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At what age do you think a child should wean from the breast?


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When the child is ready. Anyone who has been around babies and children realizes that they don't all come in the "one size fits all" variety!

Some may wean sooner, and some may wean later.

Any pediatrician worth his salt will recommend breastfeeding for at least a year.

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With all 3 of my children I had completely different experiences.

My oldest nursed for about 6 months before I started to dyr up - but I blame a lot of this on my family (not husband but mom and dad). They were so completely against nursing, because they didn't do it; and would sabotage me every chance they got. <img src="/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" /> Unfortunately I was only 20 at the time, and did not have much knowledge myself, so let them influence me.

By the time my daughter came along 6 years later, however; i had done lots of research and had grown in my own confidence. She nursed for a year (despite nasty comments from my family) - and i still feel this was my "perfect" nursing experience.

My last child, I was very sick with. And many of my medications tended to make him unhappy (thrush, stomachaches, colicky). Plus I was so exhausted from all that had happened, that it was too hard to pump and nurse to increase my milk supply. He wound up weaning at about 4 months (and i still fell bad about it!)

I think a year is a great period of time. After that, they are starting to become more independent - and can go on milk and so many other nutritious foods, that it doesn't really hurt them nutrionally.


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I know it differs, but when they are up running and talking it may be time to consider the cup... I've been to the mall when a woman was breastfeeding her child, had to be about 5 or 6. Now, out in public on top of it all. Just did not seem appropriate, and he seemed way too old.


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Interesting topic. Our grand-son has just turned 3 and is still breastfed. The reason being I think she is trying to keep him a baby as I do not think there will be another baby but doing so she is doing so much damage to that child. He has become so possessive, she can not do a think even go to the toilet with out him screaming the house down.

I think around a year is great. Can you imagine a 3 year old teeth.........OUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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My 17 month old is still nursing and I'm delighted. So is her doctor. <img src="/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> Remember that the World Health Organization recommends 2 years! <img src="/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> Of course I believe ANY breastfeeding is better than none.

I plan to become a lactation consultant eventually but I need to be a counselor first. I need 2500 hours of experience before I can even take the test.

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Everyone has their own oppinions about this, but to me, when a child is old enough to start verbally asking for some milk, it's time to hand him a cup. I chickened out of breastfeeding my twins because I just thought it would be too much for me and I was still working full-time at the time. I did pump breast milk for them for the first 3-4 months, but even that was difficult to keep up once I returned to work.

We're having a new baby in a few weeks and since I'm now a SAHM, I really want to breastfeed this one. My only consideration is that I have MS and my neurologist is going to want me to go back on medication as soon as I have this baby, but I can hold him off for at least 6 months. No one in my familiy breastfed, so I'll be the "odd" one, but I can hold them off too.


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A year is plenty. Neither of my children went a year but then again they starved the first five months. Not sure what was going on. I had plenty of milk and they nursed constantly, they gained weight but they were always screaming........ until they started on solids at 5 months.

We didn't think they were starving at the time but as I look back I can't think why else they were screaming non stop.

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Why do you think this?

Quote:
Everyone has their own oppinions about this, but to me, when a child is old enough to start verbally asking for some milk, it's time to hand him a cup. I chickened out of breastfeeding my twins because I just thought it would be too much for me and I was still working full-time at the time. I did pump breast milk for them for the first 3-4 months, but even that was difficult to keep up once I returned to work.

We're having a new baby in a few weeks and since I'm now a SAHM, I really want to breastfeed this one. My only consideration is that I have MS and my neurologist is going to want me to go back on medication as soon as I have this baby, but I can hold him off for at least 6 months. No one in my familiy breastfed, so I'll be the "odd" one, but I can hold them off too.

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Sounds like maybe some food allergies were going on??


Quote:
A year is plenty. Neither of my children went a year but then again they starved the first five months. Not sure what was going on. I had plenty of milk and they nursed constantly, they gained weight but they were always screaming........ until they started on solids at 5 months.

We didn't think they were starving at the time but as I look back I can't think why else they were screaming non stop.

