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Thread: Age of self-weaning?

  1. #1
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    Default Age of self-weaning?

    For those of you who have taken a child-led approach to weaning, I'm wondering at what age your child self-weaned? DS is only 10 months and I plan to nurse into toddlerhood so I have awhile before this will be an issue but I'm just wondering. I've read that the natural age of weaning can be anywhere from 2-4 years, which is a pretty wide range. Do most children fall closer to the 2 year end of the spectrum or the 4 year end?

    My DS LOVES nursing and is very attached to it, and ideally I'd like to follow his lead and nurse until he outgrows the need, but I really don't see myself nursing a 4 year old, and probably not even a 3 year old. Do you think there is a reasonable chance that he will outgrow the need before he turns 3 or am I going to need to do some gentle mother-led weaning if I want it to happen by then? I don't really want to take it away from him before he's ready

    I realize every child is different, etc. but I'm wondering what your experiences have been. Thanks in advance!
    First-time mama to Joshua, 10/29/11. 29 months and going strong! for 14 months; now finished with pump weaning!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Age of self-weaning?

    Hi Mama.:hi

    My DD turned 4 in June and Is stIll nursing on waking and going to sleep. I think the global average for weaning is 5 years, but don't let that scare you! Lots of mamas who didn't see themselves nursing toddlers, find that as the relationship changes and develops, there are a couple of things that become apparent:

    2 year olds are really still babies and,

    They don't nurse as often (usually). Remember that nursing is also about security, connection and comfort.

    Also, it really becomes more of a relationship. It needs to work for both of you to make it longer term, so if you need to change something that's not working, you can. It sounds like you are on the path that's right for you. Best of luck!
    Jess

    Mama to my little Roxie Roo, 06/11/08


    April miles for TBTTW: 63

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Age of self-weaning?

    My first LO weaned just after her third birthday.

    I wouldn't stress about this right now, at just 10 months in! So much can and will change in the next year or so. It's really hard to imagine what nursing a toddler will be like when you're nursing a baby- but as the PP said, it's really different.
    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: Age of self-weaning?

    HI JESS!!!! Long time no see!
    To the PP, I think it's best to just go with the flow. Trust me when I tell you that no mother who has a new born thinks "Man, I am TOTALLY going to nurse a 4 year old." Because when you have a 3week old getting the year point seems so major. But then you get there and think "OMG my baby is still a baby. And still needs me." And then at Two your nursing relationship is completely different. Because there is no pressure anymore because you aren't your childs main source of nutrtion anymore and now your child associates your breast almost completely with love. And that is very rewarding to see. When my Two year old little boy walked around the house with his favorite train shoved into his onsie, I knew that he LOVED that toy! When he would ask his friends at preschool if they still nursed when he was 3 and they said no he wasn't embarrassed. He felt sad for them. And when I decided that 4 was my line in the sand and tried to enforce it, it failed and just stressed us both out. When he walked away at 4.5 on his own after consciously working at it for 6 months, it was with a huge sense of pride and accomplishment. Imagine the proudest kid you have ever seen announcing that they are potty trained and times that by about 5 and that would be what my son looked like on the day of his weaning party and STILL looks like at 6 when he tells people about it. And I wouldn't go back and take that sense of pride and accomplishment for anything. Even though the entire last year was filled with ambivilence on my part. It's a dance. It's nothing like the year you are in now. Because this year there is no options for you. Whenever your child wants to nurse you must. Because infants NEED to nurse. But 3 year old don't. Not so survive. So you can set limits. And eliminate the sessions that make you crazy or make you want to quit. But a 3 year olds need to nurse is a real as their need for their mother. It's still a cure all for most and it's an important parenting tool, that can never really be replaced with anything. Once it's gone it's just gone. So don't worry about whether or not you will nurse a 4 year old. It's a decision that you and your child will make together. Even those of use that did child led weaning did some mother led nudging and encouraging.

    Way too lazy for formula

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Age of self-weaning?

