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Five Things I Wish Somebody Told Me About Weaning

Aug25

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Yes, weaning. Whether it happens at two months or two years, it can be a really weird time. Maybe you feel relieved, like somebody finally gave back your freedom and your body. Maybe you feel guilty, like you did something wrong or didn’t try hard enough. Maybe you even feel a distinct loss of identity, like you aren’t sure how to be a mom without the “nursing” adjective. Maybe it’s a mix of all three, plus some other conflicting emotions I forgot to mention.

My baby weaned for good last week, right at the 10 month mark. I still, sometimes, can’t believe it. I keep waiting for him to change his mind and for everything to go back to “normal.” My husband goes on morning auto-pilot and brings him to bed and hands him off, before stopping and thinking about it, like…Oh. Right. We’ve begun taking turns putting each boy to bed, and while I really missed regular bedtime stories with Noah, I still really, REALLY miss my nighttime routine with Ezra, my baby, my boob man.
On the other hand, I don’t miss being bitten, or pinched, or slapped with a poundy little palm, or having my hair pulled. I like being able to wear THAT shirt or THAT dress, the ones without buttons or elastic. I like cocktails and another glass of wine and all the tuna sashimi I can eat.

Weaning Noah was easier, in a way, since we never had an exclusive nursing relationship to begin with. Going back to work full-time was a blow that my low supply and his poor suck and flow preference could not recover from, but that’s just how it went. Nothing more to be done. I tried to nurse him one morning and he pulled off and screamed until I gave him a bottle. I tried upping my pumping schedule that day, produced nothing, and couldn’t even get him to latch again that night. The end. Okay. My mom told me I did the exact same thing at the exact same age. Huh. Moving on.

So I was a little unprepared for the weaning this time, since it wasn’t so clear cut. I could, usually, convince and cajole Ezra into latching — even after a refusal earlier in the day. Was he done? No, he can’t be done. I better try again, keep going, keep offering. Turns out that I, philosophical advocate of “child-led weaning,” had absolutely no real idea what that meant in real life. A few things I wish I had known ahead of time:

1) Babies DO self-wean before a year, I don’t care what anyone says, SO THERE. When I first suspected that Ezra’s “distracted phase” was quite possibly something more than a phase, I consulted all my favorite books and websites for information about weaning, and how to tell if your baby was weaning. And was told over and over again that, essentially, it was all in my head, that babies don’t typically wean before 12 months, that it’s usually the mother misinterpreting a developmental stage. So…PHASE. Just a phase. And I’ll tell you what, that information made breastfeeding somewhat miserable, there at the end. How long was this phase going to LAST? Why was my baby being so DIFFICULT? What’s with the biting, the twisting, the boob strikes when he was clearly hungry? Snap out of it, baby! I was fighting a losing battle that I didn’t even know I was fighting; but I thought I was just being a diligent and informed nursing mom.

2). Your baby probably understands the process better than you do. Another thing that kept me soldiering on was the thought that I was WRONG about it, that I would stop and let my milk dry up and then OH THE HORRORS, Ezra would start rooting around and I would have nothing for him. Oh, God. Never happened. It’s eerie, almost like he has already forgotten that he ever nursed at all, or what my boobs were for. The last few times I tried nursing he regarded them as a curiosity — something to grab and poke rather than baby-bird dive-bomb at, like all those months before. If your baby is ready, he’s ready. Trust him, and your instincts.

3) You may continue to make milk for longer than you think. My supply was pathetic, by the end. I could not pump a drop, Ezra rarely nursed for more than a few minutes…so I assumed I would simply stop producing any milk rather quickly. A day, probably! And while I never had issues with leaking or engorgement, like many weaning moms, I did continue to have milk for more than a few days. It wasn’t a big deal physically, but oh, emotionally it tore me up. It kept tempting me to try ONE LAST TIME, to try to pump it, save it, something.

4) Phantom letdown! I KNOW there’s no more milk in there now, but…still. Like a phantom limb, I get these fake sensations of my milk letting down ALL THE TIME. Like, more than I did on a regular day of nursing. Does this ever…stop, do you know? It’s weird.

5) Any and all breastfeeding is successful breastfeeding. Okay, I actually already knew this one, but it’s important. I don’t care if you only nursed in the hospital, once or twice, or for a couple weeks, or months, or years. It doesn’t matter if always had to supplement with formula or pumped exclusively, or if nursed until your baby weaned or until you were ready and made the conscious decision to stop. You did it, and you rock. Be proud of what you accomplished, whatever that was, and don’t let anyone else’s breastfeeding yardstick make you feel like you fell short.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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66 Responses to “Five Things I Wish Somebody Told Me About Weaning”

  1. Meghan Aug 25 at 11:13 am Reply Reply

    Thanks for this post. I read your column as well so i had the background on Ezra’s self-weaning, but this makes me feel better about when I stopped nursing my son Jack. we stopped for good at the 9 month mark. I would have called it until recently called it mom-lead weaning, but reading about this I can now refer to it as a mutual decision. Jack started doing everything you decribed with Ezra. I was okay continuing with AM feeds before work, but they lasted all of 3 minutes before I was bitten, HARD. Plus the slapping, pulling off, distractions by every. single. noise. It was no longer an enjoyable experience. Pumping became more difficult at work, and we were supplementing, add a wedding on the west coast and we were done.
    I had a bit of an identity crisis (although the realization is in hindsight). It was tough not being his sole food provider and the only one who could calm him down. And you’re right, it WAS quick, the memory loss of breast-feeding. I would say by 11 months he had no recollection of it at all.
    Overall I am happy we had that relationship, happy that we had that bond, but at the end I was happy that we were mutually motivated wean. Thanks again…it reminded me that breastfeeding no matter how long you do it is worth commendation.

