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Why child led weaning?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
My nursers are almost 3 and 15 mo. And like the other posters in the getting so sick of nursing thread, it drives me crazy sometimes. Both boys nurse all day and several times at night and I know there were reasons that I wanted to let them lead the weaning. Any one want to share nice stories of nursing 3 or 4 or 5 year olds? Why is it important to you not to lead the weaning?
Thanks,
Mallory
post #2 of 23
I dont know if I have the answer to that, but Id like to know myself. There are times I feel Ive had enough,when it seems like dd (20mos) nurses all day and all night. I start to night wean, and it just seems so hard. She was almost completely nightweaned and started teething again, so we took 2 steps back. My dh is really wanting me to wean, but is not pressuring me. Id like to wean, but it seems harder than it is to nurse all the time, and I dont know where to start. Dd loves it so much! I feel guilty taking it away from her....... I thought selfweaning would be the way to go, but at this rate she'll be nursing till she's 4, and I know I wont make it that long...
post #3 of 23
DD will be 16 mos tomorrow. I am not even considering weaning quite yet, but I'm not so sure about child-led weaning, either. Most of what I know about breastfeeding comes from having pets as a kid, and my cats and dogs never let their babies decide when it was time to wean, except those few highly-independent types who weaned before the rest of the litter. Mama-dog would start limiting the nursing lengths and frequencies at a certain point. Ok, so we aren't critters, but we are still pretty close anyway.
I think I like what Dr. Sears says in the Breastfeeding book about don't offer, don't refuse. I find myself offering to nurse when dd has been happily playing for so long that my breasts ache (I never have leaked, just get fuller and fuller until I feel like they'll burst), so I can see how if you just quit offering it might speed up the weaning process. I also know that when I tried limiting and scheduling the nursing sessions, she became extra needy and clingy and whiney, so that isn't an option for me, at least not yet.
Ok, so that wasn't really an answer to your question. I'm interested in what others have to say!
post #4 of 23
My dd recently weaned at 5.8 years of age. Beleive me there were many times I had just wanted her to be done with it. She is my last baby and I think I just wanted to do it right and let her tell me she was done. I miss it but then again we are now on a new chapter in her life. but I'm glad that she weaned in her own time and her fond memories of it.

its also good for her older brother who is almost 9 and thinks that nursing a 5 year old is perfectly normal.

When i tell people that my kids do not drink cows milk he has many times said but we drank your milk mom! I think that is just such a great thing for him to say. It so normalizes breastfeeding and human milk
post #5 of 23
I'm interested in what stafl said. Throughout my nursing relationship with dd, I've tried to keep in mind what other primates do. For example, I read in Nat'l Geo that baby apes sleep with their mothers until they're weaned, and then they sleep on their own. That made such perfect sense to me, and made me feel 100% okay about not having even tried to get dd (age 2.5) into her own bed.

I don't know, though, whether other primates do offspring-led weaning. Does anyone have any idea? It's just always seemed to me that we should do what they do, because it's probably what nature intended for us.
post #6 of 23
My ds is 3 now and sometimes I wonder the same, about child led weaning.... sigh! but on the other hand, there are invaluable things, examples:
- In his 3 years, ds has rarely been sick, and when he does get the flu it only lasts for 1-2 days and it's gone.
- If diarrea is present, BM is all he takes and it's his best medicine.
- On a recent long flight, the attendant commented on how lucky they would be if all toddlers would BF, as ds was so well behaved and BF'ing during a turbulence eased his fears, and prevented sickness.
- When I come back home for work, the first thing he wants is "leche mama" (although this afternoon feed is subsiding!) and when you get your toddler to tell you after a feed, with his content face, "leche mama good, mmmhhh – thanks mama", there's no price for that
post #7 of 23
I am going to quote Dr. William Sears/Martha Sears RN
from the Baby Book because these words helped me when I was burned out on years of nursing.

