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He wants to wean, but I don't.

My plan was to wean DD when she turned 2. She will be 2 next Friday (Aug 30). DH still believes I'm going to have her weaned by then. She nurses 2, maybe 3 times a day. Sometimes not at all. It depends. Mostly it is at nap and bedtime. Sometimes when she wakes up. She asks for it. If I say no she some times fusses and sometimes will just accept the no.

When I do say yes she is super happy! She says "yes!" Or huffs all excitedly. It instantly calms her and she's able to go to sleep easily, even if she's sick, teething or cranky. I don't nurse her to sleep. I nurse her until she's drowsy then lay her in bed awake and she goes to sleep.

DH is adamant that she is too old and stayed okay with up to two because of the WHO recommendation. But now he says 2 is enough and I need to let this go she's not a baby anymore. He thinks I want to continue to try to keep her a baby because she's my last child.

How can I explain to him that she just needs it still sometimes? And that when she is done she will know it and so will I.

Or should I just give it up and force DD to wean?
by on Aug. 23, 2013 at 3:36 PM
Replies (21-30):
by Group Admin - Stacy on Aug. 23, 2013 at 9:41 PM

Whoa, she's two and not a baby anymore!?! So she's got to wean? And get out of diapers. And go to preschool? With each baby, my definition of "baby" gets extended further. My fourth is four years old and we still refer to her as "the baby". She weaned at 39 months. And had been out of diapers since maybe 29 months. And while my dh didn't care, I don't think he realized she was nursing for much of that last year. It didn't put him out so there was nothing to get himself upset over anyway. 

by Group Admin - Stacy on Aug. 23, 2013 at 9:47 PM
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It is difficult, if not impossible, to pump after the first year unless you are a pumping with extreme ferquency preceding that point. If you pick up a pump around a year, no joke, you'll be lucky to get a half ounce from both breasts. Even working moms who pump struggle with decreased pump response before the one year mark.

Quoting Corina1987:

I can understand his point of view. Society already has a stigma on breastfeeding as if it becomes sexual when the child is older. I think I will switch to giving breast milk in a cup around 1 year old or 2. I'm guessing it won't be easy to wean him but he can't breastfeed forever even if he wanted to. My mom used to feed/dress me/etc even when I was in elementary school because I wanted it. Suddenly I realized I wanted my independence and I stopped. Im mad that I was never encouraged to be more independent and instead was encouraged to depend on my mother for everything. Good luck in your choice.

by Crystal on Aug. 23, 2013 at 9:52 PM
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Wow, look at the ignorance popping up in this post.

I usually say you should take daddy into consideration for parenting points but this is not one of them.  There are so many benefits to extended breastfeading, so if you and baby aren't ready, then keep going!


by on Aug. 23, 2013 at 10:03 PM
2 moms liked this
If you want to compromise, you could tell DH that you've already Started weaning (since you're down to 2 or 3 times a day) and are just going to continue slowly to make it easier for both if you. Remind him that weaning is a process, not a one shot deal. Then do whatever works for you and your daughter.
by on Aug. 23, 2013 at 11:05 PM
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I think I say everything I'd want to say in my blog post here. I wrote it 2 yrs ago. DD is now 4yrs and is still nursing a couple of times a week.

Two years!

It was two years ago that I first began nursing my daughter.

Last month my little sweetie turned two years old. Yes, she is now two years old and we are still breastfeeding. A lot. She really likes to nurse.

Now, to many of the people I hang out with, this is totally normal. However, I realize that for most of the people in the US this may seem weird. My minimum breastfeeding goal has always been two years, though I fell a few months short with both of my boys. Why at least two years? Why would you still be breastfeeding a toddler? Can’t she have “regular” milk now? Doesn’t she have a full set of teeth and eat solid food?

