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August 16, 2007

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antipodeesse

Hi Aimee! I planned to keep breastfeeding Pauline until she got her first job and left home.

But the little Madam decided at the age of 18 months that she wanted to drink out of a cup like her cool big brother. She weaned herself, completely without my permission.

So you can't always plan these things!

andie

Although I do think it's strange to BF a child past the age of a year, I really don't have the right to speak because I didn't BF mine and when you are in a situation, things seem more natural. How many times have we said we wouldn't do something and then ended up doing a 360 and changing opinions? If I breastfed, who knows what would have happened so even if I think it's a little strange to BF a toddler, I can't make a judgement on others because they do.

I do know that seeing a baby with a bottle past the age of 2 is a little strange for me because my SIL is a speech pathologist and highly recommended taking away bottle and pacifier by that time, so in that line of thought, promoting the suction reflex after the age of 2 is a little bizarre.

As far as psychological impact, how could one even do a study? It's nearly impossible- we'd have to take babies BF now and follow them for 20 years and that would be difficult. I've heard on toddlers commenting on the size of their mothers' breasts, etc... during extended BF and I do think that's unnatural in the society in which we live but in other societies where the functions of the breast are not so distinguished, it wouldn't be as shocking. One time, I was shocked when I saw a mom console her baby who had hit his head by running over to him and quickly pulling out the breast. On the other hand, take the breast out of it and it's the same as a pacifier. The real question is, is it okay for a toddler to identify a mother's breast as a sign of comfort in our society?

My husband and I are kind of old school when it comes to the kids- they will not make the decisions around here! I personally am against allowing a child decide when he wants to wean just like I am against letting Gab get a package of candy at the store when he wants. It's not all about him, it's about our family unit as a whole and that runs smoothly when we are all giving and taking for each other. I can see where extended BF can be good for the independence of the child and making decisions but on the other hand, we are his parents there to lead them and educate them and I don't agree that a toddler can make an important decision like that and judge what is best for herself or himself unless they have options in front of them. You can't just say to Gab, here are some tomatoes, you decide if you want to eat them or not, of course he won't eat them. But, if we give him a choice, tomatoes or carrots, then we can teach him to make decisions and that is a simple decision he can make. But, like I said, we are old school on that matter and definitely think the kid should not decide how things are going to be run around here, keeping in mind that we are constantly planning our lives around what is best for our children- that preoccupies us most of the day. In the end, it all comes down to why do you continue to BF-is it for the kid or yourself? I am happy to say that I FF because of myself! But, that had a positive impact on our family so if you are doing it for yourself and that is a positive thing for your family, then go for it!

cara

i've always said that i wanted to bf Ayva for a year. last month we had a little "scare" where she basically went on a nursing strike. one wednesday morning she just decided she was not going to nurse. it went on like that, with her arching her back and pushing me away, for 5 days. i was so stressed and kind of took it personally even though i knew i shouldn't. she even started eating less solids which really freaked me out. everything i read on the internet said that babies sometimes do this, go on strike, but that they rarely, if ever, just stop cold turkey. i took her to a doctor and he literally said, "tant pis pour vous." he was of the opinion that she didn't want to nurse anymore. i tried everything to get her to get her started again...woke her up in the middle of the night, tried taking a bath with her and feeding her there, numerous positions, nothing worked. then Monday morning i did our normal morning routine and she started feeding just like she hadn't stopped. i guess the moral of the story is to not give up. if i hadn't had that magical one year thing in my head, i might have given up thinking that she was done. i am so glad i didn't as it turns out that we both weren't ready to stop.

Aimee

I guess I am less old school then because I think children should be given a choice when it comes to certain things. Weaning is one of them. I think it would detrimental to the child if we took something away from them when they still needed it, like breastfeeding. Not all children need it after 9 months or 12 months or 18 months but I'm sure there are kids out there who need it for longer than others.


I am a big supporter of having the choice to do something. And with that point, I agree that toddlers do have the capacity to choose when given a choice.

Saying no to a package of candy is different. That is something a child wants and does not necessarily need. That is a decision a parent should make for the child.


If I am still breast feeding Max when he is a toddler, I will surely give him the choice to wean. I will introduce new ways to drink and eat and let him choose the way he wants to eat. All babies are different and some wean early and some need a little help weaning later. I like what Antipodesse mentioned above about her daughter weaning because she saw her big brother drinking froma cup and she wanted to do that too. How exciting to have your child move on to something like the breast or bottle to drinking from a cup on her own initiative.

