You of course feel the need to point out that we should not judge another moms. Yet, do you not see that in your message you are openly judging moms that choose to let their children wean naturally? By invoking an idea that somehow CLW is/may by about the mom more than the child and that a parent could actually "influence their kids to nurse longer than they would".
I wonder if some mothers who nurse much older children (like 8) subconsciously influence their kids to nurse longer than they would, if weaning were truly and completely child-led.
I just wonder whether those mothers' comfort with nursing - or their own need for that nursing relationship - might be interfering with opportunities for them to teach their children otherself-comfort skills, which at some point before they hit puberty they will need to acquire.
I can assure you that this a widely thought misconception that has little to no basis in reality. What you are doing here is projecting your idea of nursing a young baby/toddler/young child on what nursing an older child is like. Nursing has nothing to do with holding them back, I can't even imagine how that would work. Children can and will develop their own self-comfort skills while still maintaining a nursing relationship. The two are not mmutually exclusive. You would not be able to tell a nursing seven year old from a non-nursing seven year old at a sleep over.
Also, personally, my kids never needed to be "taught" "self-comfort" skills, they were quite intelligent enough to be able to develop them on their own.
but also not doing things to influence your kid to nurse longer, because you aren't ready for them to wean.
The natural weaning age for humans is between 2.5 years and 7 years of age. Parents that practice CLW are not influencing their children to nurse longer then they are supposed to, they are simply letting weaning come at a more natural age instead of weaning prematurely. All children will lose the physical ability to nurse at one point (often coincides with the loss of milk teeth) and there is NO WAY to nurse when that happens. 3 out of 4 of my children self-weaned. Those three were 5, 5 and 4 1/2 when they weaned. I never stopped offering, I never trained them to fall asleep without nursing, they ate and drank like any other kids their age. Near the time they stopped nursing they were down to nursing a couple times a month and then they simply lost the ability to nurse.
Examples of the latter would be:
- Not trying out any bedtime routines for a toddler besides nursing to sleep. If that winds up being the only thing that works 'til he's 2-1/2...and it doesn't interfere with the needs of other family members...fine. But introduce the idea that a predictable bedtime routine (without milk) can be soporific...the same way you introduce other ideas of self-regulation, like running around outside to burn off steam instead of misbehaving inside; or using words to express your feelings instead of hitting.
I see nursing to sleep as being a part of a healthy sleep routine, which, like most things, will evolve over time naturally. For us, nursing to sleep is pleasurable, it is easy, it is predictable, it is comforting, it is relaxing and it helps us connect after a long day and I know it won't last long. Just a few years (or less) and then they just don't want it anymore.
Do you really think that a child that is nursed to sleep every night needs to be introduced to something different for them to do it? My three year old nurses to sleep every night. She just woke up a few minutes ago and I asked her to go lay back down because I was writing. No problem. All four of my children have done the same. They don't need to be taught... nor can they be forced to not learn. It comes naturally.
- Not at least introducing other types of milk to a toddler, the same way you offer him a variety of other foods, to see what interests him/suits his taste.
Seriously? Breastfeeding is not about just about drinking milk. It is another grave misconception that children that nurse don't drink and eat the exact same way as other kids their age. I would think that the only reason a parent would not offer other types of milks would be that they do not see the value in drinking milk. Milk is a beverage. Nothing more.
Human milk and breastfeeding is much more then just a beverage.
Offering a toddler the breast every time he/she is out of sorts, instead of waiting for him/her to indicate he/she wants it. If a 3-year-old who still nurses every now and then falls on the playground and breaks his arm, by all means whip out a breast! (I did.) But if he's just in a bad mood and he's not insisting that the only way he can resolve it is to nurse, then follow his lead and help him try some other things.
Very black and white here. I have a three year old and she nurses often... not just now and again.
Sometimes, if she is upset and wants to nurse, I will nurse her.
Sometimes, if she is upset and doesn't want to nurse, I will offer and she will refuse.
Sometimes, it she is upset it doesn't even cross either of our minds to nurse.
Sometimes, she wants to nurse but I refuse if it is a problem that I think needs resolving in another manner.
What you are suggesting however, is the "Don't offer, Don't refuse" parent-led weaning technique. It is a weaning technique that many choose but it is not something that many CLW aspire to do.
Sorry that was so long but I simply had to respond.