8 Golden Rules for Successfully Weaning a Toddler

Tips for Weaning a ToddlerBreastfeeding was never an optional thing for me. It was as natural as giving birth to my lovely babies. I loved and enjoyed every minute of breastfeeding my children and bonded with them over it. Things were different, however, when the time came to wean. How I successfully weaned my toddler son forms the matter of today’s post.

Whereas weaning my first born – a girl, was super easy, my dear son would simply not wean. With a lot of patience (he weaned at 20 months!) and perseverance, I managed to successfully wean him a few months before his 2nd birthday. Weaning a toddler came with its own set of troubles, but his age kind of, made it easier for me to explain things to him and get things to work with mutual understanding.

Here are my golden rules and tips for weaning a toddler that helped me and I hope, will help you too:

1. When to Start Weaning is a Personal Decision

Some women like to juggle with breastfeeding and bottle, and delay the withdrawal deadline as long as possible. Others, depending upon their situation, try to stop breastfeeding in a few days time. There is no perfect time to start weaning your baby. This is a personal decision that needs to be taken by you and by your companion.

More often than not, it is others – your friends and family – who start pestering you to start weaning. They might be genuinely concerned about you, your work or even your weight, but the weaning decision is for nobody to decide but the parents of the child.

2. Know When to Wean

In my case, I wanted to start weaning right after my son’s first birthday for two simple reasons:

  1. That is when I had successfully weaned my older daughter too
  2. I was craving to get a life of my own and start getting back in shape

As much as I wanted to do it (I might even have tried), it seemed impossible as my son had a completely different personality compared to his elder sister. Each child is different and comes with his own set of skills and talents. My husband helped me realize, accept and respect this face and we put off weaning until we thought he was ready for it.

So, do not hesitate to backtrack if necessary if you realize you have started too soon or that it is not the best time. Also, it is best to avoid starting weaning if you are going through a bad phase, are tired, feeling depressed, or if your child ill or grumpy due to some reason. Wait for things to be on a normal level. A few days will not change anything.

3. Weaning is Best Done Gradually

The best idea is to remove the breastfeedings for some part of the day and replace it with bottle feeding. Gradually, increase the bottle feedings until, one day, breastfeeding completely stops. It is not as simple as it sounds, but that is the best way to go about it. A good idea would be to start replacing the feeding in the afternoons. Your kid will easily accept a bottle at that time.

4. Be Patient

You are going to need a lot of patience and if you have a deadline for getting back to work etc., it would be a good idea to start weaning 2 to 3 weeks prior to it. Throughout the process, be there for him. Kiss him, talk lovingly to him. It is a big change and you want him to stay as relaxed as possible. You will have to persevere, but don’t lose your cool. My toddler refused the bottle when he was pushed. One day, when we were not pushing him and he felt like it, he just accepted the bottle and emptied it.

Try losing patience and make an announcement that there is going to be no more mommy’s milk and you will see just how big a tantrum your little bundle of energy can throw. You could get your shirt pulled up in public!

5. Ask for Help

If your toddler simply refuses the bottle when you hand it to him, it is probably because he can smell your breast. You need to be away while the bottle is being given. Daddy would be the best person to ask for help here but did not work in my case since my husband and I both work together from home. I asked Grandma to help! My mom managed to put my son on the bottle throughout the day when I left him with her. This was possible, at first, only when I was not present. Gradually, even if we were both at Grandma’s, my baby started to care less and less and was content taking his afternoon nap with Grandma alone.

Going without breastfeeding all day gave me back most of my time and I was able to start work full force. The night weaning still remained, though.

6. Talk to Your Child

For me, since we were co-sleeping, the night time feeding was the most stubborn of them all. My son simply wouldn’t go off to sleep without sucking until he passed out. It sounds crazy but his was a case of ‘breast addiction’ because he wanted to suck to sleep even AFTER he had had a full bottle of milk! And that’s not it. Every time he woke up during the night, he just wouldn’t go back to sleep without milk. You have no idea how sleep-deprived that made me!

I overcame this very slowly by talking to him every night as I fed him. Toddlers being to understand little things and you might want to take advantage of his age.

I would tell my son that his little friends (whose names he knew) were now sleeping without Mommy’s milk and that they loved the bottle. I would count the names of every kiddie character he likes (from Mickey Mouse to Sesame Street to ‘In the Night Garden’) and tell him that slept without Mommy’s milk too. I also praised the bottle milk and told him that it tasted delicious. He seemed to think about it and repeated it several times too. My daughter repeated the same thing and he seemed to enjoy drinking the same milk as his sister. It took a long while for him to actually, completely wean but it paid off one day and he dozed off after he had emptied his bottle and I had successfully might weaned him.

