|But on the other hand, if he's still asking to nurse is it detrimental to him that I'm not nursing him?
That is a really hard one for me to come to terms with.
I will share DD's story of her weaning again.
March 2003 when DD was 50 months she suddenly "couldn't get any." She had slowly tapered off her weaning, once going like a week, generally a couple days but often still nursing nightly. It was very frustrating for her and she just didn't want to nurse. (BTW, I knew there was plenty of milk because DS was only 18 months at the time and I had *ample* in fact I would get slightly engorged when she would miss her nightly nursing). Anyway, I suggested that maybe her body was telling her it was ready to not nurse anymore. Reassured her that I loved her, that she *could* nurse when she wanted to, but to think about what she really wanted. She decided she was done nursing.
I said we should celebrate and she decided just her & I would go to Build-A-Bear (something she had wanted to do for a while) and get matching animals
We did, had a great time. I consider her to have weaned that day.
There *was* some anger and frustration on her part though. She wanted to nurse, but she didn't want to. She wanted to nurse, but it didn't bring her the satisfaction she was craving. I think she ended up actually asking like 2 days after she had weaned--- she went to try and then laughed. Until this summer (2004, so 15-18 months later) she would try on occasion. Sometimes a couple minutes, more often less than 15 seconds. It was generally a sad reminder of a loss for her. I continued letting her try on occasion, but in reality, I think she was just having a hard time letting go of something she had outgrown. In some ways I probably should have just said, "You're done nursing" and let that be that (since she did get upset when she re-realized she "couldn't" nurse).
Basically, IME, a child no longer being "able to" nurse can be a real sign that they are in some ways ready to wean, in some ways still desperately clinging to the comfort they have always enjoyed. I have regrets over some actions I took during her long weaning (if I hadn't night weaned, would she have nursed longer?; if I had let her increase her nursing after DS's birth, would she have nursed longer?). Well, I guess my real issue is not if she would have nursed longer, but rather--- if she had nursed longer would her weaning have been fully joyous instead of joy mixed with confusion?
I don't know.
I am uncomfortable telling my children they are too "big" to nurse for so many reasons--- I don't consider size to have anything to do with the need to nurse, or age, but individual tempermant and I want them to learn that (if I said "too big" would they look at their friend who nursed til five, or their currently nursing 4.5 year old friend, or their 2.5 year old friend who is 55 lbs and much larger than my six year old differently? would they pass that "too big" on to their friends and ultimately their own children?). I didn't ever tell DD she was "too big" because she wasn't. But I did tell her I thought that *maybe* her body was telling her it was done with nursing. That it loved it, but didn't need it anymore. To me, it was an important difference, semantical or no.
In summary, I guess I don't have a lot of advice. I did put limits on my DD. I knew for myself, I could *not* go back to her nursing 10-14 times daily after DS was born so I took specific steps to not allow that (thougth she did increase length of nursing, of course--- suddenly overflowing breasts do encourage that). In retrospect (and even at the time) I was aware I could *probably* teach her to nurse better. I could have probably taken a week of baths and calm times with her. Asked DS to show her his latch. Struggled and worked at it. And I do not believe that if nursing is not easy it is not "worth" it. I just really contemplated DDs development, her temperment and I decided that not only was that not worth it, it wasn't necessarily "better" for her. She often holds onto things (experiences, habits, etc...) after she has outgrown them for comfort, but as soon as that is pointed out will often move on (she was very attached to her pacifier as a baby, later she got "addicted" to holding it as she fell asleep--- not even sucking. I put it away one day, she asked for it, I said something like I wasn't sure where it was, she went to sleep without it and didn't ask again. She didn't need it, but she didn't *know* she didn't need it until she proved to herself).
Sorry for the novel. You can never *know* what your children need, but you can do your best at guessing. And honestly, if you are well attached, your guess will probably be about as good as your childs IMO. You just do the best you can and there you are.