Friday, June 1, 2012

End of Nursing to Sleep

Shenandoah. November 2010.Last Wednesday Aroshka forgot to ask for his favorite “gut’” (breast) before mid-day nap, so I tried to put him to bed without. I failed in a sense that he did not nap at all that day, but then after he did not ask for “гуть” in the evening, I was able to put him down to sleep without it. He hasn’t been nursing before sleep since then, although he still drinks my milk first thing in the morning.

Now let me tell you. His whole life he’s been nursing before going to sleep, and he started to verbally ask for it since he was around 13-14 months. Just before last Wednesday he would always (and I mean ALWAYS) say “гуть, спать” (breast, sleep) while we were putting on his pajamas after the bath. Before last Wednesday I could not imagine just how it could be possible to put him down to sleep without nursing.

Sleeping on his feeding pillow. November 2010.The mere thought of weaning was terrifying to me because I thought that Aroshka will not give nursing up without a fight. I read TONS of people’s advice and experiences on weaning, but I did not want to force him to abandon it. I know it’s best to let children self-wean, but my plan (mostly because of cultural reasons) was to stop or be near done with breastfeeding by Aroshka’s second birthday. So anyhow, I tried no to stress too much about it and just deal with the situation as the time gets closer to August.

When I was thinking about weaning, I was not sure which feedings to cut out first. Some people were saying the night one should be the last to go and some that it was the morning one. I was and still am so relieved that Aroshka made the choice completely on his own. Breastfeeding was one of the things that I really wanted to do right, and I did not want to traumatize my little boy in some way by forcing him to quit when/if he was not ready.

Staten Island. May 2011.Our nap/night sleep routine has changed to reading books instead of nursing. I ask him to go to bed, and he asks me to cover him with his blanket, and then I just read a few of his books to him. The current favorites are short stories about Winnie the Pooh, although for today’s nap I was reading to him about the kitten named Gav. I have to say though that putting him down for nap is a bit more challenging now than before (he skipped a nap altogether twice in the last 9 days), but he mostly goes down without a fight.

He mentioned nursing a few times in the last week, but was always content after I told him that the milk is gone (except for the morning). Usually when he asks for it that means that he is either hungry or tired, so eating or going to bed always helps.

I think that I could have cut his morning feeding too with some small resistance if I wanted to, but I just do not see a reason to do it just yet. There is not much milk left anyhow, plus I think it is still beneficial for him both nutritionally and emotionally. He pretty much does not drink cow’s milk (only in his morning cereal, which he does not eat daily), and eats very few diary products overall. I don’t think it’s a big deal, since I am trying to include a lot of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, eggs, nuts and healthy meats into his daily diet.

We are not done with the breastfeeding yet, but we are close to the end of this wonderful journey. I am so happy and grateful of how things have turned out so far. The best advice I can give to anyone who is new to this is to trust yourself and your baby and to educate yourself as much as possible. I did not know much about breastfeeding before Aroshka was born, and I think it contributed to the initial stress of it. Breastfeeding is not easy in the beginning, and quitting it can also be somewhat stressful, but it is a very rewarding experience overall. I am both glad and a little sad that we are nearing the end of it with Aroshka.
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