t2

Monday, December 16, 2013

Why I Am Not Weaning My Two Year Old Child, Plan on Nursing Two Kids

Yes, I'm nursing a toddler
Not me, just an example of a toddler nursing.
Image credit: Amanda Westmont.
One of the most surprising things that people hear is that I am still nursing my daughter Anneliese at 2 years old, despite the fact that I am more than halfway through my second trimester of pregnancy, and have no intention of weaning her any time soon. In fact, I fully plan on nursing both her and the little one who is on its way, simultaneously. This practice is called tandem nursing.
People find it very surprising, because this is something not really done.
But in some ways, I think the person who is most surprised sometimes is myself.

Before I had my first child, when I saw people nursing older kids, I was thoroughly weirded out. "Breastfeeding is for babies, not kids," I thought to myself. I had a nephew that nursed until past age 2 and I honestly was uncomfortable seeing him being nursed or even knowing that he was nursed. Something seemed "off" about it in my eyes, and I decided that when I had a kid, I would stop nursing when the kid was old enough to ask verbally to nurse, because that meant he was a kid and no longer a baby. This, already, was going farther than what I grew up with- no one in my immediate family nursed longer than 9 months, so even agreeing to nurse a year or longer was a "big deal" and "super crunchy".
It was a happy medium for me- because I had read about the health and emotional benefits of "extended nursing", and in my mind, nursing past the first birthday was doing more than what I was used to, but didn't get me into the realm of "creepy parent who doesn't know when to say enough is enough, even when it is no longer appropriate."


Lee was very in love with nursing, so much so that when he was 15 months and I got pregnant with Ike, I researched nursing during pregnancy, and discovered that when it came to low risk pregnancies, nursing doesn't increase the risk of miscarriage or preterm labor, so decided to gradually wean Lee over the course of my pregnancy. I also read that nursing hormones counteract pregnancy hormones, which could cause pregnancy nausea to be lessened, and I think it worked to some extent. My nausea wasn't debilitating- I was able to get out of bed in my first trimester, something I had a hard time doing during my first pregnancy...

During the beginning of the pregnancy, I was really, really sensitive and nursing hurt. I would grit my teeth in pain whenever he latched on, and for the first minute of each nursing session.... (It wasn't just nursing that hurt. I'd cry out in pain from the cold as well.) But after a few weeks, my sensitivity lessened, and I was able to nurse pain free again. Gradually I cut back on nursing sessions and night weaned him, and one of the few nursing times he had left every day was his nursing before his nap. Since I wasn't ready for him to give up his nap, and he would only go to sleep nursing, my husband recommended that we give him a bottle before his naps. Of chocolate milk. I agreed to do so (and have regretted it tremendously), and with that, at 19 months old, and 5 months pregnant, I weaned him. From the breast, at least.

But the bottles intensified. While before he was sleeping through the night and going to sleep without nursing or a bottle, once the nap time bottles started, he wanted one to go to bed at night. And then every 2 or 3 hours throughout the night!
It was driving me crazy. Also because of having to wake up a million times to give him bottles, but also because of the health. And because he'd wake up with exploding diapers... So eventually, we had to wean Lee a second time, this time from the bottle. And it was very hard.

When it came to weaning Ike, I did it very suddenly. Nursing him, at 19 months old, was driving me bonkers. He was very demanding, wanting to nurse multiple times a day and night. It felt like I was nursing a newborn, and he was over a year and a half old! I was long ready to wean- I'd had enough.
When I became pregnant, I was tired, nauseous, and just in general stressed out. I thought that the solution to reducing my stress and making my life less tense was weaning him. And I knew that since he was so obsessed with nursing, weaning him gradually would take a while, and I didn't want to wait a while. I wanted to be done nursing him as soon as possible.
So I weaned him cold turkey. Went from 8-10 times a day nursing (including at night) to absolutely nothing. It involved lots and lots of crying over a period of three to four days, was painful physically for me, and it was a bad, bad idea.
You see- Ike was definitely not ready to wean. He was nursing often because he had high needs, really physically and emotionally needed me in ways that even Lee didn't. And since he no longer had the option to nurse, but had the same physical and emotional need, he just replaced nursing with being super clingy, super touchy, etc... He'd rub my body up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down.... all the time. Before he could go to sleep. To calm himself down when he was upset. All. The. Time. He'd play with my chest, grab me, touch me, fondle me, and it made me MAD. Seriously. I felt very violated by him. It bothered me in ways that nursing didn't. If I had had enough of nursing him because it was sensory overloading for me, felt like I didn't have my body to myself anymore, what happened once I weaned Ike was 10 times as bad, 10 times as difficult for me.
And gradually, over time, with lots of bonding and hugs and a supreme amount of patience that I never knew I had in me, plus cutting gluten out of his diet which made him more manageable to deal with, less sensory seeking even, etc... he's stopped doing that. Mostly. He still has a hard time respecting my body space, and I often have to remind him "This is my body, not yours. Please ask me before you do that," even now, 2 1/2 years later, at 4 years old. He is, if you could believe it, almost as clingy as my 2 year old in some ways, and more so in others.

