Why I Had to (Practically) Cold-Turkey Stop Breastfeeding My 1-Year-Old

Mom with her 1-year-old baby girl watching her baby girl eat an apple slice
Image from Deposit Photos

I am a big fan of Baby-led weaning for breastfeeding. Really, I am. It worked great for my 3 older kids. One stopped breastfeeding around 16-17 months (and honestly, I wish I had done it a touch more baby-led and not for societal pressure, but that’s a story for another day. She was still happy and fine).

My 2nd went the longest and stopped feeding at 22 months old. He’s a lot like my 4th, but baby-led weaning still worked.

My 3rd breastfed until 20 months old.

With all three, I found out I was pregnant before they were weaned completely.

My 4th was a different story. She was a lot like my 2nd. She really loved the comfort of breastfeeding, all day and night long, which was how my 2nd was too. They just loved being snuggled and held a lot.

Honestly, I loved it too and it made life so convenient. If she got hurt, I just had to feed her for a minute and she was happy. If she woke up in the middle of the night, all I had to do was breastfeed her and she would go back to sleep, a good amount of the time instantly.

Was that a bad habit? Not as a newborn or young baby. But as she was older? Yeah, probably in some ways, maybe not in other ways. She has never slept through the night and she is now 22 months old. Part of it is she is just not a good sleeper. She was actually a better sleeper as a newborn in some ways.

However, I feel like she also really needed the connection and comfort of know I was there. I think it is part of her personality. I didn’t mind though, because I loved to snuggle with her and she would so easily go back to sleep.

As she got older, she really started favoring nursing out of one side over the other. At first, I was really good about switching back and forth, and the favoritism seemed to go away after a while.

Finally, after she turned one. She really started favoring one side. I tried to feed equally, but she was very picky and around the time she was 18 months old I started noticing that I was becoming lopsided.

Then, next thing I know, the one side was producing way less milk and I was even more lopsided!

I decided around that time to try to even out the milk production and it helped a little bit. I also decided at the same time to try to wean her some more.

She was not having it!

See, she wasn’t really on a nursing schedule because she was also eating real food at every meal and snack time. Plus, she was drinking water and milk out of a cup.

She was also breastfeeding whenever she wanted to.

I mean, she kind of had a schedule. I knew she would nurse first thing in the morning before getting breakfast. She would nurse before and after her morning and afternoon nap. Plus, she would nurse at night, but like an hour before her bedtime.

Luckily, I had already started putting her to bed without breastfeeding her to sleep. I would feed her one last time about 30 minutes before it was time for her to go to bed, to make sure she wasn’t hungry, and to make sure she got all the snuggles and bonding time she needed before bed.

Then we would do our bedtime routine, which normally included playing with her siblings for a bit, getting pajamas one, reading a book to everyone (unless we forgot), brushing teeth, and then putting her in her crib to sleep. Then one of us would stay with her until she fell asleep or leave for 5 minutes and then come back to help her calm down and go to sleep and repeat that process with us always letting her know we were coming back and we loved her! She really loved us being with her and patting her back. Sometimes even listening to white noise or music.

However, those were not the only time she wanted to nurse. She wanted to nurse every time she was sad, or got hurt, or was tired, or just wanted comfort.

She would nurse multiply time between each feeding. Now comfort nursing is very important for a baby’s development, and I love it too! However, she was now 18 months old and I knew that I needed to help her find other ways to find comfort since she won’t be nursing forever.

When I first tried to ween her, I knew she was getting enough food, so I tried to only nurse her at the designated times I mentioned above and cut out all the comfort snacking. She wasn’t very happy with that and eventually I would give in. It did work a little bit though.

I would hug and snuggle her and distract her with toys and going outside and seeing if she wanted any food or water or milk in a cup. She was nursing a little bit less overall, but it was a lot of work to get to the point of her being okay with that.

She definitely had plenty of food during the day and food from breastfeeding.

Then I decided to try to take away one of her feedings after her nap. She really didn’t like that and most of the time she would not be distracted. It was hard on me also, since sometimes if I just nursed her again, she would go back to sleep for a little longer. So, I decided maybe that wasn’t the best feeding to cut out.

In the meantime, my breasts were very uneven, it wasn’t even funny. I don’t know if others could tell, but I could and it was quite a big difference. I even wondered if I would always be this uneven, even after I completely stopped breastfeeding.

I looked it up on google and everyone seemed to be saying that I would shrink and they would be mostly even afterward. They could be a little uneven but it probably wouldn’t be noticeable. So that gave me hope that I would one day be much more even!

I did keep trying to not have my little 1½-year-old nurse randomly and tried to stick to the schedule and cut down the snacking. I also tried to feed her more on the side she did not like as much, to try to even things out a bit.

