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D. When did you stop, and why? Was it your initiative, or the child's? If the child inititiated cutting back, how did this happen? If you initiated weaning, how did you satisfy the child's emotional needs?


This article is from the Breastfeeding Past the First Year FAQ, by Kim Smith with numerous contributions by others.

D. When did you stop, and why? Was it your initiative, or the child's? If the child inititiated cutting back, how did this happen? If you initiated weaning, how did you satisfy the child's emotional needs?

1. Well, The first two children weaned themselves at about 1 year...it was
easy...I probably wasn't feeding them as often as my last 2 girls. Sarah
(no 3) weaned, with encouragement when I was 4 months pregnant with Clare.
She didn't like the taste, and she was discouraged...she wanted the comfort,
but I found it very uncomfortable....so we solved it with Dad. He used to
take her to bed, and cuddle her/...if she was with me she wanted to nurse,
and I found it difficult in the evening, as it used to go on a long time. In
the daytime, I used to nurse, or distract her...the feeds were very short, so
that wasn't too bad. Clare weaned around 2.75....she just didn't seem to feel
the effort was worth it...preferred to go to bed with Dad than nurse..I was a
bit sad, but also ready for a change. They were both enjoyable years of
feeding.:-) We met emotional needs with cuddling and closeness...it
certainly wasn't a traumatic experience...they both seemd ready at the time.

2. I weaned Morganne because I was pregnant with Matisse and threatening
miscarriage. Morganne was down to the bedtime and early morning nursings.
I told her why I had chosen to wean her and gave her lots of cuddles. Dad
took on the morning routine. Morganne asked to nurse every night for ten
days. I cheerfully changed the subject when she asked and told her lots of
stories about my childhood and asked her questions about her day.

"Mama, I want to nuggle."
"We're not nuggling anymore, honey. What do you want to do at the
park tomorrow?"

3. Dylan weaned himself, during a bout with chicken pox :-(. The pox were in
his mouth, and so made suckling painful. Since he was down to just
once-a-day nursing at that point, it wasn't a big deal for either of us. As
for weaning, he initiated each dropped nursing. I was most surprised when he
dropped his before-bedtime nursing, since everyone I knew cautioned me that
that would be the very *last* nursing he would drop voluntarily. In fact, he
gave it up in order to get on with reading more stories. Our routine was
always bath, nurse, read stories, and tuck in for the night. At about 14
months, he would suckle for a second or two and then point wildly for his
books. After a few nights, I just stopped offering him my breast, and he
never missed it. He did, however, continue with the morning nursing until
his bout with chicken pox.

4. Child # 1 - I weaned him, because I was 8 months pregnant, very tired, and
nursing was - not exactly painful, but irritating. This child did not suck
thumb, bottle, had no habits to satisfy him emotionally besides nursing, so I
guess he just had to get self-sufficient pretty fast. Child # 2 - was not a
good nurser, partly due the to fact that she was born sucking her thumb, and
partly due to the fact that I didn't pay enough attention to her and/or was
unable to get enough calm alone time with her. She did eat very well, and was
satisfied with her thumb. She weaned herself. Child # 3 - gosh, I can't
remember - I'm pretty sure he weaned himself - he was really anxious to be
one of the big kids. He gets a lot of attention from the other two.
In order to wean my first, (the only one that was any trouble about it)
I did two things - whenever he wanted to nurse, I offered him some water or
juice, and I tried not to sit down. This meant strolling through the mall in
the middle of the winter while massively pregnant, but it did work.

6. We didn't stop, so I can't really answer this one. But I did kind of
'partial weaning' when I wanted to become pregnant again. Cees was about 10mo
at that time. I tried to stretch the time between nursings during the day by
offering him solids. This worked rather well, but then I didn't try to cut
back on the night time nursings. And when I was about 10 weeks pregnant,
nursing became rather painful and I again cut back on the number of nursings
during the day. When he wanted to nurse, I tried to distract him with
other food, or with some favorite game.

