Do babies really self wean at 12-18 months? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 51 Old 04-05-2009, 09:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi! I'm a first time mommy nursing my 8 month old daughter, Adella. I absolutely love the bonding/cuddling that nursing provides and I love knowing that I'm giving her the bestest thing in the world by nursing her. I would love love love to nurse her into toddlerhood and was just curious how common it is for a baby to self-wean at an early age. Does it really depend on the baby, or does it have more to do with parenting/nursing styles? I am a stay at home mommy who nurses on demand and I make myself very very available to her. We've started solids very slowly and she is still pretty much EBF. We don't co-sleep, but I go to her 2-3 times a night to nurse her. For the Mommies are or have nursed into toddlerhood and beyond, what would you say you did to protect your nursing relationship? Any suggestions would be great! She seems to really love nursing now, although she's in a very distractable stage right now (but that's normal and passes, right?). Do some babies just wean early, like a 12-18 months?

Blissfully happy and devoted wife to my best friend and anamored by my sweet baby girls, DD1 (8/8/08) and DD2 (06-17-11). Proud attached, tandem breastfeeding, baby-wearing, blw mama.

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#2 of 51 Old 04-05-2009, 09:51 PM
 
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If you keep doing what you're doing, she will probably nurse for a long time. My daughter is 2 yrs. 5 mos. and still nurses 2-3x day - mostly just to go to sleep or upon waking, but we've very gradually gotten to this point. Enjoy!

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#3 of 51 Old 04-05-2009, 10:05 PM
 
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My 3rd child self weaned at 11mths. He flat out refused to latch on, and he also refused a bottle - he just wanted milk from a cup - so I expressed as long as I could (I fought low supply with all three of mine) and it didn't last long once he wasn't nursing as he was WAY more efficient!

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#4 of 51 Old 04-05-2009, 10:21 PM
 
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My first child decided to stop nursing around 15 or 16 months old, but I attribute this to his unusual temperament. From the time he was born he didn't like to be held much (probably due to a combination of sensory processing issues and some developmental idiosyncrasies resembling autism). The closeness of nursing grew to be unpleasant for him. I don't think it's typical to self-wean at such a young age.

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#5 of 51 Old 04-05-2009, 10:24 PM
 
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I think a lot of babies cut molars around that time ( I know mine is!) so far from self-weaning I'd expect them to be nursing more frequently. I joked that someone needed to tell my 15 month old DS he's not a newborn anymore and doesn't need to be perma-attached to mommy's boob.

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#6 of 51 Old 04-05-2009, 10:37 PM
 
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While there may be a few early child led weaners generally speaking, no, babies will not self wean under the age of 2.5-3 years.

Many mothers seem to use the distractibility stage around 12-18 months as a chance to opportunistically wean, and it works well for them and their children. However, it is also NOT child led. My personal minimum for "believing" it as child led is 2.5 years, and then it must have happened gradually, reducing number of nursings over weeks and months, not suddenly one day not nursing ever again. That's the very definition of a nursing strike, and while again, many mothers take advantage of nursing strikes as a convenient time to opportunistically wean, it does not fit the criteria for child-led weaning.

Sorry, I get annoyed when people use "child-led" and "self-weaning" for infants that are really clearly NOT doing that sort of weaning, and then express such surprise that my child led weaner was nearly 5 years old.

Youngest I've heard of that seemed realistic to label as child led weaning was 2.5 (although mom was pg, and some don't feel that is truly child-led) and oldest was 8.

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#7 of 51 Old 04-05-2009, 10:38 PM
 
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Babies don't self wean at 12 months.

I would say it's RARE for a toddler to self wean as early as 18 months.

As a rule, 2 yrs is the earliest children are finished nursing.

