A Toddler Weaning Blueprint: Wean Without Tears

A Toddler Weaning Blueprint: Wean Without Tears

As a Midwife and Breastfeeding mum with over 15 years of personal breastfeeding experience, I am so thrilled to introduce to you my  Toddler Weaning Blueprint. This blueprint has been so helpful, especially during my own epic tandem feeding journey of my two oldest boys, who are only 18 months apart. While tandem feeding was a beautiful experience, I eventually felt it was time to gently nudge my toddler towards weaning, leading to the birth of my Toddler Weaning Blueprint, something I have shared with thousands of mums over the years.

I must emphasize that, in line with WHO recommendations, I typically advocate for breastfeeding until after 2 years old. However, I  recognize that every breastfeeding journey is unique, and I respect the choices made by mums who may chose to wean slightly earlier.  

With a blend of personal expertise and clinical skills,, my Toddler Weaning Blueprint aims to empower you on this sometimes sad and scary path of weaning your little boob barnacle.

Weaning a toddler is a gradual process that requires time and patience. I strongly advise against fast or sudden weaning, as it can be physically and emotionally challenging for both you and your little one. My Toddler Weaning Blueprint consists of 8 simple steps that should be followed in sequence for the best results while maintaining a G.E.N.T.L.E approach.


The 8 steps in my Toddler Weaning Blueprint are as follows:


  1. Assessing Readiness


Before you start your weaning journey, it's super important to check if both you and your toddler are emotionally prepared for it. This step is essential as it sets the tone for what's to come. Reflect on any recent life changes and ensure you're mentally, emotionally and physically  ready for this change.  Imagine how your daily routine will change without those magic boobie moments. If picturing life without boobies  feels doable, then you might be ready for weaning. Also, have a chat with your toddler, if appropriate about the idea of reducing boobie time—depending on their age, it could help them understand.


  1. Gradual Reduction of Nursing Sessions


Take it easy: Start by thinking about the breastfeed that  your toddler seems least interested in and gradually phase them out first. The morning and bedtime feeds are usually the toughest ones to let go of, so maybe leave them for last. Toddlers are always on the go, so those quick boobie breaks between playtime and meals are often the easiest to drop. When you cut back on these feeds, introduce alternatives like healthy snacks, sips of water, or fun activities to fill the gap. Slowly increase the time between feeds to help your toddler  adjust to the new  routine smoothly.


  1. Establishing a Consistent Bedtime Routine


Look, I totally understand that consistent bedtimes might not fit every family perfectly. With 5 children of my own, I know that "lights out time" can vary, but while the time might be different, it's the consistent routine that really matters. Finding a routine that works for you and sticking to it as much as possible will be so beneficial. I recommend setting up a soothing routine that suits your family. Think about incorporating calming activities like a warm bath, reading a favorite bedtime story, and snuggles before lights out.

As you navigate the weaning journey, introducing a comfort toy can be a game-changer. Getting a new comfort item like a soft blanket or plush toy can provide your toddler with a sense of security and comfort along the way. You might even have one on hand already.


  1. Handling Persistent Requests


I should have really titled this one "Handling Persistent Requests from Your Obsessed Boob Barnacle." Weaning without tears from both you and your toddler is the ultimate goal. That's why I urge you to remember that each of these four steps are to be done with the G.E.N.T.L.E approach. Staying consistent, gently, is a tool you will learn. Please be gentle on yourself too. But once you have made the decision to wean, being consistent will get you the results. Firmly stand by your decision when your toddler insists on feeding, offering reassurance and alternative sources of comfort like cuddles, belly rubs, head massages, or even sips of water.

I definitely urge you to master the art of distraction, which is so important when weaning your toddler. Try offering them their favorite snacks or enjoyable activities like singing, dancing, and reading to redirect their focus away from nursing.

When appropriate, clear communication can do wonders. Explain to your toddler in simple terms that boobies are not an option at certain times; over time, these new habits and routines will form, leading to better understanding and cooperation.

 

  1. Night Weaning Steps


The key to eventually night weaning your toddler is a gradual reduction of the amount of feeds and the duration. Basically, reduce the duration of night feeds gradually, allowing your child to adjust to shorter feeding sessions over time. When I was aiming to wean my toddler while still breastfeeding his baby brother, I would count down in seconds how long he could feed; this method worked surprisingly well. 

During this time of night weaning, try offering soothing alternatives such as gentle patting, rocking, or singing to help your toddler transition to self-soothing techniques without relying on breastfeeding. 

Asking and communicating with your partner for their involvement can be a good idea. Ask them to help provide nighttime comfort and reassurance to facilitate the weaning journey.

 

  1. Co-Sleeping Adjustments


I just want to say that it's possible to co-sleep and  night wean. Again, think of this as a gradual transition: reduce nighttime nursing sessions while maintaining the closeness of co-sleeping, gradually shifting the focus to non breastfeeding forms of comfort. Offer non-nursing comfort, such as physical touch, calming words, or a familiar bedtime routine, to provide comfort and security during the night.

 

  1. Nutritional Considerations


Keeping a balanced diet for your toddler is essential. Remember that brreastfeeding your toddler can provide:

29% of daily energy needs
43% of protein requirements 
75% of Vitamin A requirements
60% of Vitamin C requirements
76% of folate requirements
94% of vitamin B12 requirements
36% of calcium requirements

So, ensuring that your toddler receives a well-rounded diet comprising fruits, vegetables, fats, whole grains, and proteins to support their growth and development is important as you wean. You may wish to explore milk alternatives such as cow's milk or your favorite alternative.


  1. Monitoring Progress and G.E.N.T.L.E. Principles


This is the last official step of my Toddler Weaning Blueprint, and it's understanding that weaning is a gradual process that may require lots of time for full adjustment. Be patient and flexible in tailoring your approach based on your toddler's responses and needs.


With each of the 8 steps, remember to embrace the G.E.N.T.L.E. Principles:


Go gradually and gently.


Here are the G.E.N.T.L.E. Principles once more for your reference.

Gradual: Progress at a pace that suits your child's comfort level, allowing for a smooth transition.

Empathetic: Acknowledge the emotional bond fostered through breastfeeding and seek alternative ways to nurture that connection.

Nurturing: Approach the weaning process with care, understanding, and an abundance of love to support your child's emotional well-being.

Thoughtful: Consider your child's feelings and needs throughout the weaning journey, ensuring a supportive and respectful approach.

Language-focused: Communicate openly and clearly with your child about the weaning process, using age-appropriate language to involve them in the transition.

Encouraging: Provide continuous support, encouragement, and reassurance to your child during this transformative period, reinforcing the strength of your bond.


Thats, all for now. If you found this blog helpful, you might be interested in my full Toddler Weaning Blueprint 💫coming soon💫 Join the waitlist here

 

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