In short, what I realized after my experience in "weaning" my first two kids is that weaning doesn't just mean weaning from breast milk. Weaning is the gradual process of separating, emotionally and physically, from Mom. It needs to be gradual, because kids who are forced to separate before they are emotionally ready, forced to "grow up" when they are not emotionally mature enough, will often just find a replacement, like Ike did by clinging to me and rubbing me all over, or like Lee did with the bottle. And worse off, kids who are forced to grow up and become independent before they are ready, and they don't have any replacement to fall back on, end up being affected tremendously emotionally in the long run, with far reaching repercussions. (I'll expand on this more soon- I am reading a great book that covers this in great detail, and plan on writing a book review when I finish it.)

I have no desire to force Anneliese to grow up before she is emotionally and mentally capable of it. I have no desire to wean her from nursing, only to have nursing be replaced with something else (potentially even more problematic, annoying, or frustrating, like chocolate milk bottles or clinginess or becoming overly tactile, etc...) and then to need to wean her again from that replacement.
To be honest, I am not in love with nursing an older child. I never have been, and didn't all of a sudden start loving or even liking it with my third child. If it were entirely up to me, I probably would have weaned her already. But as a parent, it isn't my duty to be selfish and think only about what I want, but to sometimes put my needs second, or even third, learn to be selfless, and give my kids what they need, emotionally or physically, even if its not something I love.
I don't hate nursing either now. I've mentally changed my mindset about nursing. I've gone from "tolerating it because she needs it" to truly viewing it as an act/gift of love, something I am giving my daughter that she can't get from anyone else or at any point in the future, but is something special I can give her now that'll benefit her for the rest of her life.
And it does. Long term nursing isn't just about nutrition. Yes, she eats real food. Nutritionally she isn't getting much at all from nursing at the moment (not that breastmilk isn't also chock full of nutrition for a two year old- it is!) simply because I have barely any milk at this stage in my pregnancy- she probably, at most, gets a tablespoon or two of milk each nursing session. But what she is getting is the emotional bonding, and the antibodies and immune protection that kids, who even are getting a little bit of breastmilk, benefit from. The World Health Organization says that kids should be nursed at least until 2 years... and this is the first time I'm actually doing that.

At the moment, Anneliese is nursing at most 3 or 4 times a day, but sometimes will go a day and a half without nursing. Sometimes she'll ask to nurse and I realize she just wants attention, so we'll do something else together, like sing Eensy Weensy Spider and it satisfies what she was looking for. I also only nurse her at home, never when out and about.
She doesn't need to nurse as much as a newborn, doesn't demand it as often as Ike did before I weaned him, but she still emotionally needs it. She's still a baby, and I'm coming to realize that demanding that a two year old "grow up already" simply isn't feasible. Each child matures at their own rate, and Anneliese in some ways is a little active toddler, climbing, exploring, and learning how to talk... but she is still very much a baby who needs her mama. (She also isn't interested in potty training whatsoever, even though both of my boys voluntarily potty trained before aged 2. I'm not pushing her at all in this either.)
I plan on continuing to nurse Anneliese even after the new baby comes- this is called tandem nursing, and there are a lot of resources for parents who are interested in learning about it, and as a first time soon to be tandem nurser, I plan on doing my reading. I have heard that it's hard on mom in some ways, but it helps the older kid accept the younger one more easily, helps reduce sibling rivalry, etc...
And my main reason- because Anneliese isn't ready to give up nursing, and I won't be forcing her to stop- I'll wait until she is emotionally ready. I do know it'll likely be hard, but I didn't become a parent because "it was easy", I became a parent because I wanted to give to my kids what they need, and giving isn't real giving when its easy, sunshine and roses. Real giving is when you do it anyhow, despite the challenges.

