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Weaning a toddler from the breast can be challenging, since most children this age are getting their nourishment from solid foods, but continue to nurse solely for comfort. Plus, older children are capable of asking to nurse (and putting up quite a fight when they're denied) by grabbing at your breast, tugging on your clothing or even verbally requesting it. Just like weaning an infant, you'll need to do it slowly (going cold turkey is too tough on young children) by skipping one nursing session every three or four days until your child is off the breast. However, unlike infants who adapt well to most transitions, you'll need some special strategies to avoid emotional meltdowns:
• Around the time your child would normally want to nurse, involve him in a distracting craft project or a favorite game.
• Wear complicated clothing. A dress with a zipper down the back, for example, may be just the right deterrent for tots who nurse out of habit.
• Set a timer. When you do breastfeed, limit the time your toddler can spend on the breast by using a timer. Choose a shorter-than-usual time to help move the process along.
• Stay away from places where you normally nurse, like the rocking chair or a certain corner of the couch, until your child is weaned.
• Find other moments to cuddle. Scaling back the intimate contact of nursing can be very hard, but bedtime stories and games often fill the need for snuggle time with Mommy. Remember, you can never hug your child too much (boys especially tend to get shortchanged on physical affection as they get older).
Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.
The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.