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why do some people think its best for a baby to self wean off the breast?

(42 Posts)
lovelysongbird Fri 25-Jul-08 09:28:07

is it a confidence thing? like if the baby chooses to stop when its will be ready and feel more secure?

welliemum Fri 25-Jul-08 09:33:47

It wasn't really about confidence for me - or not only about confidence.

IMO self weaning is the best possible way to be sure that you've stopped at the right time for the baby.

(In the same way that BLW - allowing the baby to decide when to start eating - is the best possible way to decide when a baby's ready for food).

I think these instincts are there for a reason.

lovelysongbird Fri 25-Jul-08 09:34:37

no i ment confidece for the baby

kiskidee Fri 25-Jul-08 09:35:56

this is just one large aspect:

because the benefits of breastfeeding, emotional and physiological, continue as long as a child is feeding. - though of course many benefits continue into adulthood irregardless if the parent weans the child.

others will come along and give more insight.

VictorianSqualor Fri 25-Jul-08 09:37:05

I think part of it is confidence, but part of it is just letting nature do it's thing.
Nature is bloody clever and when your baby no longer 'needs' the breast they will stop taking it, apparently so you can be sure that you haven't stopped too early.

StealthPolarBear Fri 25-Jul-08 09:39:19

Getting on this thread as this is what I plan / hope to do but need all the ammo I can get
There has been a link between confidence / the baby having his or her needs met but I'm not sure about the source of that
I suppose the argument really should be turned round - why would you make an effort to stop doing breastfeeding? (Unless of course there are specific reasons why the mother wants to stop other than she feels she should or it's the done thing)

[Dragonbutter: I'm going, I promise]

theyoungvisiter Fri 25-Jul-08 09:40:10

I think there are lots of complex reasons and it depends on the mother and child. It is a confidence thing - it's also a kind of, well, why not? thing. I mean, it doesn't cost me anything to continue to bf, and DS loves it - it's like a comfort blanket to him. I think the school of thought that says it helps a baby to grow up if you forcibly wean him is the same school of thought that used to burn little boys teddy bears at the age of 7 in order to make them more independent.

There are also many health benefits for the mother and child even after the magic 1 year everyone seems to focus on - basically there are so many arguments for continuing, and the only reason to stop is if the mother/baby wants to - if that doesn't apply then what's the argument for stopping?

Also, if I'm being totally honest in my case it's a laziness thing! - DS is incredibly attached to bfing and even cutting down is a major emotional battle with lots of tears and sadness, and a fair bit of sleep deprivation. It just seems pointless to put us both through that without a good reason.

PortAndLemon Fri 25-Jul-08 09:43:47

Breastfeeding is good for the baby and for the mother long past the age at which most women in the UK stop breastfeeding (well, most women stop breastfeeding before 6 weeks, but long past 6 months or a year). There are a host of medical references that back that up. So breastfeeding as long as the child wants to do so is good for everyone. Once they don't want to breastfeed any more then you don't have any option but to stop.

I agree with SPB -- the question should probably be "why do some people think it's best for a baby to be forcibly weaned from the breast?" (bearing in mind that "forcibly" is an emotive word, and I don't really mean that emotive context, but I can't think of a better alternative word)

pistachio Fri 25-Jul-08 09:45:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lovelysongbird Fri 25-Jul-08 09:46:39

oh no, don't get me wrong ill all for bf and for babies self weaning.
just wondered what the advantages are

VictorianSqualor Fri 25-Jul-08 09:48:03

Another one here who thinks maybe the question should be
"why do some people think it's best for a baby to be forcibly weaned from the breast".

Just as taking away a dummy, or putting a child into a bed, or toilet training can be very emotionally testing, both for parent and child, if there is no need to stop then why put yourself and them through it?

I stopped feeding DS1 at 9 months(though he ahs started asking for it again lately as DS2 is being BF), because I went back to work but with DS2 I have no plans to stop at any time, I can't plan something when there is no reason for it.

seeker Fri 25-Jul-08 09:50:38

Because it's the easy way. Quite often with babies the easy way is the best way because it makes for a more relaxed mother and baby and therefore a more relaxed family.

i think that if anything you do with a baby feels like a struggle it's worth reconsidering.

