34 answers

Weaning Woes

I am still nursing my 18-month old 3 times a day. I'm really starting to get an earful from everyone about it. Our pediatrician said in not so many words that I should start weaning her. Nursing is so important to my daughter, I know it's a comfort thing for her and I don't know if I'm ready to give it up either......can anyone relate?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all for your encouraging advice! This is such a wonderful resource for mothers. I will continue to nurse my baby until she and I are both ready to wean. I am also starting to look around for another pediatrician. Thank you again! J.

More Answers

Hi Jenn,

Your pediatrician is not giving you the best advice about this. Unfortunately, pediatricians don't always have the best advice when it comes to breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for a minimum of 12 months and as long as is mutually desired by mother and child after that. The World Health organization recommends a minimum of 2 years. So at 18 months - it is completely normal for you to be breastfeeding your daughter. My son is 2.5 and nurses 1-3 times per day. At 18 months he was still nursing 6-8 times per day. Don't let anyone pressure you into doing something that you and your daughter are not ready to do. You will know when it is time. And if your daughter really needs it now, then it probably isn't time yet.

You are doing a great thing for your daughter! And you should be proud of it.

J.

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J.,

It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. The decision is between you & your child. My sister nursed all of her babies until they were 2 yrs. old. Stand your ground. If you need some back up, go to La Leche League (a group of mothers who promote nursing). There should be a group in your area. They will know the medical benefits of continuing!

L.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi, J.!
First of all, congrats on nusing for SO long! That is WONDERFUL! Good for you!
Second of all, as you well know, breastfeeding provides far more than just nutrition. It provides comfort, a sense of stability, protection against cancer & allergies and the best possible start in life. In addition, all of those immune-boosting properties actually INCREASE as your baby ages & takes in less milk so that it stays at a consistant level as when they were a newborn & taking in far more milk!

I am a big believer & supporter in child-led weaning. That being said, you need to do what's right for you & your family, however, if she still feels the need to nurse a few times a day & you're fine with it, then who cares what anybody else thinks? I mean, does society think twice when a 2 year old walks around with a bottle or pacifier? They're both subsitutes for the breast, so what's the difference?

I nursed my daughter till she weaned at about 22 mos. Now that I look back on it (she's 4 1/2 now), it was such a small part of her life that we were able to have that relationship. Having a 12 y.o., I'm sure you know where I'm coming from!

Unfortunately, most doctors know almost NOTHING about breastfeeding a baby in the first year of life, let alone about extended nursing! It's sad.

Have you looked at www.kellymom.com for info? That has got to be the best site ever!!!

Either way, I send you TONS of hugs & kudos! Good for you, momma! You do what's right for you & your daughter & forget anyone else! It has nothing to do with them!
Blessings,
A.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi J., I only nurse my 8 1/2 month old in the morning and pump the rest of the day since I work outside of the home Personally I've had about enough, but I keep telling myself it is a small price to pay to do what is best for my baby. So my hat's off to you for going strong for 18 months while working full time! As far as your pediatician telling you to start weaning, maybe he/she should talk to mine. My ped just told me the American Academy of Pediatrics now says it is benificial for brain development for a baby to be breastfed for two years not just one. So you do whatever makes you and your baby happy. You go girl!
T.

2 moms found this helpful

It surprises me your pediatrician is telling to wean since the World Health Organization recommends nursing for 2 years. If it's not bothering you, I wouldn't wean her until either you or her are ready. My sister has a similar situation with her 20 month old. Now she only breastfeeds her before naptime and bedtime.

2 moms found this helpful

Stand strong, ignore the comments, definitely ignore your doctor and do what is best for you and your baby!

When my first son was turning 1, my ped told me I had to stop nursing, put him in his own bed (crib) and start giving him time-outs. I was 19, I had no internet, I had no information to refute what he was saying even though it felt very wrong to me. But, of course, I did it. And it was AWFUL!! Definitely the worst thing I've ever consciously done as a parent. I vowed after doing that to him that I'd never again just blindly follow a doctor's advice on *anything*. (I also had my mother in law and mother telling me I "had" to wean as well). Of course, back then (1995), the American Assoc. of Peds said "there is no benefit to nursing beyond the first 6 months of life" so by going until 12 months, I was really causing my ped some stress! lol

Anyway, I nursed my 2nd son (and co-slept) until he was almost 3 years old. I now nurse and co-sleep with my 21 month old son with NO plans to stop either of these for at least another year (unless something happens between now and then).

