How Child Led Weaning Worked for Us


This summer I was exhausted, emotionally and physically, and the act of nursing was contributing to my overwhelm. I had no idea how hard the weaning process would be, and wrote about it over on Offbeat Families in an article entitled “I knew breastfeeding might be hard, but had no idea weaning was impossible.”  I knew, then, that my goal for Potamus was to be done at 2 years, but I tempered that desire with my deep philosophical heart belief that it wasn’t set in stone, because there are two people in this nursing relationship. And so I powered through some rough toddler months and then we found our groove again.

Ultimately I kept thinking about our weekend away, in December, as my end-goal. Boof and I had never been away overnight, and I figured that the slowing down of the nursing relationship might end in a gradual *poof* it’s gone and then we would come back and suddenly ‘mama snacks’ wouldn’t be available. We left on Friday the 13th, my 31st birthday, and I remember thinking ‘this is me giving me the gift of my body back. I’m not going to nurse him anymore.” And I was sad, and nostalgic.

And it didn’t happen.

When we returned from our ‘trip,’ of course he was clingy excited to see us, and desperately needed some comfort for bedtime routine. And so, banishing the voice in my  head to ‘stick to your guns! don’t let him win!,’ I “gave in,” and nursed him. And it was sweet. And tender. And everything he needed.

Four days later, on the eve of his 2nd birthday, when changing him into his jim-jams, Boof asked, “you want some mama-snacks buddy?” (our cue for nursing), and Potamus shook his head  no. He grabbed his water bottled, snuggle down with me, and sipped himself to sleep holding my hand. Just like that, he weaned himself. And the next night, when he made his sign for mama snacks, and I said, “just cuddles buddy,” he hunkered down without a peep and promptly fell asleep. There was no wailing and gnashing of teeth, just peaceful sleeping next to his mama.

A few nights have gone by, now, and he hasn’t asked for mama snacks again. He sometimes reaches down my shirt to feel meh boobies, but mostly it’s hand holding and water-sippin’ for this little man. The transition even managed to carry over to a new place, since we spent two nights on the other side of the state and he had to get used to sleeping in a new bed with me. I couldn’t be more pleased. It was hard to make it work to fit both of us, but I am so happy that he’s happy and that giving up nursing wasn’t a traumatic event for either of us. I hope that in the future, if I ever have another child. I follow my instincts again…

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