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September 08, 2004

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What a well-written post. I don't necessarily agree with your thesis, but you made your case so incredibly well I am not going to argue the point. What made me really think was the idea that long-term nursing is discouraged in this culture because of breasts being so sexualized. I realized that is exactly what creeps me out about long-term nursing and that it's an artifical construct I need to get right over. So while I may not be nursing my toddler you made an excellent case for why someone would.

(and to a previous post about children in church): My brother and sister in law, who live three hours away, came for a visit this weekend with my adorable 15 month old nephew. They went golfing Sunday morning along with my husband and my dad, so my mom and I took my nephew to church.

What a nightmare. I have never been less attentive in church since I myself was a child! It gave me a whole new respect for parents who manage to keep their kids even relatively quiet during Mass. Of course, he's at that stage where he isn't crazy about anyone who's not Mom or Dad, and for some reason that day my presence really upset him. I don't get to establish a lot of familiarity with him since they live so far, and know that was a big part of the problem. He was inconsolable--didn't want to be held but didn't want to be put down either and any attempts to soothe him were met with louder and sadder sobs. I ended up missing the Eucharst entirely because I was outside trying to help him calm down. I believe you used the world "humbling" :-)?

Amen, and then some! I have never had a huge aversion to nursing toddlers, but I always assumed I would wean at a year or thereabouts. That's just what you do. But since having my baby and experiencing breastfeeding, I have been doing reading and thinking on the subject. Now I'm coming to the conclusion that child-led weaning is important. If I claim to be practicing gentle parenting, how can I rip something so important for the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of my child away from him before he is ready to let go of it?

"He said sadly, 'It's just -- it's just everything.' "

This brought tears to my eyes.

Good post! Yup, I weaned my kids at 2 1/2 and 3 1/2. Or shall I say they weaned? I never thought I'd be going past one with the first child. But with the second one I relaxed on issues such as "When will this kid wean? Use a toilet?" etc...and just enjoyed the time and the continuing presence of mothering hormones in my blood stream! I'm certain I really needed that for as long as possible.
Kim C.

one of the great things about having lots of kids is that one learns that they are all different! my kids weaned themselves as young as 10 months, and as late as 26 months (my first was weaned to a bottle at 7 months, something I regretted but I was pregnant and losing weight and needed to feed the child in utero).
my one concern is there are some moms who breastfeed older kids as a way to ignore the kids other needs. that concerns me. it isn't common, but it is akin to the mom who stuffs a bottle in the mouth of a 3 year old to quiet the child without finding out what the child truly needs. rarer with breast than with bottle, but it does happen.

Thanks for your comments, everybody.

Allison, have you seen the book How Weaning Happens? I can't say my oldest son's weaning was completely child-led, but it was gentle. I think it's perfectly fine for mom to lead sometimes too in the weaning process, as long as the child's needs are respected.

Amy, I'm taking your comment as quite a compliment -- thanks very much. Sounds like taking your nephew to Mass was a painful initiation into the children-at-church thing. Tough age, tough situation with the separation anxiety. Now it'll seem like a piece of cake when your baby fusses for a minute during the Eucharistic Prayer because she needs to burp.

Alicia, I hear you about the occasional moms who may try to nurse instead of finding out a child's real need. But an older nursling usually has the verbal skills to say, "No, Mom, that's not what I want. Please read me a book." And I think also that a mom who is trying to avoid dealing with her child probably has some other issues that would be present whether or not her child was weaned. JMHO.

Kim, nodding vigorously here! It's much easier to be relaxed after the first one, when you see that they do actually wean and get out of diapers.

Wow!

Excellent post.

I love this entry! Amazing.

My son is three-and-a-half-ish, and he cannot talk. I am grateful every day that I followed my instincts and stayed with the breastfeeding and co-sleeping. My son's life won't always be this easy, happy and safe, but I want it to be as long as possible.

Soon enough he will learn that there is a societally correct way to throw a ball and eat yogurt...Part of me wishes he would continue to throw like a girl clown forever.

Thing is, my son cannot ask to nurse with words. People have maliciously told me I should have stopped nursing when my son was first able to ask for it. Well, people, my son *can't* talk.

Thank you. I needed this RIGHT NOW. I found you through Raising WEG, and I have twins who are just about to turn four, and despite my theoretical commitment to child-led weaning, I've started to be uncomfortable with it. I think I'm kind of where you were with your son. Nursing is extremely limited now, so it's not like I'm nursing on demand, but it's also difficult because if I stop it now, I take it away completely. And I've started to wonder if they'll ever wean without my putting an official end to it. But they love it; there have been fake stomach bugs after I nursed on demand for a day when one couldn't keep anything down. They ask politely and wait until the sun rises. I'm a tough and firm mom in many other ways, as you describe, but I'm not sure I want to limit this. But once you get waaaaay out there on the tail of the bell curve--when people are discussing extended nursing and you realize they're talking about 13-month-olds (at which age mine could hardly be bothered with solid foods, and wow did I lose a lot of weight!).

Anyway, thank you. You've helped reinforce something I know in my heart. And reminded me that they really will wean on their own....right? ;)

Wow this rather makes me wish I had nursed my two girls longer. They both weaned at about 16 months. Both times I was pregnant and they both had habits of chewing and biting that made nursing a very unpleasant experience for me. (Perhaps exacerbated by pregnancy-related breast tenderness?) Every nursing session turned into a battle where they would bite, I'd pull them off and wait then they would latch on again, go for a while and then forget themselves and bite again.
My second daughter weaned herself the week before her brother was born. One day she just had no interest in nursing. I think she just got fed up with fighting with me over the biting thing. And with my first daughter the biting was compounded with pinching. She just had to pinch me while nursing and I was getting sore on my arms.

I keep thinking that if I were a more patient person perhaps I'd not have turned it into a battle. I'm curious though about your experiences with your older children and whether you've ever had any difficulty in training them not to bite. I think I'd like to nurse my son longer than 16 months but if he's anything like his sisters, and so far he's developed the same pinching mannerisms, then I'm not very confident in my ability to weather that stage of nursing.

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