5 Tips To Stop Breastfeeding For a 2-Year Baby
Is your toddler still breastfeeding? If yes, then we want to tell you that our heart fills with joy to know that. If people around you have been nagging you to get your toddler off breastmilk, turn deaf ears to them. Weaning should comply with your and your baby's wishes and needs.
We assume that your 2-year-old has a hearty meal three times a day and turns to your breasts for some cozy time, not for nutrients. If you are ready to wean your toddler and have been struggling with how to do it, here are a few tips to help you stop breastfeeding for a 2-year baby.
1. Use the Power of Communication
At 2 years, your toddler has a decent power of comprehension. They are aware of things happening around them and can take and execute commands effectively. So, at that age, if you try to explain something, they can grasp what you are trying to convey and process it better than a few-month-old baby.
Therefore, effective communication can assist you in weaning your toddler. Tell them that they are growing up. Encourage them by expressing that you are proud of them for being a big baby who can walk, talk and eat independently. Generate interest in them about the exciting things growing up can expose them to.
In this process, sprinkle the fact that older babies no more require breast milk. Tell them they need to make space in their tummy by giving up breast milk to enjoy other, more delicious foods.
Make sure you don't reprimand them for still wanting to breastfeed just because you have decided to stop breastfeeding. It is an emotional affair, so give them time to process what you said. It might take several tries, but do not lose patience.
If they are not ready for the conversation, don't impose. Wait for a few more days and try again.
2. Restrict The Number Of Nursing Sessions
It is better if you do not stop breastfeeding cold turkey. That way, weaning from breastfeeding won't be too hard on your toddler. In addition, you can prevent painful episodes of engorgement and mastitis, which usually occur when your breasts become full of milk, and your milk ducts are blocked and inflamed, respectively.
If your toddler is actively breastfeeding, start by dropping one nursing session at a time. Breastfed kids usually have a hard time sacrificing the morning and nighttime feed.
Therefore, to not overwhelm your toddler, begin by dropping the afternoon feed. If they ask for it, then distract them with their favorite snack, read them a story, take them out, or play with them till they forget what they asked for.
If they nurse before bedtime and multiple times overnight, then cater to just their bedtime nursing needs. If they wake up at night to feed, comfort them by cuddling and snuggling them.
If it gets too tricky, then send your partner or any other family member to put them back to sleep. Not having you around them will make it easier for them to digest the fact that they are not going to get to breastfeed.
3. Don't Offer Until They Ask
When trying to stop breastfeeding for a 2-year baby, you no longer should feel obliged to offer your breasts as many times as your baby normally feeds. Wait and let them lead. If they are happy with their breakfast pancake or are too busy playing with their favorite toy, don't offer them your breasts.
See how many nursing sessions they are voluntarily skipping. However, if they ask for it, then don't refuse. This can take time, but it will be a more tantrum-free approach to weaning your toddler. It is because they will not feel that their comfort-activity is being snatched away. They will wean willingly at their own pace.
4. Cut Back the Nursing Time
If your toddler has achieved most milestones of weaning from breastfeeding and has reduced to just one nursing session that is too hard to drop, we have a trick for you. Reduce the feeding time.
If your kid has a habit of falling asleep while feeding, then it's time to say goodbye to that. Set a timer. Feed for 10-15 minutes, and then engage your toddler in other activities. Give them a lot of cuddles. Sing them a lullaby or read a story and put them to sleep.
Older kids breastfeed just for comfort and to feel close to you. They like the attachment. Therefore, assure them that breastfeeding is not the only way to feel close to you. Once they get the assurance, they will find it easier to wean.
5. Restrict Access to Your Breasts
Another smart approach for mothers trying to stop breastfeeding for a 2-year baby is limiting the access their babies have to their breasts. Put on several layers of clothing or a bra when cuddling with your toddler.
If that happens, they will have a hard time getting to your breasts when they yank your top down in the hope of getting to breastfeed. This way, they will get a clear message that they are not getting your breasts now.
Some mothers cover their nipples or apply unpalatable substances to repel the babies when they latch. When winning a nursing session becomes a struggle, your toddler will gradually lose interest and stop asking for it.
What About Quitting Cold Turkey?
If your toddler is too stubborn and none of the ways works out, you might be forced to stop breastfeeding cold turkey. In that case, you will get breast engorgement because the milk produced will have nowhere to go.
Accumulation of milk for a very long time can clog the milk ducts and lead to inflammation. This condition is called mastitis and can be associated with fever and flu-like symptoms. To prevent that, pump your breast milk when you feel the need to do so. Leave a little milk unexpressed so that your breasts get the signal that the demand for milk has reduced.
The milk supply will gradually dry up. In the meantime, if you have engorgement, you can use a cold compress, cabbage leaves, or pain medications for pain relief.
After you quit cold turkey, expect your child to be cranky. Understand that the change is overwhelming for them. So, make yourself available to them, spend quality time with them, and comfort them with a lot of cuddles. Having you by their side will help them better cope with the transition and emotional challenge.
When trying to stop breastfeeding for a 2-year baby, you will find many eyebrows frowning at you for nursing your baby longer than the conventional period. However, never let that affect the dynamics of your relationship with your baby. Don't make haste by looking at others around you.
Give your baby time to adapt to the transition. A significant life change, like starting daycare, a new nanny, or a house shift, is not a good time to start weaning. Breastfeeding is unique for every mother and child and is not meant to continue forever. No time is too early or too late. The decision to wean depends on you and your baby. So, take time and cherish the journey.