If you and your child are still enjoying it, keep going! there is no going back, no regaining this time, no making her younger than she is right now - enjoy the bonding, enjoy the special relationship that stems from nursing, enjoy her baby/toddler-hood as long as you possibly can!!

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I nursed my son until he was 16 months old. I to received a lot of flack about it.

Rather than listening to others, do what you think is the best for your daughter and you. If you are ready to cut back on the number of times a day or she starts to show a readiness to be done then do what you need to.

I applaude you that you have stuck with breast feeding for this long.

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I nursed my daughter, my first born, for 16 months and my son for 2 years, and I would do it all over again. My son weaned himself about a week or 2 before he turned 2. My daughter I ended up weaning, very sadly, because of logistical issues; if I were to do it all over again, I would not have weaned her.

Do what you feel is right for your daughter. You are her parent, not everyone else. And maybe it's time to look for another pediatrician. I am shocked that a pediatrician would advise weaning. I would understand their supporting your decision to wean, but advocating it? My pediatrician's office, from the doctors to the nurses, were incredibly supportive of nursing.

Another avenue is to call a nursing mom's group for some support.

There always will be people who are ignorant of the benefits of nursing. These are the same people who might suggest you nurse in a disgusting ladies' room...as if they would eat their lunches there!

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Everyone here has great advice. I just wanted to add some opinions my mother passed onto me, she nursed two babies in the 60s and 70s, when NO ONE was doing it, and she was being excluded from family gatherings along with being the object of the snide remarks.

1.It's not anyone else's business, so keep telling yourself that.
2.some people who think it's ok to judge and/or comment are jealous. period. this makes what they do automatically not your problem and gives you license to feel sorry for them.

And definitely get another doctor, there is no reason to try to work with someone who is pushing you to do something you are not comfortable with, let alone the fact that in this case, he is wrong.

1 mom found this helpful

Hang in there J.! I nursed my daughter until she turned 2 years old, more for comfort than for "food" of course at that point because she started milk in a cup at age one and the normal schedule of baby and table foods at all the usual times - so it definitely was more a comfort/bonding thing. Towards the end we worked it down to just at bedtime, but it was very important to her too, especially since her daddy was away for 6 mo (USMC) from age 13 -19 months - BAD time to wean!!! Don't listen to the critics - it's not their baby! Do what's best for you and her. My dd is 14 now and our relationship is still very close - I credit the nursing for at least a small part of that.

1 mom found this helpful

Your daughter will wean when she is ready. As long as she is letting you sleep through the night and not waking at strange hours, it is fine. Unfortunately, our society looks down on the older ones nursing although it was completely normal many years ago. Hang in there and use your instinct. The Dr.'s are not always right. My peditrician would probably encourage it. Reach out to one of the breastfeeding support groups. You should find many who have been down this road.

1 mom found this helpful

I am still nursing my 14 month-old. She is just not ready to be done(I am). I also get a bunch of comments from others, especially those that have never been parents. I just try not to listen. I think that you should do what you and your child need and really try not to listen to others. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

First I would find a new pediatrician that is supportive of nursing. Then I would toughen my skin to all of the remarks that people make. Do not let their ignorance influence your decision to continue nursing.

My pediatrican told me that they tell bottle fed babies to wean from the bottle at a year but it is up to the mother how long she wishes to continue breastfeeding. I nursed my first to 30 months and my second to 23 months. It is your personal decision how long to nurse.

I found that you find out who your true friends are when nursing. There are so many people who make snide remarks or references when you nurse beyond 6 months. It sounds like you know what is best for your baby and I say kudos to you and keep up the good work!!

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter just turned 15 months and I am starting to wean her...I want to get pregnant again! I hate to totally stop nursing her, but I want my period to come back. Right now I am nursing her 2 times during the day and 2 times at night. It is tough to wean! I love the closeness. I guess my only advice is to take it one day at a time. That is what I am doing. Fortunately, for me, no one has been pressuring me to stop nursing. Everyone in my family is very understanding. You should wean when you feel ready..and when you think your child is ready, not when everyone tells you to. (I know that is easier said than done!) I have a great pediatrician who says I should nurse as long as I wish. When weaning, his suggestion was to cut out one feeding per week..make it a slow and gradual process. I'm hoping to wean enough to get my period, but still be able to nurse her at bedtime. Good luck with it!

