To wean a toddler, use distraction and elimination

CHILD LIFE

November 27, 1994|By BEVERLY MILLS

Q: I am pregnant and would like to wean my 2 1/2 -year-old, but it's so ingrained in her. What are some good ways to get an older child weaned?

Mary, Cleveland, Ohio

A: It takes patience and perseverance to wean a child who's old enough to lift your shirt and announce to the world that it's time for a snack.

The approaches mothers most often recommend are distracting the child, offering something else instead, postponing the nursing and eliminating feedings one at a time. If it's possible to look at weaning as a gradual process that will take several weeks -- or even months -- your child probably won't resist so much.

With this in mind, mothers and breast-feeding authorities say you should eliminate one feeding every few days or so, starting with the child's least favorite.

Lactation consultant Kathleen Huggins says most mothers who try to wean their toddlers and fail usually have mixed feelings about whether they really want to stop.

If the mother has worked hard at these techniques and they have failed, Ms. Huggins offers the option of picking a day and just saying no more. "In a gentle way, just tell the child the milk's all gone," she says. "If a mother really needs to stop, she needs to know that it's OK to do that."

CAN YOU HELP?

Here's a new question from a parent who needs your help. If you have tips, or if you have questions of your own, call our toll-free hot line any time at (800) 827-1092. Or write to Child Life, 2212 The Circle, Raleigh, N.C. 27608.

* I'm a girl, too: How can parents help a tomboy develop a positive self-image? "My 7-year-old wears blue jeans and T-shirts and keeps her hair very short for sports," says Diane O'Pry of Marietta, Ga. "People sometimes mistake her for a boy, and she gets very upset by that. She wants people to know she's a girl, but she wants to be herself. Any ideas?"

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