Of course being his mama, I believe that I am here to guide him and to help him make choices that are appropriate for his age, like weaning from the breast.

And also like Antipo said, sometimes it just doesn't happen the way you want it to. So, maybe everything I'm hoping for might be thrown out the window next month when I introduce Max to solids. He may now want the boob anymore. :)

phillippa

I really think that when it becomes uncomfortable for someone for whatever reason, it's time to move on. I also think that "weaning" in the sense that we're discussing here is really a pretty contemporary and western concept. Let's look at it from a different perspective. It sounds primarily like many of us think our babies should be weaned and moving on as soon as possible to the next step to 1. avoid judgment by our peers 2. get on with our (own, personal) lives that don't include baby (work, gym, social, drinking, partying, whatever). And in some cases, it really is necessary for one or all of those reasons. Especially those who need to return to work.

Non-western societies today are a little less anxious to make their children independent at the age of 1 or 2. They tend to wear their children constantly, while working, socializing, etc. They feed their children at that same time and those kids always 'seem' pretty independent and healthy, playing with other kids, etc. I've traveled to quite a few third world countries and same. Children aren't on formula or bottles or weaned before they were 1 (the children that I know), yet they're brighter and more independent than ANY children I've come across in the US. Hands down. Circumstances are dictate, but still.

So my questions are:
1. Why are so anxious to wean our babies if the baby isn't ready and there's no need?
2. Why does it really bother us to see a baby beyond the age of 1?

By the way, I thought that I'd wean Max at 6 months - just thought it might be right - and will revisit this for both us at 1 year, unless he stops showing interest first.

phillippa

I just reread. Wanted to clarify that 6 months came and went and we're still breastfeeding, and have added pureed solids.

Aimee

Those questions are good ones. I think society plays a lot into how we perceive the breasts and what age babies need to drink from a breast or bottle. I personally am not bothered to see mother's nursing toddlers. Now I ask myself, what age is no longer one considered a toddler?

If Max was going to be my only child, I'd let him nurse as long as he wanted to. But since he's the first he's going to have to stop nursing so the second one can nurse. That is a descision I am making for me and my sanity.

Our third and perhaps last child will have the choice to nurse as long as he likes and of course can choose to stop nursing early if he wants.

Do I sound like a broken record. I'll let you guys discuss amongst yourselves. I'm off to have an oreo cookie.

phillippa

(I typed the first so quickly that I left out some info that I think is pertinent. Sorry for all the typos.)

And lastly, Max does drink from a bottle, and a regular cup as well, with help. So he has plenty of options and exercises each of them, everyday. I figure that I've shown him the different ways that he can have his milk and when he's ready, he'll move on.

gleek

hhmmm, this is a tough one because i know many mothers who have nursed past two years! i'm still haunted by the story my husband told me of a woman who attended a wedding with her son of close to three years old. he got all bent out of shape and started screaming, "give me the tit!" in front of everyone there. i'm of the opinion that if they're old enough to ask for it, especially for comfort and not for feeding, then they're too old. one year is quite enough. but then again, i would never fault anyone for making the choice to go longer. it's just not my personal style.

i actually plan on weaning my peanut between 8 and 12 months. she already takes a bottle several times per day because i'm at work. we'll move over to a soy based formula and i'm ok with that. breast feeding has been a HUGE struggle for us. i'm glad i've gotten this far! but my body is becoming a little wrecked :)

Michelle

My son is 35 months old and still nurses once or twice a day. If he doesn't ask, I don't offer. Sometimes he wants to nurse at bedtime, some days he doesn't. If he doesn't feel well, he'll ask more often, and I have noticed that if we've had a crazy-busy day and I haven't had time to really interact with him, he'll ask to nurse, but most days it is just a sleepy, bedtime thing for him.

When he and I started this journey together, I said I'd nurse for a year, because beyond that I thought it was "weird". But a year came and went, and then two years and it was no longer so weird. He has never been a cuddly baby, so this is the one time of the day that he is still and quiet and I really feel like I can study him. I'm busy, too, and it forces me to stop and relax for a few minutes.

I think that our situation is a good example of "child-led" weaning. As I said before, if he doesn't ask, I don't offer, and we're both OK with that because it's what he needs at the time. I'd never just STOP, because I don't think that is a positive way to build trust with your child.