7. Haven't stopped yet, but I always offer reading, hugs, juice, whatever.
Often it is accepted.

9. Will clearly 'needs' nursing less as time goes on. A feeding gets annoying
for me because he is less committed to it and plays around a bit, is more
inclined to bite, and just generally doesn't do it 'right', in that
satisfying way that makes the milk flow fast. It's kind of convenient, in
that I am not unilaterally cutting him off, but actually responding to his
actions with my annoyance, when I delete a regular feeding time. We stopped
the lunchtime nursing (at my office) after his first birthday, and he never
seemed to miss it (but I missed him!) We stopped the bedtime nursing more
gradually, as I moved it a little bit earlier in the bedtime ritual at a
time, so that he gradually disassociated it from falling asleep. First I
added a sip of water after the last nursing of the day, then a toothbrushing
and a sip of water, then a drink of milk with sugar added (1/2 teaspoon/4
ounces, to make it more like breastmilk in taste) consumed through a straw,
followed by the above. It was quite painless. The morning nursing is more
important to him, like coffee, but this morning it seemed he had less need of
it, so I suspect it may be next.

12. I think that it will be Elizabeth's initiative. When our lives are
stable she is really only interested in the before bed and early morning
feedings. When I come home for lunch she wants to play and show me what
she's been doing that day. As she gets more verbal, she's more interested
in cuddling and "talking".
When Elizabeth was approaching 1 y.o. I started thinking about weaning
her, mainly because of pressure from our pediatrician (who, while good in
other respects thinks that LLL is a 'bunch of sick feminists', we should
probably switch peds, but he has redeeming qualities and this *is* Texas,
I've learned to ignore his advice on this matter) and my parents and
aquaintances. Elizabeth had started wanting to play rather than nurse at
lunch and I thought I could manage things so that we proceeded as she was
ready. Then Elizabeth got an ear infection that lasted 5 weeks through 4
different kinds of antibiotics. She had diarrhea from the antibiotics (can
you say 17 poops in one day, and 15 the next) she was vomitting everything,
including tylenol including pedialyte, except breastmilk. She lost 3/4lb.
I firmly believe that if I had not been nursing her she would have gotten
severely dehydrated and ended up in the hospital. As it was she was pretty
sick, but always managed to pee frequently enough to calm our fears,
Well, by the time E. was really healthy again we were back to square one
and she was 14 months old and could say "boob". Then our live-in nanny
quit. Then we hired the nanny from hell. Then we fired the nanny from
hell. Then we hired a really good nanny. Then the really good nanny had
personal problems. Then the really good nanny came back. Then my husband
left for Alaska. Then my husband came back. Then my husband left for
Alaska again... At some point during this period I realized that there was
no way I was going to try wean Elizabeth with all of this other stuff going
on. I just think it would be too stressful and unfair for her. When my
husband gets back and our lives are stable I think she'll wean without
trauma. But my Dad and my ped were still giving me a guilt complex so I
talked to a friend who nursed all three of her children (her youngest
nursed until he was four)... She said,"Does Elizabeth still enjoy nursing?",
(Yes), "Do you still enjoy nursing?" (Yes) "Is Elizabeth eating a well
balanced diet and enough food otherwise?" (Yes) "So then what's the problem?"

13. I'm not sure, but I think that all the (recent) cutdowns in feedings
were initiated by me. I wouldn't mind him weaning (at least, I can say
that, now!), so I've been "encouraging" him to miss his feedings. I think
that the post-daycare feeding was eliminated (at least when I go to pick
him up) by a combination of distraction and postponement. I started
telling him, "wait till we get home". By the time we got home (or went
somewhere else on the way home), he would forget about it, since we were
doing other things.

15. With Tim, he was down to nursing twice a day. I had to cut out the
morning feed because I was pregnant with Anna and got morning sickness, and
had a hard time with him lying across my stomach. It also got a bit
draining. We initiated the weaning, but it was a fairly gentle process --
no real conflicts or upset. Anna weaned herself. Anna just stopped
climbing up and asking for milk at the times she normally would nurse.
There weren't really a lot of emotional needs. What we did with Tim
was to tell him that moms make a certain amount of milk for each baby, and
that mom would not have milk for Tim for much longer. We gave him a time
frame (1 week). He really enjoyed his last nursings, but didn't seem to be
disturbed when things were no longer available (we have a very cuddlesome
family anyway, so it wasn't like he was cuddle deprived). He had a few
tastes after Anna was born, but no real interest beyond that.

16. I have been following his lead, except that I haven't nursed him in
public for over a year now (when he asks, I just tell him to wait). I hug and
kiss him a lot if he is hurt; also, we have a family bed, so we have a lot of
snuggling time.

17. With both kids, they initiated cutting back by turning their heads away
from the breast and sometimes pushing it away.

