Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I Just Made a Weaning Party

I did something I never did before.
A few things, actually.
 photo turtle34.gifI nursed a kid until 2 months shy of her third birthday- my first two kids I nursed until 19 months each, this one until 34 months.
This is the first time I nursed all the way through a pregnancy and then nursed two kids at once, also called tandem nursing.
This is the first time I nursed a kid until she was old enough to have an intelligent conversation with me, that I could reason with her, and could tell me in her words how much she loved nursing.
And this is also the first time I made a weaning party.

Now what exactly is a weaning party, you might ask?
Well, I certainly didn't invent it.
Nor did anyone invent it recently.
In fact, weaning parties are a really, really old tradition that seems to have fallen out of practice for whatever reason- the Bible says that Abraham threw a feast on the day that Isaac was weaned, so... I'm just following in his footsteps.

But actually, the reason I made a "weaning party" was similar to the reason I tandem nursed in the first place.
I love nursing babies. But by a certain age, somewhere past their first birthday, I stop enjoying nursing. Because kids don't just nurse then. They do acrobatics and hurt you while nursing, and I start feeling touched out by that point. And I weaned Lee and Ike by the time they were 19 months, because I was pregnant, and especially when pregnant I don't like all the touching, and nursing hurts, etc....
However, I didn't wean Anneliese when I got pregnant with Rose, because I felt that with my boys, I weaned them too young, before they were emotionally ready to be weaned, so they just transitioned from nursing to "nursing a bottle" or similar, which I then needed to wean them from after. I only want to wean each kid once, and I felt I would be able to do that best by letting them wean when they were emotionally ready and mature enough.
So I was still nursing Anneliese, and I've been nursing her. But now I've weaned her...

Because I didn't want weaning to be traumatic for Anneliese, as it was for Ike, and I suspect Lee, I wanted to make her ready for weaning, so it wouldn't be suddenly losing the thing she loved, making weaning be a sad or traumatic occasion.
Until recently Anneliese was asking to nurse every two or three days, typically when she saw me nursing Rose, and in the past little bit, when she asked, I was able to push her off and say "later" and she forgot about nursing....
So I got the feeling she's ready to be weaned.
However, I didn't just want to phase out nursing more and more gradually (for a bunch of reasons)- I wanted to end our nursing relationship on a positive note.
For the past few days I was talking to her about how she's a big girl now, can do big things, and Rose is still tiny. And talked about all the big girl things Anneliese can do. And talked about how when she was a baby, she couldn't eat, and nursing was her food, and now Anneliese is a big girl and can eat real food, etc... I told her now she's big, and we're going to make her a party to say "Bye bye nursing", that we'll have a "no more nursing" party, and we'd have balloons, and ice cream, etc...
After repeating that again and again to her over a couple of days...

Today we went to the store and got Anneliese 3 helium filled balloons that she picked out and wore on her wrist home. And we also picked out ice cream, which we served...

I snapped a picture of her with the balloon and the ice cream, with her waving "bye bye to nursing", and talked about how big she is...
And then I served a milk based meal, of foods that Anneliese likes- macaroni with cheese, and apples for most of the people in the family, and goat cheese for me.

We sang some songs that we made up, saying "Bye bye nursing, bye bye nursing" to a bunch of different tunes, and talked about how much fun this no more nursing party is, and after this party, no more nursing because she's big...

So that was that.

Do I think she'll never ask to nurse again? No. She probably will..
But I'll talk to her about how she already had her "no more nursing party" and now she's a big girl, and we can do other fun things together, like reading stories and singing songs and hugs and kisses...

I don't think she'll be traumatized. I don't think there'll be tantrums and crying fits like there were when I weaned my boys. Because she's old enough to understand things, old enough to reason with, old enough that she can understand that Mommy isn't abandoning her because she isn't nursing anymore...

But time will tell.

And for now, I'm down to just nursing one.

We'll see how long this one nurses for.

To those of you moms that nursed, how long did you nurse for? Did any of you do extended breastfeeding or tandem nursing? For those that did nurse kids till later ages, what did you do to wean them? Did you do a "weaning party" or do any ceremony or anything to mark the transition from nursing to not? For those that were tandem nursing, how did you find that went for you, with the constant nursing reminders from the little siblings?