1 mom found this helpful

I nursed my first until he was 14 months old. I am still nursing my second whose 18 months. He nurses in the AM, sometimes before his nap and before bedtime. I honestly never thougth I would be nursing this long. It's not a big deal to me, if he misses a feeding I am not leaking or sore, he's not begging for it and it's helping me stay thin. I am not sure how much longer I will nurse and I not really putting any energy towards anwering that question either. When I'm ready, I'll wean him, when's he ready, he'll stop. Our ped said after 8 months there's no nutritional value in it. My reply was, whatever... I don't see myself going past 2 years that's for sure. So I guess I do have a cut off date. When he's 2 years old, for me, it's time for him to get off the boob. He's pretty petite and still doesn't talk so he's seems a young 18 month.

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OUCH!
I am sorry J. that your physician is so opinionated on such a personal choice that is absolutely not harming you or your child - especially at only 18 months. If you had a condition or a threat to either one of you I would agree.
If you are not part of a local LLL group, maybe reach out and find one. I am sure they would be supportive of your need to continue to do what YOU feel is best suited for you and your baby. http://www.llli.org/Web/Pennsylvania.html

1 mom found this helpful

I have twin sons who are almost 5. I nursed 1 until he was 2.5 yo when we were both ready to wean. Everyone had opinions on it, and like you, was told by my doctor and everyone else to wean. My other son weaned himself at 6 months. I just replied to everyone that that there is nothing wrong with it and I understand it doesn't suite them, but it worked for us. When we were both ready, it was a very easy process. In many other countries children still nurse through school age, we're one of the few countries that have such an issue with it. Tell everyone else to mind their own business. Best of luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Ask people what it is that they have a problem with... the perfect nutritian she is getting (no combination of foods is as nutritionally perfect for babies as breastmilk) or the parental bonding? Then ask them how it became their business in the first place. It is amazing to me how nurturing a child has such an adverse effect on everyone else in the room. Do NOT feel any guilt over this. You're a great mom and no one knows what is best for your family except you. Your child will wean in her own time, there is no need to rattle her security just to keep people quiet. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

If you don't feel ready to wean and you feel it is still important to your daughter do what feels right to you!
According to the World health organisation the average age for weaning worldwide is 4 years - so there are lots of people around who breastfeed for much longer than 18 months!
Check out some attachment parenting literature and I think you'll find some strong support for your decision!

1 mom found this helpful

I wouldn't worry about weaning immediately. If you are still both enjoying it, why wean? I nursed my older son until he was 26 months and it was the right time for us to wean. I plan on nursing my little one for as long as she and I both want.
The World Health Organization says that nursing until 2 is recommended and the American Association of Pediatrics says 12 months and then as long as both mother and child want.
I think handling a toddler who is nursing is easier than a toddler who isn't since in helps to continue that strong bond during a time of testing independence.
I wouldn't worry about what others say- Doing what is best for you and your baby is the most important thing. Don't allow yourself to be pressured into doing something that you and your little one aren't ready for!
Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

I definitely support the advice to either find a new pediatrician, or just say "we are following the AAP advice to continue breastfeeding as long as is mutually desired." The World Health Organization actually reccommends weaning no earlier than 2 years of age!

BTW, as soon as you started offering something other than the breast to your daughter, you did "start weaning," so if you do choose to stay with that pediatrician, you could say "oh, I have been weaning, so what do you think about this cough she has been having?" It's a strategy I've heard some moms call "passing the bean dip." When someone starts being heavy handed with advice that you don't want, you just say something like "oh, that's interesting. Can I offer you some of this bean dip?" In other words, don't engage the conversation--change the subject.

One of my cousins got the same line from her pediatrician, and when she went on Google to try and find some support for her position, she found my blog, which I had never told any family members about, LOL! I talked about the AAP policy on it.

Anyway, my kids breastfed for:

*1st DD 14.5 months, I weaned her because I was pregnant, I later regretted it.
*2nd DD 18 months--she abruptly quit nursing shortly before her brother was born--my breasts were tender and I thought she was biting so I kept taking her off the breast and saying "NO!" (yelling sometimes--it hurt!). Turned out she wasn't biting, but I think she weaned because of being yelled at one time.
*1st DS 18 months--he weaned because he was annoyed that my milk dried up due to pregnancy
*2nd DS 27 months--I never got pregnant during this time...LOL! He self weaned. I NEVER thought I would nurse a kid so long--when I was pregnant the first time I just thought it was so WIERD to nurse past the first birthday. LOL!

1 mom found this helpful

The question is, do you want to wean her? I think I'd be looking for a new pediatrician. Breast milk and nursing are the best things you can give your baby OR toddler. Our culture tends to expect babies to wean earlier than most other cultures in the world. The important thing is that she is also eating lots of different types of solids also, if so, then nurse until YOU and she are ready to be done. Otherwise, enjoy, she will grow up very quickly.

