What do you define as CLW? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 04-14-2010, 05:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am curious about CLW and the various forms I have seen it in.
I have heard that a form of weaning is "don't offer, don't refuse" but honestly, I have been doing that with my kids for ages simply because i don't think to offer it to them until they request it. I do actually refuse sometimes, or at least ask them to wait. I set limits.
I have often wondered where the line is drawn as to what CLW is. to me, it is just what it says child LED weaning. It doesn't have to be just the child that determines it, as long as the mother is following the child's signals, and is only weaning when the child is ready.
Here is my very recent story, I think that my daughter is done.
(I have HUGE mixed emotions)

I have been having a hard time nursing both kids for a few months now, so I have had conversations with my daughter about when she would stop having mommy milk. I never asked her to stop, just brought it up, and let her know that sometime in the future she would have to stop, just to get her thinking about it. She always said that she was a little girl still, so she needed mommy milk. I told her to let me know when she was done, and she said she would. (I was hoping to put the idea in her head so if she was ready, she would stop)
Last week she was determined to have a grown up fork, not a kids fork. She said that she was a big girl, and needed a big fork. I said that if she was a big girl did that mean that she didn't need mommy milk anymore? she said she wanted a kid's fork, because she was still little and had to have mommy milk, and the matter dropped. Yesterday she went to the silverware drawer and got a big fork and said "I want a grown-up fork, I am not going to have mommy milk anymore" I asked her if she was sure, and she said she was.
Last night she was tired and asked for mommy milk. I said "I thought you weren't going to have it anymore" she said "oh, yeah, I forgot" and asked for snuggles instead. The same thing happened this morning. Then just now she announced that Mommy milk was "just for Isaac, I'm a big girl and i don't have mommy milk, not forever, just lots of snuggles"
I think this is it. (I want to dance with joy and burst into tears at the same time)
If she wasn't okay with stopping, I would not have forced it upon her, but at the same time, I didn't want to draw it out if she was ready, it was getting difficult on my body (I have some nutrition-related health issues they may have been exacerbated by tandem nursing)

So I have always wondered what the definition is, and now I wonder if this is what we did. I don't mind either way, because I know it was the right choice for us, and our nursing relationship.
What is your definition of CLW? Is it only the child that determines, (as in nursing until the child stops with no prompting or asking on the mother's part) or can it include the gentle nudging like I did with my daughter, or even maybe the mother saying it's time, and only following through if the child is okay with it, and is not upset by the idea. I just always wondered where the line fell, at what point is it no longer CLW? What do you think?
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#2 of 21 Old 04-14-2010, 09:49 PM
 
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I think this is a good question. I will be interested to read people's answers.

I think that what I did probably does not count as "child-led" weaning in a strict sense, because really I did lead the process. I left it up to the child to follow my lead, and I only made changes as they could keep up with them without it being traumatic. I also considered their own readiness for each change; but I didn't wait for them to initiate each change themselves. I did leave the final decision of when to quit for good up to them. I am not sure to what degree my watching them for signs of readiness for another step toward weaning, and then me initiating that step myself, could be considered "child-led". I think of what we did as "cooperative weaning" because each step along the way was a cooperative change that we both, mother and child, took part in. I also considered both their needs and my own. It was not all up to me or all about me. But I do feel that I was probably "leading".

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#3 of 21 Old 04-14-2010, 10:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think this is a good question. I will be interested to read people's answers.

I think that what I did probably does not count as "child-led" weaning in a strict sense, because really I did lead the process. I left it up to the child to follow my lead, and I only made changes as they could keep up with them without it being traumatic. I also considered their own readiness for each change; but I didn't wait for them to initiate each change themselves. I did leave the final decision of when to quit for good up to them. I am not sure to what degree my watching them for signs of readiness for another step toward weaning, and then me initiating that step myself, could be considered "child-led". I think of what we did as "cooperative weaning" because each step along the way was a cooperative change that we both, mother and child, took part in. I also considered both their needs and my own. It was not all up to me or all about me. But I do feel that I was probably "leading".
I like that definition, "Cooperative Weaning"
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#4 of 21 Old 04-15-2010, 09:30 PM
 
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"just for Isaac, I'm a big girl and i don't have mommy milk, not forever, just lots of snuggles"
I think this is it. (I want to dance with joy and burst into tears at the same time)

I actually did burst into tears!
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#5 of 21 Old 04-16-2010, 03:29 PM
 
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#6 of 21 Old 04-20-2010, 12:26 AM
 
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My daughter is only two so I have no idea what CLW is really, never having weaned (came to this thread hoping to learn), but I just have to say that is the sweetest story ever. My daughter lately has been telling me frequently that she's a "little tiny baby", and ten minutes later she's a "big toddler", so I really relate to the "big girl fork--no--wait--kid fork and mommy milk" part of your story.

