Weaning and the Breastfeeding Journey: It Took Covid to Wean My Toddler

Okay, so weaning. Not in the British sense of the word where they mean feeding your baby food. What I mean is no longer breastfeeding. Though I guess you should probably be feeding your baby some food before ending breastfeeding anyway. But

When I was pregnant with my daughter I just assumed that I would breastfeed her. My own Mother had breastfed me back in the 90s for 18 months and I so figured if it was easy for her then I could do it too. I prepared myself by reading a couple of breastfeeding books (Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding) and just figured that I was a mammal and this is what mammals do. Well when my newborn little angel arrived I tried to breastfeed but had some challenges due do my daughter having a severe lip tie and tongue tie. We got those fixed and I went on to get untreated thrush for a month which was torture but I told myself I was going to breastfeed until 6 months and then I would reevaluate. Though I had plenty of milk, my breasts didn’t respond to a pump and to leave my daughter I found myself having to pump for days to get enough to feed her even one bottle. I persevered anyway.

At 6 months I decided to continue until a year and as the year mark approached me and my daughter had settled into a routine where I was enjoyed nursing her. She nursed like a champ and I didn’t mind at all. I could step out of the house for longer as she was eating solids. Figuring out bottles and pumps and cow’s milk seemed like some mystery I had never really cracked and I just kept breastfeeding right up to the year mark. Then my daughter turned a year old and learned to walk and started that transition from baby to toddler. I had decided that I would nurse her until I didn’t enjoy it anymore. At 16 months I said I was going to quit. But I didn’t. Instead I just quit daytime nursing, cutting back to once before bed and once when she woke up in the mornings. I started to feel tethered to her. like I wasn’t free in the mornings. I didn’t like that feeling. I wanted to stop. Everyone talks about how hard breastfeeding is. And it is hard. It’s even hard to stop. When I got my daughter out of her crib in the morning she would cling to me and cry and scream until I nursed her.

Finally I recruited my husband to stage an intervention when she was 18 months old. For several days he got her up in the mornings and got her downstairs to breakfast and a cup of milk without me there. She fussed a little the first day, but without me there she accepted there would be no nursing. After a few days I stepped back in and to my relief we had dropped that nursing session. There was only the one time before bed now.

At this point I still felt like a hostage to my toddler. Any enjoyment of nursing was gone. Those old days of staring down at her adorable face as she latched were replaced by me shuddering as I thought of putting her back to my breast. But at the same time it was me who couldn’t let go. Yes, she would cry for it but we are talking about a toddler here. She also cries because I won’t let her play with an electrical outlet. I could have just said no. But I felt guilty, like I was robbing her of something she deserved if I took this last nursing session away from her. I felt that by nursing her I was holding onto my baby, even as she was firmly in toddler territory and approaching 2. But I hated it.

And then an absolute miracle happened. I got Covid. I didn’t get a few sniffles Covid. I got full blown, 103 degree fever, aches, fatigue, loss of smell, cough and the works Covid. And honestly it was the best thing that could have happened. Because for a day or two I was physically unable to care for my daughter. Which meant my husband took over and when bedtime came I wasn’t able to insist on giving my daughter breastmilk. Instead, my husband gave her a cup of milk and put her to bed. Did she cry? Yes. I heard her calling for “Mama” from her room as she was getting ready for bed. And that broke my heart a little but I knew that couldn’t physically breastfeed her with me sick like that. Not a wiggly big toddler. And then I got better and she was weaned! Hallelujah! She was weaned! I felt like shouting from the rooftops in complete joy.

It’s been a month since then and in that time I have lost 5 pounds without any effort on my part. I was one of the unlucky women who hold onto weight when breastfeeding instead of it acting like some sort of magic weight loss bullet. I’m enjoying my freedom now and am trying not to think too much about how traditional societies didn’t wean until 2 or 3. For me the 21 months was quite enough and it was time to stop.

Why I Love Cloth Wipes for My Baby

I started out on my cloth diapering journey using regular disposable wipes even though I was using cloth diapers. I had heard about cloth wipes but wasn’t sure if I was ready for that. Eventually I got tired of having a diaper pail and a trash can for the disposable wipes in the nursery and decided to try some cloth wipes so I could just throw everything in the same pail. I started using cloth wipes and they are awesome. Seriously. I think I like cloth wipes more than I like cloth diapers. I can use only one wipe where I used to have to use multiple because they work so well. I got the Osocozy flannel cloth wipes and they are the perfect size. I make my own cloth diaper solution for the wipes because my baby’s butt is pretty sensitive and I like to control what is in it. I was having some problems with different types of disposable wipes making my baby’s butt break out into a rash so cloth wipes have really helped with that. I make the solution in batches and pour it over about a days worth of wipes each day that I keep in a reusable wipe container. This works well for me as I can just reach in a grab an already made wipe whenever I need one.

