Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Breast Choice

I get a weekly email from Babyfit's Natural Mother that is full of helpful and useful information on topics I can relate to: composting, activities for baby, organic choices, diapering, baby food, etc. Like any other advice and information, I take it with a grain of salt and usually do further research if there is something that catches my attention. I was rifling through emails that I haven't had a chance to sit long enough to give a thought to this morning and came across an article about "self-weaning". Now, I have vowed to myself and Noah that I will breastfeed him for at least a year and will begin to wean him after his first birthday, given that he doesn't wean himself first. I am not opposed to going longer, however, I think that beyond a year is just bonus nutrition and often an emotional need for baby and mama. I love to spend this time with little dude, but I can also imagine the freedom that must be unleashed when the baby no longer wants the boob. I am sure I will miss the bonding time, but I also don't want to prolong the inevitable, potentially making it even more emotional and damaging the older he gets.

: I am not seeking approval or criticism, simply stating the way I feel about the topic of breastfeeding. If you choose to take the advice of what I am about to share, more power to you. You are an amazing and dedicated mama. For me, I could not fathom it.

As I mentioned, I received this article based on breastfeeding and self-weaning:


Self-weaning, or child-led weaning, describes the natural, gradual process that inevitably occurs when a child no longer has a nutritional or emotional need to nurse. Somewhere between the ages of two-and-a-half to four years, the child will begin to ask to nurse less and less often, gradually tapering off over a period of months until they are completely weaned.

Some people worry that, without a strong parental push to do so, their child will never wean. This worry is unfounded, however, for when children are allowed to follow their own weaning timetables, they all wean. According to Katherine Dettwyler, PhD, a professor of anthropology, "In societies where children are allowed to nurse ‘as long as they want', they usually self-wean, with no arguments or emotional trauma, between three and four years of age...The minimum predicted age for natural weaning is 2.5 years, with a maximum of 7 years."

Holy cow. Literally.

I cannot even begin to wrap my mind around breastfeeding Noah for another two years beyond this, let alone until he's SEVEN! There is something about the thought of him getting off the bus from school and having mama's milk and cookies that doesn't quite sit right with me.

I will say that the "emotional trauma" of weaning is probably very tiring and terrifying for all parties involved, and I think there is truth to allowing the child to lead the way. I can assure you there will probably be many emotions spilled all over this blog about said subject in the future.But I also feel that there could be more psychological repercussions if a child nurses until he is in elementary school...I mean, he is old enough to have vivid memories and recollections by the age of four. Can you imagine the torment from other children if they knew? And what do you tell the kid...don't tell your friends that I nurse you to sleep at night? Then it potentially becomes a shameful occurrence, which launches into a whole separate ball of wax.

I hope to take an approach to mothering that is as natural and as non-traumatic as possible for Noah and potential other littlefords. I hope to try new things and be open-minded to new adventures. I hope to step outside of the box to show my family that I love them uniquely and immensely. I hope to tackle obstacles, big and small, as a team with Chris that will only grow and strengthen our relationship. I hope to teach my littleford(s) to make good choices and be individuals.

I hope and pray that Noah weans himself at a year or a little later.

I really hope and pray that he doesn't still "need" me in the above capacity until he's seven.

Lord, help us all if that's the case.

And for anyone who makes this choice, let me know how it works out for you.

And your little one.

And your little one fifteen years from now.


  1. I haven't decided how long I will "let" Adam nurse. People have already begun asking me if he's on solids at four months. We do want to get him used to good veggies, fruit, and meat, but at this point it's more for our amusement than he's nutrition. I agree with you. Two years and older is too long. My mother in law said my husband just stopped nursing at 9 months, at which point she put him on solids and he loved them. I'm hoping for that scenario.

  2. Noah chows down on the stuff I make him but still loves the boob... and for now I am fine and dandy with that. I just think of it as we are his parents for a help guide him and show him how things are done. There's a point when enough is enough...and I dare say it's long before the child can lift your shirt and ask for supper. :)
    I hope for the same ease... that would be amazing.

  3. I'm planning on self-weaning to a certain point. If Layla has not self-weaned by 2, I plan on weaning her myself. It seems strange to think of feeding a child that old but I just keep in mind that it most likely will feel natural. It's not as if one day I'll wake up and she'll be a toddler, it'll be a gradual growth. She also only nurses 4 times/day at 10 months so I know it probably won't be that often the older she gets.

    I'm not knocking you if you wean at a year. One year is great and so much more than most moms do and I do agree that 7 years old is a bit much :).

  4. I plan to start encouraging other options at a year, but I am not planning on just cutting him off. You know what I mean? I just know that there comes a point when you have to draw the line, in a loving way of course. Noah nurses four times (sometimes five) a day now and I can imagine it will continue to gradually and naturally taper off, at least that is what I am hoping for.
    I may sound like a hate breastfeeding, but I really do love that I can do this for my little guy... especially after the mountain we had to climb to get here. He didn't nurse for the first ten weeks, I had to pump what seemed like every other hour for his milk. Wore me out, physically and mentally.
    We will see... I try not to have preconceived ideas on such things because with kids it always changes.
    Thanks for your thoughts/encouragement, ladies. :)