The great weaning debate


It was World Breastfeeding Week this last week and I’m late to the party again (today is the last day). However I’ve been planning this post for a while so I figured now was as good as any time to publish it. A number of blogs I read like this one and this one have been publishing weaning-related posts recently. I guess it’s because our babies are similar ages and we’re all getting to the point where we’re wondering how long we’re going to continue breastfeeding.

When Kiran was born, I didn’t really have an idea in my head of how long I wanted to breastfeed, beyond making it to a year. I was gutted when Iwas advised by my doctor to start weaning Maya when she was 8 months old as I was pregnant again, but to be honest she was never that interested after she started eating solids anyway and at 8 months she was only feeding at night and for naps. It was still emotional weaning her but I did it gradually, cutting out one feed at a time and she had her very last feed a day or two after her first birthday.

Kiran is different. He’s 18 months now and still very attached. He asks to be fed multiple times a day and will very often just come and try to help himself, whatever I might be doing at the time. I’m keen on the idea of child-led weaning and I like the fact that breastfeeding has helped me fit into clothes that have been too small for my entire adult life, but even so I’m getting to the point where I want my body back.

Maya and Kiran have always been very different. I guess as he’s the youngest, he’s always going to be the baby but it’s really crazy comparing them at this age. Maya was like a little kid already, independent, talking in full sentences and we’d already started looking at nursery schools for her. Kiran only has a few words, is very shy and clingy and very much still my baby. He’s definitely growing up though – he’s taken to toilet training like a duck to water and I think with a bit of luck he’ll be fully day trained within a few months.

The last couple of months I’ve started refusing feeds to him during the day time. He gets quite angry about it but it’s usually fairly easy to distract him and often if I suggest he gets a glass of water instead, he’ll toddle off and get it.  I think day feeds for Kiran are both a habit and a comfort – if he falls and bangs his head, he comes over immediately and asks for “nyum nyum”.

I’m feeling the pressure from others too, which surprises me here were long-term breastfeeding is traditionally the norm. I was praised for weaning Maya by 12 months, only in a supportive way, but still – nobody has had anything positive to say to me about the fact that we’re still breastfeeding at 18 months. A shame considering the official advice is to continue until at least 2.

For now I’m continuing to try and cut out the day feeds but I have no problem with the night feeds for now. This may very well change in a few months as we’re already thinking about moving Kiran to his own bed – Maya was in her own toddler bed at one year, right after we’d fully weaned. Feeding at night when you’re co-sleeping is not so much of a hassle but getting up and out of bed is a whole different story.

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6 Responses to “The great weaning debate”

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  1. Alys says:

    I’d only wean if/when you feel comfortable and ignore everyone. I’m trying desperately to keep feeding Azlan now I’m back at work. I really want to make it to a year. Maybe it’s a boy thing but Azlan is way more clingy than Lily. Like Maya she weaned early at 7 months which I was pretty sad about (Iwas also pregnant again and maybe that does have something to do with it). Anyway you have done really well feeding until 18 months whatever you decide

  2. Celeste says:

    *I* would have positive things to say to you about still breastfeeding if they didn’t all sound cheesy when I try and write them down 🙂 What’s the norm over there – extended breastfeeding, not breastfeeding at all, other?

  3. Rachel says:

    traditionally extended breastfeeding is quite normal here and I think it still is in a lot of the smaller villages but the formula companies have also got a huge hold in indonesia and I see more young mothers bottle feeding than breastfeeding 🙁 I think it is very common for breastfeeding mothers to think they have to top up with formula too – the adverts here actually say that formula makes kids more intelligent 🙁 I think they’re not allowed to advertise formula for newborns, but there is a HUGE business in ‘growing up milk’ here and nearly all kids drink some kind of formula milk from age toddler up. it’s such a scam!

  4. Celeste says:

    Bloody hell – I can’t believe they can get away with saying fornula makes babies more intelligent! Wow. I don’t know if you’ve seen or heard about the follow on milk they advertise here – it starts by saying that breastfeeding is amazing and then goes on to say “if you want to MOVE ON from breastfeeding” then buy our follow on milk. I was always asked if I was “still feeding” Millie (no, I thought I’d let her forage for herself once she hit 3 months) and I think the advert really plays on the fact that breastfeeding is seen as something that should be done and dusted within a few months in this country. I didn’t tell many people that we carried on until she was two and a half because I didn’t have the guts!

    As for the boys being clingier thing – Millie has always been clingier than Lucy so maybe it’s more a second child thing than a boy thing? I’m amazed that Kiran is toilet training – that’s brilliant!

  5. Rachel says:

    yeah there’s an advert where a little toddler is solving puzzles and bringing his mum’s friends tea and they’re all saying “ooh what is she giving him to make him so clever?” and then they see