Linking up to WFMW Fat TuesdayMostly Homemade Monday


  1. I nursed my little girl until 20 or 22 months, somewhere around there. Up until that point we were still nursing every 3 hours in the day and maybe once at night. Plus all the other goofing around nursing sessions.

    We were at my parents and my mom was stuffing her and she forgot about feeding FOR A WHOLE DAY! Then the next! On the third day she tried to nurse again but I had been so sore already I wasn't willing to start all over again the next day. So we just stopped. She did cry a little but was easily distracted. She tried off an on over the next couple of weeks but never threw a fit again.

    I would recommend a more slow and steady weaning though because I was pretty uncomfortable for a couple weeks after because of the big drop!

  2. Sounds like a nice party and a gentle transition!

    My kids are 9 years apart, so no tandem nursing for me. My son gradually reduced nursing until he was 28 months and it was mostly just at bedtime. Then one night he kept starting and stopping and saying, "Wrong shape. Mama fix me?" It did feel like his mouth was a different shape than usual, but I thought that must be something he was doing, so I wasn't sure how to fix it. Next day I asked about it on a discussion board, and the other moms said he was probably on his way to weaning. When nursing didn't seem to be working well that night, I said, "I think your mouth changed shape because you are growing up and don't need nursing anymore." He was a little sad but seemed to agree that this must be the reason. He wanted to lie on my tummy for a while before going to bed, instead. We did that for a few weeks (I'm glad it didn't go on much longer--he was heavy!) during which he might nurse once a day at some point but skipped some days. Eventually he was done. I'm not even sure I remember the last time.

    My daughter is 5 months old, so I expect to keep nursing her for at least another year. I was just invited to a symposium in Sweden (for my work) 11 months from now...but I doubt that I'll be ready to be away from her for a whole week when she's 16 months old. Maybe that will be my excuse to dip into the savings for a family trip to Europe! :-)

  3. i went back to work after 14 weeks with my son in daycare in my office building, so transitioning away from nursing was much, much easier. at first i either pumped or went up to nurse, then i quit pumping (he was 6 months) because i couldn't stand it anymore and just told the daycare to call me to nurse. by then he was often distracted and preferred to play than nurse in daycare. so at 8 months when he started biting with teeth i told the daycare to stop calling me. by then he only nursed twice in the evening- when we got home, and before bed (the morning session had stopped sometime when it involved my husband making a bottle and letting me sleep). then the coming-home session stopped while my husband was on vacation and was home when we got home- too exciting. the bedtime session ended a few weeks later. my husband did bedtime for two days, and on the third my son sat up and didn't want to nurse. he was 11 months old. was fine for both of us. he's been getting bottles since birth anyway, so i don't mind that he takes them for comfort (i'm transitioning the middle-of-the-night bottle to water now and he doesn't seem to care- 15 months. i took a bottle of water to bed until after i was 3. i remember it. don't mind if he does also.). i hadn't been conceiving even while nursing only a little (regular periods from before he was 6 months), and boom, a month after i stopped i was pregnant. i am very glad i never had to deal with extended nursing because i refused to have a baby old enough to ask to nurse or pull up my shirt. and so i didn't.

  4. I totally sympathize with how much harder it gets to nurse as they get older! My first stopped nursing (partly on her own, partly I think I encouraged it) at 9 months, due to a lot of factors including low milk supply and biting. In some ways I was relieved to stop but I wish I'd gone longer. Now I'm nursing my second, who is 4.5 months old, and I'm really hoping to make it much longer than I did the first time around...so this article was very encouraging to me! Thanks! :)

  5. I nursed my son until he was 26 months, and only stopped because I got pregnant and felt my body couldn't handle both.
    But my son was down to once a day or every other day, so he asked sometimes for comfort and I offered snuggles instead. :) love this idea though!!

  6. Perfect timing! I'm considering weaning my "baby" who is 32 months old. I tandem nursed my oldest two for only a couple of months; I know my limits. Most of my children have been weaned around the 18-24 month mark, due to another baby arriving. The last two nursed into the 30 month mark. Although hesitant to wean, he may be my last baby, I am starting to feel ready and I think emotionally he's getting there as well. With the exception of the first, I follow an old wives tale to use the Farmer's Almanac to wean. I look up the "Best Days" and it lists weaning...meant for farm animals, but it works beautifully with children as well. It has not been traumatic or stressful. Strange but true, on those "Best Days to Wean" it's almost like they forget they are nursing babies!


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