It’s official – my breastfeeding days are coming to an end. Amazingly, I’ve been breastfeeding for three of the last four years – a feat I never would have expected in those excruciating first weeks of breastfeeding Claire. Heidi just turned 18 months in August, and we’re ready to start the weaning process.
I remember when I stopped breastfeeding Claire at 18 months, I didn’t really know how to go about it. Most of the articles I could find about weaning gave advice on weaning an infant, but there was little or no information about how to wean an older child. In the end, I came up with my own weaning plan, and it worked really well for us. I’m going through the same process now with Heidi.
By the time each of the girls was 18 months, they were pretty much down to nursing first thing in the morning, and before going to sleep. For the most part, unless someone scraped a knee or bumped her head, we were nursing just three times per day. For a week or so before we planned to stop breastfeeding, I cut back on the duration of each of the nursing sessions. Then, with Claire, Jesse took over morning wake-up, nap time and bed time for three days straight. I tried to stay out of Claire’s sight for the first hour or so after she woke up (extra sleep for me – yay!), and Jesse put her down for her nap and bed time. After those first few days, Claire had pretty much moved on.
Right now I’m working on reducing the duration of the breastfeeding sessions with Heidi, and it’s going quite well. Interestingly, it seems to be helping with the sleep issues that have been plaguing Heidi since we got back from the U.S.! And this weekend I am going to sneak off to the beach (!!) for three days, while Jesse takes over mornings, naps and bed times.
Weaning Heidi is bittersweet, to be sure. I will miss those bedtime cuddles, and those sweet moments together in the quiet hours of the morning, listening to the birds. I will miss the adorable way she says, “Nyonyo time for Heidi,” after her bath. And I will miss watching her become drowsy, eyes heavy, cheek pressed to my skin. But Heidi is a fiercely independent little babe, and the time is right for both of us. On to the next milestone…