How I Weaned My Baby

I mentioned in Amalia’s 5 month update that she is now fully weaned off of breastfeeding, so I wanted to talk a little bit more about why we made the decision to do that when we did and how it went down.

Before I had a baby, I always thought I’d breastfeed for a full year. It felt like the right thing to do, and I didn’t even consider another timeline… Until I had a baby!

After a few weeks of breastfeeding, the initial pain and bleeding nipples (yes that’s a thing) subsided and we were in a good groove. I was so happy doing it but realized how attached I was to her every day, literally. Despite that, I changed my tune and told Anel that six months was my goal, but after about two months, we started having some (minor) issues. The first was that every time she’d breastfeed, versus getting pumped milk from a bottle, she would throw up, like a lot. She also would get worse gas from breastfeeding than the bottle.

I talked to friends, our baby nurse, and our doctor and tried every single thing they suggested. I changed her position (head as far up as possible), I pumped for 5 minutes before feeds, I held her upright for 20 minutes after each feed, I gave her gripe water. But no matter what, bottles were better for her little tummy. So I started pumping more and breastfeeding less.

While I loved the act of actually nursing her with her little hand rubbing my back and her eyes looking up at me, I despised pumping. It hurt, I was constantly attached to my pump, and I felt like a cow. But I did it because I wanted what I felt was best for Amalia. To be clear, I don’t think that you have to breastfeed for any certain amount of time, and truly believe that whatever feels right for you and your baby is the right answer for you and your baby.

I did a mix of pumping and breastfeeding until she was three months and finally just couldn’t anymore. It was making me feel sad and anxious, and something my friend Arielle said stood out. Her philosophy is: You should breastfeed as long as it makes both you and your baby feel happy.

We had already been giving her this organic formula once a day for her night feed so I knew she could handle it. Btw it says it’s for toddlers but our ped reassured me that it’s fine for babies. The reason it says toddler is because that company apparently thinks babies should be breastfed exclusively for the first year.

So at three months we added one more bottle of formula a day which meant one less pumping session for me. That was so exciting and made me a happier human, which in turn made me a better mom. Over the course of the next two months we added one bottle at a time each week until she was on formula only (at about 4.5 months).

People warned me that I would have a hormonal drop when I weaned her, but because I did it so slowly, it really wasn’t that bad. The week when I dropped the last breastfeed, I was definitely weepy and emotional, but I also got my period the week after so it was probably a mix of the hormonal drop and PMS.

As soon as I stopped breastfeeding entirely, Amalia and I were both just so much happier together. It felt like the pressure was off and we could just enjoy our time without me having to run off and pump while figuring out what to do with her or have her get frustrated as she tried to nurse.

Health-wise, she’s doing great. She’s growing at the rate she’s supposed to and her motor and developmental skills are insane. The one thing I changed was her probiotic. I now give her one that’s specially formulated for formula-fed babies, recommended by my acupuncturist who gave it to her kids too. I do that in addition to vitamin D drops once a day in her first bottle.

As of 5 months we also started feeding her solids and we’re upping the amount of “real” food she gets each week which makes me feel better too. You can read more about my philosophy on solids here.

So that’s our story. Not that exciting but a lot of people have been asking how I did it. I hope it helps! I don’t know if it was the right or wrong way but it worked really well for us.

There is a lot of stigma around formula feeding and weaning too early, so please try to read this without judgement and remember that I’m making the decisions that work for my family.

Now I’d love to know, how and when did you wean your babies?

