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Having second thoughts about CLW with my 4.5 year old

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

My first child, DD, is 4.5 and my DS is 16 months, and I'm tandem nursing.


I have been committed to the idea of CLW, especially since my DD is very sensitive and VERY attached to bf.


However, after DS was born I let DD nurse whenever she wanted but quickly became exhausted, and so after a few months I limited her to only before bed and she made that transition easily. 


I'm now having second thoughts about CLW:


I don't know anyone IRL who is bf a 4.5 year old.  TBH, I don't want anyone to know we are still bf her, and she is at the age where of course she can tell people.  SHe does talk about it sometimes but uses the word "mia" so people don't really know what she is talking about.  I even told my family that we stopped because they clearly didn't approve and about a year ago we moved really far away, so I figured they would never know.  Now we are going to visit in July and I m concerned she will talk about mia and they know what that means.  DH also feels like it is getting rediculous because she is getting so old.  He won't pressure me to stop or anything, and he has been supportive, but it's clear he thinks it's time to stop.


I don't think she will stop without prompting, but I think she has reached an age now where she could make the transition pretty easily because she is getting less and less attached, and does occasionally sleep without it


I guess I have several questions:


first, anyone out there still bf a 4.5 year old or older?  I really feel like a freak sometimes.....


have you ever second guessed CLW?  What made you continue, or what made you decide to stop, and how did you stop?


what did you do when your child talked about bf?  did you hide the fact that you were bf or were you very open about it?  I don't want to tell DD not to talk about it becasue I don't want her to feel it is shameful, but at the same time I don't want her to talk about it


I used to be part of LLL and it was so encouraging, but now I live in a country where there are no branches....maybe once DS gets a little older I'll become a leader and start one!!

post #2 of 15

My son nursed until he was five.  I cut him down to mornings and nights when he was around 4 years old.  I weaned him and his sister at the same time since I was soooo done nursing.  She was nearly 3. 


I wanted to do CLW with my kids but it wasn't right for us.  And that's okay.  I think your daughter would be fine if you weaned her.

post #3 of 15
I've never actually tandem nursed, but I've nursed through 7 months of pregnancy. Idk if this is any help, since you are nursing a younger one, but I put band aids on my nipples and told my LO that they were broken...
I hope you figure something out
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the encouragement...lazurii...how did you wean?  Was it a smooth transition for your children?  Most of th things i've read about weaning are geared toward much younger children

post #5 of 15

Well, I broke a few "rules" you're supposedly supposed to follow while weaning, but it really worked for the best.


First I drank a LOT of milk-drying teas.  I started with the No More Milk Tea from Earth Mama Angel Baby, but I switched to sage and peppermint after that ran out.  I started to dry up my milk so I was telling my kids that I was drying up because I didn't have babies anymore (a lie, of course, and the first rule I broke: never lie).  Then I left for a 5 day trip to visit my sister in law (rule number two, don't wean by leaving).  When I came back I told my kids that all my milk was gone (another lie) and they couldn't nurse anymore.


Honestly, it was a very smooth process.  There were some tears but there was a lot of snuggling.  There was also a lot of promises that when I had another baby I would pump milk for them to drink.

post #6 of 15

Hi bluedaisy,

I just wanted to let you know that I could have written your post! DS is almost 4.5 and DD is just 6 weeks old. It is been very hard as he was/is very very very attached to nursing. I thought things would just naturally work themselves out once I gave birth but it has been very hard, physically and emotionally. DH is ok with DS nursing once before bed but would prefer he be done - and while initially after the birth I wanted to keep nursing him a lot too, now I kind of just want him to be done too ... what we have done is tell him no nursing once during the night, but he can nurse before bed and a little in the morning if there is time/a need. the first two nights were very hard - lots of crying (he was used to always nursing back to sleep). Note we have a family bed so I am still right next to him. I was (am still! ha!) exhausted, so it was hard. After that he sleeps through the night and just rolls over and goes back to sleep if he does wake up. It has made things a lot better. I am still finding bedtime super tricky what with the two of them but we are working on it. We are talking to him a lot about how the baby needs milk, he can eat lots of stuff, do lots of things she can't do, etc etc ... sometimes it seems to convince him and make him feel big and strong, and other times he is just Oh. So. Clingy. which is a big emotional drain.

