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Thread: Do 16 month olds self wean?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    21

    Default Do 16 month olds self wean?

    I have a 16 month old DS, who was nursing before an afternoon nap, bedtime and 2-3 times during the night. For the last two weeks at bedtime he clings to his daddy and won't let go, so he puts him to bed and he does just fine. I have tried to take him from daddy but he gets upset clings to daddy harder. I sign and say 'milk' (which he knows) but he puts his head down on his shoulder and doesn't want to come to me. Every night I still try and take him but it doesn't work. I'm not going to force him to come to me, he seems happy with daddy so that's what we do. (I have been the only one putting him down for bed and naps for about 7 months now. He's had a bottle maybe 5 times before that from Grandma.) For two weeks now he hasn't nursed before bed, Last week (about a week or so later) he was refusing to nurse at naptime too. I offer but he turns his head away and wants to sit up. He seems more content to just sit and snuggle than trying to refuse the breast. He is still up 2-3 times a night, as he has since birth, and definitely wants to nurse then. At least we have that.

    Could this be a nursing strike and not weaning? I've read everything I can as to why he would strike (he never has before) and nothing has changed. He doesn't have bottles or pacifiers, but does use a sippy cup. He is a thumb sucker since birth and has a teddy bear he snuggles, but he's done that for a long time. The only thing that may be different is that I'm LESS stressed (until this anyway) for a change but I can't think of anything else recently. We moved, but that was over 6 months ago.

    I am so, so sad. My first did this also at the same age and I (maybe mistakenly) took it as a sign of weaning. Within a month my first DS was done and never looked back. I let him take the lead and decide when he wanted to nuse and when he didn't. Maybe that was a strike too, I don't know. If it was, I feel terrible about that.

    He eats a ton, but again that is nothing new. No new patterns or habits there that I can think of. He doesn't drink cows milk. Nothing has changed with my DH either and our bedtime routine has been the same for months. I'm exhausted because I'm up so much at night but again, he's been up 2-3 times since birth so that's not new either.

    I can't begin to explain how upset I am. I'm terribly missing that bond that only nursing can bring. He is still up at night but I'm missing our bedtime together. He's my last baby so my last nursling and that is hard too. With both boys I've been blessed and had wonderful nursing relationships, especially with my 2nd as we had no problems at all with it. I was hoping they would both nurse longer, but I knew that I would do child led weaning and let them choose when to stop. I'm very happy that they nursed this long and that I could give them that choice (I hope.)

    Another wrench to throw into this is that I need jaw surgery soon, we're just waiting for him to wean. It's a long story but basically they are going to reconstruct my top and bottom jaw. It will be wired shut for 4-6 weeks and they told me I would not be able to nurse afterwards due to the medications. After surgery I start a total mouth reconstruction (which is medically necessary for my health) that will take 2 years to complete. I'm looking into what those meds are to see if maybe I will be able to nurse, but I'm worried what will happen to my supply as well.

    So, as sad as I am about this if he is weaning (and not a strike) it may not be a bad thing. I have a genetic condition that affects the enamel on my teeth and they are decaying at a rapid rate. I need the surgery so they can fix my bite then start repairing my teeth. This will affect my overall health if I don't get it taken care of, so the sooner the better.

    My problem is that I would hate to think I'm following his lead of weaning and inadvertantly wean him when it's just a strike. I have a really hard time with that. On the other hand if he is weaning, I want to follow his lead. I do not want to make him wean if he's not ready - I firmly believe in that.

    I apologize for this being so long and jumbled, I am having a very difficult time with this.

    Thanks for any help, advice, suggestions...anything.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    8,591

    Default Re: Do 16 month olds self wean?

    I just replied to your other post!

    Erin
    Wife to a grizzly
    Mama to my little deer (12/05) my loving bear cub (9/07--), and our little tiger (3/22/10)
    Born by one c-section and 2 amazing VBACs


    Miles in 2012: 350.5/900 (Actual Miles Ran: 189)
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    Miles in 2010: 800.5 (Actual Miles Ran: 620)

    January Miles: 37.5/75
    February Miles: 59/75
    March Miles: 42.5/60
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    227.5 miles on my new shoes
    338 miles on my old shoes

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
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    562

    Default Re: Do 16 month olds self wean?

    Hi Mamamilk, and welcome.

    The overly simple answer to your basic question is, yes, some 16mos DO self-wean. Sometimes toddlers wean before their mothers are ready for it. It can be a very sad thing for a mother, and I understand your feelings of grief and bewilderment at this prospect.

    As to whether your son's current behavior is evidence of a nursing strike, self-weaning, or perhaps something else altogether ... that's a bit harder to assess, and ultimately you -- as the expert on your baby and your nursing relationship -- will have to make that determination yourself.