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I CAN RELATE. I also was one of the first ones to breastfeed in my family. I formula fed my first and breastfed my second. <img src="/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> It's been amazing!!! <img src="/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> GOOD LUCK!! The breastfeeding editor here has some great articles and links. <img src="/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

No one in my familiy breastfed, so I'll be the "odd" one, but I can hold them off too. [/quote]

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Amoeba
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Why do I think what?

I feel that there's a practical age at which to stop breastfeeding and too me when a kid can stroll up to you, climb into your lap, and say "mommy, I want some milk" they're too old to be still breastfeeding. Don't get me wrong, though, my philosophy in life is "live and let live". If someone wants to breastfeed until their kid is 18 year old, I won't be the one to tell them they're weird or anything (even though I'd think it! LOL).


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I was just wondering why you said that because I have found that most who think toddlers shouldn't nurse are basing that on cultural norms and what their familiar with rather than on what's best for the child.

Research supports "extended" nursing which in this country is called extended when it's actually not. I'm certainly not trying to convince you but wanted to make sure accurate info was out there in case anyone has a baby nearing the age of one who is still an avid nurser. My little one is 17 months and I'm delighted she's still nursing for health reasons. Also, weaning her (not doing child-led weaning) would be traumatic for her. If she's still nursing, then it's still a need for her emotionally in addition to being nutritious. Did you know the milk your body produces for your toddler is different from the milk a new baby gets? It's amazing how the body adjusts and produces milk that's perfect for a baby over the age of 1.

Why Nurse Past a Year?
http://www.kellymom.com/bf/bfextended/index.html

I didn't nurse my first and my goal with my second was one year. <img src="/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I had no idea I'd make it this far!! I hope to make it to 2 years as the World Health Organization recommends. We'll see how it goes.

Just sharing info. I know everyone has their own feelings about the issue. I just hate to see babes weaned because of tradition (few American babes are nursed even to 12 months).

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Cultural norms are important and based on the world we live in. I, too, think that when a child can ask for milk it is time to wean. Most toddlers get more pacifier benefit from nursing once they are on a full diet than nutritional benefit.

But, I strongly feel that there is room for variations and if longer breastfeeding is working for a child and parent, I don't intervene. Most kids end up weaning themselve once they start preschool.

Most toddlers become so headstrong they eventually wean themselves. Our role as moms is to respect that and let them move on.

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I'm not the "odd man out" in my family. Everyone for generations has breast fed--poorer families breast fed, wealthier families bottle fed in generations past. No biggie.

I would have taken it to a full year, but not past. I don't believe in either bottle or breast past a year. BUt that's my preference and I don't push it on anyone.

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Kid #1 nursed weeks before I gave up
Kid #2 nursed for 5 months, supplemented/nursed until 2
Kid #3 weaned for good just after her 3rd birthday this past spring (I encouraged her to stop, I admit it!)
Kid #4 nursed exclusively for 9 months, supplemented until 13 months

Kid #5 on the way

I was pregnant and nursing 2 kids at one point, that was a bit much on me.

I say let the kid wean, if you are lucky enough to be in a position as I am where the kid can be with you 24/7.

If a kid walks up to you and asks to nurse, be happy, you know what they want and aren't crying <img src="/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />

I dont know why people get so upset when they see a toddler or preschooler nursing. 1, it's not their kid. 2, the kid can't cry/shout/tantrum when they are nursing. 3, it's not their boob. 4, it's not their life.

Meg


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I'm surprised to see an MD saying there are no nutritional benefits to a toddler nursing. Wow. Also, children are verbal at different ages. My baby could sign for milk at 8 months. I certainly wouldn't have weaned her for that reason. I have a friend who's baby could say it at 8 months. Based on the rule of being able to ask for it, he should have weaned too.

It's obvious that I'll be the minority on this thread too so I'd better just stop responding and stick with the natural parenting boards.

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Cultural norms are important if you care what others think about you and if you are afraid of being labeled �odd�. However cultural norms are based on and developed by people who may be unenlightened. Cultural norms, thankfully, are continuously challenged by the smart and savvy. In the Victorian era for example, it was the �norm� to view an infant�s crawling as beast-like so consequently children where made to stand at a very young age with the support of a contraption made of whalebone. It was also a culturally held belief that sperm curdled breast milk, so in order for the elite to keep their husbands satisfied they hired either a wet nurse or fed their young infants cow�s milk. Both arguably contributed to the high infant mortality rate of the time. These practices, to me seem cruel and I am glad that they are no longer cultural norms. More recently, breastfeeding for any amount of time was against the cultural norm.