DIY Cloth Wipe Solution Recipe:

  • 3 cups of water
  • Chamomile tea ( 1 tea bag)
  • 1 tbsp oil per cup of water (I’ve used almond oil and olive oil and both work well, one time I used coconut oil and it did not work well because the coconut oil turned solid and just kind of floated there in the container)
  • 1 tsp per cup of water of the baby soap or shampoo of your choice
  • 1 tbsp per cup of water of witch hazel
  • 1-2 drops of tea tree oil

Bring water to a boil and add the tea bag and let it seep until the water has cooled. Remove tea bag and add in oil, witch hazel, soap, and tea tree oil. I make a bunch at once so it lasts a few days.

I have tried a whole bunch of recipes and tweaked mine until I came up with this one. I love this one because it uses the chamomile tea base, which is very soothing and good for your skin. I included oil to moisturize and help the wipe glide across the skin. The soap helps to get the baby clean and witch hazel is a natural astringent which also helps prevent mildew on the wipes. I include tea tree oil because tea tree oil is a natural antifungal and antibacterial, plus I like the way it smells.
Make sure to clearly mark whatever container you put the solution in as wipe solution if you make a batch for a few days at once. I put mine in an old juice container and my husband was eyeballing it to drink until I told him what it was. Now it has WIPE SOLUTION in big letters on the bottle.


Photo by Mel Poole on Unsplash

Why Cloth Diaper?

Disposable Diapers Gross Me Out

I hate disposable diapers. I had always thought that the concept of cloth diapering was kinda cool as a way to save money and to reduce the amount that we are throwing away, but I wasn’t really sure I was up to the whole cloth diapering thing. Then when I was pregnant, I had an experience that changed my mind. We were at someone’s house for a dinner and their toddler was running around in their diaper. The diaper was wet and it had the the telltale droopy butt, the wet soppiness hanging like a pendulum between their little baby legs as they toddled around. I imagined the tiny crystals inside the diapers expanded with urine and chemicals. Being pregnant as I was, I had never been more disgusted in my life. I said to my husband that day that I wanted to cloth diaper our baby. That experience sparked a hatred of disposable diapers that has only grown with time.
I share this experience because I want you to understand that my reasons and motivations for cloth diapering are a little bit different than most people’s. I went into cloth diapering simply because I hated the alternative.

There’s Gonna be Poop Everywhere Anyway

One of the biggest reactions/objections I hear about cloth diapering is “But what about the poop?”. Yes, what about the poop? This is a valid concern. People seem very concerned about the fact that cloth diapers contain poop and that you have to do something about this said contained poop. But that is just it. IT CONTAINS THE POOP. When my baby poops in a cloth diaper, the poop stays in the cloth daiper. Which is AMAZING. No blowouts. Ever. Whenever I use a disposable no matter the brand, no matter how expensive or nice it is supposed to be, the poop escapes the diaper a bit too often for comfort. Then you have poop on the baby’s clothes which means you’re washing poop out of fabric anyway. Also you might also be cleaning the poop out of your clothes/the rug/the carseat/the floor/you/the baby’s hair. Really, the possibilities of where the poop can go after it escapes the diaper are endless. From my perspective, I would rather wash a diaper that contained the poop then everything else that now has poop on it because the disposable diaper didn’t contain the mess anyway. If you have a baby, you’re gonna be cleaning up poop. No denying it. Just sayin’.

It’s Supposed to be Cheaper

There’s lots of articles all over the internet breaking down the cost of disposable diapers and comparing it to cloth diapering. Really, I don’t think any of them are really that accurate because there is so many ways to diaper your baby that these breakdowns could never account for how you diaper your baby. With disposables you can buy name brand fancy eco diapers in small packs from your local swanky store and end up paying A LOT for disposable diapers. Or you could only buy them with mega discounts/coupons in the huge value packs and save a nice bit. Or anything in between. Also with cloth diapers, you can spend upwards of over $30 per diaper and get all the fancy accessories (wet pails, wet bags, spray pals, bidet sprayers, drying racks, 2 dozen types of inserts, doublers, extra wool covers, lanolin, detergent, liners, diaper cleaning services, oh my!) and have that quickly add up. Or you could cloth diaper for less than $100 dollars total using secondhand diapers or flats with covers. Also it really depends when your kid is potty trained, how many kids you use the diapers for, and if you resell them at the end to get some of the money back. It really just depends on what you do.
In general, most of these analyses agree that you can save money by cloth diapering. I hope to one day look into this more. They certainly aren’t cheaper up front. You pay all the cost up front for the diapers and then over time you get your money back and then some. I think that it definitely saved us money though since we would have been buying the fancy name brand chemical free and clear diapers that are more expensive if we had gone down the disposable route fulltime.