BUT our society and our culture tend to cause early weaning. Things that can contribute to early weaning include:

artificial nipples
other sucking (sippy cups etc)
spoon feeding a significant amount of food
other milks
juice
not cosleeping
pregnancy
separation
discouraging nursing
not offering nursing often to toddlers

-Angela
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#8 of 51 Old 04-15-2009, 06:10 PM
 
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I went back to work when DD was 17 months old and all it did was cut out nursing from 7am - 3pm. Until I got pg recently she was still nursing 1-2 times at night, after we got home, after dinner, and before bed. (Now we're down to before bed and 93475029457209487 times at night)

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#9 of 51 Old 04-15-2009, 07:14 PM
 
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JUst wanted to say that I experienced a time with my ds (still a very enthusiastic nurser at 25 mo) around 17-18 months when he would go for long stretches (as in, 4 hrs) without nursing during the day. This was time when we would be out for a walk, at the park, etc, and he had less than no desire to nurse while out. Then it picked back up again quite a bit. I do think kids can get distracted around that age - and so, weaning them can be relatively easy, but they are by no means ready to self-wean, as is demonstrated by the enthusiasm with which most still nursing 2 yr olds (and older) nurse!
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#10 of 51 Old 04-15-2009, 08:30 PM
 
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Of the kids I didn't have to wean, so 5 of them, 4 weaned by the time they were 18 mos. The 5th is still nursing at 2 years. I remember when I was pg with #4, and still nursing my 18 mos old I was really excited we were going on vacation and could spend lots of time with ds. DH would be there all day for a week to help me with the other kids. And wouldn't you know it thats when he weaned. I was so sad. He refused the breast. He never ever took a bottle. Didn't start solids till he was 12 mos old. Just that week he decided he was gonna be independent. Never even hinted at nursing again. My 2nd weaned when my colostrum came in when I was pg with #3. She nursed. Pulled off. Look at my breast and ran away lol. Never to come back. The others were a bit more gradual.

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#11 of 51 Old 04-15-2009, 11:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Full Heart View Post
Of the kids I didn't have to wean, so 5 of them, 4 weaned by the time they were 18 mos. The 5th is still nursing at 2 years. I remember when I was pg with #4, and still nursing my 18 mos old I was really excited we were going on vacation and could spend lots of time with ds. DH would be there all day for a week to help me with the other kids. And wouldn't you know it thats when he weaned. I was so sad. He refused the breast. He never ever took a bottle. Didn't start solids till he was 12 mos old. Just that week he decided he was gonna be independent. Never even hinted at nursing again. My 2nd weaned when my colostrum came in when I was pg with #3. She nursed. Pulled off. Look at my breast and ran away lol. Never to come back. The others were a bit more gradual.
Personally, if a child is that young and weaned during a pregnancy I would not consider it CLW because they did not have a *true* choice in the matter--- you changed the amount/taste/etc... of their milk. Did any of them wean at that age when you weren't pregnant (or had introduced other weaning methods)?

 

 

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#12 of 51 Old 04-16-2009, 01:52 AM
 
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My DS tried to self-wean at 10 months but I "made" him continue until 12 months thinking he would click back into it. But it became clear he was very happy to move on. He continued to want the bedtime feeding for 2 more months then just wasn't interested. He was an extremely independent kid and never left the distractable nurser stage. He was also very into solids and loved feeding himself table food at 8 months. He also was not a night time nurser and was an astounding sleeper at night. He starting sleeping from 10pm-7am when he was 4 weeks old with no waking. His ped was blown away. So while the breast was available whenever he wanted, I only ever had to night nurse when he was sick.

Kris wife to Stew and mom to Joey 8/03 who cares for , 2 frogs and a worm
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#13 of 51 Old 04-16-2009, 02:01 AM
 
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Originally Posted by alegna View Post
Babies don't self wean at 12 months.

I would say it's RARE for a toddler to self wean as early as 18 months.

As a rule, 2 yrs is the earliest children are finished nursing.



-Angela
Oh, how I detest generalizations. At 12 months my DS was far from being a "baby". He was a very opinionated little person. I had planned to nurse for 2 years but he wasn't interested. Nor is your list of "causes" pertinent in our situation.

