Is it possible to set nursing boundaries without actually weaning?

This is a user contributed article.
As my daughter’s second birthday is getting closer, the subject of weaning has popped into my head a couple of times. I believe that making it to the two-year mark will be a remarkable goal for us, and I have a hard time believing that she’ll be willing to give up breastfeeding simply because she has another birthday. Which led me to wonder if I should plan to wean her at all or just let nature take its course?
If there are no extenuating circumstances that justify the need to wean, is it best to go the child-led route. Child-led or self-led weaning is said to naturally occur between the ages of 2 and 4, and I am completely comfortable with the idea of nursing my daughter throughout that period of her life because I want her to receive the benefits of breastfeeding and breastmilk as long as she can.


However, is there a point even during child-led weaning when mom needs to encourage weaning for instance, when the child begins attending school? I came across a video online the other day that focused on a mother and her 7-year-old daughter who was still nursing on demand (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHRyRCHuQ7g). Now, I’m quite certain that we won’t be nursing that long, but seeing a girl of that age asking to nurse really got me thinking about limiting nursing to an extent.
At this point, I do not feel that either of us is ready to wean, but I am interested in setting a few boundaries and beginning to prepare myself for when the time comes. To make nursing easier on mom I have heard that some will designate a special nursing spot(s) or times to help establish a boundary.
I think that incorporating ideas like those into our daily routine would work for us. But at the same time, I’m worried that if I begin to set too many boundaries and restrictions on nursing to make things easier on me that she may get the wrong idea. I would hate to discourage her from nursing and consequently wean her just because I feel that I need a break.
So if any of the other parents out there have any advice on how you were able to successfully breastfeed your toddler or have lessons that you learned from your own weaning experiences I’d love to hear what you have to say.

This article was contributed by Elizabeth from Breast Pumps Direct. As a nursing mother to her soon to be 2-year-old daughter and a breastfeeding counselor, she spends a great deal of time everyday thinking, talking and writing about breastfeeding and breastmilk.

8 comments on “Is it possible to set nursing boundaries without actually weaning?

  1. HI, MY 32 MONTH OLD STILL NURSING AND DOESN’T SHOW ANY INTEREST ON STOPING. IT CAME A TIME WHEN I HAD TO SET SOME BOUNDARIES BECAUSE SHE WANTED TO NURSE ABOUT EVERY 10 MIN FOR ABOUT 5 MIN. REALY!!! IT WAS TOO MUCH FOR ME AND I STARTED TO HAVE SIMILAR FELLINGS ABOUT HER 2 YEAR OLD BIRTHDAY COMING UP. I DECIDED TO CUT BACK AND IT WAS VERY VERY HARD I TRY TO KEEP THE FOCUS ON HER NEXT MEAL AND NAME THEM (LUNCH, SNACK…ETC)INSTEAD OF SAING NO, SAY “I WILL GIVE YOU MOMMY MILK AT SNACK TIME”. NOW SHE FEEDS AT NAP AND NIGHT TIME AND IF SHE FEELS SICK (WHEN SHE WANTS MOMMY MILK SHE WILL TELL ME SHE WANTS A NAP). I CAN NOT SAY IF YOUR BABY WILL WANT TO WEAN, BUT IF SHE IS NOT READY TO WEAN SHE WILL RESIST THE CHANGES AND TRY TO HOLD ON TO ANY FEEDINGS SHE CAN KEEP. WE ARE DOWN TO VERY FEW FEEDINGS, BUT SHE IS NOT READY TO LET ANY OF THOSE GO. MY BABY STILL GETS THE BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING AND WHEN SHE IS READY WE WILL WEAN .

