How will I know when my ten-month-old baby is ready to stop breastfeeding? Sam is ten months old and I would like to wean him. I've been back at work for three months. I started out pumping and storing milk but I couldn't keep up, and when all the milk in the freezer ran out we started giving him formula. During the day he gets formula from his nanny, but once I get home, he wants to nurse several times during the evening.
My husband is very supportive of whatever decision I make, but I think that he sometimes feels Sam would go to him more often if I weren't breastfeeding. If the two of them are alone together, they have a great time, but as soon as I come into the room Sam only wants to be with me. Is it too soon to stop breastfeeding?
It's hard to say when Sam will lose interest in breastfeeding. Some babies wean themselves toward the end of the first year, but most babies keep nursing as long as they are offered mom's breast. You've nursed Sam for almost a year now, so congratulate yourself! By now he's received most of the nutritional and immunological benefits of nursing. Most women in this country don't nurse their babies as long as you have, and I hope that you take pleasure and pride in what you have accomplished.
You aren’t alone in your feelings. Sometimes nursing begins to be a drain on a mother's energy and can make you feel as though you have less to give to your child and your family. It's hard to be away from your baby during the day and to then feel that you have to leave the room so that Sam and his Dad can have fun together! Dads often feel excluded by the nursing relationship, and it takes a very strong a secure man to be as supportive as your partner has been. These feelings of both moms and dads have to be considered when you decide to wean.
To help you decide about weaning, first ask yourself: Do you still enjoy nursing Sam some of the time? Even if you think you'd like to stop nursing altogether, you might want to take gradual steps and see how you feel as you make changes in your nursing pattern. One of the best ways to gradually wean an older baby is to structure your time together so that you limit the opportunities for him to nurse. For example, you could begin by nursing Sam when you get home, once more in the evening before bed, and again in the morning before you leave for work. You'll probably have to stay busy in the evening, playing outside or going for a walk while Sam gets used to this new pattern.
On your days off, stick to the same schedule, but make an effort to get out of the house and away from the places Sam associates with nursing. During the evenings and on weekends, try to take breaks and leave Sam alone with his Dad. As their relationship becomes stronger, Sam will begin turning to his Dad for the comfort that babies often associate with the nursing relationship. As their begins to change itwill be easier for you to decide whether you want to cut back further on nursing.
You may find that once you are nursing less frequently and your husband has more time with Sam you will begin to enjoy the remainingbreastfeeding times. You can continue with two or three nursing times a day, or continue to gradually wean. Most moms find it easier to first end the morning feeding (which sometimes means getting up and dressed before your baby is awake!), and then a few days or weeks later to end the evening feedings. Wait at least 3 to 5 days between dropping each feeding so that your breasts stay comfortable. If your breasts feel overfill, express a little to soften them so that you don’t become engorged.
Don't be surprised if you feel somewhat sad and teary when you finallywean Sam. It's natural to feel sad when you end a special time inyour life as a mom. Take lots of time to enjoy playing and cuddlingwith Sam as you learn new ways of relating to each other.