Most people are simply unaware of the huge list of benefits of continuing to breastfeed full term. One of my favorite collection of research based information on this is atBreastfeeding Past Infancy: Fact Sheet
While it may seem “weird” to many in our culture, scientific research by Katherine A. Dettwyler, PhD shows that 2.5 to 7.0 years of nursing is what our children have been designed to expect (Dettwyler 1995). 
In short:
Weird = Some person’s opinion
Normal = Science
So, if science says it is normal to be nursing a two year old, then why is it so often considered "weird"? Dr. Karan Epstein-Gilboa points out in her book, Interaction and Relationships in Breastfeeding Families, "In western environments, non-nursing or, at most, short term nursing are the norm. Behaviors veering from the normal status are therefore considered abnormal."

Some people may read this and think about how much breastfeeding is promoted as "best" and be mislead to think that we live in a breastfeeding culture. When you consider the fact that in the US approximately 11% of babies are still nursing at 12 months old, knowing that the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests baby is nursed a MINIMUM of 12 months, you can see that we are a culture in which bottle feeding and short term breastfeeding are the norm. The vast majority of children in the US are not nursing on their first birthday. Not normal is abnormal by default.

Until recently, nursing into toddler/preschool ages was often labeled "Extended Breastfeeding". The reality is that there is nothing "extended" about it. It is the physiological norm for human children. Breastfeeding beyond infancy is not extended, simply "full term". Many babies are born before 40 weeks gestation. Do we consider a baby who stayed in utero until 40 weeks "extended gestation"? No, it is normal. It is full term. Same thing with breastfeeding a toddler.

Full term breastfeeding has been in the mainstream media lately with Mayim Bialik being vocal about breastfeeding her toddlers, and child-led weaning. You can find may articles by her and interviews with her with titles like: I Breastfeed My Toddler. Got A Problem With It?

Don't even get me started on people who claim that a mother who nurses beyond infancy does it to meet her own needs, not the needs of the child.

Why at least two years?

There are literally dozens of reasons. Here are just a couple:
  • The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that breastfeeding continue throughout the first year of life and that "As recommended by the WHO, breastfeeding should ideally continue beyond infancy, but this is not the cultural norm in the United States and requires ongoing support and encouragement. It has been estimated that a natural weaning age for humans is between two and seven years. Family physicians should be knowledgeable regarding the ongoing benefits to the child of extended breastfeeding, including continued immune protection, better social adjustment, and having a sustainable food source in times of emergency. The longer women breastfeed, the greater the decrease in their risk of breast cancer." They also note that "If the child is younger than two years of age, the child is at increased risk of illness if weaned." (AAFP 2008)
  • Nursing toddlers between the ages of 16 and 30 months have been found to have fewer illnesses and illnesses of shorter duration than their non-nursing peers (Gulick 1986).
  • "Breast milk continues to provide substantial amounts of key nutrients well beyond the first year of life, especially protein, fat, and most vitamins."
    -- Dewey 2001

Can’t she have “regular” milk now?

I think it is a funny thing in our culture that “regular milk”, or cows milk, is considered such an important part of our diet. There is an entire nutrition category based on a SINGLE food source: cows milk. Every other “group” has multiple sources of nutrition: Grains (rice, wheat, oats, corn etc.), proteins (meat, fish, eggs, legumes etc.), vegetable, fruits, you get the idea. The reality is that although the Diary Council would like you to think otherwise, NO ONE needs to consume any dairy products to be healthy (and many of us would probably be much healthier without them!). Some good info at Cows Milk? and Is Cow's Milk Necessary For Toddlers?

Yes, she can and does drink cows milk, as that is a food that our family keeps in the house. But, the best nutrition she gets is from species-specific milk made by her mama.

Doesn’t she have a full set of teeth and eat solid food?

Yes. She actually got all of her teeth rather early. She is a great eater and powers down lots of food. She loves fruit and chicken enchiladas.

Baby teeth are also sometimes referred to as: "milk teeth". If you look at it, the common time for kids to start losing their “milk teeth” around 5-7 years, coincides with the later age of natural weaning.

Isn't she nursing just for comfort?

Sometimes, yes. I think it is perfectly acceptable to comfort my child, and breastfeeding is sometimes the way to do it. Remember, it is not only about the milk.