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Comments

  1. Anne Fahlgren said:

    Good for you for doing what was right for you and your family! There is so much pressure on us as moms to do things “the right” way when there is no one right thing. A fed baby with a happy Mom is always “the right” thing, however that has to happen. I was insanely lucky to have zero breastfeeding issues ever (I had plenty of other ones!), and ended up breastfeeding my daughter until she weaned herself at 14 months. At that point, we were just doing feedings first thing in the morning and before bed. I knew it was time because she just wasn’t interested anymore. She preferred to drink milk from her straw cup, so she could look around. I was surprised how sad I was, but I was definitely not sad to have to deal with pumping anymore! I travel for work, and traveling with the pump and milk was such a pain. I had to pump in all sorts of crazy locations, and I was glad to give that up. Side note: If you are a Mom who travels for work and pumps, the Medela Freestyle was amazing! Everything fits in a gallon ziplock bag, and the battery lasts for several days. I don’t know how I would have done it with a larger pump.

    1.10.18 · Reply
    • Thanks Anne. I agree, the pressure is intense and it shouldn’t have to be. BTW I’m so impressed with you for traveling and pumping like that. That is superhero status in my book!

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  2. Kiki said:

    Breastfeeding is the hardest thing I have ever done! I think being successful at it for any amount of time, deserves a pat on the back and a big old toast! You are her mommy and you know what is right for your baby. The mom shaming is too real and I truly hope no one has or will shame you for you doing what you thought was best for her. You’ll learn as she grows, there isn’t a real “right or wrong,” way of doing things. Trust your gut! <3

    http://www.raisingtherotens.com

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  3. Gabrielle Lees said:

    Love this post! Thank you so much for your honesty on this topic. I, too, always thought I would breastfeed for a year, but I ended up fully weaning my daughter at six months. With nursing I hated not knowing how much she was getting each feed, and the feeling of being constantly “attached” to either her or a pump caused so much anxiety. Once we made the switch to formula we were both SO much happier – I wish I had done it sooner and not let the so-called “stigma” affect me so much. At the end of the day, a happy momma equals a happy (and healthy!) baby.

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    • Steph Porter said:

      <3 <3 <3

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  4. So happy you are both happy! I breastfed my son until 21 months. He only weaned because I have lost my supply during my second pregnancy. He never had formula and I only fed him right from the breast when I was around and I pumped for him while I was at work ( I work full time). I am looking forward to nursing our next one exclusively as well when she arrives soon! I worried about the hormone drop but didn’t experience any issue. I was very ready for him to wean and my body was going through a lot with being pregnant and it was a slow process. Nursing/pumping etc is so much work! I honestly have no clue about anything regarding formula or bottle feeding as he only had bottles at daycare. I will have a lot to learn if we got that route at any time this next time around. I wouldn’t change a thing about our journey despite how much work it was. It was the greatest accomplishment of my life to be honest!

    1.10.18 · Reply
    • Michelle said:

      Can I ask at what point in your pregnancy your milk supply dropped? I’d like to keep nursing my son but know at some point, baby #2 will result in weaning.

      1.10.18 · Reply
      • Absolutely! It was immediate. It was actually really the only reason I thought I was pregnant. I only had one cycle during the whole 21 months of nursing at like month 20. When a cycle didn’t come after that I knew that was totally normal but figured if check for pregnancy. (for me, since I was still nursing and tended to be one of those women who didn’t get one while nursing). However, my son and I were only nursing once or twice a day at that point so my supply was already much decreased. Best of luck to you! I have a few videos about breastfeeding on my Darlynebeauty YouTube channel if you are interested in any more boob chats lol! I’m extremely passionate about breastfeeding and helping other women who want to do it.

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  5. Meghan said:

    Thank you for sharing this. As a FTM to a 3.5 month old, I relate to this SO much.

    1.10.18 · Reply
  6. Lindsey Baker said:

    Thanks for sharing. We are about a month behind you and have really used your suggestions and ideas in our journey! Know that your posts have been very helpful to us. We are currently about 2/3 breastmilk and 1/3 formula at this point, and will probably start moving more to formula over the next month. My boobs hurt so much! The pumping at work is very time consuming, and I’m going to be traveling coming up some and I’m just not sure how that’s going to work. Plus, I’m just not confident that he’s getting enough, especially the one time I nurse in the morning. So we’re right there with you. Also, I want to say this – I hate that you feel like you have to defend your decisions in these posts. At the end of the day, the baby needs to eat! And I know you’re making the best decisions for your family – who gives a … what others think! Easier said than done, but keep your head up and don’t let negative comments get to you!

