Child Led Weaning VS Natural Weaning? - Mothering Forums

 
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#1 of 14 Old 08-25-2006, 08:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I really want to do CLW but sometimes I think that what I am actually doing is NW, or maybe I'm somewhere in the middle.

I was thinking about the difference between the two, and I think the difference is mostly in awareness of what it means to wean a child.

LLL supports natural weaning, not child led weaning, where weaning comes out of the nursing pair's desire to continue or not, not the child's.

For example, it is natural over the course of time (after a child is 2, 3, or 4 depending on the mom) to do a modified version of "don't offer, don't refuse." This imo is not CLW, it is NW. It doesn't even have to be deliberate on the part of the mom--just a natural progression of the nursing relationship to offer less, or once a day at bedtime, or not at all.

It is natural to say "just a minute, you can nurse when I finish X or after we Y or when we get to Z." We don't do this with newborns--we drop everything right where we are, but it is natural to have some give and take with toddlers. This is a method of weaning, even if we don't mean it to be. Because this is NW, in other words, the natural dance between the nursing pair, I feel like it is not strictly child led--but it feels right to have the space for small negotiations even though I technically want Katie's weaning to be CL.

I think that my view of what the difference was between natural weaning and CLW changed after reading the LLL book "How Weaning Happens," where they talk about all the things that can be used as methods of deliberate weaning. The two methods I described above are included, but also other things like more cuddle/quality time that "naturally" replaces nursing, or exciting activities that (deliberately or not) distract.

So is the difference between NW and CLW at all important? Sometimes I definitely feel like I'm overthinking it, but when I'm in the grocery store and she asks to nurse and I say, wait five minutes until we're through the checkout line, I'm very aware that to ask a child to wait a few minutes is a weaning method. . . . but it seems very reasonable, so I'm not so bothered by it. But when I see moms whose children wean early, it seems to me that in the majority of the cases the mom is unaware of the factors that led to weaning. I don't ever want to be that mom--if I'm pushing down the path towards weaning in some way, I might decide it's okay, but I want to know it.
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#2 of 14 Old 08-25-2006, 08:47 AM
 
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Well, this is a very interesting question that you have raised. I have also read "How Weaning Happens" and although they define "don't offer, don't refuse" as a weaning technique, for us, that never even came close to reducing the number of nursings per day. And I think that this will generally be the case for "super nursers" like my son. Even now, when DS is nearly three and a half and I have NO MILK AT ALL (just lost it due to pregnancy), he still nurses quite a bit for someone his age -- about three times. When he was two and a half, he was still pretty much nursing exclusively despite my BEST efforts and multiple daily offers to get him to eat.

I guess what I am saying is that if a child wants to nurse, *nothing* is going to cause them to wean before their time. Like many moms here, I have felt at one time or another that "I can't do this another minute" but, those feelings pass for most, and if they don't maybe that is a natural time to wean that is not child led.

Children are all so different. I think that CLW means listening to your child -- even if that means delaying in the grocery store or in the car. I mean, you wouldn't delay with a little baby b/c they wouldn't be able to accept that -- they need it NOW! But, if your DD isn't troubled when you delay or offer "X" in these situations, don't worry! She can also say, No, I don't want X, I want to nurse, which my son did all the time! Lot of times, especially in early pregnancy, it hurt me so much, and I would tell DS. He would say, "But I need to real bad!" So, how could I say no?

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#3 of 14 Old 08-25-2006, 10:37 AM
 
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I guess to me natural weaning meshs with CLW. You rush to bf a newborn because they are hungry, lack the ability to communicate... you ask a 3 year old to wait to bf until you finish paying for the groceries, to me that is still CLW. You aren't saying "no you can not nurse", but let me finish on this task so I can concentrate on you. A 3 year old can understand that, a newborn can't. Of course if the 3 year old fell down in the checkout line and needs to nurse right then, that's a different story but if they are just asking and it's not urgent... The same reasoning applies in life, how many of us drop everything every single time when our child asks for something? Sometimes we do if we can, other times we ask then to wait, "I'll make you a snack as soon as I finsh cutting these onions".

