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Weaning Four Year Old

(16 Posts)
OldMcDonald Tue 28-Nov-17 14:21:53

I am quite conflicted about breastfeeding and cosleeping with my just turned four year old DS. He adores milk and cuddles. I do too, sometimes.

I have imposed limits because it was getting too much for me. He can feed before going to sleep at night, at wake up time, as he goes down for his nap, and then from when he wakes up half way through his nap until after we've finished a book or TV programme. When he's ill this gets relaxed a bit and it slowly drives me bonkers. I loose it and shout at him that he's not a baby and I don't want to feed him etc. I worry that by feeding him I am inadvertently damaging him by not being able to cope with it. When he's not ill things generally tick along okay, although I'd like time with my DH in bed.

DH is mostly able to get him to sleep at night if I'm out, although sometimes there are protests and, on bad nights, after I get back there are repeated requests for milk in the night.

He used to feed solidly from about 5am until he woke up. Now he needs hugs from 5am instead. I still get no sleep after 5am.

Moving him into his own room seems completely out of the question at the moment. There seems no way on earth to get him to do this.

Pushing him to have less milk just seems to result in him pushing back harder. Behaviour goes to pot, sleep becomes scarcer. (We only moved to our current feeding pattern in the last few months. Before that nights were restricted but he had milk much more during the day.)

I guess I just want to hear from others who fed to this age about how weaning happened to reassure me it will happen.

BrutusMcDogface Tue 28-Nov-17 14:24:18

No advice about weaning a 4 yo I'm afraid as mine were 12-18 months when I stopped, but one thing that jumped out at me was why does he still have a nap? Does he go to preschool at all? Maybe if he dropped the nap he might sleep longer in the morning?

I don't know how you're doing it flowers

PotteringAlong Tue 28-Nov-17 14:25:05

It will probably happen in the day when he goes to school in September.

I do think that breastfeeding is a relationship and if you're done, you're done. At 4 he should understand that's it. Could your DH deal with him at night for a bit to break the association?

Whatsinanameanyway201 Tue 28-Nov-17 14:27:02

Breast feeding a four year old? Should have stopped ages ago love! Poor child!

JohnLapsleyParlabane Tue 28-Nov-17 14:28:53

Hiya. There's a lovely thread for those 9f us still breastfeeding toddlers and beyond, perhaps some of the ladies there have been in your position.

OldMcDonald Tue 28-Nov-17 14:30:37

He does mornings at preschool, so naps after.

He does sleep after 5am, it's not that he's an early riser, it's just that when he's in the lighter stages of sleep (nap or night time) he seems to need close physical contact or preferably milk to stay asleep.

He definitely still needs the nap! Bear with a sore head without. No problems with getting him to sleep, or wake up times, just the doing it by himself part of it!

Taylor22 Tue 28-Nov-17 14:31:05

Hey Op.

The ages of our children are different, my daughter is 18 months, but your post resonated with me so much.
My daughter is just to much.

Jesus Christ if I refuse to feed her or just need her to get off me you'd swear I'd broken her leg off.
And she will scream for hours. She uses me for a dummy and night and I just want her

Taylor22 Tue 28-Nov-17 14:33:29

Sorry the demon spawn knocked my hand.

I just want her off. I was willing to go with the flow but no I'm cutting her off at 2. It's either that or I will lose it.

Have you tried throwing your hands up and going 'oh no it's all gone'

I can't speak of this from personal experience but I've heard it work for a few people.

Obviously it's not a straight fix. It probably will have to happen a few times and then explain that there are only certain times when there's 'enough' in there to feed.

MeeWhoo Tue 28-Nov-17 14:42:24

I know how you feel! I also own an almost 4 y.o. Who would happily feed all day if she could.
It's annoying when you see other children (and I know lots of people who breastfeed/breastfeed to term) who naturally ask to feed less and less and wean themselves off at night (or with a nudge but no "Fight") of their own accord.

Like you, for my own sanity I have imposed limits. She only feeds before bed and for breakfast, although I sometimes feed her if she waked up around 5-6 to avoid her getting up way too early.
Like you, I relax when she's I'll, so I am now basically in the process of weaning her again to only 2 feeds in 24 hours.
It is hard weaning or reducing feeds, I think the only way is to stick to your guns with whatever number of feeds you can deal with (and if it's 0,that's perfectly fine), and let him have a few cries/tantrums until the new routine sets in.
With my eldest, I was planning on tandem feeding and got so fed up I made him stop all of a sudden a little after 2 because I was 5 month pregnant and he wake up more or less every 45 minutes 😱😱.
Good luck and remember that your happiness and health is as important as his. If you are exhausted/in a bad mood because of all the feeding he will get a more chilled and happy mother in exchange for less milk, so it's not all bad!