However, I did decide that there was one thing I was not prepared to do. I am not prepared to wake up with two kids at night to nurse back to sleep. (I can just imagine how impossible it would be with one kid waking up to nurse, their crying waking the other, not being able to nurse both at the same time, and trying to figure out who should be put back to sleep first, and hope that the one waiting isn't waking up the other via crying in the meantime...)
I was more than ready to night wean, but again, didn't want to do it suddenly, cold turkey. So I took a more gradual approach, and over the past 3 months have worked on putting Anneliese to sleep without nursing, putting her back to sleep without nursing, even if she sometimes was crying that she wanted to nurse. (Not sleep training. I'd hold her, comfort her, even through her screaming in frustration at times, and tell her I love her but nursies are sleeping, she can nurse in the morning.)
We've now gone a week straight without nursing at night. Many nights she sleeps completely through the night. Here and there she'll wake up once, maximum twice, and be shushed back to sleep in my arms. I am hoping that by the time her little sibling is born, she'll be sleeping through the night completely consistently, and if not, that Mike will be able to put her back to sleep...

I keep on getting comments "When are you going to wean Anneliese? Isn't she old enough? Isn't it bad for you or bad for the baby?"
I'm not weaning her until she is good and ready to wean completely, and no, it doesn't hurt the baby whatsoever, and by taking care of myself nutritionally, I am making sure that I am not being hurt at all either. I learned from my mistakes. I won't do what I did the last two times.
This time, I will give Anneliese what she needs.
And right now, she needs to keep on nursing.

Did you nurse your kids? How old were they when they stopped nursing? Did they wean voluntarily, or did you wean them when you wanted them to? Did you find they replaced nursing with something else that you needed to wean them from after, like a bottle, a blankie, a pacifier, etc? In retrospect, do you wish you could have nursed longer, or do you think you should have weaned your kids sooner?
Have you ever tandem nursed or nursed for extended periods of time? What type of reactions did you get from people when they heard you were nursing still?

38 comments:

  1. My eldest gave up nursing at 11 months, long before i was ready. The next one quit at about 14 months. The third I had to cut off at 20 months; i was at the end of my first trimester of another pregnancy and working full time outside the home and he was ONLY interested in nursing two or three times a night and iw as no longer functioning. My fourth is 18 months old and still nursing morning and evening, and sometimes at night. So far it's still working for us so we'll continue. I have a feeling he's getting ready to give it up though.

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  2. I love this! Especially the part about being selfless as a parent and putting aside your own desires to do what is best for your child. That, to me, is the ultimate definition of parenting. I nursed all 4 of my boys, and I really enjoyed it. I weaned my first at 14 months because people kept telling me I should and I didn't know any better. I had a similar experience to the one you had with Ike - he was VERY clingy as a toddler and wanted me ALL the time. I let the other three lead the weaning the next time and it worked beautifully. They all ended up stopping between 17 - 20 months. Very active boys and they just lost interest. My youngest nursed the longest. The only "weaning" I did with any of them was the middle of the night nursing - at a certain age, they don't need to nurse and I was like you with Anneliese - I felt that they could be comforted in the night with other means. It also led to quick end to night waking, which was good for all of us!

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    1. Thank you Kris. I try to keep that motto in mind as a parent. Can't say I'm always successful- I'm human after all, but that is what I try to do.... To realize that we cant always BOTH get what we want, and if one of us has to be the "adult", why on earth would I expect my little kid to be more mature than me?

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    2. I am not always able to accomplish this either! It's a constant work in progress. With 4 boys, who all have issues with understanding the concept of personal space, I figure it's my path the heaven!