"Don't offer, and don't refuse" works as a weaning method for some, but if a child truly still has a need to nurse then it's not going to do anything. DD was still a very avid nurser until after 3, she literally would ask to nurse every hour, and I of course would. I still nurse her anytime her asks, which can vary from a few times a day to not for several days. I see "don't offer and don't refuse" as a step in weaning for some, sometimes families never need to use it, but it can save nursing realtionships as well. I personally didn't use it until I got pg, and there was no way I could nurse dd every hour, she slowly started decreasing her nursings. She still nurses, I never said no, when she truly needs to nurse, she will ask. I still consider us doing CLW because I'm following her cues, isn't that what child led is all about? Good question.

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#4 of 14 Old 08-25-2006, 12:08 PM
 
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My problem with NW is that our culture is so out of tune with natural nursing they don't understand NW. They try to have lots of full meals of solids by 12 mo. They want to have baby sleep through the night because all their friends' babies do. etc.

-Angela
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#5 of 14 Old 08-25-2006, 01:06 PM
 
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How is "don't offer, don't refuse" not following the child's lead?

You don't offer, therefor you are not leading the child To nurse, following the child's need to not nurse at that time.
You don't refuse when asked, thus following the child's need/request to nurse.

Sounds childlead to me.

I agree that there's a natural progression of not responding as quickly to a child's request to nurse as he/she gets older, but we still respond. There is also a natural progression of the child to gradually ask less and less frequently.

I don't see the two: natural weaning and childlead, as being in opposition to each other.

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#6 of 14 Old 08-25-2006, 02:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Meiri
How is "don't offer, don't refuse" not following the child's lead?
It depends. If it's after age 2 it can be following the child's lead. Before that age (in general) babies/toddlers often need to be reminded. Sometimes around 7-10 months babies go on a nursing strike- if you do don't offer don't refuse, you'll end up with a weaned baby who still NEEDS to nurse. That's what I mean about us as a culture being so out of touch.

-Angela
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#7 of 14 Old 08-25-2006, 02:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meiri
I don't see the two: natural weaning and childlead, as being in opposition to each other.
I don't think they are in opposition, but I think they are different.

I don't think it is unreasonable to offer less as a child gets older, or to put off nursing a toddler when it isn't urgent, but these are technically mother initiated weaning methods and imo fall under the category of natural weaning. For the record, I do not think there is a problem with NW.

I think CLW takes more conscious thought and education and effort, particularly in our society.

Sometimes my 18mo really needs a reminder to nurse. She's grumpy, hungry, thirsty, tired, and not thinking about nursing, but she is miserable. If I didn't offer at a time like that, I'm not meeting her halfway, and I'm pushing weaning.

It sounds like some people feel like NW and CLW are the same thing? That's interesting to think about, too.
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#8 of 14 Old 08-25-2006, 11:42 PM
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I have never really thought of it before. I am still nursing my almost 6 y/o DS along with his 2 1/2 y/o brother right now. There are some days when I do not want to nurse my older one but because he shows a strong need to still nurse I do it. IMO even if I do ask him to wait or not right now he is still guiding his need for nursing. Also, when I say wait or not now if he really needs to I nurse him. Usually, he will just say OK. I don't feel like I am weaning him and wondering if he ever will.

Also, another story about my persistant nurser. When I was pregnant with DS #2 I was suppose to wean my DS #1 because of having him prematurely. So, they didn't want me to nurse after 30 weeks. Well, he was 3 at the time and still was nursing all the time even though my milk had gone away he didn't care. I felt torn between him and the new baby plus my midwives telling me to stop. So, I decided to follow my Mama heart and we did a two minute rule he could nurse for two minutes whenever he asked and then that was it. Sometimes I let him do more but sure enough I would start contracting so we mostly stuck to the 2 min thing. I explained to him why and he was OK it was weird. Well, we did that for 7 weeks until I was 37 weeks along. Then we went back to however long he wanted but I was still listening to my body. After, my DS #2 was born he went right back to nursing away like nothing ever happened. So, I guess the moral of my story is if they want to nurse they will unless you just absolutely don't let them.

