To wean or not to wean

Yesterday when I picked up Gus from the babysitter she handed me a bottle with about a half an ounce sitting in the bottom. She confirmed what I suspected – that half an ounce was the end of freezer milk.

In addition to the freezer milk being gone my supply has dropped. I pump about 6 ounces at work and 2-3 at home before bed. This is 9 ounces, max. It has been at that for about a week. Gus drinks about 12 ounces a day. It don’t take a mathematician to figure out the problem.

Gus is primarily bottle fed at this point. After having an over supply for so long her got used to getting lots of milk quickly. Between that and being on bottles at the sitter it started to just make sense to do primarily pumped milk in bottles. He gets a bottle for nap, a bottle for bedtime, and nurses once in the night. At the babysitter’s he normally gets two bottles and naps don’t always happen the first attempt.

With the loss of milk we need to change something. I’ve asked in different groups and am trying to figure out what to do. He goes to sleep on a bottle so that needs to change. The suggestions are to move the bottle to earlier in your routine and be prepared with snuggles and patience later on. We can do this at home but at the babysitter’s she puts him in the pack and play with his bottle and he falls asleep. Honestly, she doesn’t have the patience to work through it and has never successfully transferred him from arms to pack and play. I think to switch this we have to resign ourselves to him not sleeping there which is not an option for anyone.

The other suggestion is to start watering down his bottles until he has all water. This could work but will essentially wean him. Because he only gets pumped milk in bottles (with one overnight nursing) if we start getting him down to water bottles he’ll have no more milk. I suppose we could give him milk when he wakes up but honestly, this seems like a pain. He’d still have the bottle and then we would give him another bottle? And I think if we gave him a milk bottle and THEN a water bottle he would lose it. This really only seems like a viable option if weaning.

The third option is to work to increase my supply. Pump more, nurse more, drink tea, take supplements. Honestly, I don’t want to do it. I don’t have it in me at this point. Pumping once a day at work is freeing. There were times when I pumped three times a day and those were hell – I couldn’t get anything done. I don’t want to schedule two pump breaks. I don’t want to get up earlier because I need to pump in the morning. Those are the options and I hate them both.

So I’m at a crossroads where I don’t know what to do. I think Gus could manage on no nursing. The 3:30 am wake up would be the hardest part for us but if we did bottles of water he’d be fine the other times. I think about this and I’m so sad. Our nursing relationship is barely even that. It’s bottles and pumps with a little nursing thrown in. He’s never been a comfort nurser. He’s never needed a boob because he is upset. He’s just nursed to eat and moved on.

I feel like I’m not ready. I feel like I am forcing him to wean. But I also feel like other options are not viable. I don’t know what to do.

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Posted on December 8, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. Why not just go with what you have? He nurses when he nurses, you pump what you can so he slowly gets less and less milk at bed for instance, and add in the other stuff as needed. I mean, I’m nowhere near weaning (I hope) so I don’t know, but even once I stop pumping I’ll let her nurse on demand unless it stops working for me. That’s my plan, it means nothing in the end. lol

    • Well he needs a bottle to go to sleep at this point so I either need to stop that or get more bottle. He won’t transition between water and milk bottles and I am not making enough for all milk bottles. So we either make them all water or try to stop the bottle to sleep.

  2. My heart tugs sharply at the thought of weaning. I wish I had good advice to offer you, but I can merely lend an ear and some sympathy. And when the time comes, a visit to the brew pub.

  3. What about cow’s milk or milk alternatives?

  4. Well, you know me, I’m not one to drag stuff out, I take the rip the bandaid off and get it over with approach. My 2 cents is to have the babysitter just give him all water, all at once. Nurse in the night if you want, keep pumping and save that for home use if you want. Personally, we kept the water bottle sleep crutch and I wish we would have done away with it at gus’ age, now she’s so attached to her baba that taking it away will be hell.

    • I tried to give him water the other day and he was displeased. You know our babysitter issues- anything extra is too much for her. He’ll be a mess, she’ll call in sick the next day. I’m kind of all for ditching the bottle for sleep all together but don’t know how.

      • Oh yeah, I forgot about that. The reason I suggested starting with the babysitters is that when I babysat, the two littlest adapted to those kinds of things waaaay easier at my house than their parents. The little dude was off the paci so much easier for me, and the little lady napped like clockwork way before she did at home. But there is work and tears involved, it’s not easy.

      • Yeah, I’m hoping new babysitter transition comes at the perfect time for this.

  5. Does he drink anything else during the day that he really likes? My Gus loves “juice” (which is 75% water), and he nursed to sleep for almost two years. Once I was ready to wean, I just gave him a sippy of his juice, and despite a little whining, he was totally happy after a few days. Maybe you could try that for bedtime, and designate whatever you’re still pumping for the daytime at the sitter?

    • Yeah, that could work. I have some hesitation about switching from a bottle to a sippy as some days we’ll have to stop that, too. That being said I don’t think he can handle not sucking to sleep so that might not be an option.

  6. My kids dropped the going to sleep bottles pretty easily much to my surprise. Carter dropped formula (i’d already weaned him from BM) at 10.5 months. He never decided he liked milk so he just drinks water. We would give him a straw cup at bedtime and for a while (maybe upwards of 7 or 8 months) he would sleep with it and sometimes sip his water through the night. Straw cups are REALLY hard to suck out of so I think they are less likely to actually do it in their sleep and really just play with the bottle. He didn’t even notice when we stopped bringing it to bed.

  7. Don’t water down bottles. Whoever told you that is wrong. If you want to switch him to cow/almond/soy/etc milk or formula, then you can work on that transition, but not just plain water.