  2. Kate Aug 25 at 4:10 pm Reply Reply

    #5 really struck home. It’s so true. I’m not sure at which point we all felt we had to reach some magical milestone to have considered our children “breast-fed” and “job well done.” My son was about 4 months old when I quit breastfeeding.
    I had a more than adequate supply of milk, and no problem pumping at work at all. BUT– between my many food allergies and his food allergies, there was hardly anything left for me to eat and the milk had so little fat it just went through him. His stomach was always upset and he was eating 35-40 ounces a day because it barely stayed in his system. I stopped giving him breastmilk and switched him to Neocate formula, and within a week, his tummy was acting “normal,” his cradle cap had cleared up, and the conjunctivitis in his eye was gone. None of it has come back since we switched to formula, and we didn’t start doing anything else differently. It was all because of allergies.
    I know it was the best decision–best for him. But it broke my heart a little that he didn’t mind losing the breastfeeding a bit, and that we didn’t last longer. So anyway, I keep reminding myself about #5 all the time.

  3. George Aug 25 at 8:18 pm Reply Reply

    I decided to wean my first baby when after a morning out she still wanted to feed while standing on one leg and stretching the other leg over her head. Sometimes you can really tell that they have other things they’d rather do.
    By 13 months we ended up with just one feed a day. The books I had all reckoned that the last feed to be dropped would be the snuggly night feed. Hah! The last feed we dropped was the snuggly, let mummy lie in bed for an extra half hour, morning feed.
    I thought we would have a huge problem dropping the evening feed but when the time came I offered her cows milk in a sippy cup. The first night she drank it all and then settled to sleep. The second night she didn’t bother with it at all. And that was the end of that.
    A fortnight after we weaned she had a bit of a tumble and cried and cried. I offered her the boob to calm her down and it was as if I was speaking a foreign language. She just didn’t understand why I thought it would help.
    It was definitely stranger for me than it was for her.
    Oh, I didn’t leak or feel that hard engorged feeling but my boobs did hurt for more than a month.

  4. gizella Aug 25 at 10:32 pm Reply Reply

    My daughter is 20 months old, and we weaned at 13 months, and I STILL HAVE MILK (didn’t mean to yell there).

  5. Quinn Aug 25 at 10:35 pm Reply Reply

    Thanks for that last one, Amalah. I saw five different lactation people and still couldn’t ever get Griffin withdrawing milk. I pumped and supplemented for months, but around five months he had had enough of hanging out while I pumped during the day–he had places to go and things to do! I finally stopped pumping a few weeks ago (Griffin’s seven months now), when my nightly pump dwindled to half a bottle’s worth of milk. I still have milk in my breasts, one in particular, and I’m lately going through the whole “I never managed to be a nursing mother” thing again. Sigh. Hopefully I’ll have a boobman like Ezra someday to help me come to terms with this!

  6. Maria Aug 26 at 12:35 am Reply Reply

    Thanks for #5, by the way… I’ve had a nightmare with nursing so far, and at almost 8 weeks now Jakob is getting pretty much all of his meals pumped into a bottle, with a nightly comfort suck from an empty boob (thanks, raging oversupply). I needed to hear (read) #5!

  7. Anyabeth Aug 26 at 12:42 am Reply Reply

    Uh, my daughter weaned almost a year ago? And I still have phantom letdown. It’s really freaky.

  8. George Aug 26 at 4:02 am Reply Reply

    I decided to wean my first baby when after a morning out she still wanted to feed while standing on one leg and stretching the other leg over her head. Sometimes you can really tell that they have other things they’d rather do.
    By 13 months we ended up with just one feed a day. The books I had all reckoned that the last feed to be dropped would be the snuggly night feed. Hah! The last feed we dropped was the snuggly, let mummy lie in bed for an extra half hour, morning feed.
    I thought we would have a huge problem dropping the evening feed but when the time came I offered her cows milk in a sippy cup. The first night she drank it all and then settled to sleep. The second night she didn’t bother with it at all. And that was the end of that.
    A fortnight after we weaned she had a bit of a tumble and cried and cried. I offered her the boob to calm her down and it was as if I was speaking a foreign language. She just didn’t understand why I thought it would help.
    It was definitely stranger for me than it was for her.
    Oh, I didn’t leak or feel that hard engorged feeling but my boobs did hurt for more than a month.

  9. Torrie Aug 26 at 8:40 am Reply Reply

    This is a great post.
    My daughter quit breastfeeding cold turkey when she was 13 months. I had a lot of mixed emotions about it. More than a year later, I still have some milk in my breasts.

  10. Salome Ellen Aug 26 at 9:23 am Reply Reply

    Although all of my six kids weaned at about 16 months, ALL of my neighbor’s five quit at 10 or 11 months. It made her sad, too.
    And, um my “baby” is 16 1/2 and I can STILL feel phantom let-down. (I did while reading this post.) But it changes from wistful to funny after a while — how can I still feel that when I’m menopausal?!!!