"Life is a series of weanings for a child: weaning from your womb, weaning from your breast, from your bed, and from your home to school. (WHAT ABOUT HOMESCHOOLERS? ) The pace at which children should go from oneness to separateness should be respected in all of these weaning milestones. To hurry children through any of these relationships before their time increases the risk of what we call "diseases of premature weaning" : anger, aggression, habitual tantrumlike behavior, anxious attachment to caregivers, and less ability to form deeper and more intimate relationships. We have studied the long-term effects of thousands of children who had timely weanings and have observed that these children
*are more independent
*gravitate to PEOPLE more than things
*are easier to discipline
*experience less anger
*radiate trust

Ideally, try to give your baby the best physical, emotional, and mental start- a gradual and timely weaning. In the normal process of oneness to separateness, it is not the mother who weans the baby, but the baby who weans from the mother. In our many years as baby watchers, studying the long-term effects of long-term breastfeeding, the most secure, independent and happy children we have seen are those who have not been weaned before their time."
post #8 of 23
my dd is almost five and has just finished weaning. In all honestly, she was slowly led to wean with a little help from me! I asked her to cut down to 3 nursings a day when I first got pregnant in jan. By may we were down to just once a day, by the end of july we were done. I think that it's important to let them set the pace but I also think that it's o.k. to make suggestions along the way.
post #9 of 23
It's really important to me to let weaning be a slow and natural process for my two girls. I'm not sure how long I'll feel like this, but that's where I am at the moment!

It seems to me that gradual encouragement from mom to cut down is fine. Neither of mine nurse at night for the most part (the little one does sometimes early in the morning, especially when she's sick), and that makes life a lot easier for me, I know. Perhaps night-weaning can extend the life of a nursing relationship?

Katherine Dettwyler's research indicates a natural weaning age for humans of between 2.5 and 7 years. So I guess 2.5 years is a minimum for me, since I believe that our children were designed to biologicall EXPECT at least that amount of 'mommy milk'. But I know that my 3 year old still 'needs' to nurse, so that isn't something I can see myself taking away from her any time soon.

That said, I'm sure I'll be limiting much more in a couple of years' time (if we're still nursing then).

I do like the idea of normalizing breast-feeding toddlers for my children. And maybe for other children (although I got a 'you are weird' look from a nurse this morning when I said I was still nursing my 15 month old. ).

Just a few random thoughts...
Carolyn
post #10 of 23
We let our children crawl and walk when they are ready--why can't we let them also choose when they are ready to wean themselves?

It makes me so sad to come here and read posts from mothers who say "I have decided it is time to wean my child, and now my child is throwing tantrums/screaming or crying all the time/trying to nurse, and I have to bat him/her away." Why in the world would anyone put their child and themselves into that sort of trauma/power struggle? What are you teaching your child when you do that? We're talking about nursing, for crying out loud, not running out into the street or sticking little fingers into electrical outlets.

And in general, the older they get, the less they nurse. Are you telling me you are so lacking in patience you can't share your breasts with your baby for just a few more months or years?
post #11 of 23
When it means another year of getting 2-4hours of sleep a night, and thats not in a row, than yes, nightweaning starts to sound pretty good to me.....
post #12 of 23
Did I overlook something? When did nightweaning ( a whole 'nother animal) enter this discussion?
post #13 of 23
My first post at the begining of this thread..... You have to start somewhere you know, you just dont stop nursing all together.
post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
I guess I am going to answer my own post

like rainsmoms said
Quote:
but it [weaning] seems harder than it is to nurse all the time,
this is how I feel any time I have tried to change nursing patterns. I usually give up way before they do.

I also have never been successful at this-
Quote:
I think I like what Dr. Sears says in the Breastfeeding book about don't offer, don't refuse.
Because nursing is one of those great trick I can pull out of my super mom tool belt. It is great for all kinds of big hurts or even just so I can call my best friend on the phone.

CinnamonGirl the gorrilla at the zoo definately had a hand in weaning her baby- when she got pregnant he was about 2 1/2. I do wonder if nursing is not as effective a birth control for a zoo gorilla because of thier diets (much better nutrition and foods that infant gorillas can eat so they need less milk) or for what ever other reasons. I know I would have gotten up and moved every time ds#1 wanted to nurse when I was pregnant, if I wasn't so sure that babies are supposed to nurse much longer than 10 months.