1 mom found this helpful

Ok first of all YOU dont need to do anything to wean your child... Let your child wean herself... that is the way nature intended... it will happen as you are both ready... meaning as your child becomes more enthralled with the world and you are doing more 'other' things as mom and child it will just happen... You dont need to 'control' this... its one of the beautiful things in life...that just takes care of itself. (REALLY IT DOES) Forcing the weaning process, can often create feelings of separation anxiety in a child and also create "unhealthy" eating habits later on or emotional stuff that may or may not be prominent as your child grows up. (even if they arent prominent they could still be there)
besides letting your child wean herself tells her that she is in control of her emotional needs... (which is good) that she can come to you for all the emotional support that she needs and you will be there... offering your unconditional love and support. I had the WIC office tell me that my son should be weaned and drinking cows milk by the age of one (regardless of the fact that he was allergic to cows milk... another thing he gradually grew out of)I would get a new pediatrician. Follow your instincts. Doctors, men, people without kids, or people who didnt nurse, have no idea (and even some who did nurse but who listened to the above mentioned people without a clue) they will tell you what makes THEM feel comfortable as if it were fact.
IGNORE ANYONE WHO MAKES THOSE REMARKS. It is completely natural and normal for a child to nurse for several years. I nursed my son until he weaned himself at 3 and a half. I took a lot of ribbing for it but its not about anyone else... its about the CHILD. and honestly, the longer they nurse, the better health for you and the child. whats totally funny is that the ped is telling you to start weaning.. yet if your daughter is only nursing three times a day then she IS ALREADY starting to wean... the point being that WEANING is a gradual process.... slowly over a long period of time... she will want it less and less. there Is NOTHING to worry about. I was blessed with a visiting nurse when my son was born and this wonderful woman had FOUR grown children of her own and had nursed them all... letting each of them wean themselves in their own time. each of them weaned at a different age... the youngest(age at weaning) being around 3 and the oldest (age at weaning) was 5. all of her children are adults now and all are successful and well adjusted. I know many will scoff at this but that is only because of the 'beliefs' that the medical field (and society) puts on us about 'spoiling' them or 'damaging' them... the only people this 'hurts' are those who dont know how to mind their own business. your daughter will be sooo much better off if you let her wean herself. (it will gradually decreas down to twice daily then maybe only at bed time for a few months then she will skip a day here or there... then she will forget about it. that is the way mother nature intended it to be)...the nurturing and loving support and emotional bonding that you are giving your daughter are invaluable. If you have any other questions about this... feel free to email me directly.

1 mom found this helpful

I had the exact same situation - sometimes I felt like the only person not being critical of my decision to continue nursing was my husband. By the time my son was almost 2, I had weaned him down to once a day (bedtime). Weaning off of his naptime session was hard, took about two weeks of crying and I felt awful. Daily, I considered giving in at naptime because I wasn't exactly eager to stop the nursing myself, just feeling pressured, which is stupid. But since I had started the process I felt like I needed to follow through. Since the naptime weaning was so hard, I decided that I wasn't going to push him to wean completely. Much to my amazement, he weaned himself completely at about 2 years 1 month. It was easy on both of us. Please stop listening to the nay-sayers - nursing is a wonderful and natural experience for both of you, enjoy it while you can!

1 mom found this helpful

Yes, the pediatricians usually recommend to go to one year but you continue as long as you and your child are okay with it. If you need support, I would suggest a La Leche League group in your area to attend a meeting or just talk to one of their leaders for ways of dealing with this not uncommon issue. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi J.,

I can totaly relate the only difference between you and I is that I had a pediatrician who was completely for nursing and my hubby as well. My husband is portuguese and there although very uncommon here they nurse well until they are ready to go to nursey school. My husband was a comfort nurser and he nursed till he was 3. Me I nursed my youngest until he was 26 months old so just follow your instinct and don't worry about anyone else, if you are okay with it then that is all that matters. Good Luck and you can email me if you need or want any more advice.

S.

1 mom found this helpful

I got lucky and was able to wean my first son at a year. He was preety easy. I don't know how my second will be. He is only 3 months old and my MIL keeps making the "your feeding him again remarks?" I am trying my best to ignore and do what I feel is right. I say continue doing what is best for daughter. I would try to teach her a special sign for when she is hungry, so she doesn't start lifting your shirt. You will really hear it from people then! I read a book from Le Leache League called, "how weaning happens" There was a lot of accounts from people who nursed a long time. You might find some good info there.

