Question for those who let their babies/toddlers decide when to stop breastfeeding(14 Posts)
My friends who let their babies self wean all stopped at around a year. What happened was that they had been giving bottles for awhile and the babies just decided they preferred the bottle.
I am not a fan of bottles for a number of reasons so haven't given ds any so was wondering how this transition happened for others.
Ds (15 months) feeds around 2 days when I am home and just once when I'm at work. As well as this he feeds 1-2 times at night.
We have separated breastfeeding from comfort and are still working on separating it from sleep. The night wakings will be the final challenge to overcome, but I am not looking forward to stopping this as I don't want to deal with the crying as I suffer from insomnia myself.
Anyway I was wondering how the last few months of breastfeeding went and whether your babies/toddlers showed any signs of stopping in the months preceding the last final breastfeed?
'Feeds around 2 times a day when I'm at home"
Well, DS is quite a bit older, but he's just coming to an end now. The very earliest sign was when he started asking me to kiss things better rather than asking for milk, and then not needing it when he woke in the night but just wanting someone to be there. So not really needing it for comfort any more but moving to other sources. Then he just got less bothered and in the last few months he can't latch properly any more. (Apparently this is something to do with the jaw shape changing as they get bigger). He sometimes asks at bedtime but I either ask him to stop as it's uncomfortable or he just stops after a few seconds and he's never bothered.
I think unless you're looking to replace feeds with something specific, bottles or milk in a cup or whatever, self weaning tends to happen a lot later, somewhere between 2 and 5 years, but can be up to 7 (from reading people's experiences this seems to be rare where there are no SN). DS has just turned 4.
What you are describing is not self weaning, but mother led.
Neither of my DSs showed any signs of stopping at 15months.
I introduced a bottle for some feeds for dd1 when she was coming up to a year and within weeks she was refusing breastfeeds. She stopped completely by 13 months.
With dd2 I never introduced a bottle. She is still having a breastfeed at bedtime and she will be four in a few weeks.
Both mine stopped being bothered about feeds when they were 10mo - I didn't offer but didn't refuse and they just lost interest. They weren't having bottles - went from boob to cup.
Neither of mine self weaned at all. Ds1 took a bottle when we were out one day, at 16mo, and from then on I stopped breastfeeding - wasn't great as it was all in one go, he did cry the first time I said no, for about 10 minutes and after that got hooked on bottles instead. (not ideal either!)
Ds2 I fed till he was about 4 and a half. It did gradually get less, though, and he was happy to have substitutes or to be refused quite often, leading up to this. He would never take a bottle happily. And as you say, nights were the difficult bit as he cried and cried if he couldn't have breast milk.
He's 5 now and fine though he still pats them wistfully from time to time.
I agree that you are describing mother-led weaning, not true self-weaning which tends to be between 24 and 60m rather than 13m.
DS1 gradually cut down until at age two he was only having a quick feed at bedtime. Then I got pg and he said it tasted different, and he started missing bedtime feeds. And eventually I realised he had already had his last feed
DS2 still feeds 4-10 times in 24h at eighteen months, as a guide, and DS1 was similar even though I was a WOHM then and now SAHM.
LLL recommend "don't offer, don't refuse" to encourage weaning gently. That sounds similar to what you are doing - breaking associations and not automatically feeding at certain times/triggers.
DD self weaned at 2 years 10 months. But that wasn't true self weaning as we had already replaced the morning feed with a cup of milk at 2 1/2 and I was pregnant so she lost interest as my milk changed.
I have totally let DS lead they way this time and at almost 2 years still had 5-6 feeds in 24 hours. Toddlers don't always take as much milk as a baby when feeding tough so no of feeds doesn't always mean they are taking the same amount of milk.
Babies who are given free access to the breast and are not scheduled at all don't often self wean before the age of 2 years. We tend to encourage early weaning in the west by restricting access even if it's not intensional. And if you have to return to work you can't avoid it really.
Thanks, not what I wanted to hear.
As far as the definition of self weaning, I am talking about when babies happily choose to stop breastfeeding even if it may be because of the mother's coersion. I don't want lots of crying/upset etc, although I could handle 10 minutes of it like severed if that is all it takes. I know it's not true self weaning but I don't think I could continue breastfeeding past 2 years at all.
My ideal end to breastfeeding would be like ZuleikaD, that is what I always envisioned so I am surprised to hear that it is not the norm.
Yes I am very keen on stopping and have set myself 18months as a target but am slightly anxious about the nights.
Ds is hopeless with the cup. I was always optimistic that he would be able to transition onto this, avoiding bottles altogether. I remember reading about babies taking naturally to the cup at 6-7 months and thinking that is what he'll be like [hollow laugh]. But no, he doesn't seem to have the fine motor control, steadiness and desire to hold it for long enough to get a decent drink. We have tried every type of cup (freeflow, valve, straw, doidy, open, soft and hard spouts etc etc) since he was 6 months and he has not got used to any of them.
So it looks like I will be going off to buy some bottles. If we introduce a bottle as a comfort object then maybe we will have some luck in night weaning when we offer water instead of breast milk.
don't use bottles they aren't supposed to have them after 12 as can cause tooth decay.
Pick one cup, a free flow one and stick with it don't swap and change it just confuses them. it takes practices but if you offer a cup with every meal/snack they should get the hang of it quickly.
I don't think a lot of mums realise how long babies would materially feed for as a live in a bottle feeding culture. but the world average age for weaning is about 4 1/2 years and the WHO recommends feeding for at lest 2 years.
Both my two seemed ready for night weaning at about 10m - feeds dropped dramatically from perhaps 8 minutes to perhaps 2, so DH started getting up with them to offer a bottle of ebm. It only took two nights for them to decide they weren't interested. After that they were only having morning and evening feeds and so I stopped offering and they stopped asking.
I don't think this is true 'self-weaning' but it worked for them and both have stayed on the high centiles they were on so clearly not missing the nutrition.
DC1 stopped just before a year as was easily distracted and started chewing me . I stopped DC2 as I wanted to try and conceive again - but she was 13 months by then and it was easy to do as I think she was ready. With DC3 I stopped on his 2nd birthday and he didn't miss it at all. With DC2 and DC3 I expected it to be quite hard but they were totally ready and didn't look back. By then, I think we had wound down breast feeds to morning and evening (maybe even just evening by the end) unless they were ill or very upset.
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