Weaning is not a linear process. It’s not like the books say (at least certain books). The baby nurses X number of times at 1 month of age, and then as each few months pass, the “feedings” drop one by one, so that at 12 months (or replace any arbitrary age), baby is fully weaned just like that! No, not exactly.
Wouldn’t that be easy? Mothers of newborns often ask me when the nursing will lessen. They feel overwhelmed and want to know there is light at the end of the tunnel. I understand. I’ve been there with the baby who nurses hourly (or more!) –when it feels that all I do with my body, mind, and soul is NURSE. Nurse, nurse, nurse.
I have to figure out gentle ways to tell these mothers that the intensity of the nursing does decrease in a few months, but that I can’t give an exact date of when that will be. And that the nursing times don’t just “drop” magically and are gone.
If you are letting your baby call the shots in terms of weaning, you will probably find that the decrease happens so gradually you don’t really notice it until one day you realize that your baby often goes three hours before needing to nurse again! You’ll also find that your baby will have lots of regressions (“Oh my God, he’s nursing every hour again!”) along the way.
Even I get tricked. As my little guy hit 18 months, I thought, “Wow, he barely nurses outside of naps and night anymore!” He was just so busy with life and everything around him that he only was interested in nursing at sleepy times ( kind of like the classic four and five month old distracted babies ). For about a week I wondered if maybe he would wean earlier than my older son did. I felt a little sad about that, but knew that it still meant a few more years to go.
Of course, the following week, he was latched on EVERY LIVING SECOND. Growth spurt? Learning new skills? Teething? I wondered if my older son had ever nursed that much. I wondered if this guy would nurse even longer than his big brother! Oh dear. Moms are so silly sometimes.
I think one of the biggest lessons motherhood had taught me is to let go. Let go of expectations. Let go of control.
And trust. Trust my children to tell me what they need . Trust myself to figure out a way to provide it for them.
Nursing my children through all the stages — watching the need for nursing ebb and flow — is so beautiful to me. Oh, there are always times it feels like way too much nursing. There are times I’m touched out. There are times I really wish I could spend an entire day or night away. But life is long. And as cliche as it sounds, my time with my children — when they need me, just me, is entirely too short.
So I’ll just go with it, little one. Nurse away, every hour if you please. I’m here for the next stage. Just keep looking at me with those big, seeking eyes and I’ll nurse you again, again, again.
I’m sure there will be more surprises along the way as I nurse this little guy. I’m ready.
Do you have questions or concerns about weaning? Would you like help figuring out if you are ready to wean? Do you want to cut back or start a gentle weaning process? I offer phone/Skype consultations for mothers worldwide. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my website for information and pricing.