Striking Balance in Child-Led Weaning

I fully intend to allow my child to nurse until she weans naturally. . . but I’ve come to the realization recently that I have to strike some balance into our nursing relationship to ensure a positive term nursing experience for her. 

Is it still natural weaning if I set limits to ensure my comfort? Can I teach my spirited preschooler to respect my body and the limits that I set? Gosh, do I even have the level of patience required to deal with these feelings? 
I’ve had to set limits about the following things in my nursing relationship with Abbey (now 3.5 years):
  • Time spent nursing — If I allowed her to, Abbey would nurse ten to twenty minutes on each breast every time she nursed. And she would do this at least three to four times per day if I said “yes” every time she asked. At first, I decided that I would use the gentle weaning idea of “don’t offer, don’t refuse” to lead Abbey into a natural weaning process. . . but not refusing became an issue, because I felt like all I was doing was nursing and that started to be a negative feeling for me.
  • Listening to “No Thank You” — I initially wanted to use the idea of “don’t offer, don’t refuse” to lead Abbey into a natural weaning process. But our nursing relationship became incredibly tedious and tiresome for me during and after my pregnancy with Joseph. Abbey wanted to nurse constantly. When Joseph was born, she wanted to nurse every time he did, and I just couldn’t take it. I explained that babies need lots of milk because that’s the only food that their little, new bodies can have, and I asked Abbey to think about all of the yummy, healthy foods she got to eat because she was a big girl. I told her that she could have mamas as long as she liked, but that she couldn’t have mamas whenever she liked – - – that mommy reserved the right to say “No Thank You” when I needed to, and that I felt frustrated when she would ask repeatedly for mamas after I had answered “No Thank You”
  • My need for “No Thank You” arose out of a need for personal space. Abbey is very physical, but not really very gentle or cuddly in a relaxed sort of way. When Abbey gives a hug, or sits with you, or interacts physically, she is very enthusiastic and eager and fidgety, and that made nursing her increasingly more and more uncomfortable as she grew into a toddler and then into a preschooler. Her eagerness affected her latch, her enthusiasm had me cringing as she would find more and more ingenious ways to stimulate my milk to let down, and her fidgeting was causing problems when I would nurse her at bedtime. I decided that the nursing times that were most special to Abbey were those in the early morning and at night time, so I would make sure that she could nurse at those times, but during the day, if I needed personal space at a moderate distance from Abbey’s high energy and physicality, I would say “No Thank You” or “Maybe later” in her requests to nurse. In place of nursing, I would offer her some water and try to get her to have another sort of bonding with me, whether it was a book, or a cuddle, or playing a game together. 

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Mamatography Week 10

This post is part of Mamatography 2012, a project hosted by Diary of a First Child. The goal is to document the entire year of 2012 in photos. Paired with my participation in fellow Coast Guard Wife Courtney Kirkland‘s 52 Faces project and her Move to Manual series, I am definitely learning more about my camera, my photos, & my kids, and I’ll have plenty of great photos to document 2012. 

Please visit the links at the bottom of my post to see other Mamatography posts!
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Joseph, asleep at the park on one of the gorgeous days this past week.

 Then littering the living room with crackers on one of the rainy days
 Because my sewing machine is in the shop for servicing, I started a springtime wreath project

I worked on my wreath project the next day while the kids jammed out with the instruments & played.

Thursday, we enjoyed seeing daddy for a day during a port-call near home. 
This is Joseph enjoying the play place at our local mall. He loves it there! 
 Friday found us without daddy (had to stand the middle day of duty on the boat in Portland) but enjoying story time in York, where they had their “Spring Cleaning” playthings out in the playhouse.
“I am the mommy, and it is my job to take care of you, my sweethearts” said Abbey to Joseph and the other children while she did a million loads of play laundry (very authentic!) 

Didn’t get a picture of Abbey or Joseph on Saturday, because we were super busy all day (went to see the Lorax and then attended a birthday party at the bowling alley!) but here is Abbey being a monkey in the tree that the smaller kids like to climb at one of our neighborhood parks.

And reading the Sunday comics in the car on the way to drop daddy back off at the Coast Guard Cutter to finish their patrol. It was lovely to see him for a couple of days and we look forward to having him back!
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Are you up for a challenge? One that will take something from you every day, but give a whole lot back too? How about joining me for the photography challenge in 2012? A photo a day of whatever your day involved. You can jump in any time through the year!
If you’d still like to join us, you can start at any time, just sign up here and our host will email you further information.

Here is the current list of all participants for Mamatography 2012 so far!


  1. Love the little one napping in the swing. Nothing like a little sunshine and nap:)

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