Saving the Planet?

Most people say that cloth diapering is good for the environment because less trash is ending up in the landfill. Just like the cost breakdown, there’s a lot of debate around this one. There’s the argument that with the transportation and materials and the washing and drying of the cloth diapers that really it isn’t any better than disposables for the planet. They also argue that now disposables are coming out that are biodegradable. (I would like to point out that if you use these biodegradable daipers and then throw them away inside a normal plastic bag then it kinds defeats the point because they can’t biodegrade inside that bag). Then there’s the whole microfiber shedding conundrum where cloth diapers that are made up of or contain microfiber shed tiny filaments of the microfiber into the environment when they are washed. (This is why natural fibers are better!)
Overall I find the claims that cloth isn’t better for the environment a little far fetched. The average baby goes through about 6,000 diapers from birth to potty training. That is a lot of diapers! Any way you look at it, if you cloth diaper that is a lot of trash that is not being generated and sitting in our landfills until god knows when. I guess there are ways to do cloth so that its isn’t as good for the environment but the way I do it (wash at home with HE washer, hang dry, use as many natural fibers as possible) I’m pretty sure the environment is getting a net positive. I hope to look more into this at a later date also.

Gentle on Little Baby Behinds

Several years ago I made the switch from disposable period products to using a menstrual cup and reusable menstrual pads. And let me tell you, I ain’t ever going back. They are amazingly comfortable and convienent. Commercial disposable hygiene products are full of all sorts of chemicals and materials that I don’t want anywhere near my reproductive parts. And diapers are the same way. Disposables always have that weird powder smell and are full of all sorts of chemicals. (I know that you can get special diapers that are unbleached and free of a lot of those chemicals but they cost a lot more.) I don’t want that wierd plastic stuff on my butt and I want my baby to be as comfy as possible. Plus, with cloth diapering my baby never gets a diaper rash! The only times she has started to get irritated on her butt was when she was in disposables. I told my Pediatrician and he seemed surprised that she has never had a serious diaper rash EVER.

They are Cute

Cloth diapers can be cute. Really cute. I love seeing my baby crawling around with blossoms on her little butt. There are so many colors and patterns that there really is something for everyone. In my collection I have ducks, woodland scenes, stripes, beautiful solids, flowers, fruits, desserts, spots, dragon scales, elephants, stripes, leaves and more! Plus, when you put them on your baby it makes their butt really fluffy, which is adorable.

Cloth diapers are cute
Cloth diapers are cute

What to Pack in Hospital Bag When Having a Baby

I thought I would write down what to pack in my hospital bag next time (assuming there’s a next time) I have a baby. Last time I definitely brought a lot of stuff that I never ended up using and then there was a lot of things that I wish I had had.

  1. Lotion for me. Hospitals have dry air.
  2. Toiletries. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, toothpaste. People will claim that the hospital provides this, but mine didn’t.
  3. Snacks!
  4. Condiments for the hospital food. Especially butter. And whole fat everything because they didn’t have whole fat anything and it was gross. I really, really wish that hospital food was nutritious. But it wasn’t. At least not my idea of nutritious. And it didn’t taste that great either. I follow a mix-up of paleo, Weston Price diet, and the Specific Carb diet and let me tell you, none of the food at the hospital was what I usually eat at all.
  5. Slip on shoes. Hospital floors are gross.
  6. Breastfeeding pillow. Everyone said not to bring it and just use the hospital pillows and it would be fine. Well maybe it was fine for them but for me I need a breastfeeding pillow to help hold my newborn in the correct position. Definitely bringing next time.
  7. Pillow for my head. The hospital pillows suck. Also bring a colorful pillowcase to distinguish your pillow from the hospital pillows.
  8. Hair ties. You want lots of hair ties to pull up your hair during labor and for postpartum. The last thing you want to be dealing with during labor is your hair.
  9. Robe. I ended up not using the robe last time because we never had any visitors because we weren’t allowed visitors because of Covid-19 but if I did have visitors I would want a robe I could put on quickly and feel more put together and covered. Hospital gowns just aren’t that flattering or modest.
  10. Water cup with straw and lid. Last time I brought my own big water cup with a straw and a lid and it was great. It was much larger than the cups at the hospital and having a straw and lid made it easier to drink while I was in bed.
  11. Birth plan and other documents. I had my birth plan and other details for the birth all written out before I went to the hospital. I also had all of my insurance information, personal history, allergies, doctors office contact info and the info for my pediatrician all written down. This was great because I could just hand it to them when they asked questions and I was too tired/ distracted to answer coherently.
  12. A really long phone charger cord. Sometimes the outlets aren’t in the best spots and you want your phone charged.
  13. Clothes for going home in. Yay going home outfit. I just wore a dress with a cardigan over it. It was comfy and easy to put on. I wouldn’t want to put on jeans right after delivery because your crouch is kinda sore. If you end up with a cesarean you want something that won’t irritate the incision. Also keep in mind that you will have big bulky maternity pads on so don’t wear something too tight that they might show through (unless you don’t care).
  14. Clothes for your hospital stay. I thought I might want to wear these. Turns out I didn’t use them. During labor I ended up tearing all my clothes off so no clothes for that. I would have liked to have worn a sports bra or something but that didn’t work out. Afterwards I felt content wearing the hospital gown. It was nice that it was some laundry that I didn’t have to wash.

