I originally wrote this on my previous blog, but I "killed" that blog to start anew. This has been a reoccurring topic in my life recently, so I thought it would be appropriate to re-post it here.
Okay, so when I started breastfeeding I thought anything over 1.5 years was too old. I've been reading and researching about natural weaning and such since she was about 5 months old. In primates (which we all know are the closest related to humans) they wean anywhere from whats equivalent to human years 4-7 depending on the species of monkey.
In the USA babies tend to wean between 1-2 years. Is that because of how humans have evolved? Or just how society views it? I don't know. I haven't gotten that far into my research. It could just be the cultural normal, so somehow subconsciously that's when we make it happen. I tend to wonder if going about introducing solids is done "wrong". (Not really wrong, but I'm at lack of a better term..)
In the Baby Led Weaning [BLW] book it's advised to nurse/bottle feed within an hour of feeding solids, so that the milk or formula stays the main for source, and solids are used to fill in the space, or like a dessert type of deal. I've been wondering, during our own solid journey, that if a lot of early weaning (whether before a year, or compared to primates) is because we're so excited to share "real food" with them that we fill them up on solids first, then use milk/formula as dessert. I've been wondering when I'm supposed to stop offering milk before solids, after a year? Why the sudden switch then? I don't know. What I do know is that I find myself wondering about it more and more as we approach my daughter's first birthday.
I was talking to my husband, a few weeks ago, about everything I've been reading, and my thoughts on long term breastfeeding. I told him at the time 'I'm thinking of 2, maybe 2.5, unless she weans herself earlier." He then proceeded to tell me, that anything past 2 years old is weird. That really bothered me. Partially it was the social stigma he has to extended breastfeeding, and partially because, well, as far as I'm concerned he doesn't really get a say in my daughter's (and mine) breastfeeding journey. That's our thing.
A friend of mine posted the link to a blog post about extended breastfeeding, Why I'm still nursing my child at 48 months. That mom is only nursing when her daughter wakes up, and when she goes to bed. Is that going to be me and my daughter? I don't know. There are a lot of variables that could occur between now and then. She could wean on her own, I may get pregnant and then breastfeeding becomes harder to maintain, so she'll probably wean than if it even happens, who knows what could/will impact it. What I do know is that if my baby girl still wants to nurse to sleep when she's four years old I'm okay with it. If she wants to nurse in public.. that I'm not okay with. Not because it would bother me (it wouldn't bother me at all) but because I don't want her to have to deal with the weird looks adults, and other kids would give her. Or the teasing that may be associated with it.
My conclusion on this matter is that my daughter will wean whenever she's good and ready. Whether that's within the next 6 months, or 4 years from now.