Weaning While Tandem Nursing

weaning while tandem nursingBreastfeeding two children at the same time was not my plan–it just happened. Whenever my son saw my newborn nurse, it triggered him to want to also.
I attempted to wean my son from nursing as soon as I found out I was pregnant when he was 13 months old.  He was not having it.  Thinking about what would happen when my daughter was born gave me anxiety.  Finally, my midwife educated me about tandem nursing and encouraged me to accept the fact that my son would most likely want to breastfeed once he witnessed his sister doing it.  So, I started the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” method of weaning.  My son was down to nursing one time per day before my second baby arrived.
My 21 month old son didn’t nurse for 4 days while I was in labor and in the hospital after delivery.  I was hoping that meant he may have been weaned.  That was not the case.  When I returned home, he wanted to nurse.  The frequency that he wanted to nurse increased over the following weeks.  It was overwhelming and exhausting for me.  I felt like a milk machine.  The time had come that I had to break the news to my toddler that his days of nursing were coming to an end.
I knew it would be tricky to break him from nursing all together, especially since he would be reminded of it throughout the day when I fed his sister. To my surprise, once I got serious about it, it wasn’t as difficult for him as I thought it would be.  In fact, it only took one week for him to be completely finished. The following are techniques I used to end his breastfeeding journey:
Singing an upbeat song while he nursed.  One day, I started singing one of his favorite songs (“I’ve Been Working On The Railroad”) anytime he nursed. The next day, I told him that I would sing the song one time and when I was done singing, he had to stop.  Each day, the song got shorter and shorter.  It turned into a game for him.  He actually liked showing me that he understood the game and stopped at the exact time he was supposed to.  After only a few days, this seemed to change nursing for him.  Breastfeeding was no longer something that helped him fall asleep or soothed him, due to the distraction of me singing.
Refusal and redirection.  When my son did ask to nurse, I would say, “Not right now,” and would redirect him to another activity.
Offering other milk options.  Many times when he asked for “mamas milk”, I gave him the option of having pumped milk in a cup or frozen “milk ice” in a bowl.  Those were his choices.
Feeding the baby in private.  For the first few weeks after he stopped nursing, I tried to feed his sister someplace that was out of his site.
Talking about the change.  Communication was key during this transition.  I explained that he no longer was going to have mamas milk because his baby sister needed to have it.  We talked about the other drinks that he could have instead.
Quality time with his mommy.  Having a new baby in the family had to be hard for him to understand. Especially a baby that
took over his food supply and that he had to share his mom with.  I made sure that I spent one-on-one time snuggling, reading, and playing with him as much as often as I could.
Sarah Cole is a stay at home mom of two toddlers who hopes that her youngest will wean from nursing easier than her oldest child did.

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