Child-Led Weaning

“How do you decide when it’s time to wean?” my cousin asked me as I took a break from pulling weeds with her to sit down on a nearby bench.

Lily had dropped the stick she’d been waving at the kitty and come running up to me, saying, “I wanna nap!” which earned smiles from my cousins, and even more smiles when I sat down at the bench and they realized what Lily was really asking for.

“Um, I thought I’d let her decide that,” I answer, looking down at Lily, who is completely focused upon what she’s doing.  One big brown eye peers up at me.  She’s completely still, her body curved around mine, and I’ve come to treasure these moments of connection.

She’ll be two in another month.  She’s talking full sentences now—funny things like “Water!  Where are you?” (as she peers into her watering can) and requests like “Little girl song, please” (as we drive in the Jeep) and so many other things that make me laugh before I forget them because I have a very short memory.

She’s running, too.  At my cousin’s, she watered the flowers and filled the flower pots and watched me pull weeds and stroked the kitty and ran around the garden and watered the flowers again and then settled on my lap—for about five minutes before she had to tell me something and then wanted to help Sunshine water the tulips again.

I weaned Sunshine when she was about fourteen months old, though it wasn’t so much that I weaned her as that we both decided we were ready to be done doing that.  I stopped offering to breastfeed Sunshine and she stopped asking.  (She never even had a word for “breastfeeding,” as Lily does.)

I had decided I would nurse Sunshine until she was a year, as most books and doctors recommended that, and beyond that I didn’t really care.  Apparently Sunshine didn’t either, and so it went.

Clearly, Lily has her own ideas on the subject.  She’s not interested in weaning. And that didn’t bother me, as the World Health Organization and others recommend nursing until a child is two.  Then I heard about child-led weaning from Practicing Mammal.  It made a lot of sense to me.  As she says, “One more little task I could permanently check off my What I Have To Think About For The Rest Of My Life to do list.  Do not have to worry about when to wean children… check.”

So Lily is approaching her second birthday, still nursing at least once during the night (around 2 am lately) and several times throughout the day (I’ve never actually counted).  There are times when she nurses too much and I get her a sippy cup.  Sometimes she nurses for comfort—such as when I’ve been out for a couple hours or she fell down in the park.  She nurses when she’s tired or hungry or just because.

And while I’m curious to see how long she’ll continue nursing for, I’m also enjoying this time while I have it.  I snuggle her close at night or type around her or just smile down at her big brown eyes and enjoy the cuddles.

Show Comments


  1. Koala Bear Writer April 19, 2012
  2. Samantha April 17, 2012
  3. Practicing Mammal April 16, 2012
  4. Kristine Foley @ TheFoleyFam April 16, 2012

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