Kris wife to Stew and mom to Joey 8/03 who cares for , 2 frogs and a worm
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#14 of 51 Old 04-16-2009, 02:22 AM
 
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Originally Posted by EviesMom View Post

Many mothers seem to use the distractibility stage around 12-18 months as a chance to opportunistically wean, and it works well for them and their children. However, it is also NOT child led. My personal minimum for "believing" it as child led is 2.5 years, and then it must have happened gradually, reducing number of nursings over weeks and months, not suddenly one day not nursing ever again. That's the very definition of a nursing strike, and while again, many mothers take advantage of nursing strikes as a convenient time to opportunistically wean, it does not fit the criteria for child-led weaning.
Wow, more generalizations. So let me see if I understand you. So you are telling me that my 12 month old son did not decide to decrease his nursing on his own? I always fed him whenever he wanted. He just stopped wanting it much. And it was over the course of about 4 months total. But according to you that is impossible. He was always distractable so I was never able to NIP. I always had to find a time and place at home that was quiet (turns out it was probably partly due to him having sensory processing disorder with an extreme sensitivity to noise). He always nursed well at home, but you can see in my other posts that he was an atypical nighttime nurser in that he preferred sleep over breast (we always joke that he got his daddy's sleep gene).

Not all kids start crawling or walking at the same age, not all kids stop needing naps at the same age, not all kids choose to sleep on their own at the same age, not all kids can chew food at the same age so I don't understand why anyone would think that all kids self-wean at the same age. Granted with the OP's situation it is unlikely that the child is anywhere near self-weaning but the generalizations on here are surprising. A mother only knows their own child best, not everyone else's.

Kris wife to Stew and mom to Joey 8/03 who cares for , 2 frogs and a worm
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#15 of 51 Old 04-16-2009, 09:23 AM
 
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I have a 5yo son and 12 1/2 month old twins.

I had to wean my son at 14 months because of a medication I was taking. He took it very well. Almost insultingly well. He didn't self-wean but he was OK with stopping, even though up until that time he loved to nurse . I have heard that there is a window where weaning will be easy and it is around this year mark - I think *maybe* some people confuse "don't offer, don't refuse" resulting in "not asking" being the same as self weaning. I don't think that they are necc. the same.

With my twins, one is not exactly disinterested in the breast, but she doesn't demand it at all. Which is good because I never made enough milk for both and have had to supplement with bottles since 4-5 months. They've both gone back and forth very easily and for the most part never expressed an interest in one over the other. Until now.

One has gone on a full out bottle strike - she will take at most 2 sips from a bottle. All she wants is boob. For her nutritional interests, I had to cut her sister off the boob alltogether. The one who is cut off honestly couldn't care less. But the one who wants the boob, she wants no part of the bottle. It's like she's weaned herself off the bottle.

Anyway with 3 kids I am hardly an expert but I think the window of oppurtunity for weaning exists for many, not all kids, at this age - which might be confused as self weaning. I would expect true self weaning to be more in line with what my one baby is doing with the bottle. I certainly think it could happen, but I expect most kids could go either way at the 12-18 month mark.

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#16 of 51 Old 04-16-2009, 10:48 AM
 
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DD is about 15 months now and since about 12 months old she has really only wanted to nurse at night. We actually night weaned (not really on purpose, but we moved her to another room due to her uber-light-sleeper-ness, and she started STTN after about a week. Before that, she would nurse all.night.long. Now we're down to before bedtime and before naptime (if naptime isn't in the car). And comfort nursing. I'm actually trying to get her on more often but she doesn't really seem to be needing it. She's so petite and I don't really want her to wean yet, but I'm sure if I pushed just a little she would. Sometimes DH is even able to put her to sleep without nursies. This would have been unheard of even a month or two ago. She's really growing up. I don't want to wean her yet but it seems like it would be so easy right now and not stressful for either of us. Whereas if the child is older it seems there is more resentment, struggle, etc. I'm torn, but for the moment she's not giving up her bedtime nursies on her own so I'm not panicking yet.
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#17 of 51 Old 04-16-2009, 10:56 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ChampagneBlossom View Post
Whereas if the child is older it seems there is more resentment, struggle, etc.
If you nurse a child until they are ready to stop, there is no struggle whatsoever. But it's true that for most children, this means making a commitment to nurse for years.
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#18 of 51 Old 04-16-2009, 11:02 AM
 
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While I never thought a sudden stop was possible, it is. My 20 month old (23 months now) stopped nursing just like that. He was just done. I tried everything to get him back on the breast because I thought it was a strike. Turns out, that is his personality. He makes a choice and he sticks with it. Very decisive and stubborn! I pumped for two and a half months to continue to give him breastmilk and only recently have I stopped doing that. So while a sudden stop is rare, it does sometimes happen!