I think it depends on the child though too. I have never really met a person IRL that never said "in a minute or can you wait" I mean especially after 3 or 4 do you know anyone that has never said hold on for a minute?? Do you know anyone that totally CLW? I mean are you saying if you say just a minute you aren't letting the child decide when they wean?? I think I am deciding for that moment but my DS is deciding when to wean. (Of course I don't really know about weaning completely since I am still nursing both of my boys) I do know a Mama that allowed her DD to nurse until 9 and I know someone nursing their 7 y/o so I think that would still count as CLW.

Anyway, very good topic to ponder.
Thanks,
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#9 of 14 Old 08-26-2006, 08:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by hby
I think it depends on the child though too. I have never really met a person IRL that never said "in a minute or can you wait" I mean especially after 3 or 4 do you know anyone that has never said hold on for a minute?? Do you know anyone that totally CLW? I mean are you saying if you say just a minute you aren't letting the child decide when they wean?? I think I am deciding for that moment but my DS is deciding when to wean. (Of course I don't really know about weaning completely since I am still nursing both of my boys) I do know a Mama that allowed her DD to nurse until 9 and I know someone nursing their 7 y/o so I think that would still count as CLW.
I definitely agree with you. I think it would be completely insane if there were no give and take in the nursing relationship. I don't think the boundary between child-led weaning and natural weaning is a sharp one--it is more a continuum. It is also extremely age based. It is necessary to jump and nurse instantly for the newborn, the 12 month old might be asked to wait for a minute or five, and the older toddler might have to compromise more and plan nursings through the day. IMO this is very reasonable, in fact, I see it as detrimental to the child to jump instantly to comply every single time they ask to nurse. (Before anyone *jumps* all over that, I'm not saying it is ever necessary to refuse nursing without a reason.)

The more I think about it, the more I stand on the side of natural weaning as a better ideal for my daughter, and for me, than child led.

I also think it is very useful to know that putting off nursings, when used consistently, is a method of weaning. If a mom didn't want to wean, and didn't know that, and did it all the time (said wait a minute, after X, when we get to Y) and eventually the child stopped asking, the mom would think it was CLW when in reality the mom's actions were actively encouraging weaning. So in that case, is it still child led? I think if we are going to differentiate between CLW and NW then it would have to fall under the NW category.

But maybe after a certain age it is indeed natural to encourage weaning, gradually more and more as a child gets older. You run the continuum from nursing the newborn on the demand to limiting the five year old to once a day before bed.

The reason why this occurred to me in the first place is I was talking about the book How Weaning Happens with a LLL leader and I referred to it as CLW. She responded that LLL supports natural weaning, not CLW, though she knew what I meant. At that point I started to think about the differences between the two.

The responses here mostly are arguing that natural weaning is child lead weaning. People have said, well, asking a child to wait is still child led. Limiting nursings is still child led. "Don't offer, don't refuse" is still child led.
If all of this is true, then what is natural weaning and how is it different from child led?
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#10 of 14 Old 08-26-2006, 09:53 AM
 
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This is such an interesting topic to me. Dd is now 2y4m and I have been wondering about "don't offer don't refuse" vs. CLW. I had actually never heard of NW, but it makes sense to me and I do think it meshes with CLW at this age. Before 2y, I definately offered especially if I saw dd having a difficult time, or being distracted when she usually would nurse.

In the last few months, I don't offer nearly as much. However, she asks more than enough . At times, I do ask her to wait. For example, if we have just sat down to dinner and she wants to nurse. I tell her she can sit on my lap but that she needs to wait until I finish half my plate. She gets this, she feeds me and claps when I'm done. Then we nurse. I used to nurse her at the table from the get-go, but recently, I feel like I just need a minute to eat without a 32 pound toddler attached to me.