Tatties Fri 25-Jul-08 09:53:59

What theyoungvisitor said - ds is no longer a tiny baby but I still feel that he needs to bf... to try to wean now would cause a lot of distress and I wouldn't want to put either of us through that. I believe that he will stop of his own accord when he no longer needs it and I am happy to let it continue until then. As to whether it will make him more secure... I don't know! I hope so, but that's not why I'm doing it. I am doing it because it is the right thing for us at this point in time.

witchandchips Fri 25-Jul-08 10:04:21

but is usually not as clear cut as this is it? I stopped offering during the day when we were out and about around 10 months, he then lost interest when we were at home. Later he moved the last feed of the day downstairs (as no longer wanted to feed to sleep) and he lost interest in that one to. He dropped the first feed of the day soom after. Yes he self -weaned but I manipulated things a bit so that he would do so.

VictorianSqualor Fri 25-Jul-08 10:15:19

What makes you think you manipulated it?
At 10 months if they need or want it they can ask, whether it by pulling at you or crawling up on your lap etc so by not offering I wouldn't say it was manipulated at all, did you refuse it at all?

theyoungvisiter Fri 25-Jul-08 14:13:13

witch and chips, I've done all the below and more and my DS is very clear that he is still entitled to his milk!

Plus I am now pregnant and have almost no milk left so there's really not an obvious reason for him to continue - but he still does.

I think if a child really wants to continue to bf then a lot more than gentle persuasion is needed. I would have had to wear the breast equivalent of a chastity belt in order to fend DS off past a certain age.

SoupDragon Fri 25-Jul-08 14:15:23

Do any mammals allow their young to decide when they won't be breast fed any more?

theyoungvisiter Fri 25-Jul-08 14:18:20

I don't know - but is that relevant? We do all sorts of things that other mammals don't! No other mammal gives birth in water apart from the whale (or so said my friend's obstetrician) - doesn't stop it being helpful for many women.

Oblomov Fri 25-Jul-08 14:43:35

Vs raises an interesting point. Why do we do things at certain stages ?
Becasue there is an expectation ?
Like when you take your child for developmental checks and they expect them to be able to build a tower of blocks, or use the pincer grip.

My school has requested that reception children be able to wipe their bottom and button a shirt.

We potty train because we expect children not to be in nappies anymore. There are always some children who don't want to, are SN, late developers, or whatever the reason. But often people potty train before 3, don't they.

No need to force children to stop bf, so that they become majorly upset. But a gradual weaning, gentle method,once they show a bit of disinterest, once they are eating a varied diet. I think that is my prefered method. But that is only me personally.

SoupDragon Fri 25-Jul-08 17:07:17

Of course it's relevant. People make such a huge thing about it being "best" but what is that based on? Obviously "breast is best" but that's because it's the biological norm. I would imagine that most things which are the biological norm are best for us. Even stuff like carrying your baby close to your body like other primates is good for the baby (albeit with a sling as we have no fur for them to cling to :0). Thus, it is relevant to ask whether any other mammal allows the baby to self wean. Is it the biological norm?

Your analogy with a water birth is irrelevant really. No other mammals have mumsnet but that's not the same as allowing a baby to self-wean is it?

charchargabor Fri 25-Jul-08 19:24:16

I'm coming on this thread as I plan to self-wean. DD is nearly 1, and she is very attached to breastfeeding. It solves any issue, pain or upset. So I just haven't really thought there would be a need to stop whilst she still finds it so important. Plus I enjoy the cuddles a lot, I don't get to hold her much now she's just started walking! grin

For anyone interested in a comparison between natural weaning in humans and other mammals, have a read of this It's by an anthropologist called Kathy Dettwyler.

kiskidee Fri 25-Jul-08 20:17:42

the natural age of weaning

kiskidee Fri 25-Jul-08 20:18:31

great minds think alike charchar. smile

charchargabor Fri 25-Jul-08 20:24:04

smile kiskidee! I love that link, I always find sciencey things interesting!

kiskidee Fri 25-Jul-08 20:25:45

me too. a geek finds other geek. smile

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