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  7. Steph Porter said:

    I love love love this post. I struggled with breastfeeding with my little one. I started off exclusively pumping… then got him to latch with a nipple shield…but it was always a process. Pumping made me overproduce and uncomfortable. Nursing was a process and involved numerous boppys and pillows and equipment. He was underweight. He also had a milk allergy, which meant I had to cut all dairy from my diet. I was exhausted and suffering from sever postpartum anxiety. I’m convinced the pressure to nurse was the cause of this. I weaned him between 5 and 6 months, and I absolutely became a better mom because of it.

    I would have loved to nurse him for a full year, but it was not the best for the both of us. I agree, breastfeeding is wonderful, however at what point does the pressure to breastfeed and the social stigma of using formula become detrimental to your family?

    1.10.18 · Reply
    • Colleen Smith said:

      I hear you, the struggle is real! We took breastfeeding classes and did our reading but i still had no idea how much time breastfeeding/pumping takes up. I have an 8 week old and feel completely reliant on my Brest Friend pillow to nurse which means if i want to take her out somewhere, i only have a 2.5 hr window til we have to be back home. It’s given me tons of anxiety and i feel like a caged bird (not being a mom, just the time constraint).
      Can i ask you, how did you breastfeed in public without the pillows? When you started to wean and feed/pump less did you feel engorged? If so how long did that last? When my milk came in that was the worst feeling and although i want to wean her in a couple months, i dread the engorged feeling.

      1.12.18 · Reply
  8. Colleen said:

    Thank you so much for sharing! My babe is 8.5 months old and I want to start weaning because hubs and I are going on an out of country trip without her at the beginning of April…. but we’ve both been sick this season- which makes her want to nurse more, and my supply doesn’t seem to be dropping even when I pump less. And I am so anxious about the hormone drop! I was a hot hot mess those first few weeks postpartum. I’m glad to hear you were able to transition well over a month- that sounds reasonable! And I’m so on board for FED IS BEST! You do you girl! All you can do is be the best mom you can be! That goes for all of us ladies! 😉

    1.10.18 · Reply
  9. Britta said:

    Good for you for doing what is right for you and your baby! I have a friend who is still breastfeeding her 18 month old and I have a friend who didn’t end up breastfeeding at all – both babies are doing great!
    Once I went back to work breastfeeding got pretty complicated for me. My job is pretty male dominated so not a lot of understanding in that area, and pumping in my office was miserable. I also had a couple close calls where my court calls went long and I started leaking in court! I literally had to go up to the judge and tell him I needed to leave now! So embarrassing. Like you, my goal was 1 year, but after 8 months I was spent. I had stockpiled about a month of frozen breast milk, so all said and done my daughter got breast milk till she was 9 months old. I felt like I failed, but after talking to friends and my doctor the guilt subsided! My mental health is important too 🙂
    Number 2 is on the way in February and I have the same 1 year goal for him, but I am much for open to playing it by ear this time around!
    Also, how good does it feel not to be cleaning those itty bitty breast milk pump parts!! The worst!

    1.10.18 · Reply
    • That’s just not right. You should feel safe and happy pumping at work always. But leaking in court is a WHOLE other story, wow! 9 months is incredible, you should feel so proud of yourself especially with what you were dealing with at work. Congrats on baby number two!

      1.10.18 · Reply
  10. Megan said:

    I love this post, but I also really love the support being shown in the comments. I’m about to be a mom for the first time (any day now!) and have no idea where my breastfeeding journey will lead me. I really appreciate your honesty in your breastfeeding journey and it’s inspiring to read in the comments about all the women who this message also resonates with.