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#7 of 21 Old 04-26-2010, 03:37 AM
 
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My understanding of the ideal behind CLW is that the child is trusted to guide her own nourishment. In a way it is too huge a responsibility for such a helpless creature, yet nature steps in and takes care of everything... she roots around for the breast and learns how to extract its milk. As an infant, she never asks for anything she doesn't need. Approaching toddlerhood, she starts making it obvious that she's interested in food, with some combination of her eyes, voice, and gestures.
My theory completely fails to address the greedy toddler nursling I still haven't reconciled this. In the ideal picture of CLW, you would never deny the child. We are far from that, but I still consider us "going strong" at almost 21 months. She still gulps down a good amount, multiple times a day. But there are a lot of times I have to stop a nursing session or it would be endless!!! I'm sure somewhere along the way I failed to encourage some other channel for satiety...
In the practical application of the child-led weaning ideal, the mutual desire to continue can not be ignored- it is intrinsically a crucial factor in the relationship. What really distinguishes CLW is the consideration of the child, the impact of any changes in the relationship, etc., above all. Abandoning your own needs never benefits the people close to you. But paying attention to how your child is affected, while gently moving things in the direction you need them to go, definitely falls within the scope of child-led weaning.
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#8 of 21 Old 04-29-2010, 04:38 PM
 
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i think its just following the child's signals. I still offer sometimes (to my 41/2 year old) because i sense he might want it, or because i think it would be good for him (for eg he has a cold at the moment). These days, he refuses when i offer most of the time, not all. When he asks, i either say yes, or if i cant, i promise to later. I never talk him out of it. I trust he needs/wants it, and thats that. I am there for him. I dont talk about weaning. I think that is an abstract term that is not something that he has to understand. He only has to understand that he can nurse if he wants to.

Weaning is not the goal, just the unintended consequence of meeting his needs.

I do not distract, or try to offer alternatives, or talk him out of it, or anything. If i cant, i promise to later, and i always honor a promise, because i want him to do the same.

That is how i define child led weaning.

Maya

ps i did not read the posts yet
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#9 of 21 Old 04-30-2010, 01:17 AM
 
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I like "cooperative weaning", too.

I've been off these forums for some time, but recently more active, and have noticed a huge increase in the # of forms that seem to define child led weaning as completely up to the child. No limits, no refusals, no gentle nudges. Honestly, this is very uncomfortable for me (I don't want to offend anyone, so please don't read this wrong).

One of the huge intangible benefits to long-term nursing, in my opinion at least, is that it teaches children about relationships. I strongly believe that nursing, especially an older child, is a relationship. It involves two people and the needs of both need to be taken into consideration. In any healthy relationship, there is give and take. There is respect for each person's needs, which of course change over time. But there is also compromise and sometimes one person agrees to give up something important to them because it's more important to the other person (we have a 3rd child in our family because DH was able to reach this point ).

So I do think that the OP described child-led weaning. One parenting mantra that seems to be particularly meaningful in my life right now (and fits here, too) is that children are like pears - they're ripe when they yield to gentle pressure. Just because the adult is following the child's lead doesn't mean she can't offer guidance and suggestions.

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#10 of 21 Old 05-12-2010, 02:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Abandoning your own needs never benefits the people close to you. But paying attention to how your child is affected, while gently moving things in the direction you need them to go, definitely falls within the scope of child-led weaning.
I think that is important. "Paying attention to how your child is affected"
It turns out Elaina was far from done with mommy milk. (again mixed feelings) She only went for 3 days, and then said that she was little again, and needed mommy milk. I nudged a little, but could tell that she was distressed by the idea not having mommy milk anymore. We are back to nursing about 3 times a day. I figure there are going to be a few "false stops" before the end (she tends to do things that way), but I know that this is part of the journey. It sure is an interesting trip.
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#11 of 21 Old 05-13-2010, 01:41 PM
 
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For me - I think its down to letting the child decide when they no longer wish to nurse whilst meeting all their other natural needs. I feel the need to throw that in because I have a friend who insists that her DS weaned himself at 9 months. That is just not possible. Chances are, he was having a breastfeeding strike, but as all his other natural needs were not met, he never had the opportunity to break that strike (and of course, resulting his mum drying up)...such as being left to cry, sleeping in a cot in a room down the hall, put on solids at 17 weeks, etc. I don't consider that meeting his other natural needs - which can really help in a breastfeeding strike situation.

If the child is no longer dependent on breastmilk alone, I dont see a problem coming up with consensual situations for all - I think this can work well with CLW. If this means asking your child of 4 years to wait a few minutes until they can have access to nurse - then that could work out just fine for all involved.

