Image by agastecheg
Welcome to this week’s edition of the Breastfeeding Mini Series. I took last Friday off and decided to post today instead.
I thought it would be appropriate to tie up the series with a final breastfeeding challenge–weaning.
I have to admit, weaning makes me a little weepy.
No, I don’t want my daughters to nurse forever, but just like sleeping through the night, getting their first teeth and learning how to crawl or walk, weaning signifies that our babies really won’t be babies forever!
|My second baby–who will turn 1 in a few weeks!|
As your baby grows, less feedings are needed. Babies quickly learn how to nurse more efficiently. So, 12 feedings per day may turn into 10 feedings per day pretty fast.
Any time a feeding is dropped, weaning has begun.
By the time your baby is 6 months, he or she may only be nursing 4 to 6 times per day, depending on whether or not you’ve introduced solids.
|Can’t believe this little one is already 3!|
By the time your baby is ready to wean (and he or she will usually let you know), nursing may be down to only one time every other day or so–really–at least that’s how it was for me and Baby Girl #1.
Now, some moms just wean their babies cold turkey.
Even though my goal was to breastfeed for a year (then I backed it up to 2 weeks!), as my oldest neared her first birthday, I just couldn’t imagine she (nor I) were ready to stop nursing.
|I think she had latched onto my chin here!|
At that point, she was already pretty verbal and would ask for it.
I know this may sound strange for some. I never, ever imagined I would breastfeed a child who could talk–but I did!
I think our culture has put a stigma on breastfeeding longer than one year. But all over the world, women nurse their babies for much longer, and the health benefits cannot be denied.
I decided that I wouldn’t wean just because my daughter had turned a year old. The only reason to do so at that point would have been cultural pressure.
And I think child-led weaning really made our weaning experience all that much easier.
By a year old, my daughter nursed around 3-4 times per day (usually with breakfast, lunch, dinner and at bedtime).
Over the course of the next 10 months, she gradually dropped feedings herself. Since she could talk, I left it up to her and only nursed her if she asked for it.
By the time she dropped her morning nap (around 18 months), she was only nursing about 3 times per day (breakfast, before nap and at bedtime).
|Image by CathyK|
A couple months later, she dropped her bedtime feeding and only nursed first thing in the morning.
By the time she was 22 months old (and I was 3 months pregnant with Baby Girl #2), she only nursed every other day or so.
I never became engorged or got clogged ducts or anything during the weaning process.
Now emotionally? It was hard. Because it did signify she was growing up.
|Me and my girls–Baby Girl is still nursing!|
But it was mutual. And we still had (and still have!) plenty of cuddle time without nursing.
Now, I believe everyone’s situation is unique. Perhaps you are a working mom who really needs to wean. Everyone has a different experience.
My sister recently weaned her two-year-old cold turkey. She told him a few days before his second birthday: “Two-year-old little boys don’t get nurse-y time anymore.”
He seemed to understand. She nursed him the night before, and she hasn’t nursed him since.
And he’s been fine.
|Little Girl & my nephew on his 2nd birthday. He weaned the day before!|
That may sound cruel to some, but my sister is 7 months pregnant with twins–and she has type 1 diabetes (which makes her high risk).
And, under the guidance of her doctors, I think she made a wise decision.
How about you? If you breastfed, how did you wean your children? At what age did they wean? What do you think about breastfeeding beyond one year?
This officially concludes the breastfeeding series, although, breastfeeding is a subject I am sure I will re-visit again and again!