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Thread: A 'middle way' of weaning?

  1. #1
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    Default A 'middle way' of weaning?

    Hi, I am hoping to get some input on a situation I haven't read much about here. Currently DS is only 5 months so I've got quite awhile before I really need to think about weaning, but still curious.

    I would like to continue nursing beyond one year, but my concern with so-called 'baby-led weaning' is that the child often seems to continue to nurse until age 3 or even 4. I don't think I'm comfortable nursing a child that old (no judgement on others, just not for me or my family). I think ideally, I'd like to wean between 18 months and 2 years. The thing is, I don't want it to be hard on DS emotionally when we wean. I have heard that it's often easy to wean a baby between 9 months and a year because they're naturally so distractible and curious at that age anyway, but often hard to wean an older baby of 15 months or more because they become quite attached to nursing.

    I'm just wondering if this is true? If I keep nursing past a year will it be harder to wean when I do want to? What is the chance that DS might wean by himself by about age 2 or so? If he doesn't wean by himself, what can I do to make this less emotionally traumatic for him? Or would I be better off just weaning him at age 1 or so, before he's old enough to be all that attached to nursing or remember it for very long?

    I love BF'ing DS now, I just don't think I want to be nursing a 3 year old and I'm afraid that's what will happen if we go totally with baby-led weaning. At the same time, I'm reluctant to cut our nursing relationship short at one year old. A one-year-old is still a baby to me and it would be nice if we could nurse up until 18 months-2 years. I realize my feelings about nursing an older toddler may change when I get there, but if they don't, how hard will it be to wean an 18 month-2year old? Would it be easier to just do it at age one instead?

    Thanks in advance for your input!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: A 'middle way' of weaning?

    You can definitely gently your child in way that is mother-led, rather than purely child-led. Lots of us have taken this route. When your child is older, you can set reasonable limits on nursing, talk to them about it, and say "no" if you don't feel like it.

    I wouldn't worry about it much until you get closer to the time when you're really wanting to wean, though. You can take it day by day. When you're nursing a five month old, nursing a three year old seems like crazytown, but nursing changes a lot over time and you won't be nursing a three year old the way you're nursing now, you know?

    My own experience was that I stopped pumping at work at one, and only nursed in evenings and on weekends after that. Between one and two, I set lots of limits on nursing, and by the time Joe was two, he was only nursing once or twice a day. He weaned when I got pregnant, around two and a half years old. At that point, he was nursing very little, never in public, and rarely "demanding to nurse" (it was part of his bedtime routine and that was it). I could have kept up that once a day thing for longer than I did, it was so easy and snuggly. But he lost interest when I got pregnant and my milk supply went away, and I was okay with that, because nursing when you're pregnant can be pretty uncomfortable anyway. All along, I just played things by ear, took it one day at a time, and addressed nursing habits that were bugging me at the time, without ever just cutting him off. This was really gradual, I never had to worry about sudden weaning or engorgement or anything like that, and it also felt very gentle for Joe.

    So there is definitely a "middle course" and many people go that route. But it's not something you really need to worry about at five months. Just know that it's an option for you. I would argue it's a lot HARDER to wean at a year, which tends to be a time of teething and separation anxiety for babies. Taking away that comfort at that point usually involves substituting a lot of other kinds of comfort, love, and snuggles, and it's often easier just to keep nursing instead. If you wait for a time when your baby is more independent, it is a lot easier. When I finally weaned Joe, it was almost like he didn't really notice the difference - he just got nighttime snuggles rather than milkies, and I think I was sadder than he was!


    You can call me JoMo!

    Mom to baby boy Joe, born 5/4/09 and breastfed for more than two and a half years, and baby girl Maggie, born 7/9/12.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: A 'middle way' of weaning?

    with the PP. Don't worry about any of this stuff at just 5 months. Your nursing relationship is going to evolve and change so much over just the next 3-6 months, let alone the next year.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  4. #4
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    Default Re: A 'middle way' of weaning?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*joe.s.mom View Post
    You can definitely gently your child in way that is mother-led, rather than purely child-led. Lots of us have taken this route. When your child is older, you can set reasonable limits on nursing, talk to them about it, and say "no" if you don't feel like it.

    I wouldn't worry about it much until you get closer to the time when you're really wanting to wean, though. You can take it day by day. When you're nursing a five month old, nursing a three year old seems like crazytown, but nursing changes a lot over time and you won't be nursing a three year old the way you're nursing now, you know?