She is very good at bargining. For example, when I pick her up from daycare she used to ask to go home and nurse on the couch. A month ago we were going on a longer trip so I offered to nurse her in the car at daycare. She LOVED this! And ever since, she really wants to do it. Most days it's fine with me. Some days she doesn't want to. We work it out.

I also use the count to ten method, usually if she asks to nurse right as we are walking out the door and I really sense she needs to. I tell her she can have a "little sip" and she replies "me-me ten, then side ten, K!?" (meaning, nurse to ten, then have the other side until ten). She grins and then enjoys every sip. At other times, she gets mad and covers my mouth so I can't count. I just use my judgement here. Really, there are times she needs me more than I need to do whatever else I am doing.

She knows how to communicate her needs, and there are times when I offer and she does refuse. I think this is part of the natural progression of our nursing relationship.

Happy Mommy to one amazing girl (11y) and one sweet boy (7y), and wife to DH since 7/03 : :
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#11 of 14 Old 08-26-2006, 02:26 PM
 
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Originally Posted by hby
I have never really thought of it before. I am still nursing my almost 6 y/o DS along with his 2 1/2 y/o brother right now. There are some days when I do not want to nurse my older one but because he shows a strong need to still nurse I do it. IMO even if I do ask him to wait or not right now he is still guiding his need for nursing. Also, when I say wait or not now if he really needs to I nurse him. Usually, he will just say OK. I don't feel like I am weaning him and wondering if he ever will.

Also, another story about my persistant nurser. When I was pregnant with DS #2 I was suppose to wean my DS #1 because of having him prematurely. So, they didn't want me to nurse after 30 weeks. Well, he was 3 at the time and still was nursing all the time even though my milk had gone away he didn't care. I felt torn between him and the new baby plus my midwives telling me to stop. So, I decided to follow my Mama heart and we did a two minute rule he could nurse for two minutes whenever he asked and then that was it. Sometimes I let him do more but sure enough I would start contracting so we mostly stuck to the 2 min thing. I explained to him why and he was OK it was weird. Well, we did that for 7 weeks until I was 37 weeks along. Then we went back to however long he wanted but I was still listening to my body. After, my DS #2 was born he went right back to nursing away like nothing ever happened. So, I guess the moral of my story is if they want to nurse they will unless you just absolutely don't let them.

I think it depends on the child though too. I have never really met a person IRL that never said "in a minute or can you wait" I mean especially after 3 or 4 do you know anyone that has never said hold on for a minute?? Do you know anyone that totally CLW? I mean are you saying if you say just a minute you aren't letting the child decide when they wean?? I think I am deciding for that moment but my DS is deciding when to wean. (Of course I don't really know about weaning completely since I am still nursing both of my boys) I do know a Mama that allowed her DD to nurse until 9 and I know someone nursing their 7 y/o so I think that would still count as CLW.

Anyway, very good topic to ponder.
Thanks,
Hattie
Hello Hattie, My name is Steve McPhail and I just wanted you to know that I proudly applaud you for allowing your 6 year old son to continue breastfeeding ( Yes, I'm a strong supporter of extended breastfeeding!) I don't know as to whether or not if you've had onlookers giving you rude stares or saying rude comments while you were breastfeeding your 6 year old son; but please allow me to say this... As a very strong supporter of extended breastfeeding I strongly feel like your 6 year old son has every right to continue his breastfeeding for as long as feels the need to do so. The same applies to your almost 3 year old son. The way I look at it is this... THERE IS NOTHING ABSOLUTELY WRONG WITH OLDER CHILDREN CONTINUING TO BREASTFEED!!. I'm sure that your 6 year old son will let you know as to when he's ready to be weaned. Until then, I wish for you and your 2 sons many happy years of breastfeeding!! You have my 100% Support!!.:
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#12 of 14 Old 08-26-2006, 09:42 PM
 
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I thought the way LLL defined the weaning process was when something other than (mother's) milk is introduced?

that's how I see it...

frankly, I dislike the term "weaning" anyway because to ME it implies helping/making the child cut back on nursing. I know that's not the meaning, but it is for me.