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#19 of 51 Old 04-16-2009, 11:05 AM
 
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I think the window of oppurtunity for weaning exists for many, not all kids, at this age - which might be confused as self weaning.
This was not my experience at all, and not what I've seen with the mamas around me. My dd#2 was certainly distractable as an older infant and young toddler, but she was still a huge nurser at night and other times. Both of my girls were avid nursers as young toddlers, and in my experience this is extremely common if there are not limits placed on nursing.

Babies are certainly different, and some are much less interested in nursing than others as time goes on; but I do think that there are many culturally normal behaviors (bottles, pacifiers, separations, partial weaning, etc.) that may (often inadvertendly on mom's part) encourage weaning before what may be the biological norm. Not that that is so terrible--I just think it's difficult in our bottle-normal culture to practice child-led weaning.
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#20 of 51 Old 04-16-2009, 11:08 AM
 
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Neithe of my BFing relationships have been very normal and I've had to supplement with both, but DD refused to nurse anymore at 15 months and DS gave it up at 14 months. I am STILL trying to get DS back to the breast but nothing is working. I absolutely did not encourage him to wean but as I say he did get one bottle a day.

I gte kind of frustrated at the assumption that any baby who weans before 2 must have been mother-led weaned by a mom who didn't want to bother anymore. Sometimes it's more complex than that. I have cried many tears over DS's weaning.

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#21 of 51 Old 04-16-2009, 11:31 AM
 
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I know that this is the CLW forum, but why must we spend so much time dwelling on these definitions?

DD nursed until she was 3.5 and then I couldn't take it anymore. Every time she asked to nurse I wanted to throw her out the window. It was horrible. I started getting very resentful and even now, at 4, I feel some resentment towards her -- I am still afraid to cuddle her in bed because the thought of nursing her makes me nauseated.

Some may say that I had these feeling because I am a horrible mother I know that I am not. But, I listed to her needs and my body and we very very slowly and very very gently weaned. She had cut down on her own and was down to twice a week or so. I helped her along the rest of the way. It was no big deal. At all. It was so so so much more stressful when I was nursing her -- for her and me both. (I was also nursing her little brother.)

I guess I feel like CLW is best if it is working for both parts of the nursing pair. Helping DD wean felt like most natural thing in the world. Much more natural than gritting my teeth and closing my eyes and pretending I was somewhere else when she was nursing.

I started out wanted to CLW -- I am totally and completely fine not defining our weaning experience as CLW. I did what was best for my family.
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#22 of 51 Old 04-16-2009, 11:56 AM
 
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straighthaircurly- that's fascinating to me. Truly

Just to set it in my head, your ds who weaned at 12 months-

wasn't spoonfed?
was offered nursing often around the clock?
had no juice?
had no other milk?
had no other sucking? (pacifiers, sippy cups, bottles)
co slept?
was encouraged to nurse often without restrictions?

There's such huge variation, it's always interesting to hear of the cases on the ends of the spectrum.

-Angela
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#23 of 51 Old 04-16-2009, 12:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by EviesMom View Post
While there may be a few early child led weaners generally speaking, no, babies will not self wean under the age of 2.5-3 years.

Many mothers seem to use the distractibility stage around 12-18 months as a chance to opportunistically wean, and it works well for them and their children. However, it is also NOT child led. My personal minimum for "believing" it as child led is 2.5 years, and then it must have happened gradually, reducing number of nursings over weeks and months, not suddenly one day not nursing ever again. That's the very definition of a nursing strike, and while again, many mothers take advantage of nursing strikes as a convenient time to opportunistically wean, it does not fit the criteria for child-led weaning.

Sorry, I get annoyed when people use "child-led" and "self-weaning" for infants that are really clearly NOT doing that sort of weaning, and then express such surprise that my child led weaner was nearly 5 years old.

Youngest I've heard of that seemed realistic to label as child led weaning was 2.5 (although mom was pg, and some don't feel that is truly child-led) and oldest was 8.

