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Thread: How does child-led weaning occur?

  1. #11
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    Jun 2012
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    Default Re: How does child-led weaning occur?

    I am afraid we're going to get to the point where I really DO want to wean (maybe around age 3 or so) and yet he'll still be so attached to it that it will be very, very difficult.
    this is exactly what happened to me, by age 3 I was ready to quit and by 3 1/2 i was trawling the net to find a way to wean an d luckily found this forum and here found the encouragement here to continue. But I did mother lead weaning (or at least nudged him strongly in the drectoin of weaning) over a period of 5 or 6 months starting when he was about 4 1/2 and we finished when he turned 5 because I simply could not imagine going on any longer being a closet nurser. On his own I believe he would have gone on at least another year, he says he would have quit with 6, but I could not.

    But honestly at age 3 I don't think it would have been possible without drastic steps (eg me going away for a week or something like that) which I was not willing to do. Children are of course all different but it seems to me from reading the various stories in this forum that around 3 is the hardest age to wean.

    I know it sounds trite to say take a step at a time. But really there is no knowing how it iwll go for you and how your child will develop. That he nurses much now can change in a few months.

  2. #12
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    Default Re: How does child-led weaning occur?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*joshuas.mommy View Post
    Yes, the way you describe weaning happening is kind of what I thought would happen...the child just gradually loses interest. I guess I'm getting nervous because I don't see that happening with my son yet, AT ALL.
    I didn't see it with my girls at age 2, either. And yet they both weaned spontaneously at age 3!

    For the record, I think the window for very easy weaning is not at age 1. IMO, it's at like 1-2 months, when the baby is still instinctively driven to latch on to anything that comes near his mouth. I would think that the first birthday would actually be a difficult time to wean- the baby is still very dependent on mom for nutrition and for comfort, and isn't necessarily ready to make the jump to solids. And that, I think, is why we expect weaning to be a battle. Most people are weaning right when it's really difficult to wean!

    A piece of good advice I got here is this: don't borrow trouble from the future. If you're happy now, don't let concern over what might or might not happen over the next months/years wreck your happiness. If you come to a point where you're ready to make a change, deal with it at that point.
    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!"

  3. #13
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    Default Re: How does child-led weaning occur?

    about the asking over and over. dd does this too (25 months) mostly for nursing but yesterday also for cake and then for chicken (we did not have either). It can help to give a play-by-play of what you are doing that is getting you toward nursing: I'm washing my feet, I'm rinsing my hair, I'm turning off yhe water, etc. Another one I have tried when I just want a little break is I'll count to 20 and then we will nurse. she joins the counting as she loves counting at the moment. and I can count really sloooooooooooooowly.

  4. #14
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    Default Re: How does child-led weaning occur?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mommal View Post
    I didn't see it with my girls at age 2, either. And yet they both weaned spontaneously at age 3!
    This IS reassuring to hear. Thank you! It seems all the stories I hear about child led weaning are when the child is 4, 4 1/2, or older. I'd wondered if kids ever truly self-weaned much younger than that, so I'm glad to hear yours did. I'll keep my fingers crossed for the same with DS!
    First-time mama to Joshua, 10/29/11. 29 months and going strong! for 14 months; now finished with pump weaning!

  5. #15
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    Default Re: How does child-led weaning occur?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*pteroglossus View Post
    about the asking over and over. dd does this too (25 months) mostly for nursing but yesterday also for cake and then for chicken (we did not have either). It can help to give a play-by-play of what you are doing that is getting you toward nursing: I'm washing my feet, I'm rinsing my hair, I'm turning off yhe water, etc. Another one I have tried when I just want a little break is I'll count to 20 and then we will nurse. she joins the counting as she loves counting at the moment. and I can count really sloooooooooooooowly.
    Good point. I guess, now that you point it out, DS does ask over and over with other things (besides nursing) also. E.g. "bike ride Mama?" "Yes, this weekend." (wait 5 seconds) "Bike ride Mama?" "Yes, this weekend". Etc. It must just be the age/stage. I'm glad you pointed this out; I hadn't really realized until now that the asking over and over isn't limited only to nursing. It makes me feel less bad about having to say "no" or "later" over and over again with nursing, since I have no problem saying "no" over and over to other requests (bike ride when I'm heading to work, a second cookie, ice cream, etc.). It's only nursing where it's really tough for me to say "no" to him and I was interpreting his repeated asking as a sign that he really "needed" it and I shouldn't say "no" when in fact the asking over and over is probably just his age and development right now.
    First-time mama to Joshua, 10/29/11. 29 months and going strong! for 14 months; now finished with pump weaning!

  6. #16
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    Default Re: How does child-led weaning occur?

    Yes, I agree. My LO is obsessed with "Goodnight moon" right now. When she wants to read it, she will say "Moon" over and over until I find the book and read it with her. (Heaven forbid I can't find it! Disaster!) Toddlers can be very single-minded in what they want!

