Thursday, October 15, 2015

Weaning the Gentle Way

Naila will be 2 in a week! I can’t believe it. She’s so big already! As of now, she’s officially stopped nursing. She still has her formula milk everyday, I made sure of that. So the big how?

Being a stay at home mom, she nurses direct latch exclusively. All this while, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.. Baby has been nursing since birth, it’s super natural to her. So I thought of it as a long term goal ever since she turned one.

I also do not let her nurse to sleep starting about 8 months old. So she knows how to sleep without nursing, even before I started weaning her.

Around one year old, I began to introduce formula milk to replace her afternoon nursing session. This was for personal reasons as well. I was always out with her around afternoon, so it was the most challenging feed. In the car, in the surau, in the toilet. Yes, you name it… I’ve fed her everywhere. That’s why I started with afternoon first. In fact, according to breastfeeding advocates, afternoon sessions are the easiest to eliminate or substitute because babies are too busy to care. Haha.

She was curious enough to try formula milk, and soon afterwards, she took to it like a champ. So that was my first step to weaning. It stayed that way for a few more months. I was still nursing her in the morning, evening, night and maybe about twice in the middle of the night.

When she hit 18 months old, I replaced the morning feed with formula. She protested at first, but I was really persistent.. It really helps if daddy is the one giving her the formula. The beauty is, at 18 months, usually babies can be persuaded with words—they kinda understand and they don’t really rebel yet. They are more at a curious and agreeable stage which is perfect!!

Why morning feed next? Simply because the night feeding is the hardest to get rid of!

Then at about 22 months, I decided to wean her off completely. Well. It was emotional for me. I think it was harder on me than on her. She was growing up, she’ll get over it. Me, on the hand, have to get used to the idea that my baby doesn’t need my milk anymore to survive! She’s growing up too fast! If I gave in, she might as well continue nursing until she was 4, I think.

So, to completely wean her off, I had to get rid of all the night feedings. Meaning that, if she cries at night, I had to say shush and put her back to sleep. No more easy way of quieting her down. This was the critical part. Once I started, I couldn’t go back.

The first step is an inspiration from my friend. She talked to her daughter a few weeks leading up to the wean-off. That’s what I did. I told her that soon, she has to stop milk. I actually said, “Naila is big already. Later, no more milk okay?”.

I said it every time during a feed. She usually gives me a confused look. But I continued doing that until… finally one day I just decided that’s it. It’s time.

Nursing has always been part of the sleep routine. Maybe I’m abit cray cray but I’ve had Naila on a sleep routine since she was 5 months old. It was bath, quiet play (shadows, plundering mystery box sort of thing), books, nursing, then sleep. She EXPECTED nursing after books. She always smiled and said,”Want Milk!” So this was HARD.

But there wasn’t any other way. After books, she said, “Want milk!” as usual. I looked at her all serious and stuff, and said, “ mommy’s milk finish. No more. Finish!” I still remember her looking confused, tilted her head and was all, “milk finish? Oh ohh”. That was that. It was just a matter of following up everytime she asks for milk.

I gotta explain this part. By this time, she understands what finish means, because every time she has her formula milk, we shout “finish”!!! when the milk is gone.

In the middle of the night, whenever she cries, I said, “go back to sleep. no more milk, Naila.” In the beginning, she’ll toss and turn, sometimes sobbing a bit, but eventually she’ll go back to sleep. Now she’s slept through the night.

So that’s how I weaned my baby at 22 months old without using ‘asam jawa’ or lipstick or salt.

If it seems too simple in the end, I think it’s because of the preparation before weaning. She knows that formula milk tastes good, she knows what ‘finish’ means, she knows she has to stop soon because I talk to her about it. I did not force her to stop weaning cold. Instead I spread out the process to a few months so she can get ready herself.

Macam psiko dia la.

And it worked! So in the end, no tears (maybe mommy’s). Naila is happy, Mommy is happy and freeeee! For a while, that is.

Til then! Have a nice day!

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