  11. Sally Aug 26 at 9:23 am Reply Reply

    My son finally stopped of his own volition at four years old – he is now 13 years old and I still remember “the breast-feeding years” with huge joy and warmth. I’m not a “feeding nazi” – my daughter stopped at about a year old – it just goes to show that they will just stop when they want to if you want to/can leave it to them!

  12. Marnie Aug 26 at 12:43 pm Reply Reply

    I wish someone had told me I might stop making milk, even if both the baby and I still want to nurse.
    At about 7 1/2 months, my daughter bit me hard enough to break the skin. It became horribly infected a few days later while we were on a trip. The pain was so bad that I cried every time I realized it was close to her feeding time. She wasn’t exclusively nursing, but I had a limited supply of formula, so I nursed through it, and got on some antibiotics as soon as we got home.
    Within a few days, I realized that my supply was not what it had been, so we were down to just the bed time feeding. Within a week after that, I noticed that she hadn’t slept through the night several nights in a row. She wasn’t sick and we hadn’t changed routines, and it finally dawned on me that she was hungry. It broke my heart to realize that I wasn’t even making enough for that one feeding, but what really killed me was the realization that *I* was the one preventing her from getting enough to eat. We switched to formula and she started sleeping through the night again.
    My milk dried up completely within a couple days and I never had any leakage or residual letdown. I chalk that up to the raging infection, courtesy my little vampire. I was sad, but still happy that we’d been able to do it, even when we were down to only once a day.

  13. obabe Aug 26 at 1:27 pm Reply Reply

    A, who turns 1 on the 3rd (ZOMG, sob!) stopped nursing after I landed in the hospital with a kidney infection for five days when he was 8 months old. I pumped and dumped for 15 days (b/c of meds) and then the morning when i could finally nurse him he looked at me like i was crazy and wtf is my bottle!. waaaah.
    I pumped for another few weeks but then my supply just took a hit. and that was that. im still slightly sad about it, since we were going strong till i went to the ER (literally nursed him before walking out the door to go). but i know, were all healthy and fine today, so thats important.
    the wine helps those sad feelings though:-)

  14. K Aug 26 at 2:06 pm Reply Reply

    I never imagined how sad, empty and depressed I felt when my daughter weaned at 18 months. I felt like my best friend died. I did research and learned that it’s the hormone withdrawal – similar to heroin.

  15. Liz Aug 26 at 3:31 pm Reply Reply

    Thank you for #1. My son stopped nursing during the day at 8 months old. I was so very emotional over it, convinced that it was me, all me! Everything I read, everyone I talked to said there was no way an 8-month old would self-wean. I pumped myself silly, hoping he would eventually want to go back to more than just his late-night feeding. I tried every trick in the book for two weeks, and nothing worked. And then, at 9 months old, he gave up the night feeding, too.
    It was hard. Really hard. But in the end, I really felt that it was his decision, not something that I had caused, that he was ready to move on. Of course, that story on Kellymom about the 40-day nursing strike still haunts me, just a little.

  16. Sarah Aug 26 at 3:58 pm Reply Reply

    I stopped nursing my son, who is 3 now, almost a year ago. He knows what they are for and what he did. He still asks from time to time, but at least he is ok with “no they’re empty”. but I don’t think it matters how long … I still feel guilty that I weaned him too early (2 months after he turned 2) … its been a year and I still have the phantom let down and/or an engorged feeling even when they are obviously not.
    I enjoy his new freedom (and mine) sometimes I have to force the happiness, im sure he will go nuts when the new baby is nursing and he can’t but I hope he can understand

  17. Jessica Aug 26 at 11:07 pm Reply Reply

    I’m at the point where I don’t know if my son will wean himself, ever. He’s almost one, but the amount of solid food he eats is laughable. I’m ok with it, I love nursing. But I’m seeing many more months of nursing, long past the 18 month mark.

  18. miriam Aug 27 at 10:00 am Reply Reply

    what does that mean, “still have milk”?
    And what’s with this phantom letdown? I don’t like my letdown! (like menstrual cramps of the boobs)

  19. Heather Aug 27 at 11:56 am Reply Reply

    Thanks for posting on this topic…timely given Ezra’s self-weaning. My son is 10-almost-11 months old and I’m wondering if we are getting near that time (to wean). I have a couple of questions though:
    1. If we drop the morning and night nursing (I nurse him to sleep), do I give a bottle, or should I transition him to a cup?
    2. Is biting a sure sign of weaning? I thought that was also due to teething. So how do I know it’s weaning/not teething? (My son has 4 teeth and is working on 5/6 now)
    After reading this post and the comments that followed, I’m scared of feeling like I still have milk. I had never heard of this before! (or phantom let-down…ugh) I wonder if there’s anything that can be done about this to alleviate the feeling/get rid of the milk. Please let us know if you hear of any remedies. I will also check with a lactation consultant when the time comes…UGH!

  20. Laura Aug 27 at 3:00 pm Reply Reply

    I really needed to read that…My 10 month old lost all interest in nursing about a week ago, and like mentioned above, I feel like my friend has died. Not only that, but I feel like the LaLeche League will come pounding down my door demanding I try harder to get him back on there.
    Thanks for putting something out there that validated my feelings!

