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When to Wean: Baby Knows Best

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Mrs. Tangela Walker-Craft – Owner/President Simply Necessary, Incorporated talks about extended breastfeeding, knowing when to wean your child.




To wean or not to wean, that’s a
question that only you and your baby can answer.  Unfortunately, unwanted and unwelcomed advice
may come from everywhere.  People that
have never breastfed a day in their lives will offer their advice about when’s
the best time to wean YOUR baby.  Even people
that have never had a child will somehow know when you’ve breastfed long
enough.

If you resist their unsolicited
advice, people may even switch from asking when you plan to wean to trying to
scare you into weaning. You’ll likely hear, “If you don’t wean her soon, you
won’t be able to do it.”  You may even
get the, “She’s going to start biting you when she gets teeth,” threat.  It’s funny how most people accept that a baby
will start to walk when he or she is ready, and talk when he or she is ready,
but they think that there is a magic age when all babies should stop being
breastfed.

Once threats don’t manage to scare
you into submission, the attempts to shame you into weaning may begin.  You’ll get the loaded, “You STILL
breastfeeding that child?  How old is
she?”  Family members and people that
feel that they can will make snide remarks about how your child might be
driving, married, or doing something else that’s totally ridiculous before you
wean him or her.  Breastfeeding, especially
extended breastfeeding, is not necessarily encouraged in Black families.

 Like many breastfed babies, my
daughter lacked the “baby bloat” that frequently occurs in formula fed babies.  My well-meaning Grandmother asked me dozens
of times if I was sure my baby was getting enough to eat.  She’d ask me, “Are you sure you’re making
enough milk?” She and other members of my family refused to believe that my
baby could survive on just breast milk. 
I was constantly guarding against my family’s threats to give my
daughter “real food”.  I was the first person
in my family to practice extended since the introduction of baby formula.  After breastfeeding six children of her own
out of necessity, my 85 year old Grandmother seemed to view my decision to
voluntarily breast feed as something out-dated or odd.

 I think that moms that do not
practice extended breastfeeding sometimes secretly resent moms that do.  There is a competitive spirit that makes women
want other women to make the same child care decisions that they’ve made.  Women that do not, or did not practice
extended breastfeeding, may feel that moms that do are judging them for their choice.

 I breastfed my daughter for two
years.  I’d taught her a few baby signs
by the time she was about nine months old, so she knew how to tell me when she
wanted to be nursed.  During the first
year she was exclusively breastfed.  By
the second year she had a diet consisting of breast milk and toddler
appropriate foods.  During her second
year she breastfed less than the year before. 
Most of her feedings were at night before bed.  As she acquired a desire and taste for more
foods, her requests for breast milk dwindled.

Contrary to the warnings, weaning
for me was easy.  Taking cues from my daughter
during that second year, I breast fed less and less during the day time.  Breastfeeding became more of a bonding and
comfort activity for us at night.  When I
sensed that she was ready, I began telling her that mommy wouldn’t have any
more milk soon.  My breast naturally responded
by producing less milk because of the less frequent feedings.  My daughter’s nursing slowed down to a few
minutes only at bed time. Over a three day period I cut the feedings down to
quick bouts, which culminated in the end of what was one of the best
experiences of my life.

Comments
One Response to “When to Wean: Baby Knows Best”
  1. Katrice says:

    How refreshing to read your sorry about baby led weaning. I too am the first in my family to breast feed longer than a month. Thoughts of weaning my thirteen month old beautiful brown skinned baby girl fill my heart with anxiety. I say I will let her take the lead, but I worry because she seems very attached to her…nuk…that’s what she says when she wants to nurse. I guess I sometimes wonder what is normal. Did you give your baby other milk when you were away? Even though i now only pump one before leaving for work, I am so tired of pumping.

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