Just want to say that it is possible, really. My first child, DS1, weaned at 4 yrs old. My second, DD, weaned at 18 months. It was very, very gradual. So much so, that I didn't even realize it was happening until I suddenly noticed we were down to only two nursings a day. Nothing I did could entice her to nurse more, and pretty soon she was rejecting even night-time and nap-time nursings. Even after she weaned, I continued offering, but she would not nurse once she was done. DS2 is now almost 19 months and still going strong, and will be nursing as long as he wants to.

That said, I wouldn't expect it to happen that early. I really consider my DD to be an anomaly. And there are other things in her personality that have since helped me understand why she weaned so early.

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#24 of 51 Old 04-16-2009, 12:16 PM
 
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So what happens when a toddler refuses to nurse and is given no other form of fluids? Don't they get dehydrated at some point? I can't imagine that they have so little survival instinct that they'll refuse sustenance.
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#25 of 51 Old 04-16-2009, 12:53 PM
 
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So what happens when a toddler refuses to nurse and is given no other form of fluids?
Are you suggesting that mothers should try this? Would you? Yes, when my DS went on strike I did give him water. I think it would have been irresponsible not to. He got water before he stopped nursing, too. He asks to drink water and I would not have denied him.

And yes, he also uses a paci sometimes. It is a comfort item for him and we used one because BFing was painful for me and I could not always comfort nurse.

I am not sure how taking his paci and cups away in the name of forcing him to nurse would have been gentle, child-focused parenting. It would frankly have been punitive. It doesn't seem terribly AP to me. As it was I began to feel like I was trying to trick or bully him into nursing.

Admittedly I did not follow the ideal recommendations to encourage EBF, but I really had no choice due to our nursing issues.

Quote:
That's the very definition of a nursing strike, and while again, many mothers take advantage of nursing strikes as a convenient time to opportunistically wean, it does not fit the criteria for child-led weaning.
DS's weaning began as a semistrike when he was ill, but he absolutely refused to start again. I did not "take advantage" of it.

I feel like there is no acknowledgment that sometimes a strike cannot be broken, and that sometimes strikes may happen because the babe was close to weaning anyway.

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#26 of 51 Old 04-16-2009, 12:56 PM
 
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I don't think kids self-wean early either. My dd weaned at 2.5, and on her own and gradually, but it wasn't self weaning because I had night weaned her around 2 and she started cutting down on nursings after that. I'm sure the night weaning got things rolling, and it was a huge weaning step. I think parents aren't always aware that different things they do (offering a large amount of solids, night weaning, stopping co-sleeping, discouraging nursing - even if subtly, etc.) can have a really big impact, and something that looks like self-weaning can follow, but it's really a result of whatever was done earlier.
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#27 of 51 Old 04-16-2009, 01:05 PM
 
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#28 of 51 Old 04-16-2009, 01:06 PM
 
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not in my experience... i thought for sure she'd wean with the hormones changin my milk (preg.) and she didn't. then my milk ran out; nope, she didn't wean then, either. now, at 32 weeks pregnant, i'm making colostrum, and thought FOR SURE she'd hate the taste...nope, now nursing even more! she'll be 2 in 8 days. i don't see the end in sight just yet, but it's ok. however, she will have to wait her turn once the baby gets here. we've talked at length about this, and she seems to understand.
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#29 of 51 Old 04-16-2009, 01:20 PM
 
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This is pure speculation but I wonder if one "early" weaning factor is lack of peer models. It seems like many moms with toddlers are not around other nursing couples on a daily or even hourly basis. A busy-busy toddler might "forget" to nurse, even when reminded by mom. But, if s/he sees another LO nursing, s/he might think :smack: That sounds like a GOOD idea!

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#30 of 51 Old 04-16-2009, 01:31 PM
 
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Both my kids self weaned about 20 months. In both cases we had a set of very busy days, they forgot to ask to nurse and I didn't remember to offer. No drama whatsoever. By then, they drank water, other milk and ate well. I have no regrets.

Some MDC moms try to make me feel guilty about this but I don't let them. Most of my friends in Atlanta had weaned their kids off the boob at 6 months. I did much more than that. My kids are very healthy and have that pretty complexion that a lot of us associate with breastfed children.
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