  21. Kari Weber Aug 28 at 11:56 am Reply Reply

    I quit cold turkey on my first son at 7 months because I felt overwhelmed, and couldn’t ever pump enough for him when I was gone or at work- let alone able to DO anything for myself. I don’t know why I never supplemented with formula. I just thought that was failure. Then I quit on him one morning in a mess of tears and guilt and bought formula… and he was fine. I was not. I felt like a total failure, and regretted it for every day of the last 3 1/2 years. Now with number two who is 4 months we are going strong. I am pumping, but also not afraid to supplement with formula if necessary. Life is much more enjoyable. For everyone. My fear? Son number 1 didn’t teeth until 8 1/2 months- long after weaning. Son number two show signs of ALREADY teething soon. I fear the fangs!!!

  22. Amy Aug 28 at 2:21 pm Reply Reply

    I was vaguely aware there would be a hormone shift, but I was totally thrown when I had a huge hormone crash and was completely depressed for days after. It was awful. My daughter chose to wean on her third birthday. Also, I had never heard of hair falling out post-weaning like it does post-partum, but wow. It only lasted a couple days, but handfuls of hair came out. It was crazy.

  23. may Aug 30 at 1:40 am Reply Reply

    man I needed this. julian has the self wean going on during the day, I still try though in my ten hour workday the pump does nothing. I have my night feedings and morning feesings. but I desperately wanted to go to a year. I’m having a hard time with it.

  24. Karen Aug 31 at 4:54 pm Reply Reply

    Why do we do this to ourselves?
    I nursed my son for 11.5 months. (see – still trying to prove my boob worth) It became so horrible pumping that I had looked down one day and it was pink – from blood! Crazy nursing expectations!
    I woke up one day with an insane upper respiratory infection. I need shots and heavy meds and the doctor told me it was over with the nursing. I went home – crying like a moron. He never noticed. No fussing, he couldn’t care less! I think society somehow brainwashes us to think we have to do it for a year. Next time, I won’t beat myself up like I did the first time around! He and I bonded and enjoyed it and then life went on.

  25. Mary Sep 11 at 1:38 pm Reply Reply

    Well, #1 nursed until 28 months, mostly because I was uncomfortable because I was pregnant. She would have continued for quite a while. Our last to go was our morning “mommy drink”. And she still asked a few times after we were finished. I can still remember sitting on the floor and holding her while she cried that there was no more mommy drink. We’ll see where #2 goes to (6 mo so far), though she nurses much less and I’m beginning to suspect that my cycles will resume much earlier…(not until 13 mo after #1)

  26. wan-nabe Sep 11 at 2:35 pm Reply Reply

    i am going through this right now with my almost two-year-old bean. i never thought it would be so hard to wean – but she’s ready and if i dig down deep and admit it, so am i.
    i just blogged about my own experience – today is day two. hand me the cabbage, please.

  27. stacy Oct 18 at 4:17 am Reply Reply

    Thanks for this post — it’s something that has been on my mind a lot lately. I have a 7.5 month old little girl, and for us – breastfeeding has always just been the easier, more economical way to feed. We had a spot of trouble in the very very beginning which resulted in a 5 day old baby taking expressed milk from a bottle for 3 days until I could get a consultant over to help me with the latching — and we always continued to give her a bottle of pumped milk a couple times a week to keep her familiar with the bottle. I always have had a decent milk supply, but she’s never really been a long feeder – only during a growth spurt will she actually stay interested long enough to take both boobs. She’s had a cold for the past week, and I think her stuffed-up nose is making it hard for her to nurse. Since she’s also not very interested in eating — we’ve been giving her more and more formula. This of course is making me very nervous that we won’t recover and go back to breastfeeding. She’s become increasingly fidgety, and trying to feed in public is becoming quite an exercise in futility. She doesn’t want to be covered up, she wants to turn her head and look at stuff, and basically she is just impatient if the milk isn’t RIGHT THERE. I’ve always had a slow letdown, and this is what caused us the problems when she was first-born, but she was a good (if fast) eater, and never seemed unhappy. But now – sigh, I don’t know. I’ve never placed a whole lot of feelings one way or the other about breastfeeding, but since it seems almost over, or on it’s way to being over, I am feeling nostalgic and sad. It’s like a whole category will be gone: “provider of food.” Now I will just be nurturer and caregiver. It’s a step away from me, and I hate it. I guess it’s not so much about ME, but that she is moving on. No longer my little baby that I can keep all to myself. So anyway that’s my sob story, lol. Thanks for the post Amy! :-)

  28. amanda Jan 24 at 1:04 pm Reply Reply

    I really loved this article. Very informative. The last paragraph touched me very much. I have nursed two other babies and have mentally beaten myself up for not nursing an entire year! With my last I avoidedbottles like the plague and regret that now due to my lo needing me constantly not taking a bottle and not really bonding with anyone else, dh especially. Oh the things we mothers worry ourselves with!!!

  29. Laura Mar 30 at 9:08 pm Reply Reply

    So, so, so needed to hear this. I needed the positive reinforcement even if this is just a strike or phase.

  30. Batika Apr 11 at 10:51 am Reply Reply

    YES!

