How I Began Weaning My One-Year-Old

I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed my child, and I decided pretty early on that I wanted to breastfeed him until he turned one year old. At the time, that was the recommendation from the AAP (Academy of American Pediatrics) — breastfeed your child for at least one year and, if you decide to go longer, good for you! It’s healthy to breastfeed your child for as long as the two of you want.

I started the weaning process when my son, Townes, turned one on April 1, 2022 and we ended on June 5, 2022, just before I read the announcement that the AAP began recommending breastfeeding until your baby is two years old! Even so, I felt good about my decision to wean at age one for four main reasons:

  1. I was ready to have some bodily autonomy back. As much as I cherished the bonding that came with breastfeeding, I was ready to move on to the next phase of my life with Townes – the part that came with a bit more independence.

  2. He was getting ample nutrition from all the solids he was eating. He was such a good eater, and I’d also stocked up on frozen breast milk for him to continue enjoying, though I wished I had pumped more in retrospect.

  3. I didn’t want to wait until he had a harder time with the separation. At age one, Townes was fairly distractible, and I felt that — if I waited longer — it might have been more difficult for him to break away from our feeding sessions. I’d seen that happen with other moms who breastfed longer, and I wanted to avoid it.

  4. Townes had already had his first COVID shot. Because I had been vaccinated, I knew that Townes was getting antibodies from my breastmilk. We started the weaning process just after the FDA approved the vaccine for children as young as 6 months. At this point, I knew that he was getting protection without me.

I also want to add that I feel so lucky to have been able to breastfeed for as long as I did. Many moms have difficulties outside of their control with their milk supply, and still others cannot breastfeed because of work-life obligations that make it unsustainable. It’s also perfectly fine to decide that it isn’t the right choice for you for any reason whatsoever, in my opinion.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. I dropped a feeding every five days. You’ll read recommendations that say it is best to drop a feeding every 3-5 days at most, and five days seemed to work well for me and for Townes.

  2. I dropped the feedings that would be the least difficult for my child first. If your kid is really attached to that just-before-bedtime feeding (especially if you’ve been nursing them until they fall asleep!), best not to start with that one. Which reminds me, if you are still nursing your child to sleep for naps and bedtime, you might want to slowly move away from that before you take the plunge into weaning.

  3. Though I was dropping feedings, I continued to pump once a day to continue building up a store of breastmilk for my freezer, and to help my body adjust. If you find your breasts getting really full or uncomfortable, use your pump and/or a Haakaa. The idea with this was to get him used to being away from the breast, but also having some mama’s milk handy in case he wanted it.

In case you’re curious, below is an outline of our feeding schedule in order of what we dropped first and why:

  1. That “midnight snack” — he was already starting to skip it more and more anyway.

  2. 4pm dinner feeding — he was already really focused on solids during this time of day.

  3. The early morning feed around 5:30am —  Already kind of skipping this when he slept through it (Praise be).

  4. Noon feeding

  5. Bedtime feeding – by this point, I had gotten away from feeding him to sleep, so it wasn’t so painful for him.

  6. 8am morning feed. When he first saw me in the morning upon waking, he would definitely want that closeness and nourishment, so that’s why I saved it for last. And I vividly remember that last feeding just before going to a local festival. We were going out for the day, and as I fed him, I really reflected on this last time being such a special moment, and what a privilege it was to feed my baby the way I had.

Did I feel sad after?

I tried to focus on the perks of moving past breastfeeding, and I can honestly say Townes and I got through the process with minimal emotional pain/physical discomfort.

Disclaimer: Townes was always a kid that could easily skip a feeding without getting very fussy, which is why I really had to stick to keeping a schedule to ensure I was feeding him every four hours when he was an infant. He might be somewhat easier than the frequent-snacker-style babies. Even so, I think having a plan like this one was helpful for us, and I hope it assists you in your own weaning journey!

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