I don't have the issue of him talking about it, as he knows that he is "lucky" and none or most of the other kids in his school don't nurse anymore,t hat none of his friends do, etc.

Anyway. My goal is to just keep plugging away at it. Bit by bit talking about it to him and limiting him. If I feel like he really really "needs" it, then I will nurse him. Trying to do a gradual wean - but I just feel all of a sudden like I will be so free when he is done. Maybe not. Ask me in a few months ...

I would be happy to keep the dialogue going as it seems like we are in similar situations, so don't hesitate to write back again!

post #7 of 15

Note that the clinginess also breaks my heart, because I know it is related to the cutting back (he told me so ...). Hoping it has mostly passed though.

post #8 of 15

My older DS was 4 when his brother was born.  I tandemed until DS1 was almost 6, with DS1 nursing only at bedtime from the time he was about 4.5.  DS2 is now 4.5 and nurses at bedtime, most mornings, and sometimes during the day if he needs a nap and I am around.  Just a few thoughts for you:


1.  You are not weird for still nursing such a "big" kid.  Don't let social/cultural constructs define normal for you and your family.  If your nursing relationship with your child still feels right to you and your child, screw everyone else.


2.  When DS1 was 4.5 and nursing, he seemed big and old to me compared to his baby brother.  So I did sometimes feel like he was too old to nurse or didn't really need it any more.  Now that DS2 is 4.5 and nursing, he still seems little to me, and I don't really have those same feelings that he shouldn't be nursing any more.  It makes me glad that I continued to nurse DS1 through those feelings, because I think my perception of him as being so "big" and "old" was colored by having his baby brother to compare him to.  Without another child there for comparison, I think a 4.5 year old still seems pretty little, and there is nothing wrong with giving them the comfort (and nutrition and immune support) they are biologically programmed to have.


3.  I didn't think my older son would ever stop nursing on his own - he was just plain too committed to it.  However, by the time he was almost 6, we were able to have very good conversations about nursing, in which we both talked about what we were feeling and what we needed.  He eventually came to understand that I was feeling pretty "done" with the nursing aspect of our relationship, but that he could get love and attention from me in other ways.  One day (when DH was mildly bothering him about still nursing), he just announced that he would nurse for two more days and then stop.  And he did.  I have no regrets about nursing him as long as I did.  I think it's great that he never viewed nursing as something I took away from him against his will.


4.  DS1 did tell a few people here and there that he got to nurse.  One was our nanny, and she thought he was joking.  She told me what he had said, assuming that I would then tell him to stop telling people such outrageous lies.  I just matter-of-factly told her that he nursed once a day at bedtime.  I'm sure she thought I was nuts, but she didn't say anything more about it.  After that, I talked to DS1 about the fact that so few kids his age get to nurse, and that most people don't have any experience with it and don't understand why he would still be nursing.  I said that people are often uncomfortable with things they don't understand.  I didn't tell him outright not to talk about it, but I think he understood that I was suggesting he keep it to himself, and he did.


Anyway, 4.5 years is a long time, and I certainly understand the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) pressure to stop.  Only you can determine what factors are most important to you and how ready you and your child are to wean.  But just know that you are not alone in continuing to nurse.

post #9 of 15
I love your post CalBearmama....it speaks volumes! Thank you.
post #10 of 15
Just have a moment, so I wanted to chime in quickly:

1. If you want to stop, it is okay. You are a rock star nursing mama!
2. The global average, to my understanding, is 4 years and six months. So, you can consider yourself average if you like...just above average for America.
3. My son is 3 plus years old and still nurses like an absolute maniac.
4. I am grateful he has a nickname for nursing...just came back from a big in-law vacation and I was glad nobody knew what he was asking for...I am not embarrassed, but just consider it a private family issue.
5. If anyone asks you, you can honestly say "Oh, we started weaning a long time ago." Weaning begins when they have their first solid food!
6. I know people who hide the fact they nurse older kids (well, like me). Just because you think you do not know anyone who still nurses...hmm...

