Weaning age?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-28-2005
Weaning age?
Sat, 04-28-2012 - 9:02am

Why is it not necessary for some babies to bf beyond 2 (for instance), and others have to bf'd for A LOT longer? (whent he child is not forced into weaning).


iVillage Member
Registered: 12-21-2009
Sat, 04-28-2012 - 6:48pm

I don't know that there is a clear answer to your question. It's sort of like why do some kids learn to walk at 10 months while others don't until 18 months and yet they are both normal.

There are so many aspects of breastfeeding, nutrition, fluids, and emotional comfort that it would be hard to say why one baby breastfeeds longer or shorter than another.

I think I can safely say based on research and experience that babies who use pacifiers, suck their thumb, get bottles (even ebm), and get solids early and in large amounts are more likely to be on the earlier side of weaning but I'm not sure we know the 'why' behind the reason.

On the mom end of things it's a normal part of breastfeeding an older 'baby' to have negative feelings about it at times. It's certainly reasonable to set some limits as your LO gets older. I don't think that just b/c a baby is 'insisting' on breastfeeding that it means she 'needs' it nutritionally or won't gain weight if you cut back. My 2.5 year old granddaughter is pretty good at 'insisting' she 'needs' candy..........lol...........:-).

Emotional needs are pretty important too. So in the same way some kids are ready for an overnight at a friend's at one age others are not able to tolerate it until much older.

There are some theories about why some kids breastfeed longer but not much research. Some folks feel as though kids will allergies or frequent infections will want to breastfeed longer b/c of the protection they receive by breastfeeding (but no research, just opinion).

Some LO might be closer to weaning and then regress when a new baby comes along or a household move or any other big family event.

It is known that the longer a baby breastfeeds the more health benefits to mom and baby but that doesn't mean you need to go longer than what is comfortable for you. However, I would say that when a baby is very resistant to cutting back it's often a sign they aren't ready for whatever reason and in that case it may be better to slow the process down a bit.

It's always good to start slow and small with any limits or changes and see how your LO tolerates it. Generally if they do well with the change they are ready for it.

Some moms find that asking their LO to ask nicely can help. In other words, instead of bf when she screams teach her how you want her to ask nicely (Maybe 'this please' in a normal voice) and not allow her to bf when she screams. Some moms will limit place, such as only at home, or only on the sofa, or in your bedroom, etc. This often gives mom some sense of control and better feelings about bf longer term. Some moms will offer a special treat in place of bf such as a special snack or TV show, etc (yes bribery). Some babies will respond to shorter bf sessions. So for example you might breastfeed whenever the baby asks but shorten the feeding by making a time limit and then continue to shorten the time limit per feeding as the baby is able to do that. You can even limit just some of the feedings.

Some families find that babies will willingly give up bedtime bf sessions if Dads take over bedtime routines. Sometimes it means mom needs to make herself unavailable, like out of the house or in a more remote part of the house or even in the tub.

So hang in there but don't feel guilty for teaching the baby some "breastfeeding manners" as we like to call them and also starting to set some small but gradually increasing limits.

I know I didn't exactly answer your question but I hope this helps. Please get back if you have any comments or other questions.


Kathy Kuhn IBCLC

iVillage lactation consultant

and Grammy to Brennan, Elias, Elianna, Tahlia, Makenna, Maura, Silas, and newbie expected in June

Kathy Kuhn IBCLC ivillage lactation consultant Grammy to Brennan, Elias, Elianna, Tahlia, Makenna, Maura, Silas, and Charlotte