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To Wean or Not to Wean

Posted by: Mary Ellen Walsh

We recently celebrated my youngest boy’s first birthday! The big ONE! Hard to believe how quickly time passes.

When he was born I had said that I would breastfeed for the first year, assuming by that point I would be ready to wean him. A year is a long time! I thought that I would be ready to put away the nursing bras and say goodbye to the “baby boobs,” but instead I find myself feeling very unsure of what to do.

My little guy never did take to drinking expressed milk from the bottle, so breastfeeding is all he has ever known. Needless, to say when I presented him with a bottle of milk he looked at me as if to say, “and what would you like me to do with this?”

I breastfed my first little boy for 10 months and at that point both he and I were pretty well ready to end the process (him more so than me). This time around is different.

Hudson loves to nurse, and when he throws the bottle of milk away and cries to be nursed, I am really not sure if weaning him right now is the right thing to do. I know that it is going to take some time for him to adjust to the idea of milk from a cup or bottle instead of the boob, but I find myself stopping to think about my reasons for weaning him. If I’m not sure I want to stop and he is still very interested in nursing, why now?

Am I doing it just because everyone around me is questioning when I am going to stop? Now that he is getting “older,” I do feel like I have lost a lot of the support that I once had. I frequently hear things like:

“You said you were going to wean him when he turned one!”


“You know you can’t breastfeed him forever, right?”

But when it comes right down to it it’s up to me. It doesn’t matter what anybody else’s opinion is, I do what is best for baby and me. I haven’t yet decided what I am going to do, but when I do make a decision it will be because I feel it is the best choice for us, and not because of his age or outside pressure!

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To Wean or Not to Wean

4 Responses to To Wean or Not to Wean

  1. I get “the question” from people who don’t know me well. They’re shocked to find out that my 4 year old hasn’t weaned yet, let alone my 13 month old. Most people then realize they’re barking up the wrong tree.

    Weaning is a very personal negotiation between mother and child. No one else gets a say. In a perfect world, this relationship would be respected. Instead, I’m getting used to saying, “I don’t judge you for how long you did or didn’t breastfeed, so please give me the same respect. Thanks.”

  2. I’m already getting pressure to stop nursing by family and friends and my boy is only 6 months old! I wish I could say I once had the support from others but this is not true. I’ve had more people criticise and quick to blame breastfeeding for any issue that arise (colic, not sleeping though the night, bitting, etc) then I had supporting my decision to breastfeed. I believe this criticism is the main reason I didn`t give up when things were really tough. When I was pregnant I had a friend say, `You will never be able to breastfeed` after that I decided there was no stopping me, I should be thanking her :-) .

  3. Response To Wean or Not to Wean:

    I should say starting off that I am passionately pro-breastfeeding and pro- extended breastfeeding. It’s worth it to do a bit of research on the subject and compare attitudes in different cultures and different periods in history about breastfeeding. Personally I grew up in Europe, with a mother who always told me stories of how pleasurable, lovely, and nurturing an experience it was, and how much I will one day love to breastfeed my baby. A radically different attitude to what my Canadian girlfriend had, which was in some cases a determined plan to breastfeed “no matter how unpleasant or painful” because it is good for the baby.
    Who gets to decide what is appropriate, what is best, what is natural? (Death and illness is natural by the way). Really, it’s a process of negotiation between individuals and society, evidenced by the fact that norms of appropriateness change over time as beliefs and attitudes do. Experts on the subject, whether they are medical, parenting, religious, sociologists, change their expert views over time too. So when in doubt, go by what works for you and your baby. Dangerous advice perhaps, radical too.
    I breastfed my son till he was in kindergarten (introduced solid food starting six months of age). He is very well adjusted, healthy, intelligent (identified intellectually gifted actually – sorry couldn’t help to brag), and has a really good immune system. He’s an adventurous eater too and no allergies. He wanted to take his time weaning, and once I began talking to relatives about it, I found there were family members who also weaned their children late, and who were themselves weaned late. It does halp me to come from another culture originally because I see differences in attitudes in all aspects of life and childrearing, and I am accustomed to seeing them as subjective – relative to the culture, not any matter of “right and wrong”. In other words I am used to being weird. Love it!
    Please, breastfeeding moms, don’t wean yet if you don’t want to, and or if your child is not ready yet. Not because of some entrenched cultural attitudes against breastfeeding.



  4. Thanks for you’re wonderful responses ladies! Breastfeeding most certainly is an intimate relationship between you and your little one, so the decision to wean only concerns the two of you. It is frustrating to hear judgmental comments from others but the decision to continue nursing or wean doesn’t affect anyone but myself and Hudson. Every child is different and, therefore, every breastfeeding experience will also be different. Support for breastfeeding shouldn’t come with conditions; to each her own:)

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