How Do I Wean My Toddler Off Breastfeeding?

“My husband and I want to have a second child. We conceived our first on Clomid, and my doctor wouldn’t prescribe it to me until she weaned my daughter, who is 11 months old and still breastfeeding. -nurses her before bed. and bedtime and once or twice in the middle of the night. How do I go about trying to get her out of here?” ~ Noel Y

Double congratulations, both on celebrating nearly a year of breastfeeding with baby number one — and on your plans to expand your family with baby number 2. Definitely happy news on both endeavors, and here’s some more happy news : to do the first, you win The second doesn’t have to be given up.

It’s not a sure bet, and it certainly depends on various individual fertility factors (including age and BMI), but some women with ovulation issues find that having one pregnancy under their belt makes it easier to put a second one in their bellies — working out the hormonal kinks and cycle irregularities that have frustrated fertility in the past, and allowing ovulation (and hopefully conception) to happen naturally, even without the Clomid kick-start. And even during breastfeeding.

Will it be like that for you? You’ll never know until you try — so if you haven’t given your TTC partner everything you’ve got (at least you can give it to a busy toddler around the house), consider giving it a go and see if nature takes its reproductive course over the next few months. While tracking your cycles isn’t required by TTC — and may seem like the definition of futility after your previous struggles — it’s always a good place to start (although you can start in bed, too — without any of that downside). If your cycles have continued, charting will detect any changes in them since your first TTC campaign — and help show whether your new fertility normal is, well, more normal than pre-pregnancy. Also consider scheduling another conversation with your doctor to see if there might be any wiggle room in your case when it comes to prescribing Clomid (or other fertility drugs), if you need it, even while you are still breastfeeding Every woman is different, and doctor’s recommendations vary, but Clomid is generally believed to be safe during lactation (although it can decrease milk supply).

Wondering whether to pursue Operation Wean while you continue Mission Conception? With just a month to go before you and your first baby reach the all-important (and AAP-recommended) milestone of a full year of breastfeeding, and reaping all the benefits it has to offer, it probably makes sense to wait it out before ditching the plug on breastfeeding altogether. Weaning on or after his first birthday also means he can graduate straight from mommy’s milk to cow’s milk, preferably in a cup.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t start the process now, if you want to. Gradually is always the way to go, for his comfort and for yours, so try cutting out one feed at a time. Those middle-of-the-night sessions are probably the first to go, because it will buy everyone more zzz’s, a commodity that you and your partner need in optimal amounts for optimal fertility (while leaving more uninterrupted opportunities for evening activities.of the older variety). Offer comfort as needed when he wakes at night, but from the side of the crib rather than one side of the chest (obviously, dad is naturally best suited for providing non-breast comfort).

Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine that includes a healthy snack and (after his first birthday) a cup of milk, will help ease his transition to breastfeeding-free bedtimes and, eventually, sleep during sleep — which effectively sealed the weaning deal. As he moves, offering extra comfort and hugs, but also additional distractions. Also make sure he gets enough milk from a cup (he needs about 16 ounces per day).

What happens if Mission Conception ends before Operation Wean ends? No problem. Pregnancy and breastfeeding are usually completely compatible, both in the short and long term. Prefer to stop it? Put an end to weaning and celebrate the end of an amazing breastfeeding — and the beginning of a new pregnancy.

Here’s to smoother weaning and smoother baby making!



Help me, Heidi! is a weekly advice column where What to Expect creator Heidi Murkoff answers your most pressing pregnancy and parenting questions. He covers the things you want to know today — so if you have a question, Heidi asked here or to Facebook and he might answer in an upcoming column. (Not sure if Heidi answered one of your questions? See other columns here.)

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