    My baby weaned right at the end of 8 months and I was devastated! I called my La Leche leaders and they were more unhelpful than I expected: they said it was a nursing strike and that I should not give a bottle or a cup. When I asked about nutritional needs or when I should see a doctor, they provided a vague and evasive answer, simply repeating their previous statements (spoke with two of them). I then went to see a Lactation Consultant who said he is likely weaning and then, when I saw my doctor, whom I trust completely, he said that he is indeed weaning and that I shouldn’t beat myself up. He said I could keep trying to give the breast, but if he refuses after two weeks, it’s weaning. I am really angry that the bulk of information available about breastfeeding online is not written by professionals but by mothers who judge mothers who can’t or choose not to breastfeed.

    Yes, his weaning was right around his teething. In fact, within thirty-two days of weaning, he got six teeth! I’m still offering, but after eight weeks, am beginning to give up. All he wants to do is either pinch or nip with his teeth, like a toy. He is completely uninterested. I’m pumping but am starting to cut down significantly because it’s such an inconvenience that I’m not sure is necessary. Baby’s been heavy on solids for a while now (of his own accord). For breakfast, he easily devours a whole egg with half an avocado and veggies — he eats this on his own and I don’t ever force him to eat more than we would like. I figure he had long been getting his nutritional requirements from solids when he weaned. The doctor said that if he has no allergies, it was fine to start him on homogenized milk.

    I wish more than anything that we could have continued nursing to a year, but I can’t control what I can’t control. Thank you for being a voice that supports what most of the professional community is saying.

  31. Jessica Jun 17 at 4:08 pm Reply Reply

    Wonderful. Thank you.

  32. Sandy Jun 20 at 11:31 pm Reply Reply

    I am surprised so many people liked this post. I don’t think the OP really knows much about breastfeeding at all. Babies need breastmilk until they are at least 2 years old. There were probably other factors that caused the weaning, especially separation from the mom, even if that just meant sleeping in a crib in the other room. What do you think cave women did? Do you think babies had their own separate cave room? Did they have children wean onto cows milk when they stopped nursing at 1 year? They stated with their mammas and were carried all the time, nursed on demand, and coslept and nursed through the night. That’s the natural way of things. Cows milk is breastmilk and it’s completely unnatural for humans to consume. I cant believe adults still aren’t “weaned” off cows milk. Cows milk is for calves and human milk is for kids. I’m not saying he didn’t want to nurse anymore. It’s clear he did wean, but due to unnatural unbioligical factors. Think about it on the most natural level, and how unnatural our lifestyles are today.

    And if you’re an adult eating/drinking breastmilk, wean yourself already and stop worrying about your child weaning off your breast.

    • A Nov 05 at 3:46 pm Reply Reply

      I am not here to engage you in a debate about your substantive points. I just wish that you would be more supportive and less judhmental in your response. This is rude and uncalled-for, no matter what your option.

  33. Jessica Jun 27 at 12:47 am Reply Reply

    Sandy, it’s women like you who make women who have to stop nursing/pumping sooner than they would have liked feel like failures. You can FRO.

    I breastfed my twins until they were almost 9 months old. By then I was nursing twice a day due to work. My daughter started to lose interest when her first tooth came in and a stomach virus they both caught reduced their appetites and they dropped their night feeding. My son nursing once a day wasn’t enough to keep up my supply. I did everything I could and it still wasn’t enough. It broke my heart but there was nothing more I could do.

  34. Diane Jul 01 at 8:52 pm Reply Reply

    Stumbled upon this article while googling “ten month old weaning”. My second child, now ten months, has been doing exactly as you described your son. Biting, playing, complete refusal. It wasn’t until one night at 4 in the morning where I couldn’t stop him crying after 2 hours and finally gave him a bottle and was saddened to see that was what he wanted. I breastfed my first son for a year and was in it for at least that long with number two and I am so sad to see it end. And I have felt really guilty because, as you pointed out, all the breastfeeding websites say child led weaning doesn’t happen. Of course, by caving and giving him a bottle I am weaning, but I personally can’t watch him cry. My supply has always been just enough and he is a big eater-loves solids. It is probably my fault for letting him eat whatever solids he wants- my first is such a picky non eater that I think the novelty of a child that will eat is hard to put off! Thank you for sharing -it is at the very least comforting to know I’m not alone.

  35. amy Jul 30 at 3:06 pm Reply Reply

    Thank you!!!! 

    I just weaned my one-year-old son and I’m feeling guilty about it. Not to mention worried about his nutrition and development. And of course my boobs are killing me! My supply went way down near the end so I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with engorgement but nooooope. 

    This post made me feel better. So again, thank you!!

  36. Jan Aug 01 at 7:37 am Reply Reply

    Actually felt tearful reading this, thanks for the post, I identify with it so much right now. Another weird thing is I feel a tiny bit of jealousy when I see my 9 month old on the bottle. Especially during that lovely morning breast feed. I really wish I could have fed her till she was at least 12 months and had totally pictured this in my mind. I had no idea they could just refuse you!! My first child was always keen for a feed! You never know…

  37. Bella Aug 30 at 2:55 pm Reply Reply

    Thank you soo much for posting this! I wish I had found it sooner, but it is still a comfort knowing that self weaning does happen to other babies and that is has a big affect on their mothers. My daughter weaned herself at 8.5 months and did it rather suddenly and never looked back. The day she decided this, she looked at my breast and tried in various ways to use it like a bottle. After some time she decided that a bottle was superior and what she wanted. I swear I could literally see her making this decision in her head. I’m not crazy, I see now that I just have a very independent daughter, which is a good thing! But it hurt so much for a while!

