My son nursed for 18 months, which is apparently longer than most babies these days. When he was a newborn, I began attending Le Leche League meetings and that is where I first saw a toddler breast feed. I suspect many a new mom first sees this at LLL meetings! It was so discreet that, although mom and child were right in front of me, I didn’t realize what I was seeing until I had been seeing it for some time. He was coming and going, playing in between “sips”. I learned later that while his mother does not typically nurse him in public, she does at these meetings. Not only would it be difficult to say no to her son while he is surrounded by babies, but it also serves to teach other women in attendance what it looks like to nurse a toddler.
- I never thought I would breastfeed beyond the “required” 12 months. I had no idea, however, how to end something I had fought so hard to have to begin with. The thought of forcibly weaning my son was hard to swallow. Then again, there are gentle ways of weaning that many mothers use, including many I know personally and respect as partners in the journey. But for us, it wasn’t going to work.
- In the end, I simply stopped offering milk to my son, but never refused. It turned out that when we weren’t at home, he had no interest by the time he was about 10 months old anyway. domain archive . I never had to deal with nasty looks of strangers wondering why I was, “still doing that.” At around 14 months, he stopped nursing as often – going from about 6-8 times a day to about 4-6. Soon, it was only after each nap, at bedtime, and first thing in the morning. Before I knew it he was refusing it at night and before naps, only nursing when waking up. Finally, he only wanted to nurse first thing in the morning. Over about a month, he started wanting to go eat breakfast instead more days than not and the day he turned 18 months, we cuddled in my bed first thing in the morning for the last time. He wasn’t eating so much as saying goodbye. I could feel it, and it made me sad. My little boy was becoming a little boy, independent of his Momma. A week later, I stopped offering what I wasn’t sure I even still had to offer. That night, in the shower, I expressed a few drops of milk and was amazed it was still there. Once, a month or two before he weaned, my husband asked me if he was still nursing. That’s how unobtrusive our breastfeeding relationship had become.
- Recently, a friend asked me how it is possible to nurse only once every few days and maintain a milk supply. I don’t know what the answer is, only that when we are in the throes of early babyhood, we often wonder how any baby can eat every 20 minutes and when it’s going to, “get better.”
The truth is that is doesn’t, “get better,” – it just gets different.
I encourage all moms to consider allowing their child to self-wean, or at least giving them the time and opportunity to try. Take it one day at a time and enjoy it while it lasts, however long that turns out to be.