plan at all.

So here I am, back at the old drawing board, but I swear, some of it’s not my fault! For one thing, it turns out my daughter has a cow’s milk allergy. For another- well, I guess that’s the only thing I had no control over.

Where am I now? We’re down to three nursings a day – early morning, naptime, and bedtime. And since it’s not a requirement nutritionally and doesn’t interfere with any part of our day, I almost consider her weaned.


I’ve realized that I had some vague idea in my head that she’d be replacing her breastfeeding sessions with a cup of milk – a sort of equal substitution thing. That’s never going to happen; she simply doesn’t drink that much soy milk. And as I think about it, that seems a good thing since I couldn’t figure out exactly how she’d drink a bottle of milk right before going to bed, get up to brush her future teeth, and get back in bed. So now I’m giving both of us a break and not trying to push the soy milk so much at specific times.

I guess I’ve gotten a bit more relaxed over breastfeeding and weaning in general, since I’ve realized I’m not going to force her to wean cold turkey and she’s not unbuttoning my blouse in public or anything. She’s perfectly content to be without the boob in her everyday life; she doesn’t even ask for it for comfort if she’s hit her head or had a trauma. My OB is very proud of me for still nursing, encouraging me to wean naturally rather than on a forced timeline. And at this point it’s more routine than anything else, so I simply go with it. And I’ll confess, the groove we’re in has distinct advantages for me.

First off, the morning nursing. She’s been waking around 6 or 6:30, nursing, and going back to sleep until around 9 a.m. I think getting up at 6 a.m. for five minutes is a fair trade for getting to sleep in until 9 a.m. Call me crazy. She doesn’t nurse again when she gets up for the day, so it really is the one time in the morning. And I can differentiate between her sort of lonely or bored whimpers – which happen occasionally around 3 or 5 a.m., and which I allow to work themselves out – and her cry that says, “I’m hungry and can’t go back to sleep.” If she were drinking a significant amount of another type of milk I suppose I could offer her a cup of that, but it’s just as much effort so what’s the point? And since the cow’s milk is out and she only drinks about four ounces at a time of soy milk, I stick with a nursing.

My hope is that she’ll gradually go longer and longer before waking to “eat”, and since she doesn’t nurse upon waking that morning session will be dropped naturally. And indeed, the situation shows signs of that being the case: the past couple of mornings she’s slept a bit later before nursing – say, 7:30 or so – and not been able to go back to sleep after that. So we’ll see, but I think that will be outgrown in the next month or so. (I say naively.)

As for her afternoon nap nursing, we’re working on that one. She nurses, gets drowsy or falls asleep, and I put her in her crib, so it’s a rather vital part of her sleep time routine. If she falls asleep I wake her slightly so she sees me leave, so I know she can fall asleep on her own, and often she’s fully awake when I put her down. But it’s such a set part of the order that it’ll be hard to cut without being noticed.

Right now we’ve added in book reading in the nursing chair right before nursing. Soon, I hope to nurse, then read the books, and finally skip the nursing and go right to book-reading. I could probably put her down in the crib cold turkey at this point; she’d cry for several minutes for a few days and probably not sleep as well, but she’d get over it eventually. I’m reluctant to do that unless necessary, though, since I think she’ll drop it on her own soon and I enjoy the quiet time with her.

Which leaves us with the nighttime nursing. Hopefully, once the afternoon nursing gets dropped and the book-reading works out, I’ll be able to do the same thing at night fairly easily. Again, I’ve heard stories from girlfriends of babies eventually – around 15 to 18 months – not wanting to nurse at night, so I’m happy to let it work out naturally. And truthfully, it’s my favorite snuggle time with her so I know I’ll miss it. As it is right now, she nurses, is many times still awake and points towards her crib or even makes the “finished” sign. We say a few prayers together and I tuck her in. I love the nighttime routine.

We’re finding ways to make the soy milk thing work: little points throughout the day when she needs “down” time and we curl up with a book and a cup, that are quickly becoming part of her regular routine. But I was mistaken to think the sippy cup would be a substitute for nursing. The nursing’s about more than the nutrition she gets from breastmilk.

And at this point, the weaning is for both of us. I love her independence, but know I’ll never get that snuggle bug back. So we’ll do it naturally and I’m confident it will happen in good time, probably over the next couple of months.

You’ll know it’s happened – I’ll be partly jubilant and partly melancholy.

And partly ready to go bra shopping. 


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