Gentle Weaning Means Knowing When to Stop

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.

Gentle weaning means knowing when to stop… weaning.

Recently I wrote about my attempt to help Peanut wean a bit more quickly. I just feel done. Not angry or frustrated (as I did directly after Twig was born), just done.

So, even though I am a big proponent of child-led weaning, I decided to push things along a little. I tried counting, singing, delaying (though really I’ve been doing that for a while because she often asks to nurse at really inconvenient times), rules (e.g. we only nurse in this chair), and so on. Things I’ve considered to be “gentle” weaning techniques. Things that, apparently, aren’t so gentle for Peanut.

Tears. Increased irritability. Increased clingy-ness. Anger. Begging me not to count or sing. And more tears.

My 3 year old isn’t ready to wean.

Many people would tell me to just do it anyway. She’s 3, she can handle it. No. She’s manipulating you. No. She’s too old to continue nursingNo.

She’s not ready and I respect that. Even if I feel done, she’s not, and that’s okay. She’s still so young in the scheme of life. Over the last few months, her world has been turned upside-down. Why would I forcefully take away something that comforts her so much right when she needs it the most? Why would I purposely hurt my child?

One day, my oldest will cease to nurse. Until then, I plan on trying my hardest to savor every minute of this special time in our relationship. We will never get this back. One day I will miss it. One day, someday sooner than I can imagine, she’ll be grown and gone and I’ll miss the ability that I have now to cuddle her in my lap while I nourish and comfort her.

Gentle weaning means listening to your child. Gentle weaning means taking their feelings into account. Gentle weaning means knowing the difference between being ready and not.

Thank you for visiting the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Dionna at Code Name: Mama and Dr. Laura at Aha! Parenting.

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):

17 thoughts on “Gentle Weaning Means Knowing When to Stop

  1. This is exactly how I felt the few times I tried to “push” weaning. My son is a little over 2 1/2, and he is definitely NOT ready. It’s glaringly obvious to me, even if others don’t agree. I feel conflicted a lot, because I really want to get pregnant again and I think weaning would help, but my first commitment is to my son, and I intend to honor it until he’s as ready as I am. Thanks for sharing!

    • That’s a great way to think of it, as a commitment. When I think of it as just something she wants, it’s different than thinking of it as something she actually needs.

    • My first child toilet traiend at 2 1/2, and then weaned completely a few months later. So, in her case, she was dry before she was weaned. HOWEVER, there was definitely a time when we were pursuing both actively. And I actually worried that it was maybe too much all at once. But I found that, no, it was actually OK.I think that toilet learning and weaning are sort of complementary skills. In both cases they’re about a child moving from a parent-centered way of meeting their needs to a more independent way. And I think that often they seem to happen at around the same time if we follow our child’s cues. Which isn’t to say that weaning a child will necessarily impact toilet training, so much as when toddler nursing is the norm they often happen concurrently..-= Amber s last blog .. =-.

  2. Oh I hear you on this one..I have son who was the chunky-monkey of my world just a short time ago and he moved out a few weeks ago (19 now and ready to fly on his own). The nursing time IS so short in the scheme of things and its so wonderful that you have that foresight. My last child is now 17 months (yes..a little well a lot late addition) and parts of me hope she nurses forever because they do grow up so quickly.

    • I know that one day I’ll look back and be sad that it’s over. I just have to keep reminding myself of that now to get through the rough parts.

  3. That’s really beautiful, and such an inspiration to me as I also try to be gentle. It’s hard when there are so many voices out there telling you to go against your instincts, that it’s not important to respect the nursling’s needs as well as your own. I hope you both can end up on a road that works better for you.

    If it gives you any hope, when I first started weaning techniques like you describe, Mikko reacted the way Peanut has. (He was 3, too.) And now that he’s 4.75, he’s much more sanguine and cooperative about the limits, to the point that I don’t feel at all guilty about them anymore — they just are, and we both accept them. So at least those parts have gotten easier with time — probably a combination maturity on his part and also familiarity with the new system.

    Best wishes as you back off for now and then figure out a way forward. Reading some of these other posts (particularly Jennifer’s at True Confessions of a Real Mommy), I’m reminded that weaning doesn’t at all need to be a straightforward process, but can have these waves to it. No matter what, we’re still moving toward weaning, but it’s not like you’ve “failed” in your progress if you decide to take a break or reverse for a bit. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I totally understand not pushing forward! Development is very often one step forward, two steps back, we should keep that in mind for such major changes like weaning. Reevaluating is a great thing.

    • That’s so true! I didn’t even relate that concept to nursing, but it’s true! She took a step forward and then sister was born and she took two steps back. She will eventually go forward again. That actually seriously helped my mindset. Thank you!

  5. Beautifully put! I see child led weaning as a spectrum, not a rule. Helping it along isn’t a “crime”- I (and Lauren from Hobo Mama and many other mothers I’m sure!) are on the same page as you!

    Following the needs of our children, though, is our primary responsibility as mothers, and your love for and dedication to your child(ren) shines through this post! I’d encourage you to keep finding ways to make the nursing relationship work for you. . . while the process unfolds! Know that I’m right there with you!

    • That makes sense. I guess I’ve always thought of child-led weaning as a rule. Not everything in parenting is black and white like that. Most things aren’t actually.

      • Right you are. I don’t think weaning (now or ever) makes you a hitycrope. It means you are making a choice that is right for your family. Of course, if you want to breastfeed Audrey until she is 4 (or more!), you certainly have my support for that, too. This post kind of threw me off because I thought you meant you were totally done now and it seemed to come out of the blue, but then again, maybe that’s just how it goes!

  6. Good for you mama – I know how hard it can be to allow that older nursling access when your body seems to be fighting against every second. Amy from Presence Parenting has a guest post on my site about meditating through it – if you’re interested, I’ll dig up the link for you. Let me know 🙂
    ~Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

    • I wish I could help but I’ve never nursed for that long. I can say that my 3yo is still in dpiaers, though. Ugh. Ooh! I know! All of my kids were different when it came to potty training my oldest was using the potty by the time she was 2bd but I’d forced the issue. My 2nd trained himself (completely) by 2bd, I had nothing to do with that. But my 3yo wants nothing to do with it unless he’s naked. I’m not entirely sure what to do with him.(That is completely not helpful, but I felt the need to leave my 2a2, it’s that kind of day ).-= psumommy s last blog .. =-.

  7. You’re so good to listen to your daughter and understand when it’s really too much. I tried to night-wean my daughter at 2.5, thinking that she must be old enough, that her brother had been sleeping through the night by then and going to sleep without nursing; but it just wasn’t time yet for her, and after a couple of nights of anguish, I let go of that attempt. We waited a year (a whole year!) and now things are much easier.

  8. I don’t think the two have to be related. DS was potty-trained at 18 mos. He’s now 24 mos and still nsrues at least 3 times a day. It probably is just the time spent running to the bathroom. Days with less nursing are outside days because he’s just too busy. This is something newer to her so her attention is just refocused, I think. In a couple of weeks you may catch yourself thinking why did I even put a shirt on today because she’ll be back nursing so much and then you’ll wander what you were worried about. Or at least thats how it seems to go here.

  9. Pingback: How I Weaned My Toddler Suddenly and Gently | Adventures of Lactating Girl

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s