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Thread: Earliest they self wean?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    Default Earliest they self wean?

    I have a question. When is the earliest age a child is able to truly self wean?

    A very good friend of mine told me her son self weaned at 3 months old. I find this to be impossible, and after listening to her story it became evident that there was clearly a BF mismanagement problem. Nipple confusion for one. A baby that is discouraged by the lack of instant gratification at the breast after using a bottle is not, in my opinion, self weaning.

    I tried to explain this to her as sensitively as possible (I didn't want to berate what she thought was "right") but she just wasn't hearing it. I heard the usual - baby was happier with a bottle, baby didn't "want" the breast, blah blah blah. Then it got me thinking... when CAN a child self wean? When are they able, mentally, to make the decision?

    I've read all kinds of studies that say children who use pacifiers, bottles, and who are fed solids before 6 months tend to "wean earlier". Is the "weaning" in these cases actually breastfeeding mismanagement? Or is it the child's actual preference for something other then the breast/milk?

    I find this particularly interesting because my daughter does use a bottle, and on occasion while we're out, a pacifier. Any mothers with older children and self weaning stories care to chime in?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    1,813

    Default Re: Earliest they self wean?

    I don't think that's possible either.

    My first daughter was wean around six months and it was my fault, well realized it after the fact! She end-up preferring a bottle and obviously started refusing my breast because my supply was dwindling, but I think everything was lack of knowledge. Luckily I had enough frozen BM to last her until eight months (one bottle at night), can I tell you that was her favorite time and she drank every drop of milk to the point that the nurser drop-in was inside the nipple, it broke my heart to see how much she loved it but I couldn't re-lactate because I was working with a lot of hazardous material.

    Three months really doesn't make sense to me, I think is just lack of knowledge and good support. If that was possible, how did women fed their babies before formula or any other supplement came to the picture! And don't say cow's milk b/c there were places were no cow was around!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    44

    Default Re: Earliest they self wean?

    Self-weaning does often occur when a bottle is introduced and used often, because it's easier to suck on a bottle than the breast and the milk comes out right away (no need to wait a minute for the let-down reflex to kick-in). a baby may refuse the breast from the newborn period onwards if bottles are being given often. but it doesn't mean that the baby is conciously choosing the bottle over the breast and "self-weaning," and it doesn't mean that every mom who gives a bottle will have a baby who refuses to breastfeed.

    someone can correct me if i'm wrong, but i don't think a child will self-wean until he is at least a year old because nutritionally speaking they need breastmilk up until that point.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    196

    Default Re: Earliest they self wean?

    My brother and my friend's daughter both self-weaned at 9 months. My friend's daughter weaned to a bottle, my brother to a cup. I'm not sure what the situation was though.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    97

    Default Re: Earliest they self wean?

    From what I've seen I think around 9 months it could be genuine self-weaning, but before that it's probably not. I know somebody who had two twin boys, and one of them self-weaned at 9 months: he was a very independent little boy, walking around and assertive and extrovert, and didn't seem to feel the need for it any more. But his brother definitely wanted to carry on. I think it's a useful example, because it was clear that the parenting was just the same: they were twins, and it wasn't that one of them had been encouraged to wean earlier. He was just ready much sooner than his brother.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    135

    Default Re: Earliest they self wean?

    I know of two cases where a child didn't want breast any more, one at eight months and one at eleven months. Both were second babies to experienced breastfeeding mothers who had wished to continue, so I don't think it was a case of mismanagement. One mother said she thought her daughter wanted to be like the older sister with her plate and spoon and cup. It would be interesting to know if in general, older siblings play a part as a role model here.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    157

    Default Re: Earliest they self wean?

    La Leche League's philosophy as it relates to weaning is that "ideally, the breastfeeding relationship will continue until the baby outgrows the need". It is unusual, and usually undesirable, for a baby to self-wean before one year of age. Breastmilk alone is the perfect food for babies under 12 months, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Breastmilk continues to provide many beneficial qualities to a child for however long they nurse.

    If a baby seems to not want to breastfeed, they may be experiencing what is known as a nursing strike. See this link for more about nursing strikes: http://www.lalecheleague.org/FAQ/strike.html

    Other times, mother may have unknowlingly begun the weaning process by introducing bottles, pacifiers and/or substituting breastfeeding meals with solid food meals. In those cases, mother may not see herself as actively weaning her baby. but that is in fact what is occurring. Weaning is defined as substituting anything for nursing, whether it be expressed milk or formula in a bottle or pacifier. Of course, this does not mean one may not give a bottle or a pacifier, but it is helpful to understand the proper place for those things within a breastfeeding relationship. See this link for more information: http://www.lalecheleague.org/NB/NBNovDec95p172.html


    Do you or a friend have a goal to nurse for 1 year, minimum? Then this link is for you! It lists 10 ideas to help you achieve your goal to breastfeed your baby for 12 months.

    http://www.lalecheleague.org/NB/NBJanFeb06p4.html

    Use what works for you and enjoy this special time bonding with your babies!

    Regards,

    Eve Erickson
    LLL Leader
    LLL of Green Valley/Henderson, Nevada

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    29

    Default Re: Earliest they self wean?

    Quote Originally Posted by North_Of_60
    I find this particularly interesting because my daughter does use a bottle, and on occasion while we're out, a pacifier. Any mothers with older children and self weaning stories care to chime in?
    Well, if helps any, my DS is in daycare while I work full time. He had bottles 5 days a week and plenty of pacifier use. He's a little over 12 months and a complete and total boob-aholic!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    112

    Default Re: Earliest they self wean?

    I agree with Natalie...

    My DD has had bottles almost since day 1 (I had to pump even during the first week due to some of DD's medical issues and nursing challenges) and even after nursing was pretty well established, she has had bottles while I went to work and a pacifier (for a while...then she refused to take that anymore). She didn't begin to self wean until almost 9 months (dropping a feeding every month or so) and at almost a year, she is still nursing strong AM/PM and the occasional "during the day".

    I truly believe from everything I've read and from all that I know about my own child's nursing that any weaning before about 6 months or so would be "parent controlled". She may have misread her child's cues (on a nursing strike, decided to push the bottle, etc.) and just decided that he was "weaned".

    My thoughts!!
    CJmama

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