I can see the end results looking very different though as every child is very different. I am not sure it is good or healthy to get hung up on a 'label' like 'child-led weaning' (or 'attachment parenting' for example). We all do what we think is best for our children (or at least here on MDC we do! hehe).

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#12 of 21 Old 05-14-2010, 02:18 AM
 
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For me personally, I consider myself doing 'child led weaning' although I AM encouraging my 14 month old to stop. around 12-13 months she was nursing barely 4 times a day and for short periods and I encouraged this behavior by seeing how much she really wanted to do it so few times a day and giving her signs that she could find other ways to get comfort with me (the vast majority of the time she nurses just for comfort, not always, but usually) but then closer to 14 months she suddenly wanted to nurse 9ish times a day... although I love the idea of being done with nursing and I encourage her to stop (without saying so... I just let her not nurse - so, no offering - or see if she'll wait a couple minutes and forget about it if she isn't REALLY wanting to nurse but just kinda going for it) I don't force her.. if she wants to nurse, I let her. I just like to be sure she WANTS to if she seems like she isn't wanting it that badly.

I'm sure plenty of people wouldn't consider this child led as I do give her the signs and tools to stop sooner rather than later... but I consider it child led because if she doesn't want to pay attention to the signs or use the tools then I happily let her carry on. I'm ready to stop but I'm not ready to make her unhappy by stopping.
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#13 of 21 Old 05-14-2010, 04:26 AM
 
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I guess my perspective is that child-led weaning is child-led--but not entirely child-dictated. There were lots of times when I set big or small nursing limits for my girls, but then I watched to see how it was working for them and backed off at times if it was needed.

The crux of CLW to me is that the child continues to nurse until they outgrow the need, because all of the zillion needs of nursing can be met in other ways. And I think sometimes a mom can nudge a child toward a new way of meeting a need as a way of helping the weaning process along, or can capitalize on the fact that a child is feeling more independent.

Personally, I hate the idea of a competition about what is the most pure form of CLW. We all have our own journeys, and they are all different--mine two children were certainly quite different. And in both cases, there were limits I placed that would probably not be considered CLW by some purists. But oh-my-goodness, I nursed them both until they were 5-1/2. And I just don't think you nurse a child to 4 or 5 or older without CLW being central to how you are thinking about nursing and weaning.

Be gentle with yourself. Try not to split hairs over the definition of CLW. You are a mama with young children--who are by their very nature intensely demanding--trying to figure out how to get everyone's needs met, including your own. It sounds like your dd is doing well--a very good sign that she is getting her needs met and transitioning from being a nursling.

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who is no longer a nursing mom, but still often finds a small hand reaching out to make skin contact with my breasts.
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#14 of 21 Old 05-19-2010, 06:39 PM
 
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For me, I just don't think a child should be refused to nurse ever again if he wants to nurse. At a particular time that isn't convenient, certainly, but I don't ever want to make him cry or be sad about whether or not he can nurse. Plus I think it's really good for him, so I don't mind nursing him for as long as he wants. Now I am curious about night weaning whether that is considered part of CLW. Or how night weaning can be handled in a CLW manner.

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#15 of 21 Old 05-20-2010, 07:45 PM
 
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DD and I are doing CLW. I think the definition of CLW is extremely dynamic; CLW at 8mo looks different than CLW at 18 mo which looks different than CLW at 28 mo.

Just because we are doing CLW does not mean I stop everything and nurse her every time she asks. Sometimes she asks to nurse when I am working and need to finish what I'm doing (I'm a wahm). Sometimes she asks to nurse when she isn't getting her way. Sometimes she asks to nurse because she is bored. When she turned two I told her I wanted her to let me sleep at night and that she could cuddle but that she was not to wake me and she respects that most nights. On the nights she can't, I let her nurse.

Nursing is a two way street. Just because I am respectful of her need to continue nursing does not mean I am her whipping boy available at her every whim. Don't get me wrong - I love nursing her and she loves nursing. But my breasts belong to ME and at 28 mo CLW has much different parameters than it did when she was 8 mo or 18 mo. At 8 mo old, I nursed on demand. by 18 mo old, I knew that sometimes asking to nurse sometimes meant a different need was not being met and that it was actually more appropriate to help her with what she actually needed. Now at 28 mo, our nursing relationship has matured to a point where I know that I do not need to nurse every single time she asks in order to meet her emotional and physical nursing needs.

