Why weaning my breastfed toddler is a lot harder than you think it is.

My ‘baby’ is 14, nearly 15 months old now. She walks, runs, climbs, feeds herself, says some words. I did not expect to still be feeding a little person who can do all those things, from my boobs, about a zillion times a day.

I always hoped to keep feeding to at least a year, and figured she would start to gradually self wean from then on. I assumed I’d be all done and dusted somewhere between 14 and 18 months. Well, at this point that is not looking like happening. She is a little milk monster and often feeds for comfort if she’s feeling tired, unwell or overwhelmed. There is a part of me that finds that difficult to admit, that I let her feed ‘just for comfort’. Bloody hell Carlie, why is that? If I was giving her a dummy for comfort, or a blanky, no one would question that, so why do I feel weird about nursing her for comfort. Why is it any different that I give her milk, that is actually very good for her, and instantly makes her feel relaxed and happy?

People say ‘Just stop giving it to her’. Like, they literally say that to me, often. Let me tell you, it is not that simple. It is very far from being that simple. She is my child, every cell in my body is programmed to nurture her and respond to her needs. When she is visibly (and audibly) unhappy, and comes and curls herself up on my lap, saying ‘mimi mimi’, I have 2 options. I can try and distract her, which usually just ends up with her being more upset, or I can just give her what she wants. She is then much happier and after a few minutes will hop down and continue on with her day. I can imagine you thinking ‘if you always give her what she wants, she’ll be a spoiled brat’. But I mean, come on. We are not talking about a toy she wants at the shop. We are talking about something she is biologically programmed to want, because it’s good for her.

I don’t know what it’s like being a toddler, but I imagine it’s a big fat fascinating but overwhelming world that they encounter each day. It makes perfect sense to me that she would want to come and ‘check in’ with mummy now and then. Sometimes I wish, particularly in public, that just a cuddle would do the trick, but in reality quite often it doesn’t. I have always been a loud and proud breastfeeder. I have no issue feeding in a restaurant, or a playground, or wherever we might be, and thats my legal right. There is a difference between feeding a little baby in public though, and feeding a little walking person that climbs up and can just about help herself. It makes me sad, but that’s the reality. Society in general is just not cool with it.

And what makes me even sadder is that I will most likely give in and encourage my child to wean sooner than she’s ready because I don’t want to get those looks, and the judgement, and stigma that is placed on mummas who choose to do ‘extended breastfeeding’. Whatever the f*ck that means.

There is a blog that I love the follow called The Milk Meg. She’s a lactation consultant who is still nursing her (quite huge) 2 year old. I find her quite inspiring, however I must admit that even I feel a little icky when I see the pics of her nursing him sometimes. Again, I hate admitting that, and it can only be because it’s just not something that we are accustomed to. It’s just not the done thing. Even though the World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding to AT LEAST age 2, and in many societies children are fed quite a bit longer, it’s just not something we see in the society that I live in.

As a side note: It’s funny how no one questions the fact that we drink copious amount of another species breast milk everyday. Must be all those millions of marketing dollars the dairy industry has invested in convincing us we need it. Hmm.

So, for the moment I will just keep going how I am going. With the hope that as she grows and develops over the next few months that she might start to become more self assured and cut back on her feeds. I know one thing I won’t do though. I won’t make breastfeeding something that we only do behind closed doors at home, like it’s something dirty we should be ashamed of. I am braver than that. I will respect my husbands wishes and be selective about where I expose parts of me that some creepos might see as sexual, however I know that I will endeavour to put my daughters needs before my own sense of pride. I hope that I have the resolve to keep doing that, but only time will tell how long for.

I absolutely dread the tears that will likely come from both of us if I choose to wean her before she chooses. Letting my baby cry is not something I have ever been ok with. The one thing I do look forward to though, is being able to wear normal bras again. And also to stop worrying about leakage freakage. Eek!

I feel like I should also add – no judgement to any mummas who couldn’t or didn’t breastfeed. I get that it can be really hard. I was not breastfed, and it’s not something that came naturally to me when I first had Aria. Thank god for nipple shields and some incredible midwives who understood how important it was to me to make it work. I know that I am extremely lucky to have had plenty of milk, and that’s not something I take for granted one little bit.

Anyways, thank you for reading this little piece of my bared soul. Now I need to take a big deep breath and have one of those ‘don’t think, just hit publish’ pep talks with myself. This is some very personal stuff to be sharing out there with the world. But who knows, maybe some other mumma, or husband, or friend or anyone might get something out of it that helps them on their own journey through this crazy thing called life.

Ok here goes…

3 thoughts on “Why weaning my breastfed toddler is a lot harder than you think it is.

  1. Well said Carlie! We are proud of you and your gorgeous little miss for making a stand and doing something is very special and good for the both of you!!! xxx

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    1. You are an extraordinary woman going against societal norms. That takes guts, bravado and the willingness to be criticised and judged harshly. Only a strong, proud and compassionate being can do this. And that you are.

      Like

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