    1.10.18 · Reply
    • First of all, CONGRATS and good luck with delivery! Second of all, the comments are bringing tears to my eyes. I love this community of mamas, it is incredible. xo

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  11. Preppy_Lizzy said:

    You have to do what works for you and your family! I went back to work after my first was 3.5 months old and moved to breastfeeding whenever we were together and pumping when I was at work/she was at daycare. I initially pumped 3x/day and then over time downgraded to 2x/day and then once a day. We supplemented formula around a year when necessary and around a 13 months I stopped pumping all together and just breastfeed mornings and evenings. My supply adjusted to that. I weaned her at 15-16 months because I just couldn’t take pumping 24/7 on another business trip (I had already done that a few times, including pumping in airports and on airplane bathrooms for cross country flights – bleh) and my supply finally dried up (it was a 5 day business trip).
    With my second, I was home with her 4.5 months and then started up my breastfeeding at home and pumping 3x daily at the office. I am still pumping 3x day and will keep it up as long as my supply allows and I can swing it with meetings. My goal is to get her to a year as well. I have a huge milk stash again so as I reduce pumping we will dip into that too. Not sure when we will finish up with number 2 but I am going to let her lead the way.

    1.10.18 · Reply
  12. Elizabeth R. said:

    This post is wonderful – thank you for sharing and being honest! Just a quick tip as a mom of 2 (who was formula feeding exclusively between 6-8 months with both), if you have luck with nursing but hate pumping (and feeling like a COW), ‘book-end nursing’ was my favorite part of weaning. I was able to drop the pump sessions during the work day and still nurse in the morning before work and before bed. I did that for a couple months with both, and it was a nice transition! I totally recommend it!! Best of luck to all nursing moms out there – do what makes you and your baby happy!

    1.10.18 · Reply
  13. JRB said:

    Really appreciate this post. About to become a mother (eek!) and the thing I look forward to the least is breastfeeding. I personally think formula is completely fine, but I’m going to give it a try. Makes me feel better to know that I’m not alone and that there are a lot of different options that can be right for a baby and family.

    1.10.18 · Reply
  14. marielle said:

    Thank you for your honesty. It’s why I always come back to your blog.

    1.10.18 · Reply
  15. BRN said:

    Congrats on a positive experience and cheers to the next phase!

    1.10.18 · Reply
  16. Court said:

    Breast feeding was probably the only thing I found easy about having a baby so I let mine self-wean, 17 months and 2.5 years. Your story gave me a greater appreciation for moms that may not BF – thanks for sharing.

    1.11.18 · Reply
  17. Emily Pinto said:

    I’m on that tipping point now trying to figure out when and how to wean. The social stigma regarding formula and the mom shaming is REAL. I can’t tell you how many women have asked me, “are you breastfeeding” in a way that made me feel that they were judging my decision to do a combination of breastfeeding and formula. No one told me when I was pregnant how VARIABLE women’s experiences are and how many challenges one may encounter but I know now because it’s been a challenge for me too. My son is 4.5 months and I am hoping to introduce solids and formula as we wind down from breastfeeding and pumping as I start back at work full time in 2 weeks. Thanks for your honesty and sharing your story! You are an amazing Mom 🙂

    1.11.18 · Reply
    • Thanks Emily, that means a lot! I think if you go with your gut, you’ll be in good shape. You should be SO proud of the 4.5 months you’ve put in already!

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  18. TWC said:

    Thanks for this post, and good for you for following your gut! My mom gave me similar advice to your friend: the first step to being a good mother is being a happy mother. Take care of yourself first and that will pay dividends to your child. It’s easier said than done when you get pressure from other moms (and yourself!) to do things a certain way, but I think it really is true! I’ve always had to supplement with formula because I had some supply issues so my baby has been getting 50/50 BM/formula for a while now. I’m getting ready to wean completely but I wanted to get your thoughts – I have about a week’s worth of BM in my freezer, do you think I should thaw and feed it to him once I’m completely done BF-ing/pumping, or save until he’s sick or something and might need it more?

