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EBF, break it to me gently, how long does it last?

(31 Posts)
BeHereNow Tue 22-Jul-08 22:44:25

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PortAndLemon Tue 22-Jul-08 22:45:57

DS self-weaned gradually between 2.9 and 3.2 when I was pregnant with DD.

ReallyTired Tue 22-Jul-08 22:51:00

I think its a matter of personal choice how long you breastfeed for. A lot of children left to their own devices will happily breastfeed until six years old. This is fine provided that the mother is happy to breastfeed for this long.

I weaned my son at 33 months old as I had had enough. It took me about ten months to wean him gently.

BeHereNow Tue 22-Jul-08 22:53:14

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BeHereNow Tue 22-Jul-08 23:02:25

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PortAndLemon Tue 22-Jul-08 23:10:09

He didn't start self-weaning until I was around 23 weeks, then cut down gradually -- by the end he was only nursing about once every week to ten days. When DD arrived he never showed any more interest in it; in fact, when she was a couple of weeks old and having a feed he told me that it was something he used to do when he was little. I thought "Hmmm, that would be last month, then..." but didn't say anything. Given how keen he was on bf when I got pregnant I'd been expecting to end up tandem nursing, but it wasn't to be...

ReallyTired Wed 23-Jul-08 00:03:48

Do you go to La Leche League meetings. Its great to meet RL people who nurse toddlers or even pre schoolers.

I hope your child doesn't get asthma or hayfever. My son gets hayfever and had really severe glue ear so breastfeeding doesn't always stop health problems.

See this link, its a bit scary.

natural age of weaning

I have only met two people in real life who breastfed their children until 6 years old. Its very rare.

Lots of people in developing countries breastfeed their children until toddlerhood.

ReallyTired Wed 23-Jul-08 00:07:00

extraordinary breastfeeding

melpomene Wed 23-Jul-08 00:11:11

dd1: weaned gradually at around 2 1/2, with encouragement from me because I was starting to find it a bit tiring feeding her (was tandem feeding). I encouraged her to cut down by reducing the length of feeds, doing count-downs to end feeds etc.

dd2: still going strong at 3 yrs 3 mths (morning, naptime & evening).

Have you read this book? It is very good.

BeHereNow Wed 23-Jul-08 00:22:53

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susiecutiebananas Wed 23-Jul-08 00:45:27

I'm much the same as you Beherenow. In that I've surprised myself that we are still feeding at 18 months. I also cut the night feeds in order to encourage DD to sleep all night. Once we cracked that, I didn't see it as a much of a problem to feed her if she does wake now.

SO, she does get a little feed in the night if she wakes. I couldn't really stop her now, if I pick her up or lie down and cuddle her, she's lifting up my top, or pulling my boob out over the top of my vest and helping herself!!! I don't mind in bed, its when she tries the same when we have people here!!! wink

That's the other thing i've found interesting, she rarely does ask for it if we have anyone here - other than DH, my mum or my sister. once or twice she has climbed up and pulled or patted or said Mulk ( what she now calls it) infront of our neighbour whom she sees most days. Never when we are out and about, ever at other peoples houses. Only really if its just the 2/3 of us at home.

Personally I intend to keep going until she wants to stop, within reason - a personal feeling that is. I have no issue with older children feeding, although it is pretty rare I think. I kind of have the age of 3 in mind as my upper limit, i've no idea why.

Possibly because I saw my cousin feeding her 3.5yr old at a family wedding when I was about 18. I was really shocked when he climbed up onto her lap, chatted to her as he un buttoned her blouse and just helped himself. He was a tall/big boy for his age, and just seemed odd to me at the time. I still don't know why- maybe it was such an uncommon sight. maybe it was due to his mature appearance. A friend of mine had a very little brother who I saw feeding at about 3yrs old, he was not so big, not talking as well as my cousin and it just didn't seem so un-usual. It was in there home as well, at bedtime. I think I would react very differently now to the same thing though. I just remember how I felt then as a young woman. I can't describe it really, but that's what's stayed with me, rather than the idea of a 3 and half yr old br feeding! I know, i'm sounding odd now.

Isobel is very chatty at her age now, and does talk sometimes with her mouth full at a feed time,and laughs ad giggles whilst feeding sometimes, especially if Daddy is tickling her toes. She also helps herself, it's always always when we are alone/at home.NO idea why. I love it though. I can't imagine us not doing it as it still seems so special. Dh was worried about it when we kept going after a year, but it seems so natural to him now he's not any problem with it. ( not that it would have stopped us if he did... wink )
I also love all the positions she gets into whilst feeding. It makes me laugh, DH calls her little goat, as she often stands up with her legs straight, leaning over and feeding. She also goes on all fours! or, upside down, you name it, she's done it!

Sorry I can't give you a guide of age though, i'll be interested to see what your final results are wink grin

Also, sorry I got carried away with my reply! blush

cmotdibbler Wed 23-Jul-08 08:51:58

Ds weaned himself at 23 months - had been down to one feed a day since 19 months, and then started missing that occasionally. I went away for work for a few days, and he didn't ask again when I came back.

So not terribly LLL (reading Mothering your Nursing Toddler was really so not helpful for a ft worker), but thats what happened for us.