    One useful guideline I've read before about distinguishing between a strike and self-weaning is that a weaned baby is a happy baby, while a striking baby is mostly miserable. With the classic nursing strike, a child NEEDS to nurse, but something is preventing him from nursing. That something may be an unpleasant association he has developed towards the breast, or it may be linked to a developmental stage, or it may be something quite external and illogical to the adult mind. I read once of a nursing strike that was resolved only when the mother happened to wear an old nursing bra -- turned out the baby was REALLY put off by her new style of bra!

    A toddler refusing to nurse when the breast is offered is not necessarily striking. And a toddler who nurses three times every night is definitely not weaned! So I'm afraid you may be in a bit of a limbo wait-and-see stage.

    The issue of when to schedule your needed major dental work and oral surgeries is clearly a part of the equation of your nursing relationship, and I can see how this complicates your own feelings. This might be a good topic for the Chronic Conditions -- Mothers board. I hope you will find lots of support, encouragement, and connection on these forums as you navigate the sometimes-murkier waters of extended breastfeeding and weaning.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    21

    Default Re: Do 16 month olds self wean?

    Thank you Rebecca! I really appreciate your post.

    He's very happy, and from what I see is not wanting to nurse at all. He seems to have no interest during the day. It was suggested that I try at different times during the day, so I've been trying that but he doesn't want to then either.

    So far night nursing is going strong and I'm happy (tired but happy) about that. I guess I'll do the wait and see approach with him, and offer during the day as often as I can. We'll see what happens.

    I didn't know there was a Chronic Condition forum, thanks for letting me know.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    8,018

    Default Re: Do 16 month olds self wean?

    Hi, I read both of your posts, and I have something to add regarding your surgery. Sometimes doctors are overly cautious about the medications that mothers can take while they are BFing, and advise weaning when it is not necessary. It might be worth it to do some extra digging to see if they meds you will be getting post-surgery truly necessitate weaning.
    There is a webpage called Lactmed that provides some information.
    Dr. Thomas Hale is known as an expert on the subject and has a book with information about many meds and BFing.
    Hope you get the other issue sorted out as well!
    HTH

    Molly

    Loving mama to JP (DS, 1/03 ~ nursed 6 mos), EL (DD1, 9/05 ~ nursed 4 yrs), EJ (DD2, 3/08 ~ nursed 3 yrs 9 mos), and
    JM (DD3, 6/12 ~ currently nursing), all born naturally
    Devoted wife to SAHD P, my hero
    A few of my favorite things that I've discovered on the forum: co-sleeping, baby-wearing, tandem nursing, baby-led solids, cloth diapering, APing, selective vaccination...the list goes on

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    21

    Default Re: Do 16 month olds self wean?

    Hi Molly.

    I think he is being overly cautious, I'm going to ask him for a list so I can do some research myself. I also wonder if some of them (like antibiotics) would actually be necessary. I've had a couple of infected teeth pulled in the last couple of months and while it was suggested I take them, I really didn't need them since the infection was confined to the tooth itself. I wonder if they give them as a preventitive that I might be able to avoid them.

    Thanks for the website info, I'll check it out. My cousin has a copy of Dr. Hale's book (she's a pharmacist) and it's come in handy many times!

    Thanks for your help!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    8,018

    Default Re: Do 16 month olds self wean?

    You're welcome. I believe there are many antibiotics that are compatible with BFing, because antibiotics are often prescribed for mastitis infections in BFing mums (e.g. I am taking Cephalexin right now).
    Good luck!

    Molly

    Loving mama to JP (DS, 1/03 ~ nursed 6 mos), EL (DD1, 9/05 ~ nursed 4 yrs), EJ (DD2, 3/08 ~ nursed 3 yrs 9 mos), and
    JM (DD3, 6/12 ~ currently nursing), all born naturally
    Devoted wife to SAHD P, my hero
    A few of my favorite things that I've discovered on the forum: co-sleeping, baby-wearing, tandem nursing, baby-led solids, cloth diapering, APing, selective vaccination...the list goes on

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: Do 16 month olds self wean?

    Quote Originally Posted by mollyb View Post
    You're welcome. I believe there are many antibiotics that are compatible with BFing, because antibiotics are often prescribed for mastitis infections in BFing mums (e.g. I am taking Cephalexin right now).
    Good luck!
    Hopefully if they have to give them to me they can use one that is. I know when I had the teeth pulled they had told me there weren't any others I could take.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    37

    Exclamation Re: Do 16 month olds self wean?

    Quote Originally Posted by mamamilk View Post
    I also wonder if some of them (like antibiotics) would actually be necessary. I've had a couple of infected teeth pulled in the last couple of months and while it was suggested I take them, I really didn't need them since the infection was confined to the tooth itself. I wonder if they give them as a preventitive that I might be able to avoid them.
    ....just be careful to not over discount the antibiotics if they say you need them...oral antibiotics are given because once the tooth is pulled it is very easy for any bacteria to enter the blood stream and can target the heart valves. This isn't medical advice, just wanted you to know there was a specific reason dentist use a lot of prophaltic (preventative) antibiotics.

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