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Desperately need help weaning my 18 month old.

Forum: Weaning


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March 1st, 2018, 11:20 AM
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 1
Im sorry for the very long post, but i need real advice. I'm desperate. This post is so long because I have posted on multiple different forums, talked to multiple different professionals (drs, WIC, breastfeeding consultants, etc.), Other moms... and each time they address the things that i am explaining in full detail now instead of telling me how to wean. They tell me i shouldn't have done this, i shouldn't have done that. Blah blah blah. She'll wean when she's ready. It's a comfort thing more than a feeding thing. Maybe she's just not ready to give it up yet. I don't need any of that sort of advice. I need to know how to make my daughter quit nursing. So if you don't want to read all the way through, or just feel like telling me she's not ready or telling me the benefits of extended breastfeeding, please don't reply. It's not helpful. I need real help with this problem. Thank you in advance.

My daughter is 18 months and is still breastfeeding. I hate it and NEED to be done. Not just want to, i need to be done. I don't want to hear about all the benefits of extended breastfeeding, i don't want to hear that she will wean when she is ready. I need to be done. Completely done. For my mental health, before i resort to just chopping my nipples off. I have tried gently weaning her and it has not worked. I have been trying to wean since she was around 9 months. The problem is i am a stay at home mom. And she worships my breasts.

I have gotten her down to mostly only two sessions a day--nap time and bed time. But she will not go to sleep without nursing. And i know i shouldn't have let her go to sleep nursing, but there was no other way. Literally the only time she would sleep from the time she was born was when she was nursing. At one week old, she was staying up for 6-8 hours at a time, only sleeping while nursing. And i couldn't keep her awake while she was nursing. Even when we were in the hospital, the breastfeeding consultant couldn't keep her awake for more than a few seconds while nursing. But as soon as--or within 15-20 minutes of laying her down, she would wake up. I think this may have to do with the fact that she spent that first week only getting to be held while i was nursing her. Her only other human contact was getting IVs and vitals. Once we got her home, the only other ways she would sleep were her swing and car rides. But as soon as either stopped, she would wake up. Even too long at a stoplight would wake her up. This unfortunately led to cosleeping, which i had vowed never to do. But that was the only way i could sleep. If she saw me, she wouldn't take a bottle, so my husband couldn't help with this when she was an infant as i found out i was pregnant less than a month after we signed a lease on a small rental place, so for the first few months we had to share a room. She now sleeps in her own room, but won't go to sleep on her own. She also won't sleep through the night yet. And i think it's because she wakes up hungry. Because come evening, she knows she will be nursed to sleep, so she stops eating. We get a few nights here and there, but most nights she wakes up. Thankfully my husband has finally started helping and he will go in to lay with her in the middle of the night. It usually takes him about half an hour, sometimes more, to get her settled enough to lay with him. She just wants to nurse back to sleep. Sometimes he can sneak out of her room when she falls asleep, but she is such a light sleeper that a lot of nights he has to sleep on her twin mattress with her.

So now we are down to just the two sessions most days, but every time i try to take one more, she goes on hunger strikes. And she will not eat at all unless i let her nurse first. She won't let up until i give in and let her feed when she wants to for a couple of days until i can get her back down to just the two sessions again. I have tried so many different methods.

I have tried soaking my nipples in lemon juice and vinegar, separately. All it did was earn me a death glare for messing with her boobs, a slight look of disgust, then she just went back to nursing.

I have tried letting her cry it out, but she can cry for hours and is no longer in a crib. She will intentionally hurt herself or make it seem like she has to get me into her room. When she was still in her crib she would pretend to get her leg stuck in between the bars, because she actually did once and i came in to get her unstuck. Now she will tip over her bookshelf and sit next to it and cry. It's a very small bookshelf, only two small shelves and can't really do anything more than trap a leg under it. It's not heavy and it's not a safety concern. And besides she usually knocks it over and just makes it look like she's stuck until i open her door and then she stands up.

I have tried limiting her sessions to a certain amount of time, getting less everyday, but that hasn't worked. It's her way or the highway. As soon as she catches on, she goes on strike.

I tried getting a special cup and having a special bedtime drink, which she loved, but wouldn't accept as a substitute for nursing. Just an addition to it.

I have tried explaining to her, but she doesn't understand yet. And i can't wait till she's old enough to understand. I need to be done now.

She spends all day trying to get into my shirt. It's all i can do to fend her off. It's gotten to the point where i can't even play with her anymore. If my chest is within her reach, she's doing everything she can to get to them. She will try going through my sleeves! I would have to wear one of those full body suits that covers head and neck too, under tight full coverage clothes to keep her from getting to them. She knows how clothes work. She understands zippers and Velcro and sometimes can get buttons. Tucking my shirt in or wearing a turtle neck doesn't help.