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#16 of 21 Old 05-23-2010, 06:27 PM
 
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#17 of 21 Old 05-24-2010, 12:49 AM
 
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And so I've been thinking about CLW'ing and how it's often defined as "don't offer, don't refuse", and I've DEFINITELY refused. I have to remind myself that nursing 3 at once should allow me to give myself more credit and not feel so guilty.
I'm not sure where you got the idea of "don't offer, don't refuse" being CLW. IMO Don't Offer, Don't Refuse is a weaning technique before a certain age a survival skill at older stages Joking, but not entirely. I think Don't Offer, Don't Refuse is definately a Mother Led Weaning Technique for younger kids (lets say before 2, though there is a range that is different with each diad). You know, there is that really active stage at the end of the 1st year/beginning of the 2nd and some kids would just basically forget to nurse if you didn't remind them? Or some kids get SO upset sometimes they can't think of anything, but if you offer to nurse they are so relieved and happy? If you aren't offering in those situations, IMO you are actively weaning. But Asking a 2, 3, 4 year old to not nurse while you're boiling their pasta---- nope, not going to call that premature weaning in and of itself!

I actually have a VERY strict definition of CLW. But, I also consider CLW an ideal that is probably not going to happen for most people. Weaning can still be child respectful, though, which I really encourage all people to shoot for!

 

 

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#18 of 21 Old 05-24-2010, 12:51 AM
 
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I think that is important. "Paying attention to how your child is affected"
It turns out Elaina was far from done with mommy milk. (again mixed feelings) She only went for 3 days, and then said that she was little again, and needed mommy milk. I nudged a little, but could tell that she was distressed by the idea not having mommy milk anymore. We are back to nursing about 3 times a day. I figure there are going to be a few "false stops" before the end (she tends to do things that way), but I know that this is part of the journey. It sure is an interesting trip.

I was really glad to hear that you were open to restarting when your DD expressed a need I think a lot of kids really "want" to be grown up, and feel a lot of pressure to be too... it's great when you let them take it at their own pace!

 

 

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#19 of 21 Old 05-24-2010, 12:55 AM
 
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For me personally, I consider myself doing 'child led weaning' although I AM encouraging my 14 month old to stop. around 12-13 months she was nursing barely 4 times a day and for short periods and I encouraged this behavior by seeing how much she really wanted to do it so few times a day and giving her signs that she could find other ways to get comfort with me (the vast majority of the time she nurses just for comfort, not always, but usually) but then closer to 14 months she suddenly wanted to nurse 9ish times a day... although I love the idea of being done with nursing and I encourage her to stop (without saying so... I just let her not nurse - so, no offering - or see if she'll wait a couple minutes and forget about it if she isn't REALLY wanting to nurse but just kinda going for it) I don't force her.. if she wants to nurse, I let her. I just like to be sure she WANTS to if she seems like she isn't wanting it that badly.

I'm sure plenty of people wouldn't consider this child led as I do give her the signs and tools to stop sooner rather than later... but I consider it child led because if she doesn't want to pay attention to the signs or use the tools then I happily let her carry on. I'm ready to stop but I'm not ready to make her unhappy by stopping.
See, to me actively weaning that young of a child would not be an option. At this point, I think all the health orginazations are saying *at least* two years of nursing is recommended. Even when DD was born over 11 years ago the WHO was recommending at least two years of nursing. I want to be clear that you should totally feel GREAT about nursing your child past a year and however long you want to beyond that, but actively encouraging and withholding nursing from an infant who is already only nursing 3-4 times daily seems pretty active weaning from my perspective. I guess I come from the place, though, that the only people I know who are encouraging weaning that young are proudly Mother Led Weaning. The CLW folks I know would expect to nurse at least two years.

 

 

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#20 of 21 Old 05-24-2010, 01:25 AM
 
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#21 of 21 Old 05-26-2010, 01:29 AM
 
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Okay, I admit I can't really grasp what you're getting at here. Are you saying I'm actively weaning by having refused my 4 year old at the times when I have to nurse the other two, for example? I only have 2 boobs. I may not be following a strict definition of CLW, but I just don't understand how it's possible to follow true CLW'ing 100% all the time when you have multiple nurslings. I mean, sure, maybe I could have done it if I still just had two nursing, but three+? That's what I'm saying, I don't think it's really "CLW" at this point but more "natural" weaning because once there are more nurslings than boobs, you just have to do your best to go with the flow and I'm not refusing by choice, but out of necessity.
No, I was trying to get across that "Don't Offer, Don't Refuse" is a weaning technique... for YOUNGER nurslings. IMO, as children get older, though, you can put them off more and not offer as much (or ever, depending on their personality) and still be CLW. I think that with multiple nurslings, it is also clear to the kids themselves why they are being denied and, therefore, clear when they can nurse later (if you don't have it spelled out). I know with DD there were times that she would be put off multiple times in one day BUT she always knew there would be time for her to nurse before bed.

I obviously did a POOR job of responding to you before. What I was *trying* to say is that basically everyone, even the most devoted CLWing advocate is going to come to a point with an older nurssling that they at least need to postpone nursing. Just because you have done that (even often) does not, IMO, mean that you are not CLW. You should like you're doing a GREAT job and I didn't want you belitting your effort or your accomplishment in any way.

 

 

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