7. Make the Alternative Appealing

Okay…so this might not go very well with the purists, but my son has anyways had a bite of junk food owing to the fact that he an older sibling around. Feeding him plain milk, while my daughter had chocolate milk made him very rebellious. So, we gave him chocolate milk – mildly sweetened and mildly chocolaty. We did not just give it to him. We practically sang praises of how wonderful the ‘chocolate milk’ was than Mommy’s milk. Don’t worry – the baby continues to love our milk better than anything else. But gradually, he seemed to like the idea that he got to drink chocolate milk like his sister.

I have read about adding drops of honey to the nipple to get the baby to accept a bottle, but honey is not really recommended for babies under 1 year old. If your baby is older than that, you can try doing that to. The idea to make the bottle milk more interesting. If  you’d rather not give honey or chocolate, you can wean from with apple juice.

8. Keep Your Toddler Well Fed

Finally, increase the amount of solids in your toddler’s diet and give him fuller meals several times a day so his dependence on milk for nutrition reduces. Once the child has his required nutrition inside his body, you are only left to deal with the breast addiction and his emotional needs to be around your breasts. Then, even if you have to be somewhat abrupt for the lack of time, you will at least have the pleasure of knowing that his nutritional requirements have been taken care of without depending upon your breast milk.

There you go! These tips helped me wean my baby and keep him happy at the same time. Since I work from home, there was no urgency to deal with, but I was on breaking point, feeling tired and drained out all the time. Add to that the lack of sleep due to feeding at night. And now, after all these efforts, I actually miss having him in my lap and looking down at him while he fed. But let’s not get there. That would make a good memoir for my personal diary. For my blog, I hope to soon have a successful post-partum weight loss story to share!

Cooking with Kids – Sanika’s First Pizza

The easiest and most appealing of all recipes to get your little ones started with a real dinner favorite is Pizza. Buy pizza bases, pizza sauce (I used homemade), ingredients for toppings and cheese. Chop veggies and grate the cheese and let kids have fun assembling the pizza by spreading the sauce, covering the base with cheese, adding their favorite toppings and then some more cheese.

Sanika making her first Pizza

Sanika making her first Pizza

Sanika's First Pizza

Sanika's First Pizza

Chef Sanika presents her first pizza

Chef Sanika presents her first pizza

Baby Boys Pee all around during Diaper changes!

You’d think you have seen it all if you are a second time mommy. Apparently not, if you have had a girl the first time around. I had the shock of my life when my little boy sent out a shower during his diaper change drenching his daddy! My little girl did pee during diaper changes, but that was occasional and almost always neatly done on the area of the diaper unlike my boy. The next time, it was all over himself – clothes and face! We had to rush with washcloths and whatever else we could lay our hands on to keep the pee from going into his eyes. And every other time when it is not on himself or whoever is changing the diaper, it has to be out of the bounds of whatever waterproof area he is lying on. It almost seems like a definite conspiracy against all your desperate diapering and waterproofing attempts. It was the last straw when DH was changing his diaper, Sam was peeing in an arc-like motion and I was trying to block the pee with my washcloth going in a similar motion. Whew! I would be great as a goal-keeper!

For a few days, I went through the ‘Is it just me?’ phase. I was feeling completely silly typing it into Google and wondering if I should erase the history lest DH chanced to see it. But the results brought in a lot of relief! I was not alone here! So here’s what I found – Boys do pee a lot more than girls anyways. And they tend to do it between diaper changes because of the sudden temperature change. Changing diapers in a warm place could be one way to avoid it. Another way mentioned was to keep a fresh diaper before removing the dirty one. But this doesn’t seem to work for me as there is no guarantee that the baby will pee on it. Like I said, the pee is everywhere!

So what has worked for me?  I keep a folded washcloth over there while I change the diaper. Do it everytime without fail and you will sail through the heavy-wetting days with considerable ease.

Cloth Diapering Newborns: Problems and Solutions

As much as I love Cloth Diapering, the experience was not entirely without its own set of problems. But none without a solution. With a little tweaking of the rules and some creative ideas, I was able to get a great CD experience with my newborn so far.

1. Breastfed Baby Poop Soils the Diaper Covers Every Time

The entire idea of a few diaper covers and more inserts or prefolds goes to the dumps when a newborn who is exclusively breastfed, starts pooping. A simple solution would be to place your insert outside the pocket instead of inside it so you only have to change the insert and not the entire diaper along with the cover. Diaper/insert changes are so frequent during the first few weeks that the insert will not stay in contact with the baby’s skin for long. And in a few days, when you begin to understand your baby’s patterns, you can only keep the liner outside of the pocket until the baby poops after feeding. Once the poop is out and the baby is off to sleep fora good 2-4 hours, you can put the insert inside the pocket. You might also want to use hemp or bamboo liners/inserts till you have to have them touch the baby’s skin.

2. Washing  Baby Poop Off Washable Diapers/Inserts/Liners

One of the major reasons parents shy away from cloth diapering is the thought of having to handle the gross poopy diapers with their hands. Now, the first good piece of news here for moms who are breastfeeding is that breastfed baby poo is completely runny and easily washable. Just throw them in with the rest of the laundry. At the most, you might have to do an extra wash cycle. For formula fed babies, consider having a health faucet/diaper sprayer type of attachment added near your toilet. It is a little hand shower spray type of sanitary fixture that you can use to spray  off the poop into the toilet without touching it at all.

