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Monday, December 7, 2015

WEANING FROM BREASTFEEDING TO COWS MILK

I'm going to miss this view...
Weaning from breastfeeding/formula is actually a gradual process from birth! As you take away feedings and graduate to the next phase, you might not be thinking about weaning yet, but you are well on your way. I'll talk about the specifics of the later months below, but to start off, here is a look at how our transition took place month by month:

Newborn (1-2 weeks): 8 scheduled feedings during the day + ~3 MOTN feedings
Newborn (3-4 weeks): 6 scheduled feedings during the day + 1 MOTN feeding
Month 2: 7 scheduled feedings during the day + 2 MOTN feedings
Month 3: 5 scheduled feedings during the day + 1 MOTN feeding
Months 4-8: 4 scheduled feedings during the day & no MOTN feeding
*Started solids in month 4 
Month 9: 3 scheduled feedings during the day & no MOTN feeding
Month 10: 2 scheduled feedings during the day & no MOTN feeding

The 2 nursing sessions that we had left during month 10 were first thing in the morning, and about 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime. Going down to 2 feedings was when I really started to focus on weaning. Our goal was to wean from nursing at 12 months of age.

My plan from here was to remove the morning feeding at 11.5 months and replace it with whole milk.

At 12 months, we would remove the last feeding before bed and replace it with whole milk as well.

Caroline's doctor preferred that we wait until closer to 12 months before introducing whole milk. Two weeks didn't seem to matter in my mind, but we went with the flow.
 
My new plan was to then remove the morning feeding at 12 months, and 1-2 weeks later remove the bedtime feeding.

What actually happened was an accelerated version. I needed to be on medication that was not nursing friendly 1 week prior to Caroline turning 1 year old. As a result, with doctor approval, we weaned her off of nursing in pretty much 3 days.

Our actual weaning process:

- 1 week prior to turning 1 year old: Removed morning feed & replaced with whole milk.

- The next day: Removed bedtime feeding as well & replaced with whole milk.
Caroline was NOT happy with this, so I nursed her before bed.
 

- Day 3: Only whole milk offered.

It took Caroline and I a few days to adjust. She was not used to the taste of cow's milk, and we had to figure out the timing and temperature for her to drink the milk successfully.

Our goal was/is to get 12-20 oz of milk in her per day, and this was not happening in the first few days.


Here's what ended up working for us:

- Offering milk first thing in the morning and as a snack after her 2nd nap. These have become the 2 big offerings. We offer about 6 oz each time.

- Offering a little bit before bed. She typically doesn't want this, and she also doesn't ask to nurse. We offer about 4 oz and she drinks probably 1-3 oz depending on the day.

- With meals we still only offer water. We want her eating solid foods, not getting full on milk.

- Warming up the milk helped a ton! She likes it as hot as I can make it without it burning her! (She's become less sensitive to this after a couple of weeks).

- Having Daddy offer milk. At first I made the mistake of offering her milk when I normally nurse her, and even where I usually nurse her. That was a no go before bed anyway. We had Daddy offer it, and, while she didn't really drink it at first, she also didn't cry to be nursed.

- Offering in the same style sippy cup that she's been using for water. We give her a heads up that it is milk, but since she's accustomed to drinking out of these sippy cups, we wanted to keep it the same.


All in all, the process went extremely smoothly for us. Caroline never seemed to bat an eye or really complain about not being nursed. It was a bittersweet process, and I struggled emotionally with not nursing anymore over the course of 3 days- it was just more sudden than I had envisioned. In an ideal world I would have been able to stick to the plan, but we all know- that doesn't usually get to happen!


Here is my letter to Caroline as we stopped nursing. I might have cried while writing it, and every time I've read it since...

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