Many of you told us in last month's survey that you're interested in hearing about weaning. I thought I start with my own experience and some of my favorite resources, and then invite you to write about your own experience.
We are just about down to the last of the apple avalanche of October. We've recently made applesauce, apple crisp (which my son calls 'apple Christmas'), put apples in stuffing, and had apples with peanut butter.
Having all these apples around has made with think about...weaning. Stick with me here. I'm going to make this work.
Do you know what it's like to pick a fruit when it' s not yet ripe? It takes some effort. There's resistance, a moment of struggle. Now imagine picking the same fruit when it's ripe. It practically falls into your hand. It's ready.
This is what weaning was like for me. Nursing just faded out, with no protest or struggle. At some point I suggested that we nurse every other bedtime, instead of at each bedtime. That lasted for about a week, and then I guess he forgot about it, and there we were, done. He didn't notice that we'd stopped until I pointed it out to him a few weeks later.
In ancient writings, the word 'wean' meant 'to ripen" -- like a fruit nourished to readiness, it's time to leave the vine....Weaning was a joyous occasion because a weaned child was valued as a fulfilled child; a child was so filled with the basic tools of the earlier stages of development that she graduated to take on the next stage of development more independently. From The Baby Book, Sears and Sears.
It was like this with other things like sleep and potty training. We trusted that he would know when the time was right. And when we sensed it was, we gave him a tiny push in the right direction, and that was it.
This is not to say that there wasn't suffering involved, especially with regard to sleep. I was ready to be done with nursing before he was, but kept going until I felt he was ready. And there can certainly be a feeling of buyer's remorse if you do it this way ("could we have done this sooner?"). But in the end I think that the sacrifices were worth it, and I'd do it all again the same way.
I know that weaning this way is not always possible, for many reasons. Last week I worked with a woman who needs to stop breastfeeding in order to take a medication which her doctor says is incompatible with breastfeeding. A friend called last week for help with night weaning her toddler, and it's looking like it'll be a struggle. Another friend's toddler suddenly self-weaned after an illness, leaving her in shock and engorged for some time.
If you're looking for some help with weaning, or are just starting to think about it, here are some of my favorite resources:
- Weaning at kellymom.com
- Resources on weaning from La Leche League International
- Books on weaning at Motherwear's bookstore
- Night weaning, especially for toddlers, at kellymom.com
- Some parent-to-parent help at the Berkeley Parents Network, and parents' toddler weaning stories at DC Urban Moms and Dads
And feel free to tell us about what weaning was like for you in the comments section!