Now, she is already on the low side with her weight. She has only gained 12 pounds since she was born, at 9 lbs 3 oz, so barely double her birth weight at 18 months. She eats a mostly normal diet, and i really think that if she didn't nurse, she might eat more and finally gain a little weight. But these hunger strikes are impossible! I can't tell you how often i have heard "if she's hungry, she'll eat" or "she's not going to let herself starve" but these people haven't tried feeding my daughter. She won't eat, even if she is hungry, unless she gets what she wants--boob. And trust me, i offer her a huge variety of foods. Healthy and unhealthy, just to try to get her to eat something when she is on a hunger strike. Doesn't work. She will only take a few bites here and there. Just enough to curb the hunger pains but not enough to consider even a snack. And she may not let herself starve outright, but the amount she eats when i try to take away one of the last two sessions would probably be little enough to consider anorexic, which if i let her continue, could cause malnutrition and other problems. I sneak Pedialyte into her drinks, try to fill her foods with as many healthy fats as i can, give her as much protein as I can, but she--even on good days-- will mostly only eat dairy and fruit. And some processed meats like jerky, summer sausage and meat sticks. Which i know aren't particularly good for her, but it's pretty much the only meat she will eat. And at this point as long as it's got some nutrition, i don't care. She needs whatever she will take. I have seen 9 month olds the same size as her. Every time someone asks me how old she is, they immediately go "oh really? She's so small!".

She also twiddles obsessively. She absolutely NEEDS to have both boobs accessible so she can switch back and forth and twiddle the other. And she's not very gentle about it. I can't figure out a way to keep her away from one without getting the other nipple bit off. She won't accept it. She won't nurse until i give her the other one, but she won't take no nursing as an answer. I have spent many many hours, many many sleepless nights trying to at least limit her to one breast at a time. But she can go a lot longer than me without sleeping. And i hate to admit it, but she might be more stubborn than i am. And i can't exactly bite, pinch, twist and stretch her nipple back to show her how much it hurts...

I am really desperate. I really need to be done nursing. But i can't keep her away from them and i can't get her to sleep without them. My husband works most days during both naptime and bedtime, so he can't help. And I'm so worried that someone is going to call CPS and say I'm not feeding her, because of how much her ribs show. I've tried asking her doctor, when we were on WIC, i asked them, i asked the breastfeeding consultant here and they all gave me the same B.S. of "she'll wean when she's ready" "she'll eat when she's hungry" crap that is absolutely no help at all. I need to be done. After all the horrible experiences with my daughter, my husband is lucky if i ever have another kid at all. But if we do, i guarantee i will never breastfeed again. I so desperately need to be done. So, please, if anyone has any actual advice on how to force wean a stubborn 18 month old, please tell me. I have been trying for the better part of a year now. And I'm so mentally and physically exhausted. I just need my body back. I need to be able to enjoy cuddling and holding my daughter instead of resenting it because all she does the entire time is try to get to my boobs. And i need the hunger strikes to stop so she will hopefully start gaining a little weight.
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March 14th, 2018, 08:21 AM
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: North Carolina, USA
Posts: 377
Wow! You really have a predicament! Well I’ll try to give you a solution straight and simple.
First step: admit this is your fault. You cannot put the blame on your baby, you allowed this to go on. You must let go of any resentment towards her and take responsibility.
Step two: resolve to act cheerful and relaxed around her, act if you have to. She needs to feel secure and stress free if she is going to let go of a soothy. Also resolve that you are done nursing and things are going to go well without it.
Keep reading!
Step three: the battle begins, it won’t be easy, but it will be good! Use the words “you may not” instead of “no” and always say it relaxed and calm and sure of yourself. You are the mother, she is a baby. Play with her, if she goes for the breast say “you may not” and gently remove her, act distracted with the game, don’t make it a big deal, move on. If she persists than repeat. If she throws a fit, stand up and go work on something while singing a song and really enjoying your victory. She didn’t get to nurse or stress you out! Play music to remind you to be happy!
A few skipped naps won’t affect much. Let her stay up, but don’t let her grumpy get to you! Be prepared, have chocolate for you as a treat for not nursing. If she skipped meals as rebellion, no problem, stay relaxed, talk cheerily, offer her a bite “not now? No problem! So we are going to go for a walk soon and...” just carry on unaffected. Another victory!
Bedtime will be tough, but the skipped nap will help. Put a chair in her room and bring something to keep you busy. Sit away from her, not facing her, put her to bed as usual and give her a very clear command to stay there. If she gets up, put her back and repeat the command firmly but calmly. If she keeps trying say “you may not “ and return her with the command. This will be a while, when she sees she isn’t getting anywhere her last resort will be self harm it seems so as a mother your job is to prevent it. If she hurts herself on something, warn her that it will be taken if she does it again. Keep your word. If she even halfway tests your word, call her bluff. Leave her with just a mattress on the floor if that’s what it takes. When she tires herself and sleeps, go to bed. Agree with your husband on how this will go over, because it is imperative that he not sleep in her bed or cuddle her rebellion at this time. If she wakes, he should go in and sit on the chair and be with her, but she should stay in her bed, or else he will be seen as comforting and encouraging her lack of nursing and self harm. He should also use the “you may not” phrase and be firm.
That will be day one of weaning. Cold turkey is the only option, don’t start what you cannot finish, and make sure hubby is on board before you start, you’ll need all the help you can get!
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