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  3. I nursed my oldest until exactly a month before her second birthday when I was 5 months pregnant. I was sick and dehydrated and the milk just stopped coming. I would have went longer and tandem nursed if my body had let me. Now she's 3 and her brother is 9 months old. She won't nurse but loves having a cup of "momma meek"

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  4. My first, I weaned at 19 months, because of excruciating pain nursing during pregnancy. I did it slowly and he seemed pretty ready, but even so he had a comfort attachment with my hair for a full year longer than that. Hair was always his "nursing toy" and when I finally cut him off my own, he pulled his. I have to keep it buzzed or he gets bald patches. So I do feel guilty about that choice, even though I did at that time think he was pretty ready.

    My second is 19 months and SO attached to nursing. Sometimes multiple times an hour. There is no way I could try to wean him quickly right now, even though I think I am pregnant again. I'll just have to grin and bear it, and hopefully cut him down to *less* nursing as time goes by. And it would be LOVELY to have him sleep through the night ... but, sigh, not so realistic. He is up multiple times. I night weaned his brother at one, only to find it meant rocking for hours during the night or lying with him in his toddler bed half the night while he pulled my hair. Ugh! I know all the tips, but I think he's just a needy kid -- has been from birth! And in general he is a very happy, confident, outgoing little guy, so what I am doing seems to be working out well anyway.

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  5. My kidlet self-weaned at 10 months. I was feeding him meals and snacks 3-4 times a day, and after 8 months he was only waking up once a night to nurse. And then...he just stopped, and started sleeping through the night. He never seemed to miss nursing, and I certainly didn't miss it any. I could never understand what this magical bond was between a mother and child that takes place when you're nursing. The kidlet and I are very close--he has ways of telling me what he needs, even though he doesn't talk yet--so I think that's the main reason why he took so well to stopping. That, and he REALLY loves food.

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    1. Everyone needs to do what works for them. I find it interesting that your son self weaned at 10 months- did he take a bottle or anything else, or just switch to real food and drinking water from a cup?

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    2. Nope. I went from breakfast, to breakfast-dinner, then breakfast-dinner-snack, then breakfast-dinner-snack-lunch over the course of 5 or 6 months, waiting on average a month before I introduced the next installment of solid food. These days he might get two snacks--one before his morning nap, and one between lunch and dinner, though this depends in part on how early he wakes up.

      We're still working on drinking from a cup, though--the messes he makes are getting substantially better, but let's just say it's a good thing most of his clothes are secondhand...

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    3. So where does he get his liquids from if he doesnt drink well from a cup and doesnt take a bottle or nurse?

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    4. Just because he doesn't drink well doesn't mean some of it doesn't end up inside him :-)

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  6. I have 2 daughters and I nursed them exclusively until they were about 8 months. I continued to nurse until they were about 3. My younger daughter still laments her last feed. By the age of 3 it is more a token gesture and comfort rather than for much nutrition. I was and am the only member of my family who have breastfed. I did not receive any support from my extended family.They did not really approve of the choice or accept that it was better for babies.I did not tandem nurse as there are 4 years between my daughters. We did not plan that but I suffered 2 miscarriages between them. We also co-slept. Both girls are very independent and not clingy in the least. I wish you the very best of luck and success!

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    1. I am definitely getting pressure from family members to stop nursing. "Anneliese is too old already. And you're hurting your body." And thanks!

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  7. I find it bizarre when women do not want to allow their kids to mature normally but to keep them on the breast for years. I have always nursed for 6 months exclusively then switched to breastmilk via cup and solids. This endless nursing seems to appeal to women who have no real life outside mothering. Kids need to be able to become independent and these helicopter moms would nurse them till they are 30 in some cases. I am extremely close to mine but don't have to nurse to be so and they are vegans in the bloom of good health.

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    1. I find it bizzare that you seem to imply that it is abnormal to nurse from the breast past six months, and that pumping and giving them breastmilk from a cup instead of nursing is more "normal" when the world health organization and other health organizations around the world recommend nursing until 2 years or longer. The average weaning age around the globe is closer to 4 years old, and not just by "hippies" but also incuding in tribes living in their natural setting without parenting ideas being sold to them by books. That is natural. That is maturing normally... What you're saying is definitely unnatural. I don't know of any people that would nurse them until 30. I saw one video with a mom nursing her 8 year old daughter and yes, I found that creepy, as did most people who saw it, but there is a far cry from nursing a 2 or 3 year old.

