I'd like to stop breastfeeding for my 1-year old daughter, Rina, because she is going to become 2 years old in 2 months! But she loves to continue it. How can I stop it? Every time I ask her if I can stop it or not, she refuses it strongly.
From: Masako, Japan
In her wise book, "The Nursing Mother's Companion, 6th edition," Kathleen Huggins writes, "Weaning a toddler involves a good deal of time and attention." Why? Because toddlers can be very attached to the breast -- they've been at it for a while, after all, and toddlers, as we know, can be very stubborn little creatures. So when you've made your mind up to wean, it's important to find ways to distract her during the time you would normally nurse, typically with substitute activities or by altering the routine entirely. Huggins famously reminds moms that weaning is a process, not a one-time event.
Eliminate one feeding at a time, and take a week or more before you try to eliminate the next one. Start by keeping track of which feeding interests Rina most, and keep in mind that she may choose to nurse not just because she's hungry but also because she's bored, frustrated, tired, or wants your attention. Hold onto the feeding she seems to enjoy the most as the last one to eliminate.
Some feedings can be replaced with a snack or drink, others with an activity. If Rina is used to nursing spontaneously, whenever she wants, try to distract her past the point when she wants to nurse. If you've had a routine where she expects to nurse -- in bed in the morning, for instance -- change your routine. Get up quickly and serve her breakfast. "Think creatively of ways your child can learn new routines," Huggins writes.
Instead of asking her if she would rather not nurse, or if she'd like milk in a cup, tell her, "Let's save the milk for bedtime." Hang on to that last bedtime feeding for as long as you can. If you want to eliminate that one, too, change that routine by having someone else put her to bed each night (for a week or more) so they create a bedtime routine that doesn't include nursing.