When Will I Wean My Breastfed Baby?by Kate Tunstall
My youngest daughter has just turned two. I feel like she’s still my baby, but of course, she’s now irrefutably a toddler. She may still sleep like a baby, ie. badly, but the fact is she’s growing up into a little girl who can walk and talk and has a fiery temper. Which is probably why so many people have an opinion on the fact that I’m still breastfeeding.
When I had my first daughter I knew I wanted to nurse her, but I had no idea how long I’d do it for. In fact, I was a bit ignorant and actually thought that breastfeeding a child of a certain age was kind of…weird. I never imagined that would become my life.
There are two pivotal issues people overlook when they take a narrow and judgemental attitude towards women nursing beyond babyhood…
Number One: CULTure
Not so long ago I wrote a post and spoke a bit about how our society puts the ‘cult’ in culture. The two words are completely separate; but what a perfect coincidence - because our culture is effectively brainwashed into strong coercive beliefs which often go against science, evolution, and our wellbeing. It’s actually very sad.
In the post I’m referring to, I spoke about the contraceptive pill. Today I’m referring to the fact that women who are simply doing the best for their toddlers are ridiculed and harassed about it.
You don’t have to agree with me, everyone is entitled to their own opinion of course. That doesn’t change the fact that in this case, according to research, studies, science, nature, facts, figures, and other empirical evidence that you’ll struggle to argue against - I’m right (as backed up by this article).
Now that I’ve experienced it first hand and had to give myself a shake, I can clearly see how my previous views were shaped by my upbringing and peers; by our culture.
Essentially, in many ways, our culture is pretty damaging.
Number Two: Breastfeeding Involves Another Person
…and that other person is a mini human who most likely has quite strong feelings of their own about weaning.
We tend to forget that when we’re talking about weaning a baby or toddler, what we’re actually planning to do is thoroughly and absolutely obliterate life as they’ve known it. And that’s not easy.
It’s not easy on a practical level, because it means heartfelt protests and a lot of screaming. Particularly when you have an older sibling to consider, that’s no mean feat, especially at night time. And it’s not easy emotionally because your not-quite-baby / not-quite-child is genuinely distraught at having their greatest source of comfort removed for no valid reason.
See, that toddler does not look at Mummy’s boobies and see something sexual. They simply see love and nurture, and an intrinsic element of their relationship with the most important person in their life at that point.
How Not to Support Breastfeeding Mothers
When others wade in with their unsolicited and illogical opinions, something pure and innocent and lovely is taken from us and our children - without our permission. This beautiful thing we’ve privately poured our heart and soul into has scorn and disgust heaped on it, before being sexualised.
Our warped, fucked-up culture has a lot to answer for.
Because the reality is that this attitude is relatively new. And it plays right into the hands of those companies pushing formula. I’m well aware that they can’t legally - and therefore don’t explicitly - promote their products designed for infants. But they have some very clever people in their marketing departments who find and exploit the loopholes. And our current culture serves their agenda perfectly.
So, back to the original question then: when will I wean my breastfed baby? The simple answer - the only answer - is when you and your little one are ready.
Breastfeeding is something to be applauded. It’s hard in so, so many ways. Yes, it’s rewarding too, but we give pieces of ourselves - quite literally - in order to do the best for our children, our future leaders who will hopefully one day fix the mess this world has become.