Natural process of weaning

I really believe in child led weaning when it comes to extended breastfeeding however I personally would not like to nurse past 3-years of age. I know that many women do with great success and that’s wonderful and I fully support that. I just know my limitations and 3 years of age is about the age for me.

Our children have both been bigger for their age so I’m used to the looks outside of home when I’m nursing a 2-year old that looks like a 4-year old and I just smile. I’m forever grateful for our pediatrician Dr. William Sears for opening my eyes and educating me about extended breastfeeding and child-led weaning. It has been especially helpful at times when friends and relatives wonder why I’m still nursing and how long will I continue. It’s not always easy to stand your ground especially as a  first time mom so it’s important to have the knowledge to deal with criticism etc because you sure need that so that you don’t start to doubt yourself because of all the “advice” that is being given to you by mainstream parents and friends.

Our son weaned himself when he was 2 1/2 years of age. One morning he woke up and never asked to nurse again and I didn’t offer. He obviously was a big boy and was ready to move on. Our daughter has been another story though. She is very actively nursing at 2 years and 5 months. It’s mostly due to the fact that I’ve been a stay at home mom for the past 6 months and she really has been able to nurse during the day whenever she likes to. I really enjoy the fact that we are so close and connected through nursing. Although at times I do get a bit frustrated when I’m trying to do something such as cook dinner and she is demanding to nurse. She is old enough now where she can understand that she has to wait but it’s still very difficult. I don’t like to have her wait but sometimes I just don’t have a choice. I cherish nursing and the fact that it makes a life with a 2-year old so much easier. If she has a tantrum because she wants something that she cannot have or she is just trying to figure out her feelings, it really helps to have nursing available. Once she nurses, she becomes a whole new person and the “terrible two behavior” goes away at least for a while. 🙂 There are times that I wish she was done with nursing only because I feel like I have been nursing forever but then I remember the times after our son was done nursing and I wished I had a baby who nursed. I missed that connection he and I had. The connection became harder and harder to maintain after nursing was over especially with all the daily things going on such as sports, school etc.
In the past couple of weeks our daughter has been skipping nursing during times that she normally would have nursed such as going to sleep at night. She has elected to fall asleep on dad’s lap instead of next to her brother. I see the day coming when she is done and I’m really making a point to enjoy every moment we have with nursing now because that will be it for us once she is done.  She has gone 12 hours a few times without nursing so I’ve thought that maybe she is done with nursing but then she has asked for it again. It appears that she has a very different weaning process than our son had and it’s interesting to watch and experience it without interference. It’s amazing how little brains work and what they come up with and self-weaning truly shows how a human being goes through different stages in life. I’ll remember and cherish these years of nursing forever (total of 5 soon for me) and will hope that our daughter will do the same thing with her children.
Reija Eden

Author: API Blog

APtly Said, Formerly API Speaks launched in April of 2008 as part of Attachment Parenting International's larger effort to offer interactive content through their newly-redesigned web site: All contributors to APtly Said, as with so many of API's staff, are volunteers who donate their time and energy to promote Attachment Parenting world wide.

5 thoughts on “Natural process of weaning”

  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences with nursing both of your children. My daughter turns 2 this December and she is going as strong as ever with nursing. Most of the time, I love it and feel so privileged to be able to give her the nurturing she needs from me; at other times, I wonder when she will lose interest in nursing and give her mom’s “nyum-nyums” a break.

    Overall though, what I really appreciate is your point that nursing our daughters and meeting their needs is a great example and encouragement for them to enjoy a beautiful nursing relationship with their own children.

  2. I think you are doing a wonderful thing for your daughter- giving her time to wean herself. You sound like a FANTASTIC Mommy.

    My first daughter had heart problems and the only way they would let me stay with her overnight during her many operations was if I was breastfeeding, so I breastfed that kid for nearly five years! I’d be darned if the powers-that-be were going to keep me from my child. This was in the ’80’s, so perhaps hospitals have improved since then. Then, I let my second child wean herself and she breastfed until she was about 3 1/2. Giving them options like that paved the way for the few times when I’d need to say, “No choice”, which was my signal for something that was not negotiable (usually for safety reasons).

    With admiration for you, Laurie G.

  3. Reading your post was timely for me. I’m relieved and thrilled to know there are other moms practicing child-lead weaning. My son is 3 1/2 and is just now officially weaned. He had stopped nursing at night a few months before his 3rd birthday (and that too marked sleeping through the night for the first time in three years). He was only nursing briefly at nap time, but over the holiday he just stopped. It’s been 11 days and is no longer nursing. He did ask about it yesterday afternoon and I said, “oh…I thought you stopped nursing”…and he smiled and the expression on his face was “oh yeah” and he rolled over and went to sleep. I find these milestones bittersweet because on the one hand I miss “the connection”, but on the other hand, I’m proud that breastfeeding is no longer an emotional need for him.

    So, thank you for this post.

  4. My daughter is now 2-1/2 and we only nurse once daily, at night, before bed. It is still something she asks for and that soothes her to the point of a peaceful sleep. But I am like you were, I do understand the mixed emotions and being somewhat ready to completely wean. I did teach her that nursing was just for nighttime right now, and that we can’t just nurse all day whenever we want, because I wanted her to not use it as a crutch whenever I sat down on the couch! I think you’ve done an incredible thing, and I hope for you that your little one did well in transition, and for me, that my daughter will lead the way to a smooth weaning process when the time comes! (Would love an update on how you’re doing — unless there is one out there I haven’t seen yet! Only just found this site today!)

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