Welcome to the Carnival of Weaning: Weaning – Your Stories
This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Code Name: Mama and Aha! Parenting. Our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles about the end of the breastfeeding relationship.
Breastfeeding is a special time for both moms and babies. Often when mothers talk about weaning, they compare notes on the crying, the engorgement, the hassle and the confusion that it caused. The good news is that weaning can be a gentle and positive experience full of joy both for mom and child. In deciding when the right time to wean is, I encourage mothers to find the timing that works best for them and their child.
This particular post is intended for moms that are interested, contemplating or committed to gently supporting their child towards self-weaning while keeping attachment practices in mind.
Children that are given the chance to self-wean usually do so sometime well after their first birthday and before their sixth birthday. My two oldest children weaned near to their second birthday’s, my youngest daughter just turned two and is now only nursing three times in any given day.My children’s self-weaning was very sweet and special and a process that unfolded over several months, each when they were ready.
These are three special ways to gently work towards weaning:
Make meals matter
One component of breastfeeding is nutrition. Breast milk is rich in nutrients that are vital to babies development in the first year and continues to have fantastic benefits well beyond the first twelve months. In order to make the transition from breast to solid foods positive, I tried to offered really tasty and fun snacks and meals to my nurslings in between nursing sessions.
Snack and meal times were treated with the same kind of gentle attention that was given to breastfeeding. Paying attention to my children, watching them investigate their food, allowing them to explore the contents of their plate (much like a nursling enjoys patting an arm or back, twirling hair or examining a necklace) allowing my children to fully become acquainted with what they were eating was important for both of us.
Respecting tastes that did not sit well with them and also allowing my children to set the pace and accept when they no longer wanted to eat their food was important too. When breastfeeding, if my child was full they could latch off, they set the pace, so with a plate of food, if they said “all done” and pushed food away or started throwing the food down, I respected that it was the equivalent of a latch off and did not force them to have “just another bite” or to “clean their plate.”
The more enjoyable meal and snack time was the more interesting it became and so just breastfeeding when they could explore rich textures and flavors, the more food became their primary interest and thus primary source of nutrition.
Make time to connect
Another component of breastfeeding is nurturing. Babies naturally calm and love being snuggled and breastfed. For my children, the time spent breastfeeding was mostly also a lot of time spent cuddling, holding each other’s hands, enjoying each other’s company. While I did spend time nursing at the keyboard, nursing while baby wearing and on the go, mostly, breastfeeding my children has been not only been about nutrition but also about connection.
Naturally, as my children grew from baby to toddler, we spent plenty of time doing things other than breastfeeding; playing, tummy time, reading, taking walks, singing and so on…Making sure to keep these opportunities to create connection when not breastfeeding was really important. I noticed that as my children were self-weaning, they would for example bring a book, ask to breastfeed but the time spent breastfeeding would get shorter and shorter as reading, playing, singing was becoming more interesting, until eventually the only nursing sessions were early morning and evening as they didn’t ask to breastfeed the rest of the day. But, if they did ask to be nursed, they did.
Add something special into the regular routine
In the evenings, after breastfeeding but before sleeping we have always had a tradition of telling stories that I make up. As my children got older and were able to participate in the creative process of storytelling, I started asking them questions about the characters and plot, inviting the children to participate in the story-telling. By this point, when they could participate in the telling process they were toddlers and they were probably breastfeeding mostly just in the morning and in the evening. The more involved they became in the storytelling, the more exciting it was to just get to “lights out” to start story telling time so they wanted to breastfeed less and less. Adding something special to the routine can be as simple as a cool new handshake or a stuffed animal singing a song, and while there are no guarantees that it will be more interesting than a warm loving nursing session, it’s still something special to share so I highly recommend it! You can read a little bit about one of my boys very last nursing session here.
Where are you in your breastfeeding journey? Just starting, somewhere in the middle, leaning towards weaning? Do share below in the comments!
Peace & Be Well,
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (and many thanks to Joni Rae of Tales of a Kitchen Witch for designing our lovely button):
- On Breastfeeding, Weaning, and One Mother’s Identity — Jessica at Natural Parents Network has been nursing one or more of her children since 1993 – breastfeeding is wrapped up in her concept of mothering and herself. She shares her thoughts on weaning.
- two tales of weaning — Aspen at Aspen Mama writes about their countdown to wean.
- Wean Me Gently — Tam at Please Send Parenting Books shares a beautiful weaning ceremony.
- You say potato, I say bleeeuuuuch… — Anelie at Mindcradle had read the books and knew just how to introduce her baby son to solids—unfortunately, he had other ideas.
- A Post Called Weaning — (Not) Maud at Awfully Chipper writes about how weaning her son took longer than she expected.
- On Weaning, Pregnancy and Emotion — Shannon at The Artful Mama talks about her mixed emotions as she allows her son, Little Man, to guide her through his weaning process.
- half of her life — Staci at Springpatch Jam looks back on her nursing relationship with her first born.