  2. I am now a grandmother and will trust that my memories of my children have not been idealized by the passage of time.
    I tandom nursed my two children for about three years until she decided to stop nursing when she was five. I do recall that I would ask from time to time if she still wanted to continue and she always said yes, until she was five.
    My son stopped nursing on his seventh birthday but for years before had only been nursing himself to sleep or perhaps when he scraped his knees. He announced one day that when he was seven he was going to stop. About a year prior to his weaning I tried to express milk but only got a few drops, so I’m sure that he wasn’t nursing all that much.
    When each was about two and a half I did set up some boundaries. They were mainly about nursing in public outside of the house. They could tell me that they wanted to nurse but would need to wait until we got home.
    I never imagined that I would nurse them so long but it just happened. Their father had nursed for the first few months of his life but then took a bottle until he was seven. He had an uncle who nursed until he was seven as well and I have a niece who nursed her one of her children for about four years so I always figured it was something that ran in the family!
    My grandson, whose father nursed for seven years, is just a year old and he only nurses when he wakes up at night. He’s much too involved in opening cabinets and cruising around the living room to be interested in nursing or eating for that matter :-). Definitely doesn’t take after his father’s side of the family.
    Looking back from all those years ago, I think that’s a decision that you have to make that’s right for you. Do what you feel most comfortable with. I found that as two year olds they could deal with the concept of waiting (most of the time) but probably couldn’t have dealt with it 6 months earlier.
    They do happen to be really, really great adults, independent, self-assured but then so is my little grandson at the tender age of one!

  3. Hi, I had to comment as my second is nearing his second birthday as well and we are still nursing several times a day. I have a 6 yo daughter who I nursed until her fourth birthday. In fact, it was the eve of her fourth birthday and we had discussed how when she was 4 we wouldn’t have “nummies” anymore. I was pregnant, we only nursed at bedtime and I believed she and I were ready to stop. It was a sweet moment and, for the most part, an amicable end. Though when her little brother was born she had a couple of moments of wanting to nurse and over the past nearly two years she has asked (or snuck a suck) a few times. 😉
    As far as he goes…well, I wanted to make it to two and I think we will go at least another year, though more and more infrequently as he gets more and more independent. We nurse mostly when he’s tired or waking up from a nap, though there is nothing like the nummies to soothe a bruised knee or ease a transition. I have been making sure he is not hungry or thirsty for something else recently, and try to put him off from time to time so he gets used to it. Most times I feel perfectly fine nursing but there are moments when I would rather not and I think it is fair for he and I both to work on respecting those times.
    In the meantime, I love it, he loves it and we will know when the time has come to end it.

  4. My daughter will be 3 in August. We regularly nurse at bed time and in the mornings. She will sometimes tell me that she’s tired when she just wants to nurse and cuddle. She also nurses when she’s been traumatized in some way.
    We’re in a comfortable place with nursing. I’ve explained to her that, at this point in her life, nursing is a private thing. It is something we do at home, or in a quiet place. I usually ask her if she’d like something else instead. I also ask her why she wants to nurse. (One of her most frequent answers is “Because there’s milk in it, mama!” When i tell her that I could give her a glass of milk she laughs at me and says, “That’s not the same, mama, I want your milk now.”) I find it helpful to ask her why she wants to nurse because I think that sometimes nursing is the easy answer to an urge which has other possible remedies. Trying to get her to articulate her needs helps her to identify them. I never hesitate to accommodate nursing requests that include reasons. (even when, as with the “I’m sleepy, mama, I want to nurse” requests, I’m pretty sure that the reason isn’t completely accurate.)
    When we’re in public and she asks to nurse, I will generally give her a choice. Do you want to sit on my lap and cuddle? or Would you like to leave so that we can go somewhere more appropriate for nursing? Sometimes she’s happy with the quick snuggle. Sometimes she wants to leave. Other times she thinks about it for a moment and suggests her own alternative.
    Of course, this is just what works for us.

  5. I have 2 yr old who is still nursing but he is mostly down to 2 times a day unless he is hurt or sick. I am happy with this arrangement and will probably let him continue this way. We have put restrictions on public nursing unless there is a special circumstance. last week he fell at Sea World and he was so scared and shook up from the fall, thank god not hurt but he wanted to cuddle and nurse so I sat and nursed him right in front of people. I just wanted him to feel better and don’t care what they think anyway. I think weaning is a personal choice and each nursing relationship is unique.

  6. My daughter Claire turned two in February. She is gradually self weaning. In fact, just after I think she has weaned (she will go several days without) she will ask to “Nees” again. Each length of days gets longer and longer. Some days she talks about how she is a big girl and only babies “nees”. Other days she says she is a baby and wants to nurse. I think self weaning is a wonderful gift to give a child. Giving them time to be “Big” yet still be “little” gives them the secure attachment they need to grow up self assured.

  7. its great to hear about all the children who get to nurse for so long. My son is only 19 months old so i am nowhere near wanting to wean but i love reading these testimonials~
    rach

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.