Natural Weaning – an excerpt from The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
“But when will he wean?” you ask, as your two year old holds up his arms to be picked up and nursed again. Actually, he’s been weaning himself ever since his bite of food. “To wean,” says the Concise Oxford dictionary, is “to teach the sucking child to feed otherwise than from the breast.” While many people see weaning as the end of something- a taking away or deprivation-it’s really a positive thing, a beginning, a wider experience. It’s a broadening of the child’s horizons, an expansion of his universe. It’s moving slowly ahead one careful step at a time. It’s full of exciting but sometimes frightening new experiences. It’s another step in growing up.
In her warm and insightful book, MOTHERING YOUR NURSING TODDLER, Norma Jean Bumgarner talks about the “unpredictable course of natural weaning.” She says there will come a time “at some age” when “your child will not find nursing so absolutely essential to her well-being. She may stop asking so often. Or she may be distracted sometimes from nursing…You will very naturally and with hardly a thought respond a little less quickly to her requests to nurse…. In time-how much time no one can say-your child will abandon all but a few favorite nursing times.”
Norma Jane goes on to describe how some children will continue to enjoy one or more of these special nursing times for a while, dropping them ever so slowly until eventually they are weaned. She concludes: “Every natural weaning is unique so that it is impossible to guarantee anything about it except that it will happen.”
Now just a little tidbit from me. One of the 10 concepts that LLL was founded on is that “ideally the breastfeeding relationship should continue until the baby outgrows the need.” However, many factors can play into when a child weans from its mother’s breast. Whether it is 6 weeks, 6 months, 18 months or 3 years you have given your baby an AMAZING gift of your milk so be proud of yourself!!!
~Sarah Alberts, LLL leader
P.s. Don't forget to join us for La Leche League this Thursday at our Sioux Falls store (207 W 37th) at 6:30 p.m.!