BonyM Wed 23-Jul-08 09:05:25

DD2 weaned just before her third birthday. By that point we were down to just one, very brief feed a day (at bedtime).

She didn't ask for it for one night so the next night I used distraction techniques and again she didn't ask. By the third night when she did ask I told her it was all gone. She cried for about 15 seconds and then was fine. She asked a couple more times on subsequent nights but was accepting when I told her it was all gone.

In the end it was much less traumatic then I'd been anticipating and I was glad that I'd waited to let it happen naturally even though I'd thought it would never end!

CantSleepWontSleep Wed 23-Jul-08 09:12:00

Who knows?! Dd is still going at 2.5, and me being 30 weeks pregnant hasn't put her off at all, so I guess I'll be tandem feeding in 10 weeks.

I certainly hope that she doesn't want to continue until age 6!

CantSleepWontSleep Wed 23-Jul-08 09:12:48

(I thought from the title that you wanted to know how long expressed breast milk keeps for btw!)

charliegal Wed 23-Jul-08 09:28:54

I know someone whose daughter bf until 7! I think mostly that doesn't happen because most women are well and truly fed up before then.

BeHereNow Wed 23-Jul-08 09:39:24

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onwardandupward Wed 23-Jul-08 16:27:27

Among my close RL friends, one is nursing a four year old, another is nursing her 3-almost-four year old, another is nursing a 4-year-old through pregnancy, another is nursing her 2.5 year old (but has night weaned), another is tandem nursing her 3.5 year old and her 6 month old, and another is only nursing her 6 month old (the older children self-weaned at 5 and 4 respectively). The other good RL friend didn't bf her first and weaned her second before a year.

Either I'm a total weirdo, or I prefer to hang out with people who make me feel more ordinary...

onwardandupward Wed 23-Jul-08 16:32:29

Oh, and yes, my friend who is a paed in a displaced-persons camp in north africa says that most of the children she sees are malnourished 2/3 year olds who have been weaned because their mothers were pregnant with the next child and who can't get enough nutrients from the food available to the family. i.e. as far as she is concerned, 2 is FAR TOO YOUNG to be weaning those children.

Here's some stuff from a LLL friend of mine about global weaning practices:

"Later weaning is the dominant pattern in history and in other cultures. Babylon (3000 BC) specified nursing for 2-3 years. Hebrews (Torah) weaning at 3 years. (Weaning of Samuel and Isaak was at age 3) Egyptian papyrus document weaning at 3 yrs.

Medical Ayurvedic texts (1500 too 800 BC) recommend ONLY breastmilk for the first year and breastmilk and solids for second year and gradual weaning after that.

Byzantine (400 TO 700 BC) weaning at 20 months to 2 years.

More recently:

Samoans--1 year
Australian aborigines--2-3 years
Greenlanders--3-4 years
Hawaiians--5 years
Inuit--7 years

Gambia--21 months
Ivory Coast--42 months
Northern Sudan--2-3 years
Morocco and Algeria--at least 2 years
Pakistan--92% still BFing at 2 years!!!

Weaning according to attainment of 1/3 of our adult weight (4-7 years for humans with boys nursing longer than girls).

Weaning according to adult body size (1.8 to 3.7 years depending on average adult female body weight.

Weaning according to gestation length. Affected by adult size. A minimum of six times gestational age (4.5 years).

Weaning according to dental eruption (weaning at eruption of first permanent molars (5.5 to 6.5 years in modern humans).


Wickers, Arch Dis Child 1953: 151-158
Stuart-Macadam, Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives, 75-99
Detwyler, Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives 1995:39-74"

I think that's fascinating. I also particularly like the stat that 92% of 2 year olds in Pakistan are still breastfeeding. It's really only a western thing which pushes this infant weaning so fast, and I just don't know why we do it.

terramum Wed 23-Jul-08 16:40:30

DS weaned himself a couple of months ago (just before his 4th birthday). I still offer occasionally just in case he changes his mind as the last few months were fairly erratic feeding-wise....but he always say no.

VictorianSqualor Wed 23-Jul-08 16:41:05

At our house my three year old (4 in december)
has re-started bfing because he sees his baby brother do it so if you have another you might have to go back to feeding even after weaning...

hanaflower Wed 23-Jul-08 16:49:47

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Notanexcitingname Wed 23-Jul-08 16:54:12

Despite the "natural age of breastfeeding" research, I think something like 80-90% of children wil self wean between 2 and 4. With over 3 being more usual.

I have issues with the research that shows that the average age of self-weaning is 4.2 years, as it discards those who self-weaned below 3 years. For no well-argued reason.

Happy to debate this though ;)

I'm gentle weaning my 2 year old now.

BeHereNow Wed 23-Jul-08 17:13:52

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ReallyTired Wed 23-Jul-08 17:41:49

I once went to a LLL conference. There was a lady there who was breastfeeding her two year old. I didn't think anything of it at first because my son was the same age at the time. Then the lady proceeded to breastfed her 5 week old baby and I thought ahh!

Then biggest shock of all was that she then breastfed her 4 and half year old son. My eyes nearly popped out of their sockets.

I realised that the problem was with me rather than her. Her children were all happy and healthy. I don't think I could cope with three children under 5, yet alone bf all of them.

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