Weaning on two (or three!) different timelines

For a number of reasons including my sore back, my schoolwork demands, and our childcare schedule, I’m getting more proactive about weaning. (And, I think I read heard imagined that toddlers stop breastfeeding and start walking about the same time. Since our girls are almost 18 months old and still not walking, maybe this will speed thing up).

For the last couple of months, I’ve shifted more and more to the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” approach to feeding during the day with scheduled feedings first thing in the morning and at bedtime. A couple of weeks ago, I cut out the morning feed.  Now, they are usually just feeding at bedtime, though sometimes if I’ve been working all day and dinner is going to be later, I feed them to address both their hunger and need for mommy-time.

I’ve been convinced for a while that R is ready to wean. She is most interested in breastfeeding when her sister is doing it. She does not initiate or expect to feed nearly as often as her sister. When I cut out their morning feedings and went straight from bed to breakfast, and she didn’t even fuss. In the afternoon, I can distract her with tickles or by looking out the window.  At bedtime, she is often too distracted to really feed.  She is more interested in what her sister and brother are doing, or in watching the ceiling fan, or “honking” my nose.  After two or three interruptions in as many minutes, I give her a hug and kiss and put her to bed.

My other girl, S, is on her own weaning schedule. When I started the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” approach, she was wanting to feed on the same schedule as before (after meals, before and after nap, in morning and at bedtime, at least). She comes looking to breastfeed way more often than her sister, and she is hard to distract. When I cut out the morning feeding, for a few days, I had to sneak in and take her to the other room to feed her before R woke up because she was so upset about not eating.  Even after a couple of weeks, she still wants milk first thing in the morning, though I’m not feeding her. When she sees me after a day of work, she wants to feed and a bedtime, she feeds without interruptions, and often asks for “more.”

I was hoping to phase out evening feeds in the next week or so, but I don’t see that happening. S is still very much interested in breastfeeding and R wants the same attention as her sister.  With their big brother, we changed his bedtime routine so Daddy put him to bed with a story instead of breastfeeding with me.  But, our schedule right now won’t support that change. So, unless the girls wean themselves, I think we’ll continue like this for another month or so.

How did you wean your children?  Did they wean at the same time? If not, how did you deal with it?

9 thoughts on “Weaning on two (or three!) different timelines

  1. I let my two self wean for the most part. One of them weaned at 15 months or so and the other nursed until 26 months. I did not find it was in tune with their motor development but my guys are very motor driven.
    As for dealing with one still nursing and not the other. The one not nursing usually sat with us with his sippy cup while we nursed, so it was still a cuddling time for all three of us.
    I was not in a hurry for them to wean. I knew that I was most likely not having any more children so my breastfeeding days were limited. It was definitely easier though once one weaned!

  2. I weaned them at 12-13 months. I was pleased to have BF them, but also ready to be done.

    Once I dropped a feeding, that was it. I also never tandem fed them, so when Idropped one’s bedtime feeding, I had Daddy do his/her bedtime story for a few nights—maybe 3-5. We dropped the day ones first, them evening, then morning. It was probably over in a couple of weeks. That said, it was really ME pushing them to be done—-I think if I had left it up to them, I might still be BFing. (They are three).

  3. I’m so impressed you made it 18months- wowser! I wish I had advice for you, but I only lasted 7 months, and my girls were never very good at nursing (that’s preemies for ya!), by the end it was mostly pumping anyway. So I’ll just say congrats and well done on making it this far, and good luck with the weaning.

  4. Our boys were done around 12 months. We started supplementing around 10 months because I couldn’t keep up with the demand and once they got used to the ease of bottles they really weren’t interested in nursing. So by one we were ALL ready to be done and one day I just stopped.

    I have had friends with older twins that found a way to break up the normal routine, one even went away for a weekend, to transition them away from nursing at scheduled times of the day.

    Good luck and congrats on making it this far nursing two!

  5. I weaned my girls at 18 months in a situation that sounds fair similar to yours. I had one daughter that would nurse all the time as much as I would let her and the other one only wanted to nurse when her sister was nursing, but she still wasn’t that into it. They were starting to wrestle and torment each other because of the difference in their interest in nursing and it started becoming very unpleasant. I was done. I cut them down to just nursing when they woke up and right before they went to bed, and then talked with my pedi about it because they weren’t showing any signs of losing interest. He recommended ripping off the band-aid and just stop nursing them all together and using the pump to relieve myself as needed until my production dropped. He thought it would make for a pretty bad week, but that it would be over sooner rather than later. That’s what we ended up doing, with lots of help from Dad during the first two weeks during regular nursing times. I also never went near our glider. It was a rough couple of weeks and we all cried at different points, but after about four weeks they stopped asking altogether and we’ve replaced all that nursing time with cuddle time reading books in the glider. It was nothing like the weaning experience I thought I’d want, but I was really ready to be done and it has been a good thing for the three of us. Congrats on making it this far and good luck with whatever you decide to do.

  6. oh boy!
    I’d love to wean my guys (26 months old), but I honestly have no idea how to even begin.
    I’ve done the don’t offer, don’t refuse, but seriously, I have some boys who would nurse all day long.

    I’m going to try to get on more of a schedule with them, and then try to start cutting out some feedings. Phew. It’s hard work!

  7. I BF my twins and each weaned at different times. My son weaned himself around 8 months b/c he preferred the bottle (faster, easier) at that point. He was already getting picky on which side he preferred so he’d gone to only eating off one side…and then within a few weeks, gave up all together. My daughter went to almost 13 months. She was still nursing but her lack of attention was driving he crazy! She was down to 1 or 2 sessions by that point and she would play around more than she ate…so I finally made the decision to stop then. She was a bit frantic the next night or two but thankfully was ok by the 3rd night. I worried I’d made the wrong decision at the time though.

    My 3rd son I BF until 15 months. He only nursed 2x a day from 11 months on and took a cup just fine but he did NOT want to give up his morning session. He actually chose bedtime stories over nursing around 14 months and then we started offering him a cup of milk in the mornings at that point which he angrily smacked away for days and still nursed. My husband tried to take him in the mornings then and some days he’d take the cup and other days he’d still hit it away and come look for me. We kept trying and then suddenly we realized that he’d taken the cup a couple days in a row and not asked for milk from Mama. He’s 17 months now and part of me is glad to be done but part of me is sad that I’ll probably never nurse again. I enjoyed it with all 3 babies.

  8. This post couldn’t have come at a better time. My almost 16 month old twins are still nursing and I am starting to feel ready to wean. I have the same problem though– one daughter who LOVES to nurse and one who would likely wean on her own if she didn’t see her sister breastfeeding. I have no advice, just commiseration.

  9. At about 2 1/4, my son started weaning. At first he was really ambivalent — he would say no, I would say fine, but then when he saw his sister nurse he would want to… and then sometimes not want to. At some point, he just stopped. My daughter showed no signs of stopping, so for a few months it was just her nursing, and he never wanted to. Finally, I had a 4 night work trip and at over 2 1/2, explained to my daughter I was going away, and when I came back my milk would be gone. She asked the first couple of nights I was back, but then was fine. I think weaning on separate schedules definitely worked best for all 3 of us!

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