I have no problem considering "don't offer don't refuse" being totally child-led. I rarely offer, though I'm asked about a gadgillion times a day. (My daughter is 3.)

I'll admit I started skimming responses and I'll go back and read them more thoroughly, so maybe this has been said (and I'll be agreeing with someone) but nothing I've read about the phrase "natural weaning" sounds in conflict with child-led weaning to me...

that said, I struggle a LOT with the "how do I get to stop nursing" theme so many LLL meetings take, oh, golly, that's a whole 'nother thread/rant. so, if helping mother's cut back on nursing is what natural nursing means, then I guess I do see a difference.

--Heather

PS read the posts thoroughly now and wanted to add that I think the fine line comes with the "wait a minute, hunny," or, "when I finish paying the cashier, hunny" and when that turns into, "let me make this lasagna and do the dishes first, hunny..." hard to say there where it's really child led. I do think one of the pp's was right that it'd be really nutty to never postpone nursing. For example, I rarely stop the car to nurse anymore and ask Maya to wait until we get where we are going. But, she's been going through a lot of growth lately and has REALLY needed to nurse and there have been times when I've pulled off the road, even taken an exit off the highway, to nurse because it's obviously she really needed it NOW. So, that's why I still think I'm following HER even though I may ask her to wait a full 30 minutes or so before we nurse (and, yes, frequently, after asking her to wait we may forget). There's the KNOWING that she really needs it NOW (she TELLS me) that I follow these days. (Did I mention she turned 3 in July?)
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#13 of 14 Old 08-26-2006, 09:45 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katies_mama
it is natural over the course of time (after a child is 2, 3, or 4 depending on the mom) to do a modified version of "don't offer, don't refuse." This imo is not CLW, it is NW. It doesn't even have to be deliberate on the part of the mom--just a natural progression of the nursing relationship to offer less, or once a day at bedtime, or not at all.
just wanted to add that I still think that this "don't offer don't refuse" is EXACTLY child led when you're talking about a toddler. I've been reflecting and don't think I EVER offer, hardly, at all, anymore. Maya assumes we'll nurse at the regular times (before sleep, throughout the night, anytime she wants to that I'm willing to put down whatever I'm doing)...

I guess I just don't get what "natural weaning's" definition is.

--Heather
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#14 of 14 Old 08-27-2006, 06:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by SereneBabe
just wanted to add that I still think that this "don't offer don't refuse" is EXACTLY child led when you're talking about a toddler. I've been reflecting and don't think I EVER offer, hardly, at all, anymore. Maya assumes we'll nurse at the regular times (before sleep, throughout the night, anytime she wants to that I'm willing to put down whatever I'm doing)...

I guess I just don't get what "natural weaning's" definition is.

--Heather
La Leche League defines natural weaning: "Natural weaning incorporates the natural limit-setting that babies need as they grow into toddlers. A mother who is practicing natural weaning views weaning as a developmental skill and lovingly guides her child as he learns the skills that replace nursing. This guidance may involve asking the child to wait to nurse or providing food or stimulating activity in place of nursing. It involves respecting the mother's feelings and preferences about breastfeeding while also taking into account the needs of the child."

I do still think natural weaning is different from strictly child led, though it may only make a difference to someone who gets caught up in semantics (like me ). I may be wrong, since I don't have a definition to compare it to, but it seems like child led weaning technically does not take into account the needs of the mother the way natural weaning does, or the interaction between mother and child as a deliberate guidance or process towards weaning. If it does, then there really is no difference between NW and CLW. I also think that the weaning that most people on this board (including me) do is natural weaning, yet they call it child led.

I am feeling like such a geek for even pointing out the difference. . . but then again, we use these terms all the time, so why not clearly define them?

I think doing natural weaning is only problematic if the mother does not respect the needs and wants of the child.
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