      In general, I found your response to be pretty condescending of those who choose to live life differently than you do. Why the need for condescension? You can have an opinion that differs from others and state it respectfully.

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    2. Terri Lynn I should mention that my daughters are now 20 and 23. They are both medical students and extremely independent. I always felt that if I did not push them away they would have the confidence to "leave" either the bed or the breast. I believe that has proved to be the case. One thing I have learned is that there is never a "one size fits all" when you are a Mama. It is counter- intuitive to embrace extended nursing and find that your children grow up to be confident, mature and capable but that is my experience.

      I remember when I had just given birth meeting a health- professional who told me she had nursed until her children were 3. At the time I had no plan to do so and yes when you are holding your first newborn it seems a bit weird. However, I followed my own instincts in the matter and have never regretted it. Moms like Penny should receive encouragement to do what they believe is best without guilt but rather support.

      Mothers need to develop the skin of a rhino to face potential judgmental looks and comments .Regarding your comment about" endless nursing" and "no real life" I would say that you only have your children for a few short years. In no time they will be off to college. If I have a baby then I have committed to do what is best for them regardless of outside offence.

      You have embraced the vegan lifestyle which is your choice as extended breast-feeding was mine!

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    3. Terri, do you think a 7 month old should be independent?? A lot of our perceptions on what is "too old" for nursing are just social norms we've been exposed to. Do you send your 10 month old to the park on his own? Do you send your 2 year old to buy groceries for you? If not you are clearly a helicopter mom who isn't interested in her children's independence.

      Since you have never nursed an older baby or toddler, you obviously are not aware that nursing at an older age is very different, and doesn't interfere with a toddler's acquiring independence, at the right pace, and an age-appropriate level. Usually it is very brief (except maybe at bedtime).

      BTW, my children are older now, and not only do I not nurse them any more, I also encourage their independence.

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    4. way to go terri

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    5. After seeing Teri's blog she has serious issues, and is a fanatic. I hope her children do not grow up to be fanatics like her. As far as nursing goes nothing wrong with a child not weaning until a toddler. It does not indicate a mother has no life. I am sure with Teri she is too busy protesting meat eaters with PETA to be a proper parent.

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  8. Thank you so much for your honest sharing. I nursed all three of my children past the age of 2. And, it was one of the best choices I ever made. Like you it was not something I embraced before I had children. But once you have them, you realize that as a parent you need to give them, sacrificially at times, the best that they need. And actually it did help me bond and I still to this day have a very strong bond with my children, especially as we are entering the teenage years. Best wishes and Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Its interesting to hear how many other parents changed their mind about nursing choices once they actually had kids a certain age... And yes, as a parent, I want to give my kids the best emotionally and everything else....

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  9. I nursed my son to a little over 3, though by 18 months it was pretty much twice a day and at 3 only once. He was a very independent, affectionate kid, loved to hug and play together and talk but very much happy to be on his own - or to head off to the other end of the shopping centre if he was bored and I was distracted...

    I had a lot of people tell me he'd be a mummy's boy if I nursed him too long. I know 3 is well past western comfort zones, but it worked for us. Of course we co slept as well, which horrified an equal number of people (but, what about sex?), but I never got out of bed to a crying baby at 3am and we weren't sleep deprived either. I think people need to give it a go before they condemn it.

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  10. I wished I could have nursed longer but as it was I'd had to supplement with formula because I didn't produce enough, and I dried up completely when my daughter was 9 months. Both not producing enough and drying up early made me sad. :( In retrospect there were certain factors in my life at the time that probably made me produce less milk and hopefully I'll learn from my mistakes in the future.

