Reflections On Weaning My Baby

A mom cuts up broccoli for her baby.
© Juanes23 from Getty Images from

It’s official. As of mid-January, my baby is now 100% weaned from breastfeeding. I’m still trying to figure out exactly how I feel about it. The best word I can use to describe the end of this type of relationship with my child is ‘bittersweet’. She is 17 months old, so by all accounts we had a good run. But that doesn’t mean that the end was any less poignant.

The build-up to the end.

The last couple of months were a rollercoaster for me as I felt pangs of guilt. Why? I knew that the time to wean was near. She didn’t seem ready, but I thought that I might be. My baby seemed to really enjoy her morning and night nursing routine, even though I didn’t have much to offer her in way of milk supply. Try as I might to recover some volume, it had been on a downward trend even prior to her turning one.

Another sign that it was time.

Besides my lack of supply, an additional sign that it was time to wean were those little white nubbins popping through her gums. During those last couple of months, most of the time she was content to suckle and get what she could. But every now and again I found that she, whether from border or from the need to gnaw, she would occasionally give me a most unwelcome nibble with those freshly cut teeth. And so it became this delicate balance of nourishing and bonding, while sleuthing for subtle signs from her that it was time to come off and find her a teething toy. Preferably one that was not me!

The transition.

Several times a month, my husband pushes me out the door in the evenings to have a little bit of R&R after a long day with the kids. He takes care of the them and puts them to bed while I’m out shopping or catching up with a friend. To be fair, my husband usually does bedtime for our children anyways. The difference when I’m out is that he also has to run the baby through her night time routine, which normally falls under my jurisdiction. Pre-weaning, the night time routine usually consisted of her bedtime nursing session and a bottle to follow.

Well, naturally, if mama wasn’t there, baby wasn’t going to nurse. I don’t recall the details of why, but it happened that I was out of the house (quite possibly needing some extra R&R!) multiple nights in a row. Thus began the weaning of the night time nurse on these occasions. The baby was long in bed before I returned to the house, therefore she didn’t nurse. My husband gave her a night time bottle of milk as usual and she was put to bed a happy little girl.

When I came home from these particular nights out, I would immediately ask my husband how the baby had handled not nursing. I was anxious to hear how she reacted without me there. He assured me the she was absolutely fine. She took her bottle without a problem, and went to bed without so much as a fuss.

A crossroads.

Phew! My baby was okay without me… but was I okay with this???? This was a crossroads for me. I now had to decide, having not nursed for those couple of nights, if I would continue to offer her the breast in the evenings or not. I spent a ton of mental energy over the next 24 hours evaluating and reevaluating whether or not we were both ready for the next step. Was I doing the best thing? Was this the best timing? Was I being selfish? Or was this a good next step for both of us?

Overall, I concluded that it was time. Cue all the emotions! I won’t lie and say that I wasn’t grieving a little bit inside the loss of being needed so much by my baby, who was rapidly growing into a toddler. The bond that takes place between mama and baby in this sweet season of life is priceless. I have nursed four babies prior to this one, and this transition has always left me reeling a bit.

Almost there.

We continued on with the morning session for a week or so after that. But I could tell that my supply had depleted that much more having cut out the night time session. The letdown sensation of the milk coming in had ceased to exist for several months now. So by this time, I just had to go by external signs from the baby that her sucks were nutritive. I could tell that she was swallowing small amounts of milk at the outset of the session, but then after those first few sips I surmised that she was not getting much at all. Not even enough to cause her to swallow. At this point, it seemed to be purely a comfort and bonding exercise. Which was all well and good. But I was ready. I can’t say this has always been the case when deciding if the time was right. But this time it was clear.

What next???

After an additional week or so of meager morning milk portions, I decided that it was time. We would wean from the morning nurse and close this chapter in our relationship forever. When she woke up, I would feed her a sippy cup of milk and then move her right into her solids breakfast per usual. And at night time, we (or she and my husband) would cozy up and she would drink a sippy cup of milk before bed. This was to fill in any of the cracks that were left after dinner. And also keep up the routine of nighttime bonding and snuggling before sleep. This rhythm was still super important to me and also quite welcomed by my baby.

The timing seemed perfect as this was one less thing to hold her back from all the things she had to do in a day. Being the busy beaver baby that she was, she was more than happy to be a little less tied down and a little freer to roam. She was eager to focus on other things like walking, climbing up and down steps, and keeping up with her four older siblings.

Moving forward.

My baby has handled the transition really very well. And I’m beyond thankful for this. She’s transitioned from a bottle to a sippy cup and seems to enjoy the big kid feel of it all. There have been a few times after that first month or so where she has hinted at wanting to nurse. She would come over and whine at me and try to pull up my shirt. But it was short lived as I was able to distract her pretty quickly. I would offer her a snuggle and a sippy cup of milk or her favorite toy instead. These tactics seemed to pacify her without much drama, thankfully.

What I’ll remember the most.

I hold back tears as I recount this unique time that I had to bond with my baby girl. I’ll cherish the time where she wasn’t constantly clambering to get out of my arms. When she wanted to be close to me, suckling away. I’ll cherish her surprising little baby whapps to my face. Her little fingers grabbing my lips and poking me in the eyes. The occasional sweet caress on my cheek or shoulder with her tiny baby hands (though she definitely preferred the whapping!). I’ll cherish her pulling off the breast in the middle of a session to look intently into my eyes and tell me something very important in little baby coos and babbles. I’ll never forget how she would literally spin in circles in my lap, her legs moving a mile a minute, yes, even while nursing.

I was given this unique opportunity to be a student of my baby and watch her budding personality. And I am so thankful for it. I would do it all over again, taking the good with the bad, in order to develop the sweet bond that I have with my baby girl. To close this chapter on our relationship is truly bittersweet.

Changing seasons.

The seasons of life with a baby change and morph exponentially within their first few years outside the womb. No sooner are you out of one season, then you’re on the next! Nursing to weaned. Mushy baby food to table foods. Crawling to walking. Walking to running! Bottles to sippy cups. High chair to sitting at the table. Binky to no binky. Crib to toddler bed. Diapers to, well… bigger diapers. The list goes on and on.

There is so much to look forward to as our little ones grow. So hold your baby close during these transitions. Try not to wish away too quickly one season for the another. Embrace the bumps along the way for as a wise friend reminds me often, ‘this too shall pass’. And all too quickly, it does pass! Soak in the immense sweetness that your baby brings to your life at every stage.

Transition on, ROCstar mama. And find the joy in the journey with your little one.