    Here’s my thinking for you: work to temporarily increase your supply so that you can slowly reduce the amount of milk he gets per bottle. I swear by moringa, preferably baked into things. Some people also find the mother something tinctures to work better and be less time consuming than teas. If you can manage to get up to just a little bit more per pump session then you could work him down 1/2oz at a time slowly. It would be an end in site. You could also look for donor milk to help with this transition so you have a backup supply. At the same time, you can work on doing the bottle earlier in the sleep routine (while you slowly decrease the oz). I’d not be okay with my babysitter doing a bottle in the pack in play. I get it that there are usually multiple kids and divided attention but as a caregiver I have only ever done that if it is what the family already does and the child is used to. Maybe she will come around to helping with this transition and actually putting effort into getting him to nap.

    • Forgot straw water bottle can help with this too. If he needs something to hold onto and have like the bottle in the pack n play, I would go for a straw water bottle. Water in his bottle will probably make him mad.

    • The water seemed weird to me. I found some donor milk that will help with the transition and get us through a bit longer. I hate the bottle in the pack and play thing. HATE it. But she swears it is the only way she can get him to sleep and if she doesn’t he doesn’t sleep and then the hour and a half I get with my kid a day is miserable. So I am overlooking it even though it pisses me off. Our sitter is 7 months pregnant and going on leave early March. We are interviewing someone to take over then on Sunday and hope we like her enough to keep him there. I am hoping the donor milk helps us keep things okay until then and then we can start some different things.

      • Yay donor milk! If you like anyone you interview and they would want to start before March, it would be something to consider. If the babysitter’s cooperation with nap and bottles is integral to your family’s happiness and wellbeing, then I would put your needs above hers and switch sooner than later. The family I worked for last January had a wild 3yo and 5mo. I could not let the 3yo out of my reach or else he would hit the baby or Wallace. It was a rough three weeks. It helped me to get the baby to nap in the carrier but the mom didn’t want her to go backwards in her ability to sleep in her crib. I worked hard to keep her used to her crib despite how it made it harder for me to take care of everyone.

      • The new lady isn’t looking to start doing care until January. At that point I’d like her to start one day as we have someone who does one day that is not consistent. Our current sitter is thinking about part time in Feb so we would increase the days then with full time in March. Our hope is that our current sitter doesn’t want to come back after leave…

      • You have no obligation to hire her back after. I would make that clear to her by February. The slow transition could work great or it could be a pain in the butt.

      • I have already said that if we find a good full time situation we might not choose to switch out of it. He currently is with her four days a week and someone else one. That someone else went to texas for 2 weeks and has been gone 6 so we’re pretty over that. Taking over the one seems like a good place to start but yeah, I’d rather do it quickly but also feel bad having her lose her job before she is ready.

  8. It sounds like the going to sleep bottle is causing all the problems. If you could drop that, then you could just nurse when he’s in the mood to nurse. The water substitution sounds like a set up for a grumpy Gus and increasing your supply sounds like a serious pain. Is there a stretch of time where he won’t be at the sitters and you can work on going to sleep with no bottle so that by the time he goes back to the sitter he’s already gotten used to it and she doesn’t have to be the one to implement a new routine?

    • We are off for four days for Christmas and then again for new years so we are going to give it a good push then. Our sitter is not willing to do much so that’s hard. (She is 7 months pregnant though so also understandable.) He can go to sleep without the bottle it just takes a lot of work. I figure that even if we can stop it at night it will be a big step forward. I still want him to nurse/have milk, I just want him to be able to fall asleep without it. It would take so much pressure off!

  9. Our boys have been doing pretty well with the sippy cup for about a month now. We give them a bottle in the morning and a bottle at night, but the 2 “bottles” they get during the say for snack are sippy cups. They initially were having none of it, but 2 months later they sort of know, this is my milk and if i want it, which i do, i drink it from a cup. We are starting to do away with the morning bottle, and since they start daycare this week (TOMORROW EEEEKKK!!!), and transition into the one year old room, there are no bottles, so we kind of have no choice. I think maybe introducing some milk in a cup would be the best option, and see what happens. Weaning is hard with a bottle so I can only imagine how difficult it is with nursing. Hope something works!

  10. I haven’t read the other comments yet, but I’ll just say this – he’s been weaning since the first time you gave him solid food. This is just another step in the journey, and it doesn’t mean anything about the door closing shut. Whatever you decide, he will be 100% a-ok.

    At more than 12 months old, he’s definitely old enough/his digestive system is mature enough that he doesn’t need the breastmilk (of course it still is beneficial to him with antibodies & all that jazz). But he doesn’t need a substantial amount of breastmilk to reap those benefits. So really, you could cut out a lot of your work and be done pumping and be done with bottles.

    The ease of transition depends on the kid, but this end of freezer milk really could be your golden opportunity – he’s old enough to drink from a cup, so caregiver could play up the “big kid/grownup” aspect of cup-drinking and give him a cup of water or almond milk or whatever instead of a bottle of breastmilk before his nap. If the bottle is acting as a lovey, it could be replaced with something else at that same time (blanket? soft friend?). And then just keep nursing (if you want) at the times when he normally nurses. And if you don’t want to nurse in the middle of the night, send Lesley in.

    Rowan & Willow have technically been “weaned” for quite a while now but still like an occasional sip from a milky nipple. It’s a nice, quick, 10-20 second connection. At 2 years & 3 years, they still love it and occasionally ask for milk, but they’re okay if I deny them / suggest an alternative (lullaby, kisses, ice pack, water bottle, etc). I can’t say that I ever long for the tiny baby nursing ’round the clock days, that’s for sure. Our new normal is so much enjoyable. Best wishes to you & Gus in finding your new normal and making this age even more THE BEST AGE EVER! ❤

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