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  11. What timing! I was searching the web for articles about weaning older babies (1.5 years plus) and could not find anything. I nursed my older three for a little over a year and then it just pattered out, voluntarily. However, my fourth, youngest, is 20 months and nurses before going to sleep and twice during the night. We co-sleep. It has been great but recently my husband has been complaining he's too big for our bed. I'm unsure what to do. At first I thought it was me not ready to give up nursing my youngest "baby" (and possibly regretting it later) but he really loves it and pulls me when he wants to nurse. He falls asleep that way and it's very hard to get him back to sleep without me near. (That's also why cosleeping is so easy).
    I have a wedding in NY (overseas) at the end of March and though my son will be over two years by then I have been debating what to do. He can't come as it is too expensive and anyway I could really could use the much needed alone vacation (never happened in 12 years). After my doula friend told me that anyone can nurse after breaking, with enough stimulation, I booked my ticket. I'm not 100% what I want and can't decide. (Which means no plan will work). I will definitely not stop cold turkey after reading your post. He loves nursing and it is usually when he's tired and when he rolls over at night. I would ideally like to wait to feel when he is ready to stop but wondering if and how I should help prepare for my 9 day absence. Should I night wean him to teach how to fall asleep by himself but continue during the day for his comfort and cuddles? Then move him to his own bed when he can fall asleep on his own? But how to night wean when he's right next to me? I know it will be hardest for him while I am not here, but he is in playgroup every day and has his father and older siblings around. Anyone have any advice?

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    1. In your case, I would night wean now, gradually, and then continue nursing during the day for comfort and cuddles... I night weaned with Anneliese next to me by trying to put space between me and her for bed, or galling asleep with a bra on, so its not "easy access" to nurse, and so that way I could wake up enough to decide that I wouldn't nurse, instead of just rolling over in my sleep to nurse the second she woke up. I held her, shushed her, rocked her, patted her, and yes, she cried, but she also knew that I was right there for her, and she was just mad that I wouldn't nurse her, but wasnt feeling abandoned as often happens when parents let their kids cry it out...

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    2. So that's what I was thinking. I actually tried to start that about 2 weeks ago but he was so mad when he woke up in the middle of the night and I wouldn't let him nurse, he cried forever. I'm so beyond exhaustion at that point that I just give in, for my husband's sake as well. (I always sleep w a sleep bra on anyway). I guess determination is the key....

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  12. Hi M, I assume you can get your milk back since with sufficient stimulation, I believe even men can lactate! You could maintain the supply by expressing. Indeed, you may find that it is more comfortable to express milk. When my babies got older and squirmier we used a "bed" on the ground next to us. We could reach them and pat them to let them know we were there even if they were not actually wanting milk. At the age of 2 when not exclusively breast-feeding it will be probably be comfort at night rather than hunger that is the issue. If you are not there and away he will probably just accept that he is being comforted by Daddy instead and recognize the comfort will not involve milk. Enjoy the wedding and good luck!

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  13. I tandemnursed my kids for a few months. I don't think a lot of people knew about it since my social network is quit small. The only reaction I really got was from my midwife, when she asked me (during labor) how long I nursed my oldest kid and I responded that I still nursed him. She just said "how will that go?" as if she thought that I was going to wean my oldest kid abruptly just because there was another one coming. But I never really got a chance to explain because I then had a contraction and needed to focus ;-)

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  14. We had 6 babies and I breastfed all of them. All but the first two were tandem nursed. I practiced "baby-led weaning." They nursed for a long time, but toward the end of those years, they would only be nursing occasionally. It really helped in many ways... one was less jealousy of the new baby. I'm so happy for you!

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  15. I gradually weaned all my kids around a year, the first two because I was pregnant and sick and uncomfortable, and the third because I just did not like nursing AT ALL anymore. I do many things that are selfless for my kids, but nursing was physically and emotionally uncomfortable for me, and I really hated it at that point. None of my kids ever had a bottle or other nursing replacement, I would just cuddle them before bed instead of nursing. They were all totally fine and had no trouble in any way. Everyone has to do what feels right for them.

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  16. I nursed my first until 17months then weaned him so I could conceive more easily... .didn't much help and I regret doing it so soon, with my second she self weaned at 13 months and still likes to cuddle and give hugs but is very attached to her pacifier.... I don't see any reason to wean kids if you are ok and not falling apart because of it, your right, parenting is about being the adult in the relationship and stretching yourself to meed your kids needs, I hope it works out well with the tandem nursing.

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  17. It's wonderful how you have learned from each of your kids!