What to Bring For the Baby

  1. Bring clothes for the baby to go home in. They kept the baby swaddled in a blanket most of the time in the hospital so I really didn’t need anything for the baby to wear until we were going home. I also brought a little pink hat with a bow for my newborn to wear because it was so much cuter than the hospital supplied hat and was great for all the pictures we sent out to family and friends. I will definitely be doing that again if I have another little girl.
  2. Baby blankets. They supply blankets in the hospital but you want some blankets for the ride home too.
  3. Lotion and coconut oil for the baby. The hospital has really dry air. Like seriously. My poor baby’s skin was cracked from all the dry air and that was with us not giving her bath instantly at birth.
  4. Something to handle razor sharp newborn nails. They are born with these sharp little nails that they scratch themselves ( and you! ) with. Bring socks or mittens to cover up their hands and feet to keep them from scratching themselves. Or you could tackle the nails head on and bring nail clippers/ nail file to trim those sharp tiny tallons back. I liked the electric manicure set for newborns.

There are a lot of lists that say to bring a lot more stuff. For instance they will say to bring something to entertain you. I don’t understand that. Boredom was the last of my concerns when I was in the hospital having my baby. Labor was such an intense experience that I never felt like I needed something to do. This would probably be different if I had an induction and there was a lot of waiting around. And postpartum I spent every minute staring at my baby, nursing or trying to rest when someone wasn’t in my room wanting something (to check on the baby/ check on me/delivering food/taking my blood/doing tests/lactation consultant/etc.)

The list certainly isn’t comprehensive and I’ll probably end up bringing more stuff than this as I did last time. But I definitely need these items. What items did you think you would need that you didn’t end up using and then what items did you wish you would of had that you didn’t?

Photo credit: Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Baby Items I Didn’t Buy For My Baby

Everyone is always trying to tell you what you absolutely “need” for baby. The reality is that you don’t actually need that much for a baby. Especially a newborn. It’s true that there are some things that some people need or enjoy having, but not everyone “needs” all of these things. Most of those things are not required. I’m going over things that I either didn’t have or didn’t use. Maybe you do need some of these things. Maybe my life would have been easier and I’ll get them the second time around. But really, those long lists of things you need to buy are ridiculous reasons to buy more stuff and spend more than you have to. And babies are expensive enough without buying a bunch of stuff that you might never use. You do not need to spend thousands of dollars on baby gear. Here are some things I skipped buying for my baby.

1. An Infant Car Seat

I see an infant car seat on so many must have lists for babies. And when you walk into BuyBuyBaby you see rows and rows of these infant “bucket” car seats. You know the kind that just pop right out of your car without ever having to take the baby out and then you carry around this heavy car seat instead of just carrying your baby? Yeah you might be able to get away with not buying one of those. You can put a newborn in a convertible car seat from day one as long as your baby fits the height and weight recommendations. The carseat I bought fit babies all the way down to 4 pounds. This is great because you have to buy a convertible carseat anyway after your infant outgrows their bucket carseat so by skipping the infant seat altogether you can save a lot of money. Granted, some people want the convienence of being able to snap the carseat out but for me it wasn’t an issue as I preferred to wear my baby in a carrier when she was small and didn’t want to carry her carseat around everywhere. I also saved on the stroller because of this because I didn’t need the kind that you click the carseat into.

