Saturday, October 9, 2010

Weaning Gradually and With Love

I've been meaning to write on this topic for a while. Periodically it comes up that Joseph is still nursing. We are certainly in the "weaning" phase now, but I hate to describe it that way lest it comes off as me forcing it.

The term "child led weaning" actually relates to the idea that you let kids start eating solid foods at their own rate, using large pieces of food rather than purees. I never really got the reason that they called it "weaning" but it's become clear to me over the last couple of months that with the first bite of solid food a child has, the weaning process begins.

Weaning is not a linear thing. Sickness, teething, emotional and physical changes - they all contribute to the amount of nursing that you will do if you nurse "on demand" like we do. La Leche League advocates "weaning gradually and with love", and I think that's a great way to do it. We went through a period when Joseph was about 14 months old where I lost 5 pounds because he'd picked up so much. Oh, the good old days. Ha!

But in the last month or two, we've really been cutting back. First we dropped the morning and afternoon sessions that didn't coincide with naps and bedtimes. Then I tried skipping the bedtime session and he didn't miss it. Next was the naptime session. Right now, we're down to nursing in the morning when he wakes up (it buys me an entire hour at 5am) and periodically in the morning or afternoon if he's feeling a little anxious (usually during play group).

I have mixed feelings about it, but mostly I'm ready to be done. I didn't really have an end goal in mind at first, but then as we hit a year I figured it'd make sense to nurse to 2 years so that he could get the immune system benefits through the winter. I don't think we're going to do that at this point, though. I have no plan to force him to stop nursing, but I have a feeling that if I just woke up with him and gave him a cup of milk he'd drop the morning session without issue as well.

We have started to enjoy other means of being close - lots of book reading, cuddles, and kisses. I'm not worried about being able to connect with him. In fact, it'll be neat to be able to connect in ways he never let me before, as he preferred nursing to those other activities with me!

The point of this post is that there is no "right" time to wean. Following the cue of your child, and (also important) your own wishes, you'll find the time that's right for you and your child.


Ibis October 9, 2010 at 3:07 PM  

I believe that the reason behind the term "child led weaning" is that it originated in the UK where weaning has a slightly different meaning than the American usage.

My friend was telling me about weaning her 2 yo (now 3). She explained to him that since he was getting bigger he didn't need num-nums anymore like the new baby did. When he was feeling that need for closeness w/ her he would say, "I'm getting smaller mommy!" So cute.

Good luck!

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