My original plan had been to exclusively breastfeed her for 6 months then wean her off at 12 months. But, as I have learned, the best plans don't always work out the way you want.
Jellybean's weaning was a long and gradual process. I gave up on the plan to wean her at 12 months because I thought it was a pretty sucky birthday gift to take away the one source of pure and complete comfort to an infant. So our weaning journey took a bit longer and was a collaboration between mother and child.
The first weaning
A natural weaning begins around 6-8 months, after the introduction of solid foods. Jellybean started showing interest in solid foods at around 4-5 months. At the time, solids were just an appetizer to the main course of boob juice. But by 6-8 months, we were substituting a nursing session or two with solids. At the time, we were probably nursing about 6-8 times during the day and 6-8 times at night.
The second weaning
The 2nd stage of our weaning process happened around 7-10 months when I went back to work. Going back to work was another weaning opportunity just by schedule and location alone. I didn't bother pumping at work because I wanted my milk supply to lessen gradually. During this stage, I was nursing her 4-5 times a day and an average of 4-5 times a night. A mother can tell when her child is nursing for nourishment and comfort. At this time, I started sensing that Jellybean was night nursing more for comfort than nourishment.
The third weaning
From about 10-13 months, Jellybean really started getting into solid foods. This was a natural weaning opportunity so we encouraged her to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner and rely less on breastfeeding. It worked! During this time, we were down to 1-2 nursing sessions in the day and 3-4 night nursing sessions.
The fourth weaning
From 13 months on and for this attempt, I took the lead on weaning her. We were down to one day nursing and one night nursing. During the day, we'd eat enough solid foods so I knew she wasn't asking to nurse because she was hungry. I'd tell her that Mommy's "nana" were going to sleep. During the night, I offered her water and her pacifier, which she took most of the time. If she didn't, she'd throw a sleepy tantrum for a minute or two, then realize she wasn't getting her way, then would reach for her paci and settle back down to sleep. I'd let her nurse after the 2am hour. At this point, I knew that any nursing a before 2 am were just for comfort but the nursing a after 2 am were because she was hungry.
The fifth weaning
This stage is the final stage and happened at around 14.5 months and onwards to present. We were down to one nursing session in a 24-hour period, which was between the 3 am - 5 am hour. To substitute that nursing session, I'd offer her water, her paci, or just help her go back to sleep. And it worked!
I'm really proud of Jeallybean. During this whole weaning process I always tried to let her tell me when she was ready to take the next step. She'd let me know if I was moving too fast with the weaning process and I'd slow down. I think this worked really well for us. I do have to add that I'm a proponent of the path of least resistance. I'm always interested in hearing about how other mothers handled everything and what techniques they used.
Mmm!! Bananas are her favorite fruit!