2. Newborn Bath Items

In this category I am going to put a infant bathtub and newborn towels. I didn’t have either of these and I was fine. I just bathed my newborn in the sink or I just got in the bathtub with her and held her. It was nice and relaxing holding my newborn in the warm water. The few times I did try to give my baby a bath using someone else’s infant bathtub I got so frustrated trying to bend over the tub with the thing and hearing my baby scream that I just gave up on them entirely. Also, one less thing to clean and it gave me an excuse to take a bath. And postpartum I will take any bath I can get. I’ve heard the foam mat in the tub works well and maybe one day in the future I will try that. Also, you don’t need special towels for a newborn. Just use a small towel.

3. A Humidifier

When I first saw this on a lot of the must have lists I have to admit I was puzzled. I was confused. I didn’t understand what the humdifier was for. I live in the Southeastern United States where we breathe in our water instead of drinking it (just kidding, we still drink water). Seriously, it is HUMID. So humid that controlling mildew and mold growth inside is a much bigger concern to me than if it was humid enough for my baby. I think this could be a necessary item if you lived somewhere drier or had a baby in the winter months. But not everyone needs this item. If my baby gets a cold during the winter when its sort of dry inside and she has trouble breathing I will buy one then.

4. A NoseFrida

Yeah, these don’t appeal to me. Plus, I’m pretty sure that the filter in them doesn’t block viruses. You are literally sucking whatever germs your little one has straight into your own lungs. Plus, I’m lucky! My baby has never been sick, but I do have the bulb sucker they gave me at the hospital just in case.

5. Breastfeeding Covers

I might be a little controversial here but I don’t use breastfeeding covers. At all. In the language that I have heard people use to describe breastfeeding in public, I just “whip it out”, stick it in my baby’s mouth and hold her there, pleasantly nursing without a blanket on her head until she is done. If I did want to cover up, I don’t need a fancy breastfeeding cover, I would just use a baby blanket or a scarf.

6. Car seat cover

Just like with the breastfeeding cover, just use a blanket.

7. Baby food maker

This one truly puzzles me. If you are making your own baby food you can just use a normal food processor or blender. There’s no need to have a special “baby” version. Some foods can just be mashed by hand or you can forgo all that altogether and do Baby Led Weaning. I have made all of my baby’s food myself or just given them non-baby food and I haven’t needed a baby food maker. Also, newborns don’t eat baby food. They eat milk or formula.

8. Baby Bottles

I had planned to use baby bottles with my baby. I even got some bottles that I received for free to try. But I quickly realized that my baby didn’t really like bottles and as a breastfeeding mother, its so much easier to pop the baby onto my breast than worry about pumping milk. Also, I don’t want to wash all those bottles. If you don’t use baby bottles you don’t need special drying racks or cleaning supplies for them either.

9. Bottle sterilizer/ bottle warmer/ formula maker

I’m putting these all in the same category because they all assume you are bottle feeding a lot. Some people swear by these things. As someone who didn’t use bottles much, having a bottle sterilizer would have been a total waste of counter space. For the few bottles that I did use we either hand washed or just put them in the dishwasher. Bottle warmers seem like a waste also when you can warm up bottles with warm water and formula bottle makers don’t seem much easier than making it by hand. ( I wouldn’t know since I’ve never used one)

10. A baby bouncer

I had really wanted to buy a baby bouncer but ended up just getting a swing for my newborn. Part of the reason I didn’t buy one is because we moved when my newborn was only 6 weeks old and I wanted to minimize the things that we needed to worry about moving. We did however bounce the baby in our laps on the exercise ball we have. We ended up making due without one.

11. Wipe warmer

The purpose of the wipe warmer is too make the the wipes warm so they don’t shock the little baby behinds with a cold wipe during a diaper change. I ended up not getting one because I heard that they could dry out the wipes. Instead I like to ball up the wipe in my hand for a few seconds to warm it a little before I use it.

12. Infant pillow lounger (boppy lounger, doc-a-tot)

Babies are only little for a short amount of time. These infant loungers are small and your baby will quickly outgrow them. Plus, the doc-a-tot is $200 dollars.

13. Infant seat/activity center/jumper/walker

I didn’t want to get many baby “holders” that restrained my baby. I follow a lot of REI ideas when it comes to infants and one of the ideas is to never put your child into something they couldn’t get out of. All of these products prevent your little one from moving on their own and they can’t get out by themselves. I tried to minimie the time that my baby was in that situation. She spent lots of time on the floor on her tummy or back when she was small and now that she is older she spends a lot of time crawling around.

14. Baby Shoes

Baby shoes are rather adorable. But what is the purpose of shoes for a baby? They don’t walk. Instead I put little booties and socks on my baby to keep her feet warm. I was given a few pairs of shoes but my baby was born with rather large feet so she didn’t even fit any of them.