Our Breastfeeding Weaning Journey: Tips & A Guide For New Moms on How & When To Start
My little girl is now 13 months old and although she is not completely weaned off breast milk, she is no longer drinking it during the day. She goes about 12-13 hours a day without breastfeeding. How did I get her to go almost an entire day without any breast milk?
Well, the process began when I put her in daycare and I started my full time job. At the time when all these changes occurred, she was 11 months old and was not feeding as often. She was already having 3 solid meals a day so, her breast milk intake was cut down to about 6-7 times a day. Every morning at around 7 am, before taking her inside the daycare, I would breastfeed her in the car. I would pack 2 bags of 4 ounces of pumped breast milk for her. One would be for her to have at around 10:30 am, just before her lunch and the other for after lunch, at around 1 pm. I would take my lunch break at exactly 12 pm so that I can drive to the daycare and breastfeed her. In most instances I would leave her napping after I fed her. Luckily for me, my daughter's daycare is exactly 5 minutes away from the high school where I work so, going back and forth wasn't ever a hassle. Later, I would pick her up after work at around 2:30 pm and I would breastfeed her before our long drive back home.
After a few weeks of being in daycare and getting adjusted to their new routine, she no longer needed the midday (12 pm) breastfeeding. Every time I would get ready to go breastfeed her, the daycare caregiver would notify me that she was already napping. Once she turned a year old, I decided it was okay to skip that feeding altogether.
A week later, I began introducing her to whole milk (coincidentally I had already depleted my pumped milk freezer supply). I introduced it to her during the weekend while she was at home, this way if she had any type of allergic reaction she wouldn't be sick in daycare. Thankfully she did not have any negative reactions to the milk and actually did very well with it. On that Monday when I dropped her off at daycare, I sent her with 2 bottles of whole milk instead of breast milk. Later, I realized she was only drinking one bottle of milk (4-5 ounces) while she was at daycare, probably because she was getting a much larger dose of solids and other fluids (apple juice and water) during the day. Now, after I pick her up from daycare, she usually wants breast milk right before dinner and then right before bedtime (one thing that has not changed at all). During the night she usually sleeps for a good 5-6 hours before she is up for a feeding and then once more before we leave for the day at around 4/5 am. (Yes, I know, I thought we would be done with the night feedings at this point too!) I'm not sure if this is the recommended servings of dairy a baby her age should be getting in a day. However, she does consume plenty of cheese and yogurt in the day as well. (She loves eating mozzarella string cheese and Greek yogurt!)
Recently, (this week actually) my husband and I have decided to allow her daycare to provide her daily meals and snacks. I was a little hesitant at first because as you may understand if you are a mom, prepping my daughter's meals gave me a sense of security that she was eating well and getting the nutrients that her body needs everyday. Also, the concern of what they may or may not be feeding her or what ingredients are being used to prepare the food at the daycare had me a little worried. What allowed me to be okay with this was that I truly trust the people who take care of my daughter. They have always been so transparent and honest with me. Not to mention, they go out of their way to provide parents with a weekly meals schedule this way we know ahead of time what will be fed to our children. I have to admit though that the best part about it all is that I no longer have to spend so much time prepping meals for my daughter. The only thing I have to pack for her in the morning now are her sippy cups (empty), her spoons, and I still add some extra snacks just in case I have to pick her up later than usual. With all that off my shoulders, I now have time to get more rest in the morning and have more time in the evenings to work on homework or get other things done.
As I mentioned before, today, I am still breastfeeding my daughter at night before she goes to sleep, once during the middle of the night, and early in the morning. Of course, when she's going through a teething phase, these feedings tend to increase during the night which, can get so painful for us moms. Your breasts begin to increase milk supply and then you are left with engorged breasts when you don't feed once the phase has passed. This can be one of the most difficult parts of weaning but, I must say it hasn't been too bad for me because I have been going through the process gradually instead of all at once. Whenever I did get engorged, I would just pump at the end of the day once I arrived home and stored the milk in my freezer.
*A Few Tips for you moms who are looking to get started on weaning:
1) Be sure to have an adequate supply of breast milk stored in your freezer.
2) When the time is right to begin, you will definitely know.
3) Start introducing your baby to all kinds of foods and begin a routine of 3 meals a day and in between snacks before you begin weaning.
4) **Most importantly, GRADUAL WEANING is always best. If you do it all at once, you will only create more pain for yourself due to engorged breasts and you may hinder your milk supply altogether. In other words, if you still want to breastfeed during one period of the day.
To be honest, I did get a little sad when I realized I no longer was spending as much time with my daughter breastfeeding. It truly does build a bond and a connection unlike any other with your child. I'm just glad that I was able to provide this to my daughter and that I am still able to do it today. Despite the many challenges and sacrifices it took, I know it was the best thing I could have done for her. Being able to say that I have been successful in breastfeeding, fills me with so much joy and pride because I never thought I would've made it this far...
...Sew This is Life!