It is utter arrogance to think that our present day cultural norms are �right� and should not be challenged. The human race still has a long way to go before we reach perfection.

Weaning a child before he or she is ready due to societal pressures and norms seems unfair and cruel as well. I admit that I may feel slightly awkward seeing a four, five or six year old nursing in public, however, I am not saying that I am completely free from the influence of our norms. Regardless, I nursed my nearly three year old in public occasionally, despite the views of others. Early weaning in this culture as a norm may some day be viewed as equally appalling as putting corsets on infants-as it already is in other cultures.

It is my opinion that we have to attribute all of the progress of the human race to those throughout the centuries who weren�t afraid to breach the cultural norms of their time.

No one should have to breastfeed any longer than they feel comfortable with. But weaning because someone else says its time is ridiculous. Mother and child are the only ones who know when it is the right time to wean.


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<standing up and applauding>

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Thought I'd get my 2 cents in on this...

My first child was weaned at 2. My second still has a little nip (as she calls it) at almost 3, and my newborn...well, as long as possible. It's the most natural, comforting thing in the world, and about so MUCH more than nutrition.

Hugs.

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My son breastfed until he was about 9 months old. I started working at a day care center around that time in the baby room, he got to go with me. I would try to nurse him at the center but he was to interested in what everyone around him was doing lol so he would have a cup at the center then nurse at home. He did that for about a month then stopped nursin on his own. I was heartbroken over it. I didn't think I would have any more kids. Then my daughter came along. I nursed her until she was about 2 1/2 but she took a bottle during the time I was in college classes and nursed. I had to make her stop because her frequency of nursing tapered off and it was getting painful because after the let down of the milk it would take forever to build back up. My breasts ached and ached. I didn't want to have to make her stop but I was in too much pain.


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I completely agree with JanZeiger that any breastfeeding is better than none. But I think everything should be within reasonable limits. For me it's maximum two years.

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I was thinking maybe an imbalance of fore and hind milk. When you have too much foremilk and not enough fatty milk the kid can eat round the clock and gain like mad but will still complain of being hungry because they don't have the fatty milk to fill them up.

My have been nursed 3 wks, 2 years, 3 years, 10 months respectively and I have a nursing 4 month old now.

meg

Quote:
A year is plenty. Neither of my children went a year but then again they starved the first five months. Not sure what was going on. I had plenty of milk and they nursed constantly, they gained weight but they were always screaming........ until they started on solids at 5 months.

We didn't think they were starving at the time but as I look back I can't think why else they were screaming non stop.
[/quote]


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Jess your scope of interesting data is quite intriguing. I do not know where I stand exactly on "norms", I can argue either side. I agree parent and baby led weaning are best left up to the parties involved. But there are some instances where I would question the reasoning for 3, 4 and 5 years olds still nursing. Is this just for the comfort of the child? Probably, and a child must be encouraged to seek solace in other age appropriate forms. What is age appropriate? I defer to our current cultural norms on this one, with the understanding that there are exceptions to every rule and norm. Is there a nutritional component to late nursing? Possibly, but I think we live in a nation quite filled with nutrious foods and supplements - if it were a matter of survival I say go ahead nurse until they graduate high school.

I think the samples you highlighted were of great interest and it begs the question "will we look back at our current cultural norms and gasp at the barbaric nature of weaning a three year old child when they should've nursed until 6?" Only time will tell.

For now we are educated and quite intuitive and questions like these can only be answered by those it affects, and each answer may be different for each person and that is OK. It is good to know there are so many people in the world with good information, good suggestions and the power to share.

Child #1 weaned at 18 months - going thru a divorce, too stressed out to keep nursing although I would have until he was a 2.
Child #2 weaned at 11 months - I was 6 months pregnant with #3 and way too tired.
Child #3 partially weaned at 6 Months then entirely at 10 months - I planned to go back to work, went back to work and still hate the fact that I jipped him out of a longer nursing period
Child #4 9.5 months now trying to gradually wean, to be complete at 12 months - going overseas this summer and I am not taking any children. If she is not gently weaned by then I will not go, but my husband will (which demonstrates the difficulty of weaning when the infant is not ready).

