6 ways you can make the transition easier for your child
The World Health Organization recommends nursing children up to age 2 and beyond. What they don’t mention is how to actually go about weaning a willful, verbal nursling who can kick, hit, throw a tantrum, or pull up your shirt in public. Here are six ways you can make the transition easier:
Talk it out.
Explain why Mommy wants to stop. If it’s physically uncomfortable, say that. But also try to frame the transition as an achievement. He might be more willing to go along with it than you think.
Going cold turkey may just make him want to nurse more. “The child is emotionally attached to you on a lot of levels,” says Leigh Anne O’Connor, a lactation consultant in New York City who runs a La Leche League group for mothers of nursing toddlers. “Remember that you’re taking something away that’s really important to him.”
Start setting boundaries.
Instead, start by restricting nursing to specific times and places, such as only in the living room or during the day. This will lessen the likelihood of big public arguments down the road, too. “Be very clear, be consistent, and stick to your guns,” says O’Connor.
If he asks to nurse, instead of just saying no, offer special time with Mom as an alternative. Choose activities that show him other ways to be close to you, such as snuggling or reading a book. And keep healthy snacks and drinks readily available!
As tempting as it may be to say “Nursing is for babies, and you’re a big boy,” the phrase might not have the desired effect. “They like to be big, but they like to be little, too, and they’re still entitled to be little,” says O’Connor.
Weaning is a rite of passage, and if you frame the transition in a positive light, your child might feel proud to move on. But don’t be surprised if he requests to nurse again months later. Just gently remind him that nursing was a nice thing you did together when he was younger, but now you don’t do it anymore.