I’m glad we are still nursing. I was really glad last weekend when we ended up in the ER after a fall. She didn’t need any pain meds, she was happy and comfortable sitting on my lap and nursing when she wanted.

Last week when we had a 4 hour layover at 6am in a strange airport, it was great to be able to nurse her and watch her relax and fall fast asleep.

Some people may be wondering how long we will continue to nurse. Ainsley is pretty much the boss on that one. She will let me know when she no longer needs it.

Want to read more about full term breastfeeding?

Six Misconceptions About 'Extended' Breastfeeding

Is breastfeeding a six year old ok? Er where do you live?

Breastfeeding Beyond Infancy: Radio Documentary

Breastfeeding My Jump-Roping Hula Hooper 

To Wean or Not to Wean: Who Says When Is Enough
by on Aug. 23, 2013 at 11:10 PM
2 moms liked this

Quoting Corina1987:

I'm curious. What is lost from switching breastmilk directly from breast to cup instead? 

First, the thing that is lost is the relationship. Nursing a toddler is a great way to calm, comfort and nurture your child. You can't do that by handing them a cup. It is also a great tool to get an overstimulated cranky toddler to sleep!

Here's what the research says (this is more directed towards infants/bottles, but still valid with a toddler/cup)

Are There Differences Between Breastfeeding Directly and Bottle-feeding Expressed Milk?

From the breast or from the bottle, fresh or frozen, your milk provides all of the nutrition your baby needs for normal growth and development and much more. The nutritive and health-supportive properties of breastmilk can be bottled, making it the next best alternative when breastfeeding is not possible or feasible. Mothers may need or choose to offer their milk by bottle for a variety of reasons as individual as each mother and baby pair, and as a result of this need, there are many solutions for expressing milk. It is easier than ever before to provide a baby with breastmilk long-term, even when a mother cannot or chooses not to breastfeed directly. Exclusive expressing and breastmilk-feeding can be necessary and even life-saving, especially for fragile premature babies. In most societies, the value of breastmilk is well-known, but the value of breastfeeding is not. Breastmilk is a wondrous living fluid that cannot be replicated, and breastfeeding is the normal and optimal way to deliver it.

Antibodies are blood proteins produced in response to substances that the body recognizes as alien, such as bacteria and viruses. Close physical contact with your baby helps your body create antibodies to germs in his environment. When you breastfeed directly, your body creates antibodies in response to cues from your baby’s saliva and other secretions. After exposure to new germs, your body can make targeted antibodiesavailable to your baby within the next several hours (Chirco 2008) (Cantini 2008). While a bottle of milk from a previous date will provide your baby with immune factors, it will not contain antibodies to germs he was exposed to today.

Breastfeeding supports the normal development of a baby’s jaw, teeth, facial structure, and speech. The activity of breastfeeding helps exercise the facial muscles and promotes the development of a strong jaw and symmetric facial structure. Breastfeeding also promotes normal speech development and speech clarity. An increased duration of breastfeeding is associated with a decreased risk of the later need for braces or otherorthodontic treatment. One study showed that the rate of misaligned teeth (malocclusion) requiring orthodontics could be cut in half if infants were breastfed for one year (Palmer 2008). Bottle-feeding requires a different tongue action than breastfeeding does, and over time may affect the growth and development of oral and facial tissue. Sucking on bottle nipples, pacifiers, and even thumbs and fingers can eventually affect the shape of a baby’s palate, jaw, teeth, and facial structure. In this presentation, Position and action of the tongue during breastfeeding, dental expert Dr. Brian Palmer shows how breastfeeding promotes normal facial development and provides illustrations showing what happens inside the mouth during bottle- and breast feeding (Warning: Slide 2 of the presentation shows a picture of a cross section of the mouth of a human cadaver for illustrative purposes).

