I haven't posted in a while. But that's doesn't mean that I haven't been engaged with the world of breastfeeding. You could say that I've been doing field research. I've been breastfeeding my son. Until now.
It happened. He weaned.
Parents often talk about how every pregnancy is different, every baby is different, and every kid is different. I laugh when I hear that. Not because it's untrue. It's true. For some families. My kids? They happen to be very alike. So it was no surprise that my son weaned at 14 months just like my daughter. It was like clockwork.
Weaning, by this definition at least, is the process of stopping breastfeeding. Weaning happens in different ways and for different reasons. Circumstances and timing cannot be universalized. So if a mom asks, "when should I wean?" A good answer is not an answer, but a follow up question, "when do you and your baby want to wean?"
According to guidelines a year of age is the standard. But that guideline is less of a standard than, well, a guideline. Confused? That's ok. It is confusing. And vague. On purpose. Experts generally agree that babies should exclusively breastfeed for 6 months and then continue to breastfeed until a year of age or longer.
Can you wean before your baby is a year old? Yes. If your circumstances necessitate it, then you can. Most of the time mothers do this for (often complex) medical reasons, though some do so for personal reasons. Should you try to continue nursing until your baby is a year old. Yes. Will the universe collapse upon itself if you wean a bit sooner? No. If you wean sooner than a year be sure to talk to your baby's doctor about how to safely feed you baby using formula, table food, or both.
Do you have to wean when you baby is a year old? No. There is no hard and fast rule on this one. Nursing doesn't have a deadline or an expiration date. Does that make you nervous? If so, then you're probably reacting to a culture that doesn't know much about toddler breastfeeding. And we often fear what we don't understand.
Want to hear more about weaning? Stay tuned for Weaning, Part 2.