  38. Tricia Sep 01 at 2:37 am Reply Reply

    Thank you so very much for this! I am currently going on hour 50 of a total “nursing strike” or whatever it may be with my 11 month old. She’s always been a great nurser but started fussing more last week which I associated with teething pain. Then started the biting to the point that she drew blood when I tried to latch her (she did this for short period before but then stopped). Now she refuses completely and shows zero interest no matter what I try. To top it off, I’m only nursing her on one breast as the other stop producing milk a month ago (did the same thing when I nursed my older child too) and now my good breast has developed mastitis requiring meds. I feel like all signs are pointing to the end of our breastfeeding relationship even though I had intended to continue. I’m feeling quite heartbroken about it all. She has been exclusively breastfeed, refusing a bottle, so this was really “our thing”. I’ve been scouring the net for info/tips/guidance but I’m really finding is a lot of guilt and anxiety producing banter about how it’s just a strike and how if I really cared I would hang in there and wait for her to come back to the breast. I have enough of my own guilt that I don’t need strangers who have no idea what my experience with breast feeding has been or what my priorities are as a parent to lay any more shame or blame on me.  Thank you so much for being real, open, honest, respectful, and supportive. 

  39. mila Sep 11 at 11:00 pm Reply Reply

    Thanks for your post and to those who wrote of their personal experience!
    My 13 month old daughter weaned cold turkey theother night.she had never had formula, never had pumped milk, I work from home, all the “correct” circumstances according to the nursing nazis. I didn’t expect it, I was sad by the thought that this chapter of my life is done (she is my fourth and last child).
    But I should be happy for the good nutrition she did have.
    Again thanks for your post!

  40. Ida Sep 15 at 8:13 pm Reply Reply

    Thank you for this post. I’ve been weaning my daughter slowly for months. We’ve been down to a morning and an evening before-bed nurse for 2 months.Then, the other day, she bit me several times and smiled. I told my husband to get a bottle of formula. She drank it down, burped, and went to bed. Today, she didn’t even try to get at my breasts. I gave her a bottle (there was a 5 min wait while her father made it and she didn’t even root). We cuddled, I sang. I kissed her forehead dozens of times. We did the normal ritual. Then, she went right to sleep. Maybe this is a strike, but I don’t think so. She’d been devoted to the night feed, nursing 40 minutes when all other nursing sessions were 15-20. A few weeks ago, she started cutting back to 20, then 15. Then, the biting started. I think some babies do wean themselves around 10 months. A few things I’ve noticed since we started weaning.

    1) The wants to hug more and she initiates the hugs.
    2) She is very enthusiastic for our late afternoon walk where I wear her.

    In doing the bottle feed, I make sure to make it as intimate as possible. I cuddle her (she can hold it herself for the most part). I kiss her.

    I figure I’m going to follow the same path with the AM feeding. Until she starts refusing it, I’ll keep doing it.

  41. Ida Sep 15 at 8:16 pm Reply Reply

    Just FYI-Yesterday was not the first time she bit me. For several months, I’ve said, “Do not bite mommy” in a strong tone. I tried pushing her away for several minutes.

    We do have our schedule but even outside of it, she doesn’t look around for them. Except…when we are in the middle of Whole Foods and then, without fail, she checks to see that they’re still in there.:)

  42. Kristina Oct 01 at 8:44 pm Reply Reply

    Thanks for sharing! I’m going through this right now with my 10 month old — and the biting, oh the biting! Ouch! So at 10 months old do you start them on formula, or can you go to cow’s milk? My other dude went to 18 months, so this is new to me.

  43. Melissa Oct 14 at 9:56 pm Reply Reply

    I know this has been a few years, but thank you. I keep reading and coming back to this. For the last month, my now 8 month old has slowly but surely decided the boob is no longer for her. We are down to a morning and early evening feed, and pumping has dwindled to all of a cumulative ounce a day. It was tough for us from the get go (bad birth, poor latch, severe tongue tie, weak suck) but we made it work for seven months without supplementing. And I know rationally its ok to let breastfeeding run its course, but it’s so hard to FEEL ok about it with so many people who insist that I must be doing something wrong and must not be trying hard enough. I’m so tired of feeling guilty about the inevitable – we won’t make it a year – instead of proud that we fought through so much to make it 7-8 months. When we should be supporting each other, we instead undermine confidence in knowing and understanding our own kids. So, long way to say thank you from a stranger for being a voice that strengthens and reinforces confidence in our hard-won, battle-acquired knowledge!

  44. Sarah Nov 10 at 11:57 pm Reply Reply

    For three weeks I had been having issues getting my daughter to nurse. Thought it was just a phase but on Friday she refused to nurse at all and hasn’t since. 4 days short of 10 months she self weaned. Or 10 months from her due date!

  45. Carly Nov 13 at 7:50 am Reply Reply

    Fantastic , my baby did the exact thing at 8 months but she was exclusively BF, which made it even harder to understand :( I’ve been so upset & have tried everything to get her back. Not happening.