When breastfeeding on cue (as your baby shows signs of hunger), you produce milk in response to your baby's demand: your body makes milk to replace the milk your baby removes from the breast. When exclusively expressing, you produce milk according to how much milk you are able to remove with the pump and/or your hands. Some mothers find it is more difficult to maintain milk production long term with a pump for a variety of reasons including difficulty scheduling time to express (frequency of milk removal) and the overall effectiveness of the pump at removing milk. Understanding how long term milk production works can help mothers who are dependent on their pumps for milk-removal maximize both the amount of milk they are able to remove and the length of time they are able to continue producing milk.

Bottle-feeding expressed breastmilk is more time-consuming than breastfeeding directly because you have to spend additional time expressing milk, washing pump and bottle parts, and shopping for necessary equipment: this time might have been spent enjoying your baby or taking care of yourself. When your breastfed baby is hungry or needs to be comforted, you simply put him to the breast. When bottle-feeding breastmilk, you must first attend to preparing a bottle before you are able to meet your baby's needs.

Skin-to-skin contact (also known as “kangaroo care”) is important to your baby’s development (Bigelow 2010). Babies held skin-to-skin stay warmer, cry less, and have better-coordinated sucking and swallowing patterns. Mothers who hold their babies skin-to-skin enjoy increased milk production, increased oxytocin release, improved mother-baby bonding, and more confidence in their mothering abilities (Moore, Anderson & Bergman 2009). When you are breastfeeding, you will naturally be in a position to offer skin-to-skin contact to your baby. When you are bottle-feeding, it is important to find additional time each day to hold your baby this way. 

Research has shown that breastfeeding directly correlates with a positive mood in mothers. One study examined the effects of breastfeeding and bottle-feeding on maternal mood and stress. After breastfeeding, the mothers in the study were found to have both a reduction in perceived stress and a more positive mood. In contrast, after bottle-feeding, mothers were found to have an increase in negative feelings. The researchers suggested that the higher levels of oxytocin released by breastfeeding may contribute to both reduction in stress and better mood (Mezzacappa & Katkin 2002).

Bottle-feeding gives your baby less control over his milk intake. Milk flows easily from a bottle nipple even when the baby is not actively sucking, and the faster flow can cause a baby to continue feeding after he is full. When bottle-fed, babies may drink more than they need because the care-provider may encourage the baby to finish the bottle rather than waste the milk inside. While breastfeeding, your baby can control the flow of milk by the way he feeds. You are not able to see how much milk your baby consumed, but you can watch for signs that your baby is satisfied, and you will be less likely to coax your baby to continue eating after he is full. Research suggests that infants who are breastfed, rather than bottle-fed breastmilk, are better able to self-determine fullness as children and may have a lower risk of overeating and obesity later in life (Isslemann 2011). Recent research suggests that it is the act of breastfeeding that helps prevent rapid weight gain (Li and Magadia et al 2012).

There are some variations between milk that is obtained directly from the breast (or that has been freshly expressed) and milk that has been stored. For example, freezing has been found to decrease the effectiveness of some of the antibodies and kill some of the living cells in milk (Orlando 2006) (Buckley & Charles 2006). In order for your baby to get the most anti-infective properties from your milk, it is best to offer it fresh whenever possible.

Getting the most out of breastmilk-feeding
  • Spend time in skin-to-skin contact with your baby to help your baby grow, improve milk production, and promote breastfeeding behaviors. 
  • Build and maintain milk production by expressing milk at least as often as your baby would breastfeed and draining your breasts well with “hands on” pumping
  • Use a paced bottle-feeding technique that promotes breastfeeding behaviors and respects your baby’s natural suck, swallow, and breathe patterns 
  • Beware of marketing claims. There is no such thing as a bottle or nipple that is “just like” the breast. Choose a bottle and nipple that fits your goals and your baby’s individual feeding style. 
  • Always hold your baby to feed. Bottle-propping is a choking and aspiration hazard. Eating is a naturally social experience; propping is isolating. 
  • Feed your baby when he shows hunger cues rather than on a schedule and let your baby determine when he is full (applies to healthy, full-term babies that are feeding well) 
  • Store breastmilk in smaller quantities to reduce waste 
  • Offer freshly-expressed milk whenever possible. 
  • If your baby is hospitalized, and you are unable to nurse or hold him, spending time in his environment (including touching equipment and even shaking hands with staff) will help you produce antibodies to germs to which he has been exposed. 
  • Baby-wearing and co-sleeping (room sharing) promote bonding, attentiveness to your baby’s hunger cues, and production of antibodies to germs in his environment 
  • If you are bottle-feeding due to low milk production, consider the option of using an at-breast supplementer so that your baby can receive supplemental feedings while nursing at the breast.
If you are bottle-feeding your baby exclusively or partly, and you would like to increase his feedings from the breast, or if you need more information about exclusively expressing your milk, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, WIC Peer Counselor, or volunteer breastfeeding support counselor would be able to offer information and support. The same holds true if you are feeling pressured to provide your milk by bottle even when it is not absolutely necessary; the often-suggested solutions for daddy- or grandparent-bonding time or feeding in public is “just pump.” Remember, whether by breast or by bottle, every ounce of breastmilk matters! You are doing something very special for your baby, your family, and your community.