18. We haven't stopped, but we have done lots of weaning. All of our
weanings have been partly her interest, partly my interest, partly practical.

The earliest weanings were due to my being at work and not wanting to pump.
We've dropped a late afternoon nursing since then because she wasn't showing
much interest, it was hard to squeeze in with the daycare pick-up, and I
wanted the freedom to leave work a little later sometimes. In the last month
or two, we've dropped the bedtime nursing because she bit me a couple of
times in a row and I saw that as a sign that she was no longer interested!
She asked to nurse at that time once or twice more in the next week or so,
but accepted my answer that "We're not going to nurse at bedtime anymore"
with barely a nod and hasn't asked again.
As for emotional needs, I've tried to always remember the rationale for
toddler nursing - they may look and say they're "big kids," but they still
often feel quite little and need lots of special nurturance. So I've tried
to be willing to provide the nurturing people often associate with babies,
like cuddling, snuggling on a rocking chair, singing lullabies, carrying her
in a sling while I do housework. Most of the time she does act like a "big
kid" and *lots* of people comment on how independent she is (trained herself
to put on her jacket at about 18 months, toilet-trained herself before 2,
insists on dressing and washing herself, gets food out of the refrigerator
herself, sets the table, puts on her seatbelt, etc. etc.) But when she asks
to be picked up, I've tried to say "okay" (and not groan :-)) and not "You're
a big kid, you don't need to be picked up now."

19. Kenneth has been initiating cutting back. First he will not nurse as
long or as contentedly. He dropped his morning nursing because he wanted to
wiggle and get down. I realized that all I was doing was fighting him to
get him to nurse. After that, when he stopped nursing, I put it away.

21. I must say that I set the stage, I think, by mentioning from time to time
that when she was bigger she wouldn't nurse any more. (I did this with the
potty, too) But I never pushed it. I also pointed out babies who were
nursing. But the initiative was really Emily's entirely. She very very
gradually cut down on her remaining 2 nursings over the course of a couple of
months. She cut down on the length of them, then she began skipping the
morning one (this surprised me, I was sure this one would be the last to go)
and then stopped, except for about once/week, then she cut the evening one
the same way. At the same time, she began drinking more cow's milk (she
pretty much hated it until about 20 mo), and started new bedtime practices on
her own, such as reading to her animals after we left her in her crib. This
amazed me. I had always worried that I nursed her to sleep, and she would be
too dependent on it. But she found other means herself.
Emily so avidly loved nursing (She literally would say "I can't wait!"
with a big smile while I was lifting my blouse), that I really wondered if
she ever would wean! The last couple of times she nursed about 1 second/side
(no lie) -- I think she was just testing to make sure she could. After we
had gone on vacation, she asked again after a month. I told her I didn't
think I had any more milk, and would she like some milk in a cup. She
considered, then asked "could we take it from the cup and put it in your
breasts?" She hasn't asked since.

22. I weaned both my children at 25 months. In both cases it was my
initiative: I wanted my body back. My daughter was a thumb-sucker and
hair-feeler, so she was able to satisfy her own emotional needs. She was
fine about weaning -- never complained or asked for 'Mama' (our nursing
word). My son had a harder time of it because he didn't have any comfort
habits. I tried to give him a lot of cuddles, and let him nurse (though I
was dry) when he was sick or very upset about something. I still let him
feel my breast through my shirt (he was an other-nipple-feeler as a nursing
baby) if I think he needs it. At age 3 1/2 he is still interested in
touching my breasts, and sometime I wonder if I made a mistake weaning him as
early as I did my daughter.

23. My daughter rolled away from my one morning and climbed off the
bed to go follow her dad around and then she never showed any further interest
in the breast. But Trevor is still firmly (literally) attached to his "Mommy
milt," as he calls it.

25. James stopped at 11 months. He was drinking whole milk, and stopped asking
to nurse. Kim stopped at 20 months with encouragement from me. I offered
food or drink before I thought she may want to nurse. I also asked her if
she wanted juice instead when she asked to nurse. I would hold her ask she
drank from her cup.

26. We're still nursing.


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previous page: C. After the first year, did you nurse on demand, whenever the child requested, or only when you wanted to?
page up: Breastfeeding Past the First Year FAQ
next page: E. About breastfeeding moms: When did your period return? How long were you able to go without feeding (eg on a trip away from the baby) without problems?