  46. Lv Nov 21 at 4:06 am Reply Reply

    Reading this really helped me w my inner struggle. Thankyou. My 8 m old seems to be self-weaning, and reading your words made it possible, ok, and even something to be proud of that i have bf him this long. I began to doubt myself about my son self-weaning when i read everywhere that babies below a yr dont self-wean, but i am going to trust my intuition and stop thinking i am a bad mommy

  47. Ree Dec 03 at 7:44 am Reply Reply

    Can I just thank you from the bottom of my sad sad bosom for this piece!!!

    Breastfeeding started for me as a battle… poor latch and supply issues and I fought tooth and nail to get things on track. So many tears and now with my little girl self weaning starting at 10 months I have continued to fight to keep our breastfeeding relationship and until reading this piece felt like an absolute failure.

    Every kellymom LLL and ABA information page and forum thread tells me this weaning is mother led.. after 6 weeks of fighting and now 3 weeks of waiting for her to be interested again I can finally accept that this is her weaning, all II’m doing is annoying her and torturing myself by continuing to fight it.

    I am crying while writing this in a mixture of relief and terrible sadness that its over. Not only that but a very huge amount of gratitude to you.

    Thank you!

  48. D Dec 16 at 8:39 pm Reply Reply

    I know you have now heard it a million times, but after searching google for “10 month old weaning” I felt like I was getting yelled at! I was so relieved to find that I wasn’t alone or doing something wrong. Thank you!

  49. Carol Dec 30 at 9:49 pm Reply Reply

    Thank you for this post. My 11 month old stopped nursing. She is my lAst baby and I wanted to nurse until she was 2 or more BUT here she is refusing to nurse and screaming if I try. My other kids nursed longer and I had to wean them when I became pregnant which they didnt want to do, they loved nursing. but this little girl is stopping herself! Makes me sooooooo sad that I’m done. I so blame myself, Too stressed out, working too hard, not cosleeping with her… Crying as I type this.

  50. Carol Dec 30 at 10:08 pm Reply Reply

    One more thought too, for the poster that said babies have to have breastmilk until they are 2, comparing this to cave man days. First, not sure there is any historical record of breastfeeding habits or time frames from those days! But Today we have access to healthy foods daily, fresh fruits, veggies, eggs and meats. Babies may wean bc they r getting very healthy amounts of solids that cavemen didn’t have so they stop needing breastmilk for nutritional needs, especially if your baby is a good eater. Also WHO reccomends 2 years of breastfeeding, why – bc in poorer countries, babies don’t have access to the foods we do so breastmilk becomes a greater proportion of their nutritional needs. Breastmilk is critical to avoid the health effects of poor water sanitation that causes serious diseases in infants. I’m trying to feel better about my self weaned 11 month old who has now “rejected” me for 2 weeks and screams if I dare put a boob near her face! But I also think we don’t need crazy moms telling us how bad it is if they don’t nurse until they r 2 or longer. Normal Self-weaning age in a third world country should be very different and much later than babies in developed countries bc they don’t have access to other nutritional foods like we do

  51. Emma Jan 17 at 9:48 pm Reply Reply

    I too think this is the best baby-led weaning article that I’ve seen and wish I’d seen it earlier. One of my twins weaned themselves at 9 months and the other at 11 months. I kept looking for advice when the first one stopped but just got lots of articles saying it’snot ppossible at 9 months. Knowing my other twin was still happily going that gave me some confidence none of it was my fault. I kept trying with him in different scenarios and got nowhere. He actuallygot to a point where he would cry and arch his bback like it was the worst thing in the world. When I finally gave up we were both so much happier. It’s also nice that he now seems to gravitate towards dad since he’s the one giving him the bottle!

    I also wanted to say how right I think you are in point 5. It’s inevitable we feel disappointed or guilty if we don’t manage to do what we originally hoped (in that pre-child phase of not really understanding the reality of parenthood and it’s challenges. I think with breastfeeding, whether formula from the start, a month down the line or 3years sole bbreastfeeding, we should always remember we are loving mums who would do anything for our children. Our confidence in that knowledge should convince us never to feel guilty about anything we do for our children.

  52. L Jan 18 at 4:19 pm Reply Reply

    Love love love you’re article. Thank you.
    My 4 mth old weaned self and I could only find articles like you mentioned-that he can’t wean. Thank you for offering this insight so moms don’t “feel bad” about it, despite the other articles.

  53. L Jan 18 at 4:22 pm Reply Reply

    I meant your not you’re. Sorry.

  54. Sarah Jan 26 at 12:44 am Reply Reply

    Thank you so much for this post.  Your writing is honest and refreshing.  My 10 month old daughter has started to self wean.  I have spent the last couple of days feeling guilty and comparing myself to my friends who have “succeeded” at making it past the golden one-year mark.

    It is comforting to read this article and the responses to know I’m not alone.

    Thank you.

  55. Sai Jan 28 at 3:59 pm Reply Reply

    Thank you for this post. My 10.5 month son recently started refusing to nurse. It was our routine – I nurse when I get home from work and at night. Then the other day he kept pushing me away. I tried again to nurse at night and it’s the same thing… he’ll push me and start to cry. It was exhausting and heartbreaking. I thought maybe he was teething. It’s been 2 days of nursing strike. He may actually be trying to wean himself.

