Slowly, slowly, slowly weaning a toddler

17 July 2010 at 12:58 pm 2 comments

My son is twenty-three months old and still nurses a lot–before bed and naps, in the morning, 2-6+ times a night, and 2-10+ times a day. It’s so funny trying to even come up with these numbers, because his nursing is so dependent on a number of variables–the only constant, again, is that he does nurse a lot: if he only nurses twice in the day because we’re out and about and he’s busy, then he nurses all night long, and vice versa. If he sees me in the bathtub, he climbs in with me and nurses there (he usually holds a naked baby doll in the tub, so we’re this happy confusion of mama and baby and baby and milk and water). If he sees me sitting at my computer in the dining room in the afternoon, he climbs on my lap and nurses there.

I know a number of women who have nursed past age two, but many say they only breastfeed morning and night. Others say they told their child that the milk stays in the house–in other words, they stopped breastfeeding in public. It’s true that societal pressure to stop ramps up wildly at this age, but I feel like breastfeeding–now that my son really knows what it is–is all the sweeter, and neither he nor I want to stop anytime soon.

In May, though, I stoppped pumping at work–I was down to just one pump a day, and I slowly weaned myself off that. Now, when I work (three days a week) I can make it through the day without being uncomfortable or engorged.

This month, in response to my husband’s perpetual “how long are you going to do that for?” exasperated comments, I decided I would adopt a “don’t-offer-don’t-refuse” technique when out of the house, so, barring scraped knees or tantrums, I’ve been trying not to offer the breast. At home, sure, but out, I figure I won’t refuse if he asks, but I won’t offer it.

Here’s the humorous part: Up until now, my son has never had a word or a sign for nursing. In retrospect, I realize that’s because he never needed one–even when we were out, I always just popped out a breast at a whimper or peep or even a frown. In the last week, though, my creative son developed a way to ask, quite clearly, for the breast: He opens his mouth into the nursing position and lets his lower jaw drop as though he’s swallowing, and vocalizes, so what comes out is a (not quiet) “wuh-wuh-wuh-wuh-wuh-wuh-wuh-wuh.” He continues the sound until he’s actually latched on, and he does this while sitting on my lap (climbing up if necessary) and facing the breast.

So yeah, so much for the first tentative tiny steps toward weaning my toddler. I’m pretty pleased with the way this has worked out, actually–it’s pretty cute, and makes me laugh every time. Plus, it’s so much more obvious that we’re nursing in public that my husband now rolls his eyes at us and has stopped making comments!


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Johanna S  |  17 July 2010 at 2:32 pm

    That is adorable! My daughter is 34 months and still loves to nurse. I want to do baby-led weaning, but who knows when she will be ready! I did night-wean and I feel that that helped us a lot. We both sleep better. So I feel that I can be a better mother. The level of exhaustion I was experiencing was unbelievable. I am happy to say that, yes, night-weaning is hard, but, if you ever want to do it, you can do it gently and reassuringly. Happy nursing! It is beautiful.

  • […] about vaguely, tentatively, maybe starting to […]


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