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Thread: Self-weaning at 18.5 months?

  1. #1

    Question Self-weaning at 18.5 months?

    Hi,

    I'm just wondering if anyone else has had this experience or similar. I think my baby is weaning earlier than normal and wondering if this seems ok though. Here's our background. Sorry it's so long...

    My little boy was always a great sleeper. He slept through the night quite early compared to some of my friends' kids and he is still a great guy for sleeping. He's always been a happy baby except when we try to persuade him to do something he doesn't want to nowadays e.g. sit down to dinner when he's not hungry or eat food he isn't in the mood for. Then he has NO problem letting his displeasure be known!

    He was a very large newborn (11lbs but some of this was down to his and my oedema, he had already lost 1lb of water weight by the time we left hospital) but dropped down to the 50th percentile over the first three months and has stayed steadily on that trajectory ever since. He has sucked his thumb avidly since he was tiny. I was a big thumbsucker for a long time and his father did too while he was small so it could be in the genes...

    He was exclusively BF to 6 months and then we started with baby-led weaning with solid foods while continuing BF. I went back to work when he was 11.5 month old at which point he was taking only 3 breastfeeds per day on top of his solid meals. He drank small amounts of water from open cups. When I went back to work he got a bottle in the crèche during the day to replace his midday feed but I continued to give him the 3 feeds at the weekend and whenever I was off on weekdays. At around 14 months he started refusing the midday feeds at weekends. At 16 months he started squirming and crying when I tried to give him his bedtime feeds until I decided it would be cruel to battle with him. I thought he might start waking at night but he didn't. So for the last 2 months he has only been having 1 feed on waking and now he is losing interest in that. He refused it completely the other morning and this morning he would only take one side. It's not as if we're giving him loads to drink either. He really doesn't drink that much water either but over the past few days he's been eating like a horse and really seems to be enjoying his food which is a welcome break from his dinner time tantrums he'd been throwing of late.

    So is he really weaning naturally? Everywhere I read that this is unusual before 2 years old but it seems to be what he wants. He has never asked for BFs really. I have always had to offer them. Even his minders at the crèche are always remarking on how independent he is just happily doing his own thing even when there's pandemonium going on around him. Is he just a self-soother? Will it harm him to wean too early? Should I just go with this or try to impose more feeds on him? That would go against my instinct but maybe I'm wrong...

    If I hadn't read on the Internet that it was unusual for children to wean naturally before 2 I wouldn't have been worried. After all my mother breastfed 7 children and says she doesn't remember when we weaned but it was 'usually' around 2 she thought. But unlike her, I do have the Internet and now I'm doubting my own instincts which are telling me that my baby really is losing interest...

    Sorry about the long essay but if anyone has made it to the end I'd be interested to know what you think. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Self-weaning at 18.5 months?

    Follow your instincts here, mama. If you wanted to continue nursing longer you could encourage him to nurse, offer at your typical nursing times, particularly when he's sleepy, etc. That isn't going to hurt anything at all because, of course, if he really doesn't want to nurse...he won't. You will not ever be able to force him to nurse against his will. So it's okay to encourage if you want to try to keep it going. On the other hand, you should not feel bad about following his lead if you are okay with him stopping. And he might not necessarily wean entirely for several months yet. Some toddlers do only nurse once a day or every few days. True, they are usually a bit older when they start to do that, but at this point your supply will likely stick around for a while even if he only nurses occasionally (unless you actively try to dry it up). And if you'd like him to continue to get the health benefits, you could continue pumping and either offer it in a cup or add it to foods.
    “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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    Default Re: Self-weaning at 18.5 months?

    It doesn't sound like you've done anything to encourage weaning, he's doing it at his own pace. I agree with still.here, no harm in continuing to offer and let him decide whether he wants it or not. If you want to encourage him to continue nursing, sometimes it helps to have skin-to-skin time or take a bath with baby, or play with him topless - ie just make the milk very available in a low-pressure/no-stress kind of way! Sleeping with him might also help, if you aren't already. If anything, "imposing" or forcing the breast on him could make breastfeeding less appealing. But whatever happens, it's wonderful that you've breastfed him for 18.5 months!
    Last edited by @llli*bfwmomof3; March 11th, 2014 at 11:44 AM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Self-weaning at 18.5 months?

    Thanks for these replies. I'll continue to offer feeds and just see what he does. I haven't had huge success pumping but the idea of adding it to food for nutritional benefit is interesting. Will give this some consideration too.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Default Re: Self-weaning at 18.5 months?

    I think some children do wean naturally around that age. My guess is if you've been down to 2 feeds per day for awhile now, your milk supply is probably pretty low, so if he's mostly one to nurse for milk and not just for comfort he may just not be finding it all that rewarding any more with just a little bit of milk. If you wanted to encourage him back to the breast you could take measures to increase your supply but if you're fine with how things are going I don't think you need to do anything.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Default Re: Self-weaning at 18.5 months?

    My first weaned at this age too (I wanted to wean too, but it was so easy I think he was ready too); he soothed with a pacifier. If your baby is an avid thumb sucker that probably explains the earlier weaning. My other two boys have been comfort nursers and so nursed for a good deal longer (DS3 is still going strong at 2).

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