Len and Momtwice those are the reasons I was looking for to refreash my commitment to child led weaning.
Carolyn this is how I feel too.
Quote:
Katherine Dettwyler's research indicates a natural weaning age for humans of between 2.5 and 7 years. So I guess 2.5 years is a minimum for me, since I believe that our children were designed to biologicall EXPECT at least that amount of 'mommy milk'. But I know that my 3 year old still 'needs' to nurse, so that isn't something I can see myself taking away from her any time soon.
Respondentmother01 said
Quote:
We let our children crawl and walk when they are ready--why can't we let them also choose when they are ready to wean themselves?
I think that it is because walking and crawling they do by themselves. It is impossible to seperate the weaning from the realtionship that involves two people. It makes me sad when I hear about toddlers who are really distressed by weaning but I also think that probably there is a balance there that both mom and baby can live with out either one being too stressed out.

I don't really see either of my boys weaning any time soon. Since my 3 year old gets most of his calories from nursing and I still offer if I think he needs it for whatever reason. But mostly because of all the things that I do parenting my boys Nursing is one thing I know I am doing right.
post #15 of 23
well, i must say, my friend weaned her 2 y.o., even though he didn't want to, and now at age 4, he is still totally reliant on his pacifier - has a fit if he "needs" it and it's not around (they have about 4 of them, in case). he's very orally obsessed and pretty clingy. i can't help but think if she'd let him decide when he was ready, he'd be a happier guy. me, at 15 mos. dd is a happy nurser and i'm a happy mom!
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally posted by respondentmother01
We let our children crawl and walk when they are ready--why can't we let them also choose when they are ready to wean themselves?

....

Are you telling me you are so lacking in patience you can't share your breasts with your baby for just a few more months or years?
Nobody meant this as a personal attack on those who choose to let their child lead the weaning process. It started out as a friendly discussion, maybe even an amicable debate. Disagreement is ok as long as noone gets flamed. Please don't take it personally when I say that nursing involves two people, and I really think continuing to nurse should be a mutual decision. If one or the other (mom or baby) no longer wishes to nurse, there's nothing wrong with gradually weaning in my opinion. Just as you do not wish to be attacked for your decisions, don't attack those who disagree with you or who make different decisions. My patience or lack thereof is none of your business!
post #17 of 23
Well said! We all have different situations, different temperments, different babies with the same. One cant just lump them all together and make judgements on how things should be because it works for them. From homebirthing to toilet training to diapers to nursing. This is the real world where shit happens, mothers have to work, babies teeth and cry 24/7, fathers dont help out, whatever the case may be.
post #18 of 23
Nursing IS a two way street-even Mr. Sears says that when mother starts to chronically resent nursing-it's time to stop. I say it's time to do something different BEFORE you chronically resent it. I was where these moms were when Jade was at about 20-24 months. The thing that saved me, and our breastfeeding relationship, by the way, was night-weaning. There is NO reason why a toddler needs to, or even should, be waking up to nurse several times a night. It makes for a cranky overtired toddler, and a cranky, overtired mama. Once we were both getting a full night's sleep-I was way more prepared and happy to continue day time nursing. That was a year ago.

Guess what? Children have needs, and moms have needs too. Ignoring either's needs in favor of the other's is destructive. And harshly judging someone who is honestly admitting their own needs is not helpful either, in my opinion.
post #19 of 23
Im so glad you said that for my own benefit. I feel so bad wanting to nightwean and it is getting so old. We had her sleeping thru the night, now she's getting more teeth and we're back to the old schedule of waking several times or nursing ALL night long. Im soooo tired and so tired of it! I guess its just good to hear some validation for my feelings from another mom whose been there. thanks!
post #20 of 23
I was going to post that the reason for child-led weaning is that the child's needs take priority of the mother's needs. But after reading all the posts, I am realizing this is not always true. I think the issue needs to be weighed carefully though. Right now, weaning my 2 year old would cause him much more trauma then continuing to nurse causes me. So we continue. When looking for a reason to "keep going" I try to look for those reasons from my child's perspective first. I am VERY sick of nursing him though, so we've started placing some limits on it and he seems to be doing well. I don't consider these limits steps toward weaning though!
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