The Normal Course of Breastfeeding

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe’s Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today’s post is about child-led weaning. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!

I knew I wanted to nurse my babies, even before I knew they were twins. I had a less-than-ideal nursing experience with my firstborn and wanted to have more success the second time around. I didn’t have plans for how long to nurse the twins, I wasn’t even confident that it was possible, but I knew it was what they needed and deserved, even if they came as a set.

After several months of ups and downs, we finally settled into an easy, fulfilling nursing relationship. By then I had been attending La Leche League meetings, and, through those meetings and other LLL resources, I was introduced to ideas such as mothering at the breast, nursing not just breastfeeding, and child-led weaning.

There came a point when the answer to the question “When are you going to wean them?” became “Why should I?” Nursing is one of the easiest and most effective parenting techniques for babies, toddlers, and (speaking from experience) even preschoolers! It’s a perfect way to reconnect, calm, reassure, snuggle, take a break from the busy day, keep a child quite for phone conversations, comfort, maintain health, get extra sleep, etc. Why would I give that up? They enjoy it and I enjoy it, so why stop?

Nursing has been helpful throughout various stages over the years. My twins woke up regularly several times a night until age 18 months or so. Most of the time, they nursed for 10 minutes or less and went right back to sleep, making this a peaceful time for our entire household. When they have been sick, particularly with upset tummies, breastmilk has been the perfect food to calm their tummies and provide easy-to-digest nutrition when nothing else would stay down. Why would I give that up, just because the calendar said they were old enough to wean?

Another answer to “When are you going to wean them?” is “We ARE weaning!” Weaning begins as soon as something besides mother’s milk is introduced, and we started that process gradually when they were about six months old. However, my twins were not big eaters of solid food until they were about 15 months old. It was comforting to remember that if they only picked at their food at meals, I was still able to provide nutrition through my milk.

My milk supply decreased dramatically and then completely dried up when I got pregnant with baby number four. The twins noticed it, commenting, “No more milk, Mommy”. However, by then nursing was not really about the milk and they have continued to nurse. They do get happy, though, when I tell them that after Baby Brother is born, there will be lots more milk!

We are not using strictly child-led weaning; I have put my own limits on our nursing and guided them toward gradual weaning. At one point, probably half-way through their third year, I realized that I was resentful of nursing them before going to bed at night – it was no longer something I enjoyed. So one night I explained to them that we would read books and sing songs and snuggle, but that we would not nurse at night; we would nurse again in the morning. Surprisingly, it worked out okay that night and was met with only minimal resistance the next few nights. As a result, our nursing has been able to continue without hard feelings on my part.

We have set other limits over the years and now at age 3 years 8 months, the twins nurse only once a day. I haven’t made definite plans, but I may continue to guide their weaning until they no longer nurse at all, carefully assessing their readiness for a step that they might not have taken on their own until later. It’s important for me to be flexible in making decisions about our nursing relationship by paying close attention to their ability to adapt.

What joy I have come to know through nursing my firstborn and now my preschoolers! And what a healthy understanding all three of my children have of the normal course of breastfeeding! I hope they pass this gift to their own children one day.

Today’s guest post is from Marilee Poulson. Marilee and her husband Daniel are parents to three girls (almost-six-year-old and 3.5-year-old twins) and one yet-to-be-born boy, due in August. The Poulsons live in Salt Lake City.

Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.


Filed under The Normal Course of Breastfeeding, Weaning

2 responses to “The Normal Course of Breastfeeding

  1. Rachel

    Fabulous Marilee! I always love hearing about you and your twins. You are an inspiration!

  2. Amy

    Wow, what a gift you are giving to your girls! I love that you’ve not set any hard and fast rules about what you will or won’t do, and when the moment arose to set a limit (no more bedtime nursing) you went with it because that was what would work best for your family. I’m finding that it’s so important to remain flexible when it comes to parenting decisions of ALL kinds. Great post!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s