If you’re moving away from demand feeding, the gentle mama in me wants to remind you that breastfeeding is about more than food. If you take away breastfeeds, be sure to give extra cuddles, affection and reassurance. You have used breastfeeding since your child’s birth to show them you are there for them – be conscious that in this time of transition, your child may need extra attention to their emotional needs.
- Get out of house! My kids would be all over me like a rash if they had the chance! My kids are much less interested in breastfeeding when we’re running around at the park or playing with our friends.
- Get busy! Make an effort to keep them stimulated. This means different things for different families. Digging in the dirt, building with our blocks, finger painting – keep those minds off the boobie and onto something fun or interesting.
- Delay feeds. If my kids ask for milk and I am not prepared to give it at that time, I delay them or offer a compromise. “You can have milk when I’ve put this washing away/finished my sandwich/made my cup of tea”. Besides the obvious lessons about patience, this helped me find the balance in our relationships, instead of feeling my kids held all the power.
If they forget, I still remind them. It’s very important to maintain trust throughout this process. My son regularly outsmarts me, and if he felt like he’d been “tricked” out of a breastfeed, I am certain that the next time I tried to compromise he would resist.
- Move away from pacifying with your breasts. If your child is upset/hurt/angry/stressed/bored, start finding other ways to explore those feelings. Talk about it, hug it out, count to ten – whatever works for you. Save the breastfeed for afterwards when your child is calm again.
- You may also consider night weaning.
Some other really excellent articles that may help you along this part of your journey are here, here and here. These are strategies that have worked for me and my kids. Ceasing to breastfeed on demand hasn’t spelled an automatic end to our breastfeeding journeys. I started making these changes with my son at around 2.5 years old, and he still has 2 breastfeeds a day at 4 years of age. These tips didn’t make the process easy, but with some gentle persistence, it was worthwhile.