    And thank you to all the other moms who shared your experiences. I’m glad to know I’m not alone and it is not uncommon.

  56. kbs Feb 06 at 12:54 pm Reply Reply

    Just wanted to say thank you. My son started weaning himself before Christmas, and it now we are done (8 months). He was no longer interested in latching on, being in a nursing position, and would fuss for the bottle. I, too, feel judged for not continuing to literally force and fight to get him back on the boob. Now that we are done, I have SO much more energy, and without the pumping, more time to be a good mom. The lactation bullies make us feel SO BAD about this transition, and Dr Sears lists all kinds of issues with babies weaned too early… even if we know in our hearts it was baby-led. It’s good to hear from real mothers who have happy, healthy babies who didn’t make it to that imaginary 1-year “finish” line. It’s too hard to find stories out there like yours. Thank you for sharing!!!

  57. cin Mar 10 at 12:55 am Reply Reply

    My son will be 10 months tomorrow and I thin he’s weaning himself. I remember when he used to drink every hour, then 2 hours, then 4, then only 4 times a day. Now he’s drinking only have a day if that mostly at night. I was literally trying to force him to drink I was getting engorged and he wouldn’t drink my milk.

    I’m getting really sad because I wanted him to be breastfed for at least 2 years (if not longer) and he hasn’t even hit the one year mark and he wants my breast milk less and less. I even have expressed milk in the freezer for him but he refuses the bottle.

  58. Katherine Apr 11 at 1:39 pm Reply Reply

    Thank you for posting this. I have been doing what You said you were doing…consulting everything only to see weaning at 10 months is a phase.  I kept thinking it can’t be. My LO seems to know what he’s doing and doesn’t act hungry. I always offer the breast before solids. He just doesn’t seem to need to nurse as often.  Thank you for confirming that I need to trust baby and my instincts

  59. Rebecca Apr 22 at 11:40 pm Reply Reply

    Thank you, thank you , thank you for this article. Have spent the morning in years. Day four of my 11-month- old DS only biting the boob. No interest in feeding. Am devastated that he’s weaning. I also had that ridiculous timeline in my head to get to, I never wanted to stop. No- one told me the baby can have their own timeline, thanks very much! Good luck to all the other mamas out there. We’re all just trying to do our best :)

  60. Rebecca Apr 22 at 11:41 pm Reply Reply

    Tears not years!

  61. kninja May 09 at 10:24 am Reply Reply

    All 1 year olds are handsy when feeding, if not all, most. 

    Unless you were regularly pumping, what you pump is not a good indicator of what you were producing. I wish you’d included that because so many Mom’s think when they pump and hardly anything comes out, that they aren’t producing. Your body has to learn how to respond to a pump and it does take some time. As a former NICU Mom I am fairly versed in this world of pumping. Not all pumps are created equally either, as well as flanges. I found that with a Medela pump I didn’t get nearly what I got with the hospital grade Ameda pump. At home I used a Medela pump with the Ameda hardware, which worked best for me and getting my breasts to respond. 

    It would be great if you linked to something related to this because a lot of my friends have not been told this and then they hear things like this and feel like they can’t feed their babies. 

  62. S May 10 at 11:40 pm Reply Reply

    I was blessed to be able to nurse my oldest son for 18 months.  I loved our time together, though near the end it was rough. My youngest is 10 months, and he self weaned. He got a cold and a stuffed nose, and then four teeth began popping out on top. And that was it, he was done. I tried and tried to coax him to take more, but it ended with me being bitten and him crying from frustration. I have a good supply built up in the freezer, so that is what he gets now.  I beat myself up about it sometimes, but I realized the other day that he doesn’t even miss it. Frankly, what he wants is real food! Skip that watery stuff mom, give me the real thing! 

  63. PumpingMom May 17 at 7:49 pm Reply Reply

    My baby had a traumatic birth and then was at Nicu for two months. I was never able to breastfed him as he had a breathing tube. I pumped and pumped and have two freezer worth of milk saved up. I wanted to give him the best. But he has so many allergies. But I still feel guilty about stopping pumping. He’s now 6 months. I feel like what I his allergies get better and bm is better than formula for him! It’s like if I make myself dry up, it’ll never ce back and it feels like I’m losing something forever. I wish I had a nursing relationship with him. I hope I don’t have to go through this again

  64. Kathryn May 20 at 9:42 pm Reply Reply

    Oh, this could have been me!! I needed tor was this. My son stopped nursing at nearly 12 months and my heart broke. I kept pumping and trying, and went through the same steps you mentioned above. I felt so guilty, like I had done something wrong. Thanks for your post.

  65. J Jul 01 at 1:17 pm Reply Reply

    This morning I came to the realization that it is time for weaning when I nursed my son this morning and he ripped off screaming because I did not have enough for him. We have been doing part-time nursing (evenings and mornings) for a month now when I no longer wanted to pump during work hours but I was not ready to give up the closeness I felt to him when he nursed. I know I should be proud he got breastmilk almost exclusively for 11 months but I feel so sad that I could not provide for him anymore, broke my heart. I feel so guilty for going away for the weekend and even though I pumped my supply is gone. Thank-you for this article.

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