    My own experience was that I stopped pumping at work at one, and only nursed in evenings and on weekends after that. Between one and two, I set lots of limits on nursing, and by the time Joe was two, he was only nursing once or twice a day. He weaned when I got pregnant, around two and a half years old. At that point, he was nursing very little, never in public, and rarely "demanding to nurse" (it was part of his bedtime routine and that was it). I could have kept up that once a day thing for longer than I did, it was so easy and snuggly. But he lost interest when I got pregnant and my milk supply went away, and I was okay with that, because nursing when you're pregnant can be pretty uncomfortable anyway. All along, I just played things by ear, took it one day at a time, and addressed nursing habits that were bugging me at the time, without ever just cutting him off. This was really gradual, I never had to worry about sudden weaning or engorgement or anything like that, and it also felt very gentle for Joe.

    So there is definitely a "middle course" and many people go that route. But it's not something you really need to worry about at five months. Just know that it's an option for you. I would argue it's a lot HARDER to wean at a year, which tends to be a time of teething and separation anxiety for babies. Taking away that comfort at that point usually involves substituting a lot of other kinds of comfort, love, and snuggles, and it's often easier just to keep nursing instead. If you wait for a time when your baby is more independent, it is a lot easier. When I finally weaned Joe, it was almost like he didn't really notice the difference - he just got nighttime snuggles rather than milkies, and I think I was sadder than he was!
    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mommal View Post
    with the PP. Don't worry about any of this stuff at just 5 months. Your nursing relationship is going to evolve and change so much over just the next 3-6 months, let alone the next year.
    Autumn
    Moma to *Silas* 10-30-07

  5. #5
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    Default Re: A 'middle way' of weaning?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*joe.s.mom View Post
    I would argue it's a lot HARDER to wean at a year, which tends to be a time of teething and separation anxiety for babies. Taking away that comfort at that point usually involves substituting a lot of other kinds of comfort, love, and snuggles, and it's often easier just to keep nursing instead. If you wait for a time when your baby is more independent, it is a lot easier.
    This is what I was going to say. I found it much easier to make changes with our nursing patterns when my daughter was older, starting to understand reason/cause and effect, had more use of language so we could talk about it, etc. And of course it makes mama's life easier to have nursing as a tool when those molars start popping through.
    “We are not put on earth for ourselves, but are placed here for each other. If you are there always for others, then in time of need, someone will be there for you.”
    --Anonymous

  6. #6
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    Default Re: A 'middle way' of weaning?

    I totally agree with everything that's been said so far. I just wanted to add that I think that whoever is telling you this:

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*joshuas.mommy View Post
    I have heard that it's often easy to wean a baby between 9 months and a year because they're naturally so distractible and curious at that age anyway, but often hard to wean an older baby of 15 months or more because they become quite attached to nursing.
    is full of baloney. My baby was really clingy and nursing all the time between 9-12 months. Once he started walking (just before his first birthday), he had way more important things to do. He boosts his nursing frequency whenever he pops a tooth and there are a lot of teeth in the first year, but in between teeth he's easily distracted. Now that it's nice out, he can go all day without nursing because we're out and about all day (he's 16 months). Even when I offer during our outings, he usually refuses because he's to excited about other things. I'm not trying to wean, but I think it would be easy if I was.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: A 'middle way' of weaning?

    with PP, I pump weaned at 11 months and started cutting back nursings then too. I started giving him a sippy cup when I was away at work with some breastmilk I saved and coconut milk when he was 1. I gradually phased out feedings SLOW--- I'm talking a month here. Now we are happily nursing 1x a day right before bed. My son doesn't tear at my shirt or ask at all during the day. He just "knows" nursing is at bed time and that's it. I plan to continue breastfeeding between 18 mo and 2. Child led weaning isn't for everyone. You have to do what works for you and your family.
    Passed my CLC exam!

    Mother of 3: 12-25-04 12-3-07 1-13-2011

  8. #8
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    Default Re: A 'middle way' of weaning?

    I nursed my older daughter until she was 2. In fact, I nursed her on demand until she was about 20 months old - she never pawed at my shirt. She did ask to nurse, but she either tapped my chest or said "nurse." You can work on nursing manners if you have a shirt puller, but just because you nurse them doesn't mean that they are going to have bad manners.
    Tracie

    Mommy to
    Lilah 10/08 nursed 25 months
    Beatrix 01/11 nursed 30 months

  9. #9
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    Default Re: A 'middle way' of weaning?

    Thank you all for your replies! I'm very relieved to hear that there is a middle ground between weaning strictly at one year and nursing until 3 or 4 years old, and that so many of you have done this successfully! I realize there's no real reason for me to even think about it now that DS is just five months, but I'm a planner by nature Thanks again for your input and reassurance!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: A 'middle way' of weaning?

    i completely with all that's been said. i just wanted to add i'm glad i didn't wean earlier for the sole reason that nursing a few times a day allows me the opportunity to actually sit down for five minutes in silence with my super independent stubborn active chatty tantrumy toddler
    Christine
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