    I ended up gently encouraging DS1 to wean on his 4 TH birthday, but we have nursed since then. Toddler nursing is 180 degrees different than baby nursing so enjoy your baby, they grow up in a flash. Take each day as it comes and you will see when you feel ready to end this stage of your relationship and what your feeling are about it then.
    Mommy to Maxwell 10-9-07 weaned with love (a party and a remote control monster truck) on his 4th birthday
    My Boy 3-16-10
    And my sweet pea Sam 2-12-11

    Watch Your Language

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Age of self-weaning?

    My concern about nursing past 2 or so is that I don't think I want him to have memories of nursing. In this culture, with the way breasts are sexualized, that just seems like it would be weird for a little boy to remember. Especially as he became a teenager. Did anyone else have concerns about how it would affect the child's psychosexual development? If your child is older now, what (if any) effect have you seen? Is your kid embarrassed by the memories?

    My other concern is that my family, except for DH, thinks I should wean right around the time he turns 1. (DH supports me nursing until 2 or so). I realize it's my decision, and I don't think I'll get too much pressure from my family about it till he's 18 months or so, but I don't really want to deal with the family backlash from nursing a 3 year old. And if DH gets to the point where he feels we should wean, I have to weigh his feelings--he is, after all, my son's father. He should have a voice too. How did you deal with disapproval from family members, particularly if your husband/partner disagreed with continuing to nurse?
    First-time mama to Joshua, 10/29/11. 29 months and going strong! for 14 months; now finished with pump weaning!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Age of self-weaning?

    The AAP policy statement on Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk (http://pediatrics.aappublications.or...115/2/496.full) says "There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer". So I don't think it would be weird for your son to remember nursing, any more than it would be for a daughter. What are weird- biologically speaking- are our cultural taboos about breasts and nursing.

    From my personal experience, my 6 year-old daughter nursed until age 3. She says she doesn't remember it, but she's about as breastfeeding-positive as a little kid can be. When her sister is throwing a fit, DD1 will say "Uh oh, I think she needs to nurse!" because she understands that nursing is comforting and shuts down a tantrum.

    When it comes to family members and their expectations, that has absolutely no impact on me. Most of my relatives wean at 1 or shortly thereafter. But if anyone were to advise me to wean earlier than I wanted, I'd simply ignore them, or tell them off if they became persistent about it. How is it anyone's business but yours what you do with your breasts? And frankly, that includes your DH. Your body, your decision.

    Sometimes a useful technique is to ask critics to come up with evidence that nursing a toddler is wrong, unhealthful, or damaging. Because they will never be able to come up with anything that trumps the research saying that longer duration of nursing is more healthful for mother and child.
    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!"

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Age of self-weaning?

    Thanks for the link Mommal. That's very useful to me. It's interesting to see that the AAP specifically states that there is no harm from BF'ing into the 3rd year or beyond, and that their source for that statement is research by Katherine Dettwyler. I had read some of her stuff but I had the impression she was sort of on the fringe, scientifically. If the AAP is using her research as the basis for their recommendations then clearly that isn't the case. Good to know.

    Re: family members, I know you're right that I shouldn't care what they think or let it influence me. When it comes to DH, though, I do feel like he has a right to a say, since he is Josh's father. Yes, it's my body, but it's his child nursing. If he gets to a point where he isn't comfortable with it anymore, I think I have to consider his opinion. We try to approach this parenting thing as equally as possible and that means he has a say in any major decisions regarding our child (even something that affects me more than him, like breastfeeding). Oh well, we've got more than a year before we have to cross that bridge, and who knows how his feelings, or mine, will evolve in the meantime. Maybe when we get to 2, I'll be ready to be done and so will DS. Or maybe we'll get to 2 and DH and I will agree that DS still needs to nurse and we'll continue. We'll just have to wait and see.
    First-time mama to Joshua, 10/29/11. 29 months and going strong! for 14 months; now finished with pump weaning!

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