That did help her wean a little bit, but she was very resistant.

Why I Practically Cold-turkey stopped Breastfeeding. Picture of baby eating an apple slice with her mom next to her.

I didn’t worry about it too much and tried not to make it a big deal. I was still nursing her a lot and I was snuggling her, loving her, and playing with her a lot too.

Finally, when she was 21 months old, I realized that for her, it would probably be best for me to practically go cold Turkey and stop breastfeeding her. Maybe just leaving in a night feeding or morning feeding to begin with and then taking those out too after a few days.

 She was 21 months old and honestly, I think it was a little confusing for her before when I tried to cut out a feeding. I could imagine her thinking “But Mom, I still nurse before and after naps and in the morning and at night. Plus, the middle of the night. So, why not now?”

By this point, most of the random nursing was gone, but she didn’t want most of the other nursing times to go away. I felt like it was time though. She wasn’t getting a ton of nutrition from breastfeeding, plus the nutrition she was getting, she also gets from eating normal food. Also, it was hard getting things done with all the breastfeeding, even though like I said before, I did love it.

I was hoping that her being weaned would help her sleep better since she would know after a few nights that there would be no nursing, so she would get back to sleep. I was also hoping that I would become even again sooner or later, hopefully before we did family pictures.

I knew she would still need a lot of comfort and snuggling and that I would have to find a new routine for us.

So, I had a conversation with her, telling her that this was the last day of nursing, and tomorrow there would be no more. She even nodded while looking me in the eye, like she understood.  However, she is only a baby still, so who knows what she understood or didn’t understand.

That night, I fed her liked normal. Then, I admit, I breastfed her first thing in the morning like normal. Because, you know, sleep is important!

Then I didn’t breastfeed her anymore, except first thing in the morning for a few more days and one short feeding in the middle of the night for like a week or so. The first few days she was a little sad and I had to tell her a few times that there was no more nursing. We are all done. Then I would offer to snuggle with her or get her some food to eat. She would then get a little mad or start crying. Sometimes, she would go crying to daddy for comfort, and other times she would let me comfort her.

We gave her a lot of love and attention. We made sure she had extra delicious snacks and was getting good meals and lots of water and milk.

Luckily, my husband took the week off since there was a holiday and he wanted to get some house stuff done. It helped a ton having him home to help distract her and help put her down for naps.

We had lots of snacks and food to distract her with, we played games, played with toys, her siblings distracted her, we went outside a lot. Something about going outside really helps babies and kids to be distracted and feel better. Probably all the fresh air, the sun shining, and all the fun things to do.

I admit I didn’t go 100% cold turkey, but practically. I only fed her first thing in the morning for a few more days and only once at night for 15 minutes at the most. The next night 10 minutes, then weaning her to 5 minutes. We stayed at 5 minutes or so for like a week before we said no more. Even just feeding her once at night was a big improvement. Before, she was still nursing multiple times at night.

She actually did sleep better the first week of doing this. But, don’t worry, she’s back to not sleeping as well.

Then after a few mornings of breastfeeding her still. I finally said no more nursing in the morning. She had already had breakfast and was coming to have a nursing snack. I was happy to snuggle with her, and she was happy to snuggle with me, but the breastfeeding was done in the morning and during the day completely.

We did come up with a new routine to replace nursing. I love nursing and was so glad I was able to do that. Because you know, Nursing is so hard at the beginning, it was so painful the first few months with all my kids. Though my first was the most painful. I don’t know how I made it through the first month or two with Breastfeeding! Seriously!

I am so grateful I got to nurse as long as I did and loved snuggling my sweet little girl while nursing her.

Our new routine is my husband getting her breakfast with him, since he gets up early anyway.

Then, every morning after breakfast, she would come snuggle with me. Then, I get up and she goes “Swing! Swing!” while pointing outside. We then go sit on our newly refurbished patio swing and swing together with her sitting on my lap. It is such a peaceful, sweet time. Just snuggling and enjoying my baby who is getting so big!

We do the same thing after naps also. I love it! Even as it has gotten colder, we still go swing outside. We just bundle up and enjoy the beauty of nature.

I think it was a big success to going kind of cold turkey with nursing and I think it was what she needed.

I loved Nursing, but I also love the new routine we have for snuggling and spending time together and I also love watching her grow up and become more and more independent.

Check out some of my other Parenting Articles:

  1. 7 Thoughtful Ways Parents can Help Kids Calm Down
  2. Teaching My Kids Boundaries by Playing with Me, Their Mom!
  3. What 12-18 Month Old Baby’s Love
  4. 13 Ways to Practice Self-Care when you are Grumpy in Front of Your Kids

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