Q&A: How can I wean my 17-month-old?
I'm trying to wean my 17-month old from the breast and she is stubbornly refusing this effort. This is my third child, and the other two were weaned at one year, but this time nothing seems to work. The harder I try the more she resists. She will refuse to eat solid food and wants only to nurse some days.
She still doesn't sleep through the night despite my best efforts, and for every feeding she misses during the day she'll simply awaken at night to make it up. I know I should ignore her at night and I try, but she will not go back to sleep!!
Her pediatrician says he isn't concerned as long as she continues to grow well (she's the 90th percentile for weight and 97th for height). I've been trying to wean her for months and with her advancing age she has embarrassed me in public lately opening my shirt! Public nursing is not something I've ever been comfortable with. I'm hoping you may have some ideas.
You should first congratulate yourself for providing the best nutrition for your daughter for more than one year!
Most studies showing the benefits of breastmilk involve the first six months-one year. There is no set age for weaning, although the majority of children are not on the breast at one year. It is a personal decision.
When making the decision to wean, you have to take into account not just your baby, but yourself and the rest of your family as well. If you decide it is time, create a plan and stick with it! Consistency is absolutely key in shaping toddler behavior.
If, by refusing the solids, your daughter gets what she wants in the end, her refusal will be reinforced for the next time. Although it is tough to watch your child NOT eat, NO child will starve him or herself. None. Once hungry enough, children seek food to eliminate the unpleasantness of hunger.
Here are some tips:
1. Make sure your whole family is on the same page and supports you and your plan.
2. Be sure to continue to give your child time with you alone, so the warmth and TLC that the act of breastfeeding also provides isn’t taken from her.
3. Choose the time of day that finds her least fatigued and in need of a snuggle to first eliminate the breast, and stick with that pattern. The transition times upon awakening and going to sleep are usually the last that a child wants to forgo. The middle of the day (apart from naps) is often the best.
4. Lastly, even if your child’s temperament makes his weaning process your toughest, remember not to let any guilt sneak in. This process should NOT make you feel bad about your mothering skills.