3. Diapers and Inserts Not Drying Out

We faced that problem when it rained too much and there was hardly any sun. Having more inserts and making temporary inserts out of absorbent cloth was what we resorted to. The next morning, we ordered more inserts online.

4.  AIOs are Bulky and Ill-Fitting for Newborns

Although I have had no problems with diaper leakages with All-in one diapers, the aesthetics certainly go wrong! My tiny little baby looks super-bulky at the waist and upto the crotch. Now I don’t know if this counts as a solution, but it certainly has worked for me. Keep your newborn Swaddled! Swaddling the baby is recommended for at least 3 months of age for the purpose of better sleeping and we follow it religiously. Even friends who come to visit the baby are comfortable handling a baby wrapped in a swaddling blanket. And the swaddling blanket covers all the bulk of the diapers completely. By the time, we stop wrapping him and/or have to take him out, I am hoping he gets into tiny, cutesie overalls and shorts/pants etc. and even if he doesn’t, the diapers look less bulky and more becoming on him.

I wish I could say these are all the problems I have encountered, but the truth is that it’s been only 2 weeks and you never know what other unforeseen issues might be on their way, so I might add more to this post. In the meanwhile, Happy Cloth Diapering!

Cloth Diapering

Cloth DiapersI am not new to cloth diapering – or maybe I am. I will explain in a minute. Disposable diapers were never an option for newborns and even with my first child, we used cloth diapers – Indian style. In India, pre-folded triangular or diaper style cloth diapers made of cotton material are used. They are not very absorbent and diaper covers are not known here at all. Based on the advice received by other family members, these are what we had used too. So, every time the baby wet her diaper, the diaper, the baby’s vest/onesie, the swaddle cloth and the sheet underneath got wet. A waterproof plastic layer kept the mattress safe. Hubby and I, both new parents, never really knew any other way to diaper except for using disposables which we reserved for ‘going out’ purposes. Timely potty-training finally put an end to the horrifying diapering experience and we moved on to more creatively satisfying parenting experiences with our toddler. DotComWomen.com got a parenting section after my baby turned into a toddler and hence lacked in the real issues faced with babies.

With my second child born five years later, I started to look into options. I figured, that with the new ‘green’ trend of cloth diapering, there had to be something more to CD than what I knew. Then, the simple logic of using, diaper covers with prefolds and inserts, came into view during my eBay journeys (which is what I have been doing to while away my pregnancy time) and I suddenly felt more dumb and stupid than a jackass! I couldn’t believe it could be so simple to keep using cloth and not spoil all the blankets and sheets. It still seemed too good to be true so I started by ordering the Chinese version of the AIO which looked as good as the American diapers available. I ordered 5 diapers, each with one insert, off an eBay seller. The seller was very efficient and the diapers were shipped off immediately with a registered airmail with online tracking. When the diapers arrived, I was unsure of whether they would fit a newborn. I packed them in the hospital bag, just in case, along with the regular Indian prefolds saved from my first cloth diapering experience.

As luck would have it, I had to go in for a C-section 3 weeks before my due date and on a 30 min. notice because the movements of the baby seemed very low that day. I got admitted to the hospital right after my checkup and hubby picked up the half-filled hospital bag later that evening. The AIO diapers had been tucked in it although I had meant to take them out before I went into labor. However, right in the hospital, I realized what life savers the diaper covers and inserts were. It seemed completely insane the way we had diapered before. I asked DH to bring in my laptop and ordered 5 more diaper covers but 10 inserts instead of 5, from the same seller now that I trusted her service and did not have time to risk trying a new one. I ordered the printed ones as seen above as I had ordered solid colors before. I figured the importance of having more inserts. Because of international shipping, the diapers took some time to arrive and on several (especially 2), we fell short of the diapers. Babies poop more than usual during the first month and it did get spilled out of the insert and into the diaper cover as well. We had to resort to using our old prefolds (without diaper covers) due to the shortage and ended up searching for more swaddling cloths and sheets as we pretty much fell short of everything. Finally, the diapers with extra inserts arrived and although we have been doing just fine, I have ordered plenty more inserts.

Diapering has simply never been the same again and I am glad I did not fall for the trend of using disposable diapers because of my first experience. We live and we learn. Or should I say, we give birth and we learn…lol. A website that helped me with many of my questions regarding CD is http://allaboutclothdiapers.com/cloth-diaper-q-a-volume-1/. So, to all moms worldwide who are looking for options to disposable diapers and for other Indian moms who are wondering if their American counterparts are insane to resort to cloth diapering, you are simply in my situation. You haven’t figured out how the real cloth diapering works. Do give it a try! It is a wonderfully environment-friendly and a safe diapering method for your precious baby’s soft and sensitive skin. And it is easy on your wallet too! Go Cloth Diapering!