OldMcDonald Tue 28-Nov-17 14:49:51

Thanks for that link and all the lovely posts. I know it's okay to stop, but I don't think I can do that to him. It means so much to him, the resulting behaviour would probably test me more than putting up with the feeds.

I'm glad it's not just me who struggles to get the feeds back down to a sensible level after illness. Sometimes I think it'd be easier to let him have a free for all all the time then I think hell no I will spontaneously combust/chuck him out the window if I do. I thought this was supposed to happen naturally. Sigh!

MeeWhoo Tue 28-Nov-17 14:59:02

That's the thing, isn't it? You keep waiting and waiting in hope that they'll stop asking to feed so often but it just doesn't happen! (at least not in my house)

EchidnasPhone Tue 28-Nov-17 15:01:26

I would perhaps work out when you're feeding what are the reasons - habit, comfort, put him to sleep, to stop a tantrum or bad behaviour. Write down times, reason, how you feel & how he feels then perhaps you can identify any patterns & eliminate the feed that you find hardest. Perhaps bring systematic about such an emotional issue could give some clarity.
Every child who drops a nap goes through a grumpy phase. I made sure that's when we had our afternoon walk or I bribed with chocolate to keep them going. Try the nap every second day then every 3rd. This should help with the afternoon feed & maybe the early rising. Can you move to the spare room & leave your husband to co-sleep at least until you've broken the 5am feed & you're rested. You must be exhausted xx

Tigger001 Wed 29-Nov-17 21:19:20

Sorry but it upset me to read you loose it and shout at him, he's not a baby. No he is not but he is only 4 and is only lead by the behaviour you allow or deem acceptable, so to shout at him for this is cruel so it us definitely time to stop if you can't cope and "lose" it with him. Sorry just my opinion not judging or meaning to be cruel.

CheerfulMuddler Wed 29-Nov-17 21:35:59

I weaned my son at two, and I did it by changing the routine and by offering things he wanted more. We always fed in the morning, at night and when he came home from the childminder. He'd always ask for it, but I think that was partly because he expected it.
So when he asked for milk, I distracted by giving him something he wanted more than milk - blackberries, or a biscuit or an ice cream. Chocolate buttons is a good idea. He wakes up after his nap grumpy and asks for milk. You say, "Actually, I've got some ice cream. Would you like ice cream?" (Or whatever his current favourite treat is.) He gets excited and asks for ice cream. Once you've done this three or four times (vary the treat so he doesn't start expecting that instead), he'll stop asking for milk, because he doesn't get milk after naps any more, and you can stop offering him treats. (Well, this worked with my two-year-old anyway.)
We moved him into his own bed at about this time and when he asked for milk before bed, we said, "Yes, of course," and gave him milk in a cup. He could have as much milk as he wanted, but not boob. In the mornings I'd take him upstairs and give him breastmilk in bed - that was the last feed to go, because I liked having the slow wake up in bed.
I cheated a bit stopping that one, because I had to work away for a weekend, so I just decided that was that. I was working in a different city on the Thursday, so had to leave early, then was away Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning. On Monday morning, when i went downstairs, I walked into his room and said briskly, "Hello! Would you like a biscuit?" before he could even ask for milk, then played trains very enthusiastically until he was clear that we'd moved onto the playing part of morning.
The next day, it was DH's turn to do the morning shift, and DS asked to be brought upstairs, so DH did. He asked for milk and I told him no, milk was all gone. Howls of agony and distress. Biscuit was rejected. Finally distracted him with Peppa Pig.
After that, lazy lie-ins in bed with DS were gone, and whoever was doing the morning shift stayed downstairs.
Two-year-olds are more easily distractable than four-year-olds, I know. But it was easier than I expected. And now I get to sleep in every other morning!

Believeitornot Wed 29-Nov-17 21:39:20

You could try the never offer never refuse method. By shouting at him etc that clear that you’re ready to stop.

I fed my dd til she was nearly 4. I basically made sure I didn’t inadvertently put her in a position which reminded her of feeding. Sometimes I’d quickly stand up if I accidentally pulled her into my lap as if feeding.

I’d cut down to just one feed a day. Probably the morning one. Then you can easily distract by getting up quickly and getting about your day.

I read a book on weaning which helped a bit. this is also good

PotteringAlong Thu 30-Nov-17 14:26:46

I was thinking about this thread today because someone IRL asked me about stopping feeding older children and I realised that my oldest 2 stopped when I got pregnant again and as I am definitely done I have no strategies for when I come to stop feeding this one! smileblush

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