Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Night-Time Weaning from Breast Milk

I wish my 1.5yo tiny tot would self-wean BEFORE the breast milk supply ran out. But it seemed nowhere close to happening as he still gulped down 4 bottles of milk every night- like when he was a baby!

“Gentle weaning techniques” wouldn’t have passed my mind if the supply wasn’t dwindling. Was already supplementing with cow’s milk – yeah the 4th bottle he drank an hour before waking would be cow’s milk. And in a few months I would have to resort to only cow’s milk. 4 bottles of cow’s milk at night? That would be plain ridiculous. Needed an action plan ASAP!

I figured there are two important aspects of weaning: (a) Reducing serving size & (b) Reducing no of wake ups. (a) wasn’t that difficult. His usual 120 ml came down to 80ml. He didn’t notice the difference. He didn’t ask for more milk once the bottle was empty. (b) was the slow, difficult part. Or so I thought.

I figured reducing the no of wake-ups= reducing hunger pangs + killing the habit. So here’s where “dilution” came in. *wicked witch laugh* yeah, after two weeks of 80ml pure milk, prepared a concoction of 60ml milk+20 ml water. Also, post the 3rd bottle at 2am, would offer him plain water instead of any milk. Sorry, no more 4th bottle baby! He didn’t notice the difference. He didn’t ask for more once the bottle was empty.

This continued. On the 2nd night gave him only 2 bottles of diluted milk & a few bottles of water. 3rd night only 1 bottle of diluted milk & few bottles of water. By Night 6, he drank only water. That was the night he turned 18 months old! My tiny tot officially night weaned!

This plan worked quicker than expected. Though drinking water in place of milk meant more wet diapers, but I could deal with that for a while. He gulps down water happily at night by force of habit while he hardly drinks during the day - go figure.

These “techniques” wouldn’t have worked a few months back. This is the boy who flung a bottle of water across the room in anger and screamed at the top of his voice. Just a few months back. I guess weaning is like just another milestone, only when the kid's ready will he really be ready!

I had heard wonderful things about extended breast feeding. Alongside I also read how toddlers needed breast feeding mostly for comfort and less for nutritional value. All the nutrients and calories can be had in the day time alone and in fact cutting out night time calories could increase the day time intake. The fact that my feisty 18 month old didn’t notice the serving size go down neither did he bother when simply offered water was a strong point enough!

Also, to initiate night time potty training, he would have to stop downing liquids through the night (I’m hoping he will stop waking for water in the near future!) And not to forget, night weaning is super important in order to avoid havoc on precious teeth!

I pumped for 18 months of his life with the conviction that it’s good for his overall long term health. But once I made up my mind to stop, I couldn’t wait for the day to come around! I've now dropped my pumps to just twice a day, the milk from which I feed him during the day. Will be a few weeks longer before I can finally bid adieu to breast pumps & baby bottles!

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