Breastfeeding is a unique, personal experience between mother and child. Each breastfeeding relationship is a special one to that particular family. So, how do you know when it is time to end your breastfeeding relationship? There are several things for a mother to consider before she moves into weaning.
The World Health Organization says mothers should breastfeed their children for a minimum of two years. After that, the breastfeeding relationship can last as long as the mother and child wants. To date, there has been no research proving that an extended breastfeeding relationship causes psychological or emotional harm to the parent or the child. Most experts agree, as long as you can is the best policy.
Around the one-year mark, many infnats have what is called a “breastfeeding strike.” This is a period of time lasting for days or weeks when the child is not interested in nursing. They may simply not ask, pull away when offered, or only nurse for a few seconds before turning away to other things. This is a common occurrence and usually fades with time, as your now toddler feels comfortable with their new freedom. This strike, though, is a time when many mothers feel comfortable weaning their child. This is a phase when your child will not be interested in breastfeeding, and may actively push away, making the weaning process much easier.
Child-led weaning is the process of letting your child wean on his own terms. This usually happens sometime after the typical nursing strike. For most children, the biological norm for weaning is around 3 years. Some may feel ready to venture off sooner, others not until later. Though it is not commonly seen in modern culture, the act of breastfeeding for this long is actually very common in many families. If your toddler still feels the need to nurse, do not worry that you are the only one. There are many, many mothers still breastfeeding older children.
A child will let your know when they are ready to wean in several simple ways. Often, they will gently fade away from nursing with little to no fuss. You may not even notice that breastfeeding has stopped for several days. The gradual decline will fade off into weaned. Some prefer to end suddenly. They may feel it is time to stop and will tell you that they are done. This can be different for every child, but paying attention will help you to know when your child is ready.Kelly 'Styles' Patrick