Well, it looks like we’re actually on the path to a nice natural slow baby-led weaning.
6 months or so ago Little Prince was still breastfeeding/taking milk at daycare a good 8-10 times a day. I’d say 3 months ago it was still 6-8 times a day. Now we seem to be down to about 5 times a day. He’s also eating more, which is probably partially just growing up and partially getting in his molars with canines not that far behind (oh our night times are fun these days!).
About six months ago Darius and I encouraged a bit of night weaning using the Jay Gordon Method (modified). Instead of picking a middle of the night 7 hour stretch, we picked from when he fell asleep (usually around 8:30-9) until 2am to be the time that “milk was asleep.” It hasn’t always been easy. Sometimes, like when he’s sick or teething, we add a few more sessions back in. But most of the time this gives Darius and I a bit of evening time to ourselves and at least a few hours for me of uninterrupted sleep (before we started this, Little Prince was waking up every 2-3 hours to nurse… the joys of reverse-cycling). Sometime around the holidays I noticed that sometimes 2am was more like 3am, occasionally even 4am. But there would be a long long feed or three before it was time to get up for the day. Just recently I realized that the number of feeds overnight has seemed to drop to a 2 or 3am feed and then a 5 or 6 am feed. We’ve generally dropped a night session. I was going to start encouraging this in April (after the March craziness died down), but it looks like LP is starting to do this on his own.
Back in late January or early February, Little Prince’s awesome daycare teacher informed me that he was not drinking all the milk I was sending with him each day; he was starting to ask for water instead. So I started sending about 6oz instead of 8oz. Yesterday I found out that he’s not even drinking all of that. So now I’m going to start sending about 4-5oz. It was funny because she seemed so remorseful when she told me, but I was super excited that he was making this choice on his own. I think next month I’m going to ask them to always offer him water first instead of milk, because I plan on stopping pumping at work around LP’s second birthday. While we still have some freezer stash left, it’s not what it once was and I’m definitely pumping less milk than I was three months ago.
A few weeks ago I noticed that over the weekend (when Little Prince use to nurse about five times from when he woke up until when I put him to sleep), he had dropped the mid-morning and mid-afternoon nurse.
Ever since I started work, when Little Prince was 11 weeks old, we (almost) always had a reconnecting nursing session when we saw each other again. When he was a little, little one, this was a 45-60min nurse-nap session. As he’s gotten older, it’s been more like 10-15 minutes. In the past few months it’s been “Couch, mommy, more milk…more milk, other side.” He says it “meelk” which is super cute. But in the past week or so he mostly hasn’t asked for milk when I’ve gotten home. It’s kind of bittersweet for me, because I liked that reconnecting moment. That time where I could put aside my work day, relax, and become mommy again. But I’ve been getting a huge hug from him instead, so it isn’t all sad.
Of course I still breastfeed him when he gets hurt or surprise-hurt. Sometimes he even says “hurt, ouch, milk” through his tears. I guess I’m doing (mostly) don’t offer, (mostly) don’t refuse. I still offer at bedtime and weekend nap time. And sometimes I’ll try distraction/other food/water push off to see if he’s more interested in that.
As for going to bed at night, I still offer every night and he still nurses in bed, but sometimes he doesn’t fall asleep from it. Lately he’ll alternate asking for milk and for water. Sometimes I think water is a distraction/I don’t want to go to bed technique. And the whole daylight savings time thing really threw us off. Still, I guess it’s time to start figuring out how to get him to fall asleep on his bed and without milk, other than walking him, which always works but I really don’t want that to be the only way he’ll ever fall asleep.