Good luck, mama.
post #11 of 15
It's hard. Especially with 2 kiddos. I tandem nursed my girls until the oldest was 5.5. I've always worked full time, and I'm sure most people assumed she had weaned years before. She weaned gradually after many conversations about her starting kindergarten and big kids not needing it. She stopped nursing the summer before kindergarten. My younger one was 2.5 at the time and I was SOOO done nursing 2 kids. Luckily, the little one self-weaned right before age 4. I stopped offering, and she got more interested in other activities (playing with older sister, listening to bedtime stories, etc...). My personal feeling is that they will eventually stop, just some kids may need a little more 'convincing' than others. I'm not a fan of sudden weaning, but gradually limiting/delaying sessions is very effective and kind. Mothers start this 'weaning' process with infants/older toddlers all the time. I think it is very natural and part of the progression of a nursing experience.
post #12 of 15

My now 7yo self weaned at 5. During his 4th year, he gradually cut down nursing from a couple  of times a day, to a couple of times a week, to a couple of times a month, then every couple of months. He nursed for the last time the day before he turned 5.... he just nursed, less and less often. Maybe yoru child will too.

I was tandem nursing too.  

post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thank you all so much for your kind posts...I hadn't checked this post in a while so I just read most of the responses now.


It's helpful to know there are others in the same situation and that others have nursed for so long....DD mentioned something to a babysitter the other day and she also thought DD was joking.  I overheard the conversation but the babysitter didn't mention it.


We've been talking about big kids not needing to nurse...dd likes when I tell her stories so i make up stories about nursing...starting from when she was newborn and nursed all the time, and we end the stories with her being weaned but still able to cuddle as much as she wants with mama...


I am trying to encourage weaning but not yet at the point where I want to cut her off....I think the sucking for comfort response has always been very important for her.  She had been asking to drink from DS's old bottles and so we ended up buying her a bottle...she gets to choose if she wants to nurse or drink milk from a bottle each night...she started off nursing much more often but I think 7 out of the past 8 night she has chosen the bottle so maybe we are on our way to weaning?  I'm not thrilled with the idea of giving her a bottle at 4.5 but I do want this to be a gentle process of weaning and make her feel like she does have some choice in the matter.


Thank you for the encouraging words - it can be hard to go against the grain especially with something that other people think is "disgusting" or "messed up" - both things Ive heard about extended nursing - and when I know my family strongly disapproves as well.

post #14 of 15

Hi mama,

It makes it harder when you feel like you're the only one! My oldest nursling turned 4yo the beginning of June. He and I have done a lot of discussing, and we had decided that he would wean around his birthday. He seemed on board with the idea, and even a little bit excited. Thankfully I kept the mindset that he may change his mind, because the closer to his bday we got, the more the idea seemed to upset him. I'm triandem nursing him along with his 2 younger siblings, and we'll hit the1yr milestone for that in another week and a half. The 2 boys are 4yrs and 2.5yrs now, and they both nurse twice a day right now. For some reason, I have a nursing aversion to oldest ds at times, and in that situation I just gently end the nursing session early. There are days when I feel pulled in a million directions and am beyond ready for him to be done, but then I try to take a deep breath and remember that 4yo is really still very young and dependent on mama (and he is also very independent too). DH, while being supportive, has voiced a few times that he thinks older ds is getting "too old". For now we're just taking things 1 day at a time. On the stressful days, I remind myself that he won't still be nursing in college :)

post #15 of 15

I was going to suggest Mama Natural's post about how she weaned her son, but you are already doing something very similar. Thank you for posting this. Sometimes it feels like nobody actual nurses that long, but on the internet it doesn't feel so weird. I am currently tandem nursing my 2yo and 5mo sons. My almost 5yo is weaned. I had a very hard time when he weaned. I was ready to be done, but I also really mourned our special connection. Sometimes I wish we were still nursing. He just seems so emotionally volatile at times, and I feel like nursing would help. The only words I have are words of encouragement. You have done a wonderful job, and whatever decision you make will be totally fine. Also, I find that when my kids are being entertained and spoiled by relatives, they forget about nursing for a while. My son never asked when we were at the inlaws; too many bubbles to blow and cookies to eat. Also also, gentle boundaries have a place in CLW. If you limit DD's nursing and encourage her to head towards weaning, that is still CLW.

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