Is there a least traumatic time to wean?

I know the benefits of breastfeeding past the first year, but I'm curious as to when may be the least traumatic time to wean. I have a nine month old and she is starting to become aware of the fact that the breast is more than just nutrition. Is there one particular time to wean that would be easier for her?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Each baby is unique. Only you will know when the best time is for your baby to wean from your breast.

Many women in our society are very uncomfortable nursing past one year of age because unfortunately it is not our cultural norm. We rarely see mothers breastfeeding in public -- especially their older babies and children.

Mothers of nursing toddlers may also be discouraged by friends and family from continued breastfeeding. They are told nursing is no longer important to their baby's health (not true) and continuing will make your child too dependent on you (also not true.) Many mothers, feeling pressured, wean prematurely. This is sad for both mom and baby.

Breastfeeding is a health care issue. Extended breastfeeding, as you know, is good for you and your baby. I believe it's important to explore your feelings about nursing your baby past one year. You might find it very helpful to attend La Leche League meetings where you will have the opportunity to meet and talk to other moms of happily nursing toddlers. Most mothers, just like you, do not start out expecting to breastfeed their baby past the first year. They "grow into" the belief that continued nursing is the right choice for their family.

If you feel this is the right time to wean your baby, it will be easiest for you and your baby if you proceed gradually, dropping a nursing session no more often than every four to five days. Usually, the easiest feeds to drop are those in the middle of the day. Begin to wean by dropping one feed at a time, offering a snack or a drink in its place, and staying busy!

While weaning from your breast, substitute lots of "other mothering." Hugs, cuddles, stories, time playing together one-on-one, will help you to continue nurturing your baby while weaning -- making this transition easier for you both. Your baby will still desire lots of intimate contact with you, so don't allow weaning to end the intimacy you both enjoy sharing. Weaning will not be traumatic when you and your baby are ready for this transition.

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