More information:

It’s Not Just About Breastfeeding

Weaning from formula supplements

Help-My baby won't nurse!

It's Not Really About the Milk

Bottle Vs Breast, A Mother's Story

Milk Sharing, Good or Bad?

Buckley, K. Charles, G. (2006) Benefits and challenges of transitioning preterm infants to at-breast feedings International Breastfeeding Journal 1:13

Cantini, A. (2008) Pediatric Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Heidelburg, N.Y. Springer.

Chirico, G. et al (2008) Antiinfective Properties of Human Milk Journal of Nutrition 138, 1801S–1806

Isselmann Disantis, K. (2011) Do infants fed directly from the breast have improved appetite regulation and slower growth during early childhood compared with infants fed from a bottle? The international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity 17;8 (1):89

Li R, Magadia J et al (2012) Risk of bottle-feeding for rapid weight gain in the first year of life Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 166(5):431

Moore ER, Anderson GC, Bergman N. (2009) Early skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their healthy newborn infants Cochrane Summaries

Mezzacappa, E. Katkin. E (2002) Breastfeeding is associated with reduced perceived stress and negative mood in mothers Health Psychology 21(2), 187-193

Orlando, S (2006) The immunologic significance of breast milk. J Obstet Gynecol

Neonatal Nurs 24(7), 678-83

Palmer, B. (2008) The Influence of Breastfeeding on the Development of the Oral Cavity: A Commentary Journal of Human Lactation, 14(2), 93-98

St. Francis Xavier University: Dr. Anne Bigelow. Enhancing Baby’s First Relationship: A Parents’ Guide for Skin-to-Skin Contact with Their Infants
by on Aug. 24, 2013 at 11:32 AM

I will be bf my daughter until she is ready to stop. If your still able to do it and she still wants it I would keep it up. They actually recommend two years and beyond.But at the same time you don't want to cause problems between you and your hubby. I would show him some info so he can see all the benefits your daughter still gets from bf. good luck!

by Gina on Aug. 24, 2013 at 12:52 PM

Indeed, weaning started with the first bite of solids.

Quoting freemane:

If you want to compromise, you could tell DH that you've already Started weaning (since you're down to 2 or 3 times a day) and are just going to continue slowly to make it easier for both if you. Remind him that weaning is a process, not a one shot deal. Then do whatever works for you and your daughter.

by Group Admin - Amy on Aug. 24, 2013 at 1:26 PM
1 mom liked this

I can't believe she's almost TWO!!! : )

I think you know how I feel on this one since Johnathan still nurses 1-3 times a week when he's not at his dad's and he 5 years and 8 months. The blog that was posted above is amazing and has links to research to back you up. I agree with Gina's suggestion of asking him to show you research showing why you should wean now.

by Ruby Member on Aug. 24, 2013 at 10:23 PM
2 moms liked this
Quoting Corina1987:

Your body cannot respond to the baby's saliva and adjust the milk content or antibodies when it's pumped and given in a cup. There are big antibody surges that come at 18 months and beyond to protect the child as he becomes more mobile and is interacting with the outside world.

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