I do see this ending in the coming weeks because more and more often, we get into bed at night (yes, we cosleep, too. Perhaps that could be our next topic of discussion, LOL!) and he'll just roll over and go to sleep, or he'll ask for Daddy to put him to bed. I'm a little sad. I know that he'll be my only child, so this is the end of an era for me, as well. I don't regret for a second that I nursed him this long.

Mary Anne

hmmmmmm, well I am a lone formula feeder in our family, but this is what I have seen Tom's sister's and SIL do. Barb nursed Grant until he wanted to quit...well past age 3. For Grant it was not nourishment, but the comfort object. Now we all support breast feeding around here, but it was quite enough for Tom the day Grant walked up to Barb, pulled up her shirt and exposed her to the entire family of brothers, cousins etc...and had a drink, then went on to play some more...Lisa chose to wean her kids, all 3 boys, down to cups and whole milk at 1 year, except for bedtime feedings...again, comfort objects not nourishment...Ryan just weaned himself totally...at around 16 mos...Mary Katherine I can't remember...JJ is going to college now...well for that matter Grant is going to be a senior...but we all remember that dramatic moment...

my thought is...let him give you clues, but if you keep BFing for an exteneded time...please teach your child discretion as you have practiced so well during infancy...and make sure Max has another comfort object...Katy has her silky blanket, Sarah has her disgusting pink silky, and Jack still has white bear...

and, just a quick side note...my formula fed children who were very independent from an early age are very bright, confident and delightful children...I think Aimee may agree(but again we are both biased a little!)

Mary Anne

Mary Anne

Ohhh, and on the child led discipline....hmmmmmm, you have always said that your mom did it right(and I agree...) perhaps you should think back on discipline from your childhood...I am pretty sure your mom and dad were in charge of most everything at your house...

love
Mary Anne

Aimee

Michelle, thank you for sharing your experience. Just lovely. For me that sounds like an ideal situation.

I think that you bring up a good point, Mary Anne, that I think that discretion could be taught to older children who BF so that there are less embarrassing situations. I've never been in one like some have mentioned above but I can image how uncomfortable it could have been for the people around them and maybe the mother too. Maybe a code word or something that avoids the word breast, boob, tit, etc... Gleek mentioned some kid asking for the breast by saying, "give me the tit!" How does a three year old know that word?


Mary Anne is my cousin, btw. :)

Anyway, Mary Anne, I was talking about child led weaning. Not discipline. That I suspect that Julien and I will be firm, fair yet kind. Like my parents.

But it's a little too early to have the discipline discussion here. :)

materfamilias

my experience is all 20-30 years old, but I love listening to the care and commitment you're all bringing to raising your children as best you can. My philosophy is close to Aimee's, and I really believe children benefit from having the opportunity to make choices -- I suspect Andie provides regular choices for hers as well, even if there are many areas she considers sacrosanct for now, in the name of family harmony. A blend of these two attitudes works, I think, because you want to be aware of constructing choices that will work for that child's current awareness and needs. Because our society is not a "natural" one and offers many stresses, an attachment to the breast can become a dependency, often a co-dependency -- it can be hard to separate whose needs are really met. Sometimes it may be mom's job to give her child a little nudge to independence, but she'll need to guard that she's doing that for the right reasons -- those instincts you're honing, Aimee, along with careful thought and research and knowing your child, will come in handy. I nursed three of my four for about a year; my second, at 22 months, was beginning to use the breast simply as a way to get her own time with me, so I rearranged life a bit to make sure she had special time in other ways, for example. Since my third was on her way then, allowing #2 to wean on her own schedule wouldn't have been helpful anyway.
My favourite bf story was told to me when I was nursing my first by an old friend of my father's. Monsieur Laporte, then in his early 60s, had come to our small city near Vancouver, Canada, from rural France, shortly after WWII. He was delighted to see me nursing my daughter, telling me with a huge grin that it reminded him of carrying a stool over to his mother so that he could nurse standing up!! He guessed he was then at least three or four -- of course, Marie, his lovely wife, scolded and shushed him, but I still remember his grinning delight at the memory.

Tsoniki

I nursed my DD for 14 months, and my son right around the same time. With my DD it was easy to wean her (child led) and I was okay with it - but with my son, maybe it was the thinking that was my last baby? - it was hard (though also child led) and I had moments of wishing we nursed longer.

