Laura Zoey - posted on 09/30/2010 ( 82 moms have responded )
Lately I'm hearing a lot of misuse of these terms, I know that everyone has the right to use whatever term they want but it's confusing when there is specific definitions for these terms and it's usually misused. I have a few examples of misuse:
1---"my 9 month old self weaned yesterday, she just arched her back and refused to nurse. She prefers bottles now anyways and I'm sad she weaned but it was her choice."
With this it's obviously a nursing strike, many moms think that nursing strikes are self weaning. If your child refuses the breast abruptly, and with anger it's a strike. It can be caused by teething, milestones, stress, and other reasons too. Nursing strikes can happen at any age, but right before a year is when many moms mistake it for weaning. Any time your child abruptly refuses to nurse, it is not weaning, it's a strike. They need your help to get over the strike, not to just switch to a bottle.
2--- "my baby weaned himself from breast-feeding at 5 months, he just prefers bottles now"
Weaning from breast to bottle is not child led weaning, it's just that most humans, babies included, prefer the easy way of things. Bottles are portable, fast flow, and 'me do' style. If given the option, many babies will prefer bottles.
3---"my 13 month old self weaned, I guess he is just to busy and independent to remember to nurse!" remember that 'don't offer don't refuse' is a method of parent led weaning. If you are not offering to breastfeed then you are instigating weaning yourself.
4---"my toddler self weaned because she just likes table food more now" many times moms are thinking this is self weaning but if you think back there was probably times when your child came to pull on your shirt to nurse and you redirected her to the table for a meal. Redirecting her from the breast is another way to parent lead wean. And If you only nurse after a meal at the table it's very likely your child is already full and won't wish to nurse more.
5---"my 16 month old wasn't sleeping through the night until I stopped breastfeeding him to sleep and started a sleep training routine. He self weaned the next few weeks." night time weaning can be perfectly ok and compatible with full term nursing, but it can also start weaning prematurely. Nursing to sleep is one of those things that every child loves, and most moms tolerate at best. But when you start refusing to breastfeed at any time this opens the door for parent led weaning. Once your child realized he is ok not nursing to bed he might think why does he need to nurse in the morning? Or he could think that since you refused to nurse at bedtime, why even ask in the morning because it's obvious to him that you wish not to nurse him anymore.
6---"my daughter self weaned when I became pregnant" pregnancy is not parent led weaning, but it's definately not child led weaning. It's something else affecting the nursing relationship. Unforseen to the child it's uncertain how she will react. And if she does wean because of the pregnancy, it isn't of her choosing per say, it's because something interfered in the relationship of breastfeeding. We could call it environmental weaning.
Ok, so to clarify, parent led weaning is not a bad thing! It's not something to be ashamed of at all. And all these examples are of extremely gentle parent led weaning. And this is perfectly fine to do if that is what best suites your child. There isn't anything bad about encouraging weaning, but it's nice to acknowledge that it isn't really the Childs choice, if something is affecting their decision. Like the law of motion
An object in motion tends to remain in motion unless a force acts against it
Children do not wean young, they really naturally enjoy breastfeeding, and unless something interferes, enjoy breastfeeding for years.
It is accepted knowledge that child led weaning doesn't begin until the minimum age of 2.5 years with an average of 4.4 years and a top of 7 years. So while there's nothing wrong with parent led weaning, if you want to practise child led weaning you should be expecting some age within these estimates, and try to avoid these common areas of subtle parent led weaning.
Please feel free to comment about anything I missed or didn't mention that's in the same category, or to respectfully disagree. I do have links to back up my info, as a few months ago I didn't know any of this at all! Remember, there's nothing bad about parent led weaning, especially in such gentle ways as these, but call it what it is, and it will be easier for new moms to know what to anticipate for true child led weaning. Both ways can be rewarding and wonderful, we can all agree on that! I just want to clarify the use of the terms :)