    I was lucky to grow up in a breastfeeding extended family and with a mom who was a La Leche League Leader when I was young; it has always seemed very normal to me. I was determined to nurse my baby for at least a year and then see how it was going. It was going fine, so I just sort of watched him for cues about when to scale back. He refused to take a bottle from the sitter soon after he turned 1, so I stopped pumping at work, he drank water with meals (occasional cow's milk if he wanted it), and he nursed only when we were together. Gradually he nursed less frequently. When he was 2 years 4 months, he nursed for a moment that didn't feel quite right, then pointed to his mouth and said, "Wrong shape. Mama fix me?" I was not sure how to fix him or what was wrong. This happened every time for a few days, and I decided he was having trouble shaping his mouth correctly because he was outgrowing the need to nurse. When I told him this, he actually looked kind of relieved. He asked to lie on my tummy (with me lying on my back) for a few minutes each bedtime. We did this for a couple of weeks, and it seemed to fill his need for closeness. There was no trauma to weaning at all. It was so gradual that I had no physical discomfort.

    I'm hoping my second child goes as smoothly, but I'm prepared for the details to be different with a different kid!

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  18. I weaned my first when she was 9 months because I wanted a couple of months of having my body to myself before getting pregnant again. I regretted that decision. With my next 3 babies, I intended to nurse until at least a year, but all of my boys weaned themselves at around 10 - 11 months. I cried really hard when my (now 5 year old) decided he was done because I believed it was my last baby (we went on to adopt twice after him). However, now I am pregnant again and after a 5 year gap in pregnancies have no preconceived ideas of how long I'm going to nurse, but I desperately hope this baby doesn't wean himself/herself before a year.

    Nursing is such a personal thing. I would no more judge a mother for nursing a two year old than I would judge a mother for choosing not to nurse. I'm glad you have found a system that works for you!

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  19. I just ran across your blog and love it. I know this post is a little old but ill comment anyway. I thought I would wean at a year before I had kids. Now I will nurse as long as my son wants it. My first son self weaned at 9 months because I was pregnant. I was so sad. my second son is now 4 months and loves nursing. I am hoping he will nurse till at least age 2.

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  20. Also in response to M. Google side car crib. We cosleep but I took one side off a crib and attached it securely to my side of the bed. It gives us more room but keeps baby close for nursing. And I am hoping it will be easier to transition him later since I can just put the side back on the crib and slowly move it away from our bed. Good luck whatever you decide!

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  21. I had 6 babies. My first nursed until almost a year because I had to return to work, he just lost interest. He got his first ear infection 10 days after his last nursing and we battled them for a few years. My subsequent 5 babies (all 6 born natural, some home births) all nursed for years, not months. I nursed during pregnancy, tandem nursed, child led weaning, baby led solids, no commercial baby food. Most of my children never had antibiotics until their teen years. I also homeschooled for 27 years and they are all grown, working, in college or both.

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  22. I posted before writing the purpose LOL. Just want to encourage you. Yes, my inlaws turned their noses up at the nursing, home birth, homeschooling, even that I didn't force the babies to potty train early. Goodness, if it didn't bother me to change and wash diapers, why should it bother them? My husband was supportive and that's what's important.

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  23. Parents should do what they feel comfortable with/ what their immediate situation dictates.

    I had a fantastic maternity leave scheme but had to go back to work for at least 3 months to keep the benefits...which meant early weaning and not being home full-time from birth. My husband took the time off for the three months then I went to being a full-time parent- weighing it up it was the best flexible solution at the time. We needed the extra money.

    I mixed-fed when people told me 'you can't do that' but my crying hungry baby told me I needed to.
    I've had baby in the bed- then kicked him out when it seemed appropriate.
    Pacifier and blanket- went to Santa Claus one Christmas Eve. By the next Christmas my savvy child didn't even believe in Santa...
    A couple of years when watching a video then being carried to bed half-asleep worked best.
    Homeschooling after emigrating...then state school when my little boy asked to go...

    My other pregnancies all died in utero, probably as a result of an autoimmune condition which is gradually disabling me now...that was tough not to damage my family, but again- more decisions to make for the best.

    At every step you get judged by people who haven't a clue...or even people who should know better...

    Who cares if you end up with a happy healthy adult and relative sanity and some lovely memories!

    ~Tracy

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