When to wean - sleep, family needs, etc. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 10-18-2005, 10:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi - my 17 mo old son loves to nurse. Mostly it's for comfort and cuddles these days, in the morning in bed, at night in the rocking chair, and then 1-3 times a day (when he's feeling the need to connect, or I'm sitting and "available"). Generally I love it, but I am feeling a few things I'm trying to sort out and would love help. 1) He's using nursing to regulate his emotions and not learning to do so on his own; 2) He's been waking up a lot more in the middle of the night and demanding "boobies". I drew this line months ago and it was fine for a while, but it's back, and we are having tantrums at 1 and 3:30am; 3) my husband is feeling like "it's time" and pushing the conversation; 4) I'm desiring some "me" time before we start trying for number two; 5) he LOVES nursing, and I love the together time, and am sad about not having it anymore; 6) wrestling with my heart being for self-led weaning, but my brain feeling like it could be YEARS before he will do that on his own and I'm not feeling up for that. I'd love to hear from others who have wrestled with this moment in time, and what you've done, how you've made decisions, are there compromises, etc. Thanks!
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#2 of 9 Old 10-18-2005, 11:15 PM
 
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If you haven't read "Mothering Your Nursing Toddler", run to your nearest library or bookstore and get it NOW. It will help answer a lot of your questions. Remember, nursing is a two way relationship between you and your child. It needs to be positive and mutual for both participants. As he gets older, you will have plenty of "me" time. You can never go back to his being a baby again. That said, I too wrestled with a lot of these questions during the toddler months with DD1 and Mothering Your Nursing Toddler by Norma Baumgardner really helped me decide what I wanted, and how to talk to my family about it. There are a lot of positive health aspects to nursing until two years old as the WHO recommends. And lastly, we all use crutches to help us with our emotions. You talk to friends, eat ice cream, take a warm bath, go for a walk, etc. It's hard for a 17 month old to do these things. He can't talk. He can't express his emotions well or even understand them. Nursing is A LOT better than screaming and crying. Good Luck!
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#3 of 9 Old 10-19-2005, 12:27 AM
 
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Hmmm... a few thoughts..
You've noticed nursing helps him calm him when he can't do it himself - that's one of the things it's there for. He's too young to deal with his feelings in ways older kids can and too young to know how to unwind from all the stress of toddlerhood. Having nursed ds2 nearly to 3yrs now and still going, it seems clear to me that nursing provides a way for toddlers to destress and regain control during the stage when they are too young to do so themselves. He'll learn to deal with his emotions as he grows, with good modeling and help in identifying and understanding them. Right now, he's barely beginning to start the process. It's nothing but frustrating for everyone to have high expectations for a toddler's emotional skills.

I too feel I need a break before another baby. I've wondered how long ds will take to decide he will wean. Last time I checked in with him he told me when he was 11, lol, luckily he has no idea what that means - only that it's long enough for him not to have to worry about it now. I think between his third and fourth birthday if he isn't weaning, I will likely encourage it. I won't push it to the point it creates a problem, and if we end up tandeming with a four year old once-a-day nurser and a newborn, I am prepared to do that.

He's waking at night again - can you find the cause, and thus see if it's something that might be temporary, like a developmental jump or teething pain? Or if it's something ongoing that can be addressed, like allergies or digestive troubles? Or, maybe he just isn't ready to permanently sleep thru. My ds didn't til 22 months, which is about average for the age a child will naturally learn to sleep thru. But I learned to unlatch him without disturbing him after only a few minutes of nursing so that I could get back to sleep quickly - most times all he needed was a few minutes at the breast to relax & drift off.

Is your husband open to learning more about why nursing longer is better? You can tell him that research shows that children weaned before two are at greater risk of disease, and that kids nursed the longest show the lowest rates of conduct disorders later in life!
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#4 of 9 Old 10-19-2005, 12:28 AM
 
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Good job on the all nurisng!

As you know, there's a whole range of beliefs (even on MDC) on weaning. IMHO, it doesn't necessarily have to be a choice between BF and completely weaning. Your little one may be at a point where you could start, if you choose, to impose limits. It sounds like the nighttime is the most difficult for your family. Perhaps nightweaning is an option? If its a choice between weaning or nursing less /or just not at particular times, I think setting limits is probably your best bet.

Also this may be just one of those difficult times in your breastfeeding relationship. It may be a "this too shall pass" situation. Be patient with your little one and yourself.

I'd also recommend "Mothering Your Nursing Toddler" as did Kate.
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#5 of 9 Old 10-19-2005, 12:35 AM
 
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Personally I feel strongly that babies need to be nursed until at LEAST 2 years old, so I would make that a goal in your shoes. As far as self-regulating, honestly he's just too young to do that yet. As long as you're nursing he still has SOME way to do that.

-Angela
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#6 of 9 Old 10-19-2005, 03:05 AM
 
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You definitely have to be the one to decide what's best for you guys, but I agree w/the PPs that he is way too young to self-regulate. Even if he wasn't nursing, he'd be doing something else to help him calm down and get control of his emotions. My MIL always laughs about how my DH, who was not breastfed, had this pillow that he had to take everywhere with him. She said he would hold one corner of it in his hand and suck his thumb and the corner of the pillow at once. He was so attached to it he would sit down next to the washer and cry while she was washing it until he was about 4 or 5 years old. She thinks it's funny, but I think it's so sad for him that he had to use a pillow for comfort, instead of a human being. (I realize lots of kids w/good attachments have a lovey, but my DH was definitely substituting the pillow for the attachment he didn't get from his parents.) Anyway, my point is that if you stop nursing, it isn't going to make your DS suddenly able to regulate his own emotions, so you shouldn't feel like nursing is somehow keeping him from "maturing", kwim?
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#7 of 9 Old 10-19-2005, 12:50 PM
 
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Here's another thought that came to me. If he KNOWS he needs to nurse then he IS self regulating. If that's the case you both need a big pat on the back!

-Angela
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#8 of 9 Old 10-19-2005, 02:43 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alegna
Here's another thought that came to me. If he KNOWS he needs to nurse then he IS self regulating. If that's the case you both need a big pat on the back!

-Angela
Very good point!
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#9 of 9 Old 10-19-2005, 07:26 PM
 
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While I strongly believe in nursing at least till age 2, I also believe in it being a 2 way relationship that should be enjoyed by both mom and child. If a nursing mama's heart just isn't there, the child can feel that. definately read Mothering your nursing toddler, it will help you with those questions. good luck.

There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.
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