  7. #17
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    Default Re: How does child-led weaning occur?

    I don't really like the term child-led weaning. Breastfeeding is a relationship that equally involves two people, and weaning is a process that (ideally, imo) also equally involves both. I prefer the term natural weaning to describe any weaning process that is not imposed on the child entirely by mom, or early weaning caused by other factors (excessive bottle or pacifier use, for example.)

    How natural weaning looks in actual practice is going to be as unique as the two individuals involved.

    My oldest son had many limits placed on him. I night weaned him at ~18 months (temporarily.) During my next pregnancy I often had to limit length of session because it hurt to nurse. After his brother was born when my oldest was almost three, over time I limited his nursing in many ways- time, place, length of sessions, frequency of sessions, etc. He nursed until he was 5 and even then I had to give a final push when I was ready to be done nursing 2.

    Even though I set these limits, I would cut back on them or make exceptions when my child showed the need for more freedom to nurse. So while I was proactive with encouraging weaning I think I was also as respectful as I could be of my child's needs. (actually, I was not exactly encouraging weaning, rather, I encouraged less nursing. The difference to my mind is I was not trying to get him to entirely wean by a certain age, I just needed the limits due to my experience of tandem nursing.)

    His brother rarely had any limits set. He gradually nursed less and less entirely on his own, and at 4 and a half he was done, much to my dismay at the time!
    Last edited by @llli*lllmeg; December 7th, 2013 at 01:09 PM.

  8. #18
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    Default Re: How does child-led weaning occur?

    Well I think it's everything that Mommal said plus LANGUAGE. Which is a huge thing and I think the reason her children weaned so much sooner than a lot of the stories you hear about. Because girls often get their language so much sooner than boys. Like I couldn't really even think about weaning in a child led manner until my child had language. Because the whole thing of allowing it to be child led was to acknowlege that nursing was a relationship between the both of us. And not to exert power over him in forcing him to quit but rather buy into the idea that he was old enough to live without it and that as he grew up he could trust my love and our relationship to continue to grow and change with him. That we would be ok without it. And I couldn't do that with him before he could talk. So...we really couldn't even start to work on it until 3. I mean my kid starting talking at two but over the course of the year between 2&3 his vocabulary exploded. So it really wasn't until three that we could ya know, begin to have real conversations about things. And frankly in the beginning of his 3rd year we felt like potty training him was far more important to everyone than weaning. And...that was another real leap. Because he got it. He understood that throwing away diapers really meant he was no longer a baby. And it's hard and scary and doing that AND weaning at the same time wasn't going to happen. And then after he was out of diapers we started preschool and THAT was another huge milestone into toddler land I thought 4 would be my line too. But it was so important to him and he was able to verbalize that. And we really did connect when we nursed. And he was bigger...but he'd still crawl into my lap and when he'd latch and fall asleep I could still glimpse the baby that he used to be. But when started preschool we actively night weaned. And by doing that began whole days of not nursing. Because we stopped nursing in the mornings on the 3 days a week he went to school because there wasn't time. And on the days that his father would pick him up he'd fall asleep on the way home. So twice a week we'd go 24hours at a time. So it was very gradual.
    And they remember. Which is important to me too. When he started Kindergarten about April of that year he said to me one day that the hardest part of Kindergarten was that we didn't have a whole day to ourselves anymore just me and him and that we didn't take naps together anymore. And at 7 he still talks about his weaning party and is proud of himself. So don't think about YOU nursing a 3 or 4 year old. Think about it as how your relationship with your son is proceeding. And if you want to change or rework the boundaries of that relationship with him, how you are going to do that so that he feels like he is still being respected in terms of his wants and needs. While working to make sure that your boudaries are also being respected.

    Way too lazy for formula

  9. #19
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    Default Re: How does child-led weaning occur?

    I asked my pediatrician, who is reasonably supportive of breastfeeding (even of toddlers) if it was likely that my son would wean on his own by age 3 or so, and she said she didn't think so, that some kids just love nursing and if DS is like that he probably won't give it up on his own and I'll have to actively wean him. This makes me sad I don't want to take something away from him while he still wants/needs it. At the same time I'm not so sure I want to nurse a 4 year old (not to mention the grief I will get from DH and family about that).
    You know, I have to take issue with this. First off, SOME kids ‘just love nursing?’ I think most kids love nursing, and virtually all would, if they were not made to feel they were doing something they shouldn't ‘need to do anymore’ or that is a burden to their moms. Secondly, I have no idea what is the source of the idea children are more difficult to wean at three than at two. Kids typically wean with very little pain and suffering all around if they are developmentally ready to wean. For some kids that will be age 2, some 3, some 4, etc. And the thing about weaning is-even when a child is weaned, your child still needs you. They still need that comfort, that closeness, that connection, and all that is (in my experience) often more easily delivered via nursing! In other words, weaning is the end of one parenting journey and the beginning of another one that has just as many difficulties (and joys.)

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