- Is it just this After Forty Mom or is it harder to wean when its your last? — Amanda of After Forty Mom shares her emotional journey towards the impending self-weaning of her toddler daughter.
- Nursing Limits — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how she has weaned her toddler down to minimal nursing and her guilt about the decision to do so.
- Weaning Video Series #1: Preparation for the Weaning Process — Why is weaning such a taboo topic? Dionna at Code Name: Mama got mamas from across the blogosphere to start talking about weaning – on video. Come check out the first video in a series of five that she’ll be posting this week.
- Weaning due to anxiety — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about how she had to wean to preserve her mental health.
- When Will I Wean? A Guest Post — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama hosts a guest post from a mama who contemplates when her breastfeeding relationship will end.
- On His Own Terms — Momeeezen shares her heartbreak from when her son weaned much earlier than she anticipated.
- Our Weaning Story – Sudden, Surprised, and Embracing a New Season — Weaning doesn’t always go how we imagine. That Mama Gretchen shares the story of her daughter’s sudden weaning and how she has embraced this new season of motherhood.
- A Tale of Two Weanings — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares the similarities and differences of how her nursing relationships with her now six-year-old and four-year-old daughters came to a close.
- She Doesn’t Remember — Alicia at Lactation Narration finds that her 6 year old no longer remembers nursing, only one year after weaning.
- It’s The End of the World As We Know It — A story about the end of a tandem nursing relationship on Never Mind The Rain: A toddler moves on to a new phase in her life before mom is fully ready.
- A Natural End To Our Breastfeeding Relationship — With two self-weaning children, Jennifer at Our Muddy Boots does not know when the end will come, but that it will be natural and without regrets.
- Child-Led weaning: It’s Not Extreme; It’s Biological — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children explains why child-led weaning is based on biology rather than social constraints.
- 6 Years of Natural Weaning in 5 Steps — Jess at miniMum shares how and why she let her first child stop when he was good and ready.
- Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship.
- Memories of Weaning: Unique and Gentle — Cynthia at The Hippie Housewife shares her weaning experiences with her two sons, each one unique in how it happened and yet equally gentle in its approach.
- Weaning Aversion’ — Gentle Mama Moon shares her experience of nursing and unplanned weaning due to pregnancy-induced ‘feeding aversion’.
- Three Months Post-Mup: An Evolution of Thoughts On Weaning — cd at FidgetFace describes a brief look at her planned (but accelerated) weaning, as well as one mamma’s evolution on weaning (and extended nursing)
- Weaning my Tandem Nursed Toddler — After tandem nursing for a year, Melissa at Permission to Live felt like weaning her older child would be impossible, but now she shares how gentle weaning worked for her 2 1/2 year old.
- Every Journey Begins with One Step — As Hannabert begins the weaning process, Hannah at Hannah and Horn‘s super power is diminishing.
- Reflections on Weaning – Love Changes Form — Amy from Presence Parenting (guest posting at Dulce de Leche) shares her experience and approach of embracing weaning as a continual process in parenting, not just breastfeeding.
- Weaning Gently: Three Special Ideas for Success — MudpieMama shares three ideas that help make weaning a gentle and special journey.
- Guest Post: Carnival of Weaning — Emily shares her first weaning experience and her hopes for her second nursling in a guest post on Farmer’s Daughter.
- 12 Tips for Gentle Weaning — Dr. Laura at Aha! Parenting describes the process of gentle weaning and gives specific tips to make weaning an organic, joyful ripening.
- Quiz: Should You Wean for Fertility Treatments? — Paige at Baby Dust Diaries talks about the key issues in the difficult decision to wean for infertility treatments.
- I thought about weaning… — Kym at Our Crazy Corner of the World shares her story of how she thought about weaning several times, yet it still happened on its own timeline.
- Celebrating Weaning — Amy at Anktangle reflects on her thoughts and feelings about weaning, and she shares a quick tutorial for one of the ways she celebrated this transition with her son: through a story book with photographs!
- Naturally Weaning Twins — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses the gradual path to weaning she has taken with her preschool-aged twins.
- Gentle Weaning Means Knowing When to Stop — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl writes about knowing when your child is not ready to wean and taking their feelings into account in the process.
- Weaning, UnWeaning, and ReWeaning — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy discovers non-mutal weaning doesn’t have to be the end. You can have a do-over.
- Prelude to weaning — Lauren at Hobo Mama talks about a tough tandem nursing period and what path she would like to encourage her older nursling to take.
- Demands of a Nursing Kind — Amy Willa at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work shares her conflicted feelings about nursing limits and explores different ways to achieve comfort, peace, and bodily integrity as a nursing mother.
- Breastfeeding: If there’s one thing I know for sure… — Wendy at ABCs and Garden Peas explores the question: How do you know when it’s time to wean?
- Five, Four, Three, Two, One, Two, Three? — Zoie at TouchstoneZ discusses going from 3 nurslings down to 1 and what might happen when her twins arrive.