How I Weaned Our Breastfeeding Toddlers: The Only Trick That Worked For Us

Last month, I left my family.

My husband.

My two boys.

Our home.

…and I went to my parents house in an attempt to wean our 26-month-old who was still way too reliant on nursing.

Before becoming a mom (back when I was a perfect parent), I vowed to never let our kids sleep in our bed, watch TV before they were 2, or nurse past 1 year, but guess what? We co-sleep with our 5-year-old AND two-year-old, my oldest’s first word was “Elmo,” and I nursed both boys until 22 and 26 months.

See? They take up hardly any room at all!

See? They take up hardly any room at all!

Oops.

The problem with co-sleeping and nursing is that breastfeeding during the night becomes a pacifier for your child, resulting it neither of you sleeping well until the habit is broken.

At 22 and 26 months (respectively), it was time for the habit to be broken, and for mama and boys to FINALLY get a good night of sleep!

But just how does one do this when you have a walking, talking, strong-willed 2-year-old?

In the case of my oldest, it was this one simple trick!

In the case of my youngest, it was leaving for 2 nights, followed by this one simple trick!

What’s this trick that I recommend to anyone and everyone?

I actually wrote about this on my personal blog 3 years ago (after weaning my oldest), so I am going to share my original thoughts in italic and add more at the end:

For those who might not know, Jackson used to ONLY fall asleep while nursing -- and half the time he'd sleep most of the night in bed with us. I was petrified to wean him, and saw nothing but misery in his, Brandon's, and my immediate futures. But alas, I knew that it needed to be done... but how?

After consulting my good friend, the internet, I discovered lots of helpful (and not-so-helpful) advice on how to wean and encourage self-weaning.

The first tip? Rub on a little lemon juice just before nursing your toddler.

GENIUS, right?!

Nope... not for my son, apparently. We tried it a few times before our Houston trip, but he apparently decided he could look past it.

Next was a concoction of orange juice, lemon, and salt.

Didn't even phase him.

Vinegar?

Nah.

By this point, I was feeling so discouraged and was beginning to accept the fact that he'd probably nurse until he was in high school when an idea popped into my head...

TAPE!

After consulting Google for "tape nipple weaning" (don't really Google this, btw), I found a thread in which a mom said she used Band-Aids and told her daughter she had "ouchies" anytime she asked to nurse.

Since the vinegar and lemon didn't work, I didn't have too much hope for the Band-Aids, but figured we'd give it a go.

The last time I nursed Jackson was as he feel asleep on Thursday, October 1st. Luckily (and unusually), he didn't wake up until 6am, at which point I told him I had "owies" and couldn't nurse him. After several attempts at nursing through the Band-Aids (and lots of tears from both him and me), he finally succumbed to the fact that it just wasn't going to happen and cuddled on the couch with me while watching early morning PBS cartoons.

From that point on, it kept getting better. I had a pretty big meltdown that Friday afternoon, but after cuddling and napping with my little brown eyed, blonde hair boy, I felt much better.

Jackson is now sleeping the ENTIRE night on his own and wakes up bright and early each morning with a big smile on his face. It's amazing just how much his sleep habits and appetite have changed since he stopped nursing, so I know that this was the best thing for him (though I'd be lying if I said I wasn't still a little sad about it...)! The only big downside? He won't nap unless he's in his stroller or car seat. Oh well... baby steps, right?

As for me, I hurt a bit (from being engorged) the first few days, but didn't have any clogged ducts/mastitis/anything else along those lines. I feel very blessed to have had such a smooth transition from nursing!

After returning from my 2 nights away last month, I showed up with band-aids already on, which my youngest found intriguing. While he did not try to nurse through the band-aids, we did have a tough couple of nights adjusting to sleeping without nursing, so there were A LOT of tears once again, followed by lots of back rubs and random meltdowns (my weaning son had a hard time, too… ha).

In total, it took about a week for my youngest to sleep soundly through the night without nursing and guess what? He has never slept better AND has way more of an appetite than ever before!

I know that nursing can be a controversial topic, so to all you moms out there who nurse until your child is 4 or 5, you are a unicorn and I admire you so very much! Because of an upcoming mini-getaway with my husband and 26+ months of not getting a full nights sleep, it was our time end our breastfeeding journey (which I have decided never gets easier, no matter how many kids you have), and I am happy with our new bedtime routine of reading books until he falls asleep on my chest.

Preschool at School HQ is obviously geared toward preschool-age kids, but I know A LOT of preschoolers have younger siblings, so I wanted to share our experience with anyone else looking for tips to wean their toddler.

how to wean breastfeeding toddler