With the new baby I plan on nursing just as long! :)

Sarah

Wow! Great comments. I don't have much to add that doesn't mirror what has already been said. I never thought I would be breastfeeding past a year but here we are and it is working just fine. We have the same policy as Michelle, I don't offer. It is mostly just mornings and evenings. I am hoping to stop soon because as Phillipa pointed out both people have to be into it and I am getting ready to have my body back.

Just a quick comment in response to Mary Anne about child led discipline. This doesn't mean that the parents aren't in control. It just means that they set up situations that allow them to control but also give the child respect and choice. I think establishing early on that one values and respects everyone's opinions is important. A good example from my life is this: Often Felix (19 months) wants to walk in the opposite direction. Instead of saying "No, you have to walk this way" I simply say to him "We are walking in this direction - would you like to walk or be carried? Almost systematically he says "Walk" and heads off in the right direction.

andie

I definitely feel that you shouldn't take something away from your child as important as nourishment, but if you feel that it is in the best interest for the child and that is your decision as a parent, then the child should not have a say. I'm not talking just about weaning in BF but also bottlefeeding. Past a certain age in our society, it's not good for speech development and because we live in a Western society, speech is an important necessity whereas in other cultures it isn't as important.

Life in our Western world is about transitioning from one thing to the next, even birth is a transition, and children need to learn about that.

I'm not against weaning as such (BF and bottle), it's letting the child decide that I personally wouldn't do. And you have to see how much of extended BF is for nourishment and how much is for comfort. Would I let Gab keep his pacifier until he wanted? No way. As a parent, I made that decision for him because I knew that he would choose otherwise and that might be detrimental to him in the end. But, like I said, Etienne and I are kind of old school, in our house, even though we are constantly thinking about if what we are doing is right, the kids don't make the decisions. If they had, we probably wouldn't have traveled as much and done half the stuff we've done. But, that's our side and our choice and I respect everyone else's just as much.

Sarah

I would love more info about the consequences for speech. I haven't heard the same thing so more info would be great!

Mary Anne

Sarah....hmmmm...

My Sarah has seroius slp issues....I will ask our SLP next door her thoughts...

and I do give choices, but ones acceptable to me...I am a early childhood teacher, so I run our house like I do school...:)...my poor kids, they have a mean mom who makes them make choices, then suffer the consquences...

Mary Anne

Sarah

Mary Anne - I'm an ECE student so I can imagine that if you run your house like your class then not only do they have choice they have fun too! I love environments like that. I hope to do the same for my kids. :)

andie

The only info I have so far is from my SIL who is a speech pathologist and who says that anything promoting the suction reflex (sippy cups, bottles, BF, and pacifiers) past the age of 2 can impair speech development. yes, sippy cups too! I also read this on another speech pathologist's blog about sippy cups, but I don't follow this one for Gab, as he still resorts to a sippy cup in the car for water. I will try and look for some articles on the net, but like anything, even doctors' opinions can vary and it just depends on your own thoughts and instincts.

Sarah

Just another quick comment that the link you provided above titled "How long should one breastfed?" is great. There are over 300 components in breastmilk and many of them are yet to be identified or replicated. I think that because the milk only gets more concentrated the less the baby feeds makes it a good case to continue for some people like me. Really interesting!

buzzgirl

I nursed my daughter for 18 months... to the day. Our birthdays are exactly six months apart, and my birthday gift to myself was to take back my boobs. It actually seemed as if she didn't even notice. She literally never asked again - which lead me to believe that it was only because I kept offering that she nursed even that long.

samantha

I don't know if I really have the right to comment here or not since I have no children, but to be honest, it really kind of creeps me out when I see kids older than 2 breast-feeding. My co-worker's son falls into that category, and it makes me extremely uncomfortable to be around them, especially since he can now ask for it quite clearly.

As a now-ex dietitian, I'm definitely all for breast-feeding, but I do think that there should be a limit. At a certain age, the breast-milk is then replacing the calories and nutrients that child should/could be getting elsewhere, and they also need the higher fat content in regular milk to ensure proper brain development.

But again, this is just my own opinion, I don't mind if others disagree. And who knows, maybe I'll change my mind once I have kids of my own.

Aimee

Sam,

Your thoughts are interesting as a non mama. It was a non mama who brought up this subject in the comments of my last entry so you are very welcome to discuss too. :) I know would have loved an open forum like this before Max was born. Just to give me ideas...

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