1 mom found this helpful

YES, YES, YYYEEESSSS!!!!!! I hope you read this! I am still nursing my almost three year old son (a little over 18 months...) Carry on, J.. This is you and your child, not your doctor's, your parent's, friend's, etc. You know what is best and if it is important for your daughter and you are willing to continue, do it. Women like us need to make the change for our children. This needs to be accepted. How can people say/think that we should stop feeding our babies our own milk and start feeding them milk from a dirty animal that had who knows what done to it and who knows what's in it? THAT's not natural. not to mention a lot harder to digest. she is getting everything she needs from you, nutritionally and emotionally.
You know, the am acad of peds recommends at LEAST 1 year, not NO MORE THAN one year. The world health org recommends to at least 2 i think and up to 4 (that might be where i'm headed...hmmmm...mmm)
s
anyway, if people give me a hard time about it, i quite frankly ask them why it bothers them so much, give them the whole schpeal above and tell them that i am giving my son the best nutrients for his body (think of all of the great things you are giving your daughter still!)
trudge on! she'll be out of the house before you know it.
(contrary to what my father tells people, i am not a "nursing nazi". i like to think of myself as simply well informed!)
good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I'd find a new pediatricain. You and your baby should make that choice. I say congrats to you for doing it this long.

1 mom found this helpful

I had a lot of people telling me it was time to wean my son when he was about a year old. Let them talk and have their say and then just do what is right for you and your daughter. I, also, question why your doctor would be telling you to wean her unless it is interfering with her eating regular meals. I believe in self led weaning which is supported by the La Leche League. If your daughter is eating breakfast, lunch and dinner and breastfeeding as well, I wouldn't worry about it. Most doctors will actually recommend breastfeeding at least a year and a good number recommend breastfeeding until 2 years of age. In other countries, it is not uncommon for children to breastfeed until 3-4 years of age.

If nursing is important to you and your daughter, then don't stop because of someone else's preconceived notions and biases. At the same time, I would let my child be the one to initiate nursing. This will allow your child to self wean as she gets older. If you are the one putting her to the breast in the middle of the day, I would cut that out and let her be the one to ask for it. Also, I would look at the information on the La Leche League website about self-led weaning. NOT so that you can begin the process but so that you are aware of how it works for when you are ready or when your daughter is.

Good luck and stick with what works for you.

1 mom found this helpful

J.,
I am still nursing my son at 18 months and he doesn't seem to want to quit either. My pediatrician supports me in every way. So either ignore your pediatrician or find a new one with views closer to your own. When I interviewed pediatricians, I looked for ones who supported breastfeeding.
I also breastfed my daughter until 18 months but she was biting and pinching me so I weaned her over about three days. My son is just a happy drinker.
AnnetteM

1 mom found this helpful

Nutritionally, you are totally great for nursing as long as you like.
Beware, the longer you do it, the harder it will be emotionally for your daughter to ween her, but it can be done, so don't worry too much if you're prepared for the hard adjustment.
If it's YOU who is too attached-definitely don't keep doing it for your own benefit. It seems hard to let go, but when you see that there is no difference in your closeness (and there won't be) you'll be fine.
Don't pay attention to what other people think of you for nursing a long time. Base your choice on what's best for your daughter. You have provided enough nutrition-so you're free to quit at any time.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi J.-
I told a mom of a 14-month old while I was out shopping the other day that I was still nursing my 11 month old, and she gave me this look like "are you crazy, he has teeth!" I think it's great that you're still nursing, and there is no reason to wean your child until you or the child are ready to wean. In fact, its fine if the child wants to nurse until he's three or four. If you feel like you need some support, I highly recommend contacting a La Leche League leader or attending an LLL meeting. There is one in the East End next Thursday, March 27 at 10 am at the Menonite Church. I'm sure you'll find some support there on weaning or continuing nursing, whatever your decision is. Probably your pediatrician meant well, but there is no medical reason to wean your child, other than most people in a Western society expect that you will not be nursing your baby after it is one year old.

1 mom found this helpful

If you and your daughter want to keep nursing - keep doing it! We're doing "child-led weaning" here, I nurse my 2.5 year old once a day (when she asks, I don't offer, I really think she's almost done - she literally nurses for about 30 seconds a day) and I am also nursing my 12 month old.
There's no magic age that weaning should happen! Every child is different and if it's working for your family, then it's working!

1 mom found this helpful

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