I don't want to encourage early weaning but this morning I was thinking about 'hunger'. I was cleaning up the kitchen and DS2 (who is 23 months) was asking to nurse. I knew he was hungry - he had not had any breakfast yet. I wouldn't have denied him from nursing but it did have me wondering when - if at all - you would offering food instead if you knew they were hungry. I nursed im and then offering him food and then he wanted to nurse again - so thats what I did. Its not an issue for me as I don't mind nursing him and he still nurses many times in the day and night. Just curious what other people do. I mean - he is still very young - does age make a difference to you at all do you think? If he was 4 and wanted to nurse because he was hungry, would you offer food first? Or will it just happen naturally? Will he just ask for food instead of nursing for hunger eventually?
- topicChild Led Weaningtagged by System, 4/10/12
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Hi, I am nursing my 23 month old son. While I think its great to nurse on demand, there are times that I do substitute something else if he is hungry or thirsty - started doing this around 18 months or so. If all my son really wants is breast-milk (and if it is he refuses anything else) than I go ahead and nurse but if he willingly takes a substitute I go ahead and do it. I mostly just do this when I am cooking or during mealtime. I think it all depends on the individual parent and child, but for us this has worked out well. I allows me to sometimes be able to finish a task - which makes me in general more patient. All though I have been doing this for some time now my son has not shown a decreased interest in breastfeeding or any signs of weaning. Again it all depends on the child but I think in many cases that substituting from time to time will not lead to early weaning - especially if they are very interested in breastfeeding still.
When my ds was 4 and he was hungry, he wouldn't ask to nurse, he would just go and open the fridge lol.
You could ask or suggest: "Are you hungry? Breakfast is not ready yet, do you want a slice of apple or a piece of cheese?"
At 2 y/o, I wouldn't worry about accidentally weaning him because you offer food before nursing.
This. DS is only 3 but there definitely came a point (without me doing anything to encourage it) where he just started asking for food rather than nursing. I think it was around age 2, maybe 2.5 or so. I think this usually happens pretty naturally, you don't have to work towards it, but like the pp said, you don't need to worry about discouraging it either. I usually thought of food vs. nursing as 2 completely unrelated things... so sometimes DS would nurse & then eat & then nurse again, sometimes (rarely!) he would eat and then not ask to nurse for a while, sometimes he'd nurse and then not eat for hours, I just let him regulate it himself, for the most part, and nursed him whenever he asked, and later set limits whenever I needed to (without regard to what he had eaten or not eaten that day -- the limits were more about my personal boundaries). I didn't really set limits on nursing until DS was eating well though, which happened over a year later than it does for most toddlers, he was very delayed with food. As long as your child is eating well (at whatever age that happens to be), I think it's fine to occasionally say no to nursing or ask them to wait or yes, even offer a snack instead... In general though, I focused on offering consistent/predictable meals & snacks, and nursing on request, and not worrying about how things happen to coincide.
They know what they need, and at some point the need for food will start to take precedence over the need to nurse, and nursing will generally become more about comfort.
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