Interesting forum, interesting insights.

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It's been a long time since I've gotten involved with the weaning banter but see no reason to not toss my 2 cents out there.
If I've learned anything as a parent it is to never say never. I never thought I'd bf...but a great pamphlet I found while expecting my first had too many pros in it to not 100% throw myself into the success of it. That said

dd#1 nursed for 3+ years (during that time for her 1st 15 mo I also pumped milk and donated to a local milk bank running in MA at the time) I also tandem nursed her with her younger sister for 1 year prior to weaning. We agreed mutually to wean, she picked the day on the calendar and we did a big celebration of the fact.

dd#2 nursed for about 2 1/2 years weaning when I was pregnant with my 3rd

dd#3 nursed for a bit over 3 years, weaning when I found out I was pregnant with #4

ds nursed for 3 years 2 months, weaning (mommy led) on Xmas morning 2005. His weaning was a bit harder as it was his mommy time since I had returned to work outside the house. But not being home 24/7 left ME with things that needed to be done besides sitting on my arse with 3 yo plugged in. He has no ill effects from nursing till 3 or from mommy led weaning

Health benefits are tops. Nutritionally it's the perfect food for growing babies. Illnesses are fewer and farther between. If they do get sick it's not nearly as bad as when they were not nursing (great case in point would be comparisons of my kids with chicken pox while nursing vs the one that was not when she came down with them)
I never weaned during the winter cold/flu months as it more often then not prevented dehydration at least once a season when the tummy bug would hit.
I can see where people who haven't done it, aren't use to and see breasts as sexual getting in knots over nursing past the baby stage because it makes them uncomfortable. It's the viewers perception of the culteral norm more so then the greater good and the personal info of each individual mommy/baby dyad

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Im quite a young mum at 17 when i had my son, i breast fed him for just over a year and my main reason for weining him off was mainly because of peoples negative attitutes, i feel the best time for a child to stop breastfeeding is when the child itself is ready, don't make the mistake i did and stop due to other people presuring you, also breast is always best, for mothers not sure whether or not to breastfeed i feel it gives a close bond that a bottle just doesn't, keep with the highs and lows as its totally worth it, i found lasinoh products the best help while breastfeeding! they includes nipple creams and really great breast pads!

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And it reduces mothers chances of breast and ovarian cancers...and if you bf a daughter also reduces her risks of breast cancers
And it is better for the environment because of less [censored] in land fills, less polution in the ozone because of trucking etc, healthier babies, less time missed from work, $ savings, $ savings in wic and welfare subsities
List goes on and on. We all know full well what the medical advantages are to baby but the global implications, and the health benefits to mom are every bit as important.

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hugclub, those are a lot of reasons I don't usually think of when I think of the benefits of nursing smile


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You can put me in the extended breastfeeding camp. If you step back and look at historical patterns, the modern day practice of weaning at or before one year is what's aberrant. Humans are designed to nurse children for years, not just months. Premature weaning leads to closely spaced children, which put a strain on the family unit and the community, not to mention the mother's body.

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My son weaned himself at around 9 months. He was too bussy to be up on Mommy nursing. Now my daughter, I weaned her a bout a month before she turned 3. For about 6 months she was only nursing at night mostly to go to sleep. It was getting painful because I really didn't have the supply that she wanted/needed. She hated me for awhile because of it. She even started rubbing my husbands nipples when she was tired lol I say nurse as long as you can/the child wants.


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My experience was after a year it becomes 40/60 nutrition and emotional. I weaned two at 2 years. For one child that was a mistake. He was very hurt. He needed that bond. Any other connection I made with him wasn't the same. The third child got to nurse till almost the third year. Only at bedtime with the bedtime story, mainly cause I was too tired to care!

I found that working friends, had trouble because the child clung to them in this way. Then, it's the same old wishy/washy about sticking to NO.

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My wife breastfed until our daughter was two years old and she was ready to be weined off. It was hard at first because she would cry and reach for her breasts but that didn't last long and was fine after that.

My wife thought it was time when she got her teeth in and used them to clamp on until she got the suction going.


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