    1.11.18 · Reply
    • I agree with your mom 100%. I’m not sure about the frozen BM but if it were me I’d probably go for it now. Ask your ped but I’m pretty sure BM only helps sick babies if they’re eating from you because the antibodies in your milk change when they’re actually sick!

      1.11.18 · Reply
  19. Rachel McGill Proto said:

    Thank you for posting this! I just had a baby 2 weeks ago and breastfeeding has been the hardest part which was not what I was expecting. He had a tongue tie when he was born which I thought was creating latch problems. I didn’t get the help I needed at the hospital so he ended up getting dehydrated when we went home because he wasn’t getting enough food. I immediately was fine with giving him formula I just felt terrible that i didn’t realize. We had a lactation consultant come and besides the low milk supply I have low breast tissue and he has a high palate so together the odds are stacked against us. I’m giving him pumped milk in a bottle, formula, then trying to breastfeed at most feedings. Meanwhile pumping 4-7 times a day. Posts like this and comments that are positive are really helpful when you’re an emotional mess and just want to give up! It’s nice to hear other people’s stories and realize you aren’t alone so again thank you for providing that for people who are trying to figure this all out!

    1.11.18 · Reply
    • AS said:

      You are doing an amazing job mama! I had a tongue tie baby just over a year ago and it was a very rough beginning. It gets better. That’s not to say that you have to keep breastfeeding if it isn’t working for you. But, if it is something that you feel strongly about, I wanted you to feel encouraged that it can work and it won’t be this hard forever. It took us a few weeks to get into a groove, but now I have a hard time even remembering that it was tough. Hang in there and know that however you get your baby fed, you are doing it right.

      1.12.18 · Reply
  20. Cathy said:

    When my oldest was born (twenty years ago this March) I breastfed him and weaned him at five months also. I vividly remembered the pressures I faced from both sides- my mother was anti- breastfeeding to begin with and wasn’t supportive of me through my emotional struggles; the online breastfeeding community I was involved with was not receptive to me weaning by five months. It takes a lot to say ” I’m doing what’s best for me and my baby.” I hate that moms are still shaming other moms for making choices different from their own. And I’m proud of you for doing what’s best for your family and putting it out there.

    1.12.18 · Reply
  21. Jessica Morrison said:

    I love that you could wean slowly and at a great pace! I bf my first two for a year, then when I had my third, I felt like I was sitting and nursing allll day. And I was missing out on the other two. I started doing a formula bottle at night and he started to prefer the bottle. Then, literally in one day, he cried every time I tried to nurse. So now he’s formula fed and we are all enjoying it! My husband can feed him and I can give attention to the other kiddos, it’s just right. Good for you for just doing what’s best for you and baby. My favorite idea when it comes to breastfeeding or formula feeding, is that babies are best fed. Fed and loved and healthy ❤️

    1.12.18 · Reply
    • That’s amazing. It sounds like you found the perfect solution for your family! The daddy bonding time is priceless too.

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  22. Colleen Smith said:

    Julia-i think 5 months is great!!! Well done mama. Isn’t it crazy that we have been conditioned to think it’s not though?
    My babe is 8 weeks and while breastfeeding is going well now, that wasn’t the case in the first couple weeks (i hear ya on the bleeding ugh). I’ve just started pumping to get a reserve. Did you pump to have a reserve too? One thing i haven’t figured out is nursing in public…i remember you saying that you hadn’t really nursed in public a couple months ago. Is that because you gave her a bottle instead? Right now i just feel majorly confined to our apartment to feed and only have a 2.5 hr window between feed times but am completely reliant on my nursing pillow at home.

    1.12.18 · Reply
    • So crazy! I pumped but she ate SO much that I never really got much extra. I also only nursed in public maybe three times total. I just felt uncomfortable and A would get distracted so I avoided it like the plague. Maybe with a second baby I won’t be so crazy!

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