Lazy Mom’s Guide to Weaning a Toddler

BY  |  Monday, Jan 23, 2012 1:00pm  |  COMMENTS (8)

Okay, so Babble just posted the kinder, gentler methods of weaning your toddler from the Boob. (Yeah, it’s a capital B. So what?) And I was surprised not to see my tried and true method listed there.  The usual shared methods of distraction, substitution, not offering anymore, and so on are all well and good if you’re happy to continue on for a while and if your child is not in a particularly needy phase.  And let’s face it, especially those of us with multiple children, it’s often easier to give in and hand a Boob (or bottle, or snack) over to a fussy child than to distract or substitute.

The decision to wean is personal, and it comes from many places.  My son just up and stopped nursing at fourteen months, more than likely because I was pregnant and the milk tasted different.  Someone might be starting medication or need a medical procedure that makes weaning necessary.  Perhaps lifestyle changes push you into weaning, or perhaps you’ve reached a goal of nursing for (fill in the amount of time), and now it’s time to stop.  Still others choose to continue nursing for much longer.

In my case, my 18-month-old daughter was an avid nurser who decided that any public event – Music Together class, in particular – would become a nursing marathon.  So there I’d be, marching in a circle with a dozen or so other parents and children, singing “Ridin’ in the Car” while I carried a nursing snuggle-bug with me.  (I know, I could have sat quietly in the corner of the room, but I paid for the class, darn it, and I wanted to take part!)  Lovely as the class was, no one even blinked.  Still, I began to realize that I had begun resenting the constant nursing, and more important than my feelings was that my daughter was missing out on lots of experiences. When she chose to nurse over grabbing a musical instrument and playing along with the music, I knew I had to act.

So, I’m happy to add one more tool to the chests of people who choose to nurse and then choose to stop before their child hits junior high.  It worked for me, and I’ve shared it with many a friend – several of whom have reported back that it’s quite effective.  What is this magic wand of weaning?  Quite simply, it’s a lemon.  Or a lime.  But my daughter liked the taste of limes, so that didn’t work.

Here’s what I did.  I put several slices of lemon (organic, of course) in a plastic baggie and carried it with me wherever we went.  When I started noticing my 18-month-old looking at me with hungry eyes, I’d get some lemon juice and rub it on my nipples.  She’d latch on, stop and give me a “Huh?” look.  Try again.  Try the other side.  And then quizzically ask for a sippy cup of juicy-water or whatever.  Sound like cruel and unusual punishment?  Yeah, it’s not.   The way I see it, this allowed my toddler to make the decision not to nurse.  It took a day or two before she didn’t ask anymore (except for pre-bedtime), and she was able to feel both in control and responsible for the change-over.  It can work for bottles to, but the lemon comes off of those nipples a lot faster.

Of course, when weaning from any comfort method (bottles, binkies, blankets, Boobs), it’s important to give the child more affection with extra cuddles and patience.  And when weaning from a source of hydration, make sure to pay extra attention to whether your child is getting enough to drink.  The same goes for nutrition, obviously, but toddlers tend to be pretty vocal about wanting meals and snacks.

If other methods aren’t working for you, and if you don’t mind having a lemon fresh scent for a few days, try it and come back to let us know how it went.  Are there any other weaning techniques that have worked for you?

(Photo credit: Flickr)


  1. POSTED BY Georgette Gilmore  |  January 23, 2012 @ 6:41 pm

    I just used the skipping feedings and started offering milk, or yogurt drinks for my youngest who hates milk. But neither of my kids were difficult to wean and stopped at 12 months and 14 months.

  2. POSTED BY walleroo  |  January 23, 2012 @ 8:33 pm

    Generally I stay away from posts intended for nursing mothers, but I just have to say, looking at the headline and the picture of the lemon, that this is really just awful. Oh, what a cruel world!

  3. POSTED BY Holly Korus  |  January 23, 2012 @ 9:33 pm

    I started giving them warm milk in a sippy cup which both of my kids hated at first so I mixed it with half apple juice. Their doc told me this was bad but I gave them less and less juice each time. After two weeks it was all milk.

    My 8 year old and 4 year old drink lots of milk and enjoy it. It costs a darn fortune. I’m thinking of just getting a cow at this point save some $.

  4. POSTED BY farrah  |  January 23, 2012 @ 10:26 pm

    I have never heard this before!!! I am in a moms group and some of us have really struggled with weaning too- on many different levels. I shared this with them and they were blown away!One said her only concern was that it might irritate her thrush issue- but for the most part it’s fairly brilliant. Sadly, I never had this issue as at 12 months my son was done and I was pregnant- the twins weaned at 6 months because I just couldn’t keep up. I also appreciate your thoughts on not wanting her to miss out- I would have felt the same way.

  5. POSTED BY sheepy  |  January 24, 2012 @ 1:18 am

    You should have interviewed KDM.

  6. POSTED BY walleroo  |  January 24, 2012 @ 8:04 am

    I don’t understand what there is to struggle with. Why not just give the kid formula from the beginning. Mother’s milk is laced with all sorts of contaminants, from mercury to solvents, all from the Jersey air and drinking water. Skip the boob, hit the bottle. Then you don’t have to torture the kid with lemons and hot peppers.

    Another problem solved!

  7. POSTED BY faielyne  |  December 26, 2012 @ 10:40 am

    Oh man, my daughter was a gat breast feeder from the beginning! Latched right on the very first time and hasn’t let go since. I thought I’d go with child-led weaning, but she is 21 months old and demands it constantly. I don’t give in during the day except for at nap time, but if I want any sleep, I let her nurse at night. My nipples were never sore before, but suddenly they are all the time! I’m ready to wean her. I think I’m going to make a list of all of her favorite foods and just fill the pantry with them. Maybe make a special snuggle spot, and talk to her about what’s going to happen, and then…

    slice me a lemon!!!

  8. POSTED BY jodynsteele  |  April 11, 2014 @ 4:35 pm

    This is genius! I’ve been feeling so helpless with my 18-month old who asks for “b’s” throughout the day, and often the distraction doesn’t work. I also have two older kids so I admit like others have said that I cave when I don’t want to listen to the whining. I know it’s best for everyone if it stops soon. Now if I could only magically fix the whining?! 😉

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