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Sometimes I feel like I am pushing towards weaning. Lately my child has been napping in the car a lot when we run errands so s/he doesn’t nurse to sleep plus when we were moving s/he spent long periods of time with my parents. They would bring her over if she ever asked for me but s/he usually doesn’t – they keep pretty busy. S/he really doesn’t nurse much during the day, sometimes only at nap, at night, and bedtime.

What is a mother’s role in weaning? Are we really suppose to do nothing? Are we suppose to offer the breast or wait for them to ask? How much distracting is okay?

Do monkey mamas start distracting their children more at a certain age? Did tribal mamas start leaving their food eating children with grandma for longer and longer periods? I need some historical perspective!

THE OPINIONS:

  • As far as many South American and African peoples go they live their lives bare-breasted and this causes the babies to nurse more frequently. Visual stimuli, ya know? I am of the mindset that that is how our ancestors way back lived, but recent ancestors (well, from Eurasian descent) have been covered up for a longer time (because of weather conditions mostly, I think) and probably didn’t nurse their babies as long because of this. It is still baby-led weaning, imo…..So, is this way natural? Yes, as far as anything else is. Is it primal? No, I think not. But we don’t live in a primal society, and you can’t walk around bare breasted all day due to your lifestyle and your mother doesn’t live with you like she (or your mil) would in a primal society, and there is a much different palate of food for your baby to choose from than would be available in a primal society also….so many factors. I think you just have to pick and choose which aspects of your life you are going to try to live primal and which aspects you are going to just go along with the flow with and live *naturally* and then there is the rest of your life which relies on technology and the labor of others which more and more people are replacing those other parts of their lives with. I just think you have to decide for yourself which way you want to live, and to what extent….natural is natural. One could argue that formula feeding is natural since our species is evolving to feed their young that way. There isn’t anything you are *supposed* to do or not do….do what feels right to you. Me, I let my child see my breast about every hour or so and let him/her decide if s/he wants to nurse or not. Is that what I’m *supposed* to do? I feel like it is….

  • I think it completely depends on the age of the child and the mother’s comfort level.
    Let’s have a given, 2 years (minimum) of BF’ing. The first 2 years a mom MUST put her needs second and her breasts first. After that I believe (depending on the child) that there can be some give and take. Some "just a minute" and some "can you wait until I’ve….".   My elder child and nursed on a train tonight-full of evening commuters. After a while, my infant got jealous and they took turns until *I* decided I wanted the game to end. I asked my eldest to hurry up and finish so I could nurse my infant more comfortably. I feel that at 4, both of our needs have to be respected – I’m not going to be as giving of my body all the time as I would with my infant.

  • I agree but think there is still one time when being selfless as a mom is important – nighttime nursing. I think as long as you family bed that your breasts should be available at night no matter the age of your nursling, they can use that time to make up for a lot of nursing during the day when your breasts are covered or you are in situations where "Wait" gets said. I live in a very cold climate for 8 months of the year and nighttime nursing unhindered made me feel much more…settled… about the climate enforced weaning signals my child got as a toddler.

  • I disagree with being available at night, no matter what the age of the nursling. At 3, my child and I try to limit night nursing. If s/he nurses for too long and keep jumping over me to swap sides I give her/him a drink of water and that normally puts her/him back to sleep. If it doesn’t (like this morning), I’m generally a wreck. Two hours of side swapping is not fun.  If s/he wakes in the night, I wait for a few moments or so to see if s/he actually wants to nurse, rather than offering the breast straight off. I just think s/he is getting old enough where if I always nurse her/him back to sleep, s/he’s going to have trouble learning to sleep without nursing. Most of the time now s/he will nurse to sleep when we go to bed, and then nurse in the morning on waking. Sometimes s/he wakes and nurses during the night, but not so often now that it’s getting colder.

  • Well first of all nighttime nursing, just like having a family bed do not hinder a child’s ability to self soothe at night when that is developmentally *appropriate*. My child has been able to go to sleep on her/his own without artificial soothing agents since s/he chose to wean from the breast. AND night nursing was not the last nursing s/he decided to give up – it was emotional "hurts" comfort nursing at other times s/he gave up last.  I’m talking about cultural vs ecological/instinctive nursing here. Your reasons are cultural choices you’re making. I think limiting night time nursing sends the signal to young *vulnerable* children that their needs are not going to always be met in the dark – which is from an ecological/primal standpoint the most dangerous time we face as a species – and therefore the most damaging psychically to a very young child. Also that side switching during the night is your child’s instinctive way of telling you that he is not developmentally ready for another sibling, like nipple twiddling – it has to be dealt with VERY sensitively.

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