Saturday, March 28, 2009

Weaning a toddler...And getting her to drink milk!

Okay ladies, I'm looking for some helpful hints here :) My little girl is 17 months old and it is time to wean her - her nursing sessions have become briefer and more active, she's waking up super-early to nurse, and I can't get her to drink cow's milk. I think that as long as she can get breastmilk, she's not going to go for any other kind of milk :) The other part of the equation is that my husband and I are going away (on our own!) for a weekend at the end of April, and I was hoping to have her weaned for at least 3 or 4 weeks before our trip. So, I would love some advice on:

1) Weaning a 17-month old: My son was only 14 months when I weaned him, and it took about a week but the transition wasn't terribly difficult. I'm anticipating a bigger struggle this time around.

2) Helping to ease Maria into drinking cow's milk. Someone had suggested goat's milk to me - any thoughts on that? My son loved vanilla rice milk so that's how we eased him into drinking regular cow's milk, but Maria isn't interested.

Thanks in advance for any helpful tips! God bless all of you this weekend!


Julene said...

Kat, J was 18 mos when he weaned on his own. He never transitioned to milk of any kind, but very quickly became a huge fan of plain yogurt. If Maria doesn't need to drink something to fall asleep, than maybe she can get the same nutrition in other forms throughout the day, and she can stick with water and very diluted juice to drink.
Also, I went away for one overnight while he was still nursing a bit, and that seemed to make him realize that it is possible to survive without mom 24/7! Good luck!

Elizabeth M said...

My son weaned about 17 months and my daughter about 19 months (she had feeding issues, so I was glad she went a little longer). With both of them, they were basically down to one last nighttime feeding that was clearly more for comfort than need for nutrition. I moved the bedtime routine a few minutes earlier (book, darkened room, soft music) and started with what we called "night-night milk." Basically I warmed some cow's milk with a drop of vanilla in it. (My SIL used sugar in it, but I wanted to avoid that.) It was enough to give them a replacement for a little while that was still specifically a bedtime signal. I don't remember exactly how long we used it, but it worked for us. They both weaned smoothly and I think it was harder on me too!

MargaretJDMom said...

I don't know how verbal or mature your 17mo. is, but you could try the "big girls don't nurse" and talk to her about all the cool stuff big kids do. I don't know if you are still nursing to sleep or its more of a scheduled thing. That would affect the weaning process. For a child still nursing to sleep I would use Elizabeth Pantley's pull off method (Her book is The No Cry Sleep Solution). You just keep popping them off so they don't fall asleep nursing. They get upset, but they figure it out.

For more scheduled feedings, become a moving target, eliminate one every few days, and offer lots of hugs and fun activities at non nursing times.

Both my girls refused to transition to milk, to be honest I think they have a dairy sensitivity. They would always drink chocolate milk, but that wasn't what I wanted to give them. Too much sugar. So we just used h20 and calcium enhanced oj. They would eat cheese though.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Try LLL or for great tips on child-led weaning.

Amanda said...

We weaned at 15 months and never transitioned to cow's milk. We just concentrate on other sources of nutrition and I actually think trying to replace a nursing session with milk was worse for us! It was like I was insulting him by offering him something inferior.

Kate E. said...

Jack was the same way and I needed to wean so I could take some un-nursing friendly was all or nothing we couldn't go back once I began the medication.

We loved yogurt. I made him "smoothies" which were just plain yogurt and milk mixed. In the beginning he liked it with some baby food in it as well (bananans, sweet potatoes, apples, carrots, etc). Later he just liked it with plain yogurt.

He mostly is done with them now but it was over a full year of smoothies (he is super tiny so the doc said we could do them as long as we wanted.

For the first few bedtimes it was tricky, I would start things and then my husband would take over (he set aside a week at work that he could come home in time for bedtime, although I think my mom came over for one night) the end of the week I could do the whole thing...we just distracted a lot until he was past it. We had stopped daytime feedings first (they were easier to distract).

Good luck!

Melanie B said...

It took a long time after weaning (at 17 months) to get my daughter to drink cows milk. In the meantime she ate yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, and drank lots of orange juice with calcium added.

What finally got her drinking milk was a combination of things. One day I got a milkshake for myself and let her try a little. After that she was very excited about milkshakes. I began to make her some "milkshakes" that were just milk and frozen strawberries pureed in the blender. No sugar or any other additives.

The other factor was discovering that she loved straws. I'd give her milkshakes in a lidded cup with a straw and gradually introduced her to drinking milk that way as well.

I think a trip to McDonalds and getting the milk in the little plastic bottle and drinking it through a straw cemented the deal. Now she drinks several cups of milk a day.

For us weaning was mostly a matter of dissociating nursing from going to sleep because nap time and bedtime were the last nursing times to be dropped. I started taking long walks with the stroller or long drives in the car around nap time and let her fall asleep that way.

For bedtime weaning I just started popping her off and putting her down still awake but drowsy. This did involve some crying. And then once she'd got the hang of falling asleep without nursing, we began nursing earlier in a different room and then moved to her bedroom for a story and prayers and then to bed. Eventually one night when we'd come home late from eating out, I just dropped the nursing. A couple of late evenings in a row to distract her and she never looked back.

Catherine said...

My children have all weaned between 1 1/2 - 2 years without any difficulty. If Maria would understand, you could just tell her mama's milk is all gone! That worked for my son, as the milk was pretty much gone because I was a few months pregnant. You wouldn't be the first mom to wean cold turkey on a night away; I think it often works well as nursing is probably most on her mind when you are around.

Cow's milk is not a necessary food for people, so if she doesn't like it, I wouldn't force it. Yogurt is so much healthier because it has the calcium without as much lactose. If you make the yogurt yourself, it will have the vitamin D from the milk you used, it will have more probiotics, and it will be cheaper than commercial yogurt. None of my children drink cow's milk, one likes rice milk, the rest get their calcium from yogurt and cheese and canned salmon with the bones you can chew up. They also take cod liver oil for vitamin D.

Have a great trip!

texas mommy said...

I second the comments about yougart! Better than milk and it costs exactly half to make our own from organic whole milk rather than buying the big containers of yougart.

When weaning our first two from the bottle, I found that the time that worked best for us was when the boys switched from 2 naps to 1 nap (~16months). They were so tired at naptime/bedtime then, that they would go down without the bottle. A little different, I know, than weaning, but that's what worked for us.

Anonymous said...

Texas Mommy,

How do you make your organic yogurt?

texas mommy said...

I have a yougart maker (~$20) which paid for itself after a few weeks.

You heat 4C organic milk and add a little powdered milk, then let it cool down and add a little organic yougart (you do have to buy some for the first batch...after that you can just use a little of the previous batch).

It "cooks" in the yougart maker for 6-10 hours depending on how firm and/or sour you like it.

You can also make it in the over like one of my friends does:
My oldest used to eat super-sour yougart mixed with pureed spinach. This is why Juris Mater has no sympathy for me when I complain about anything! Most people would add fresh fruit (we especially like blueberries). For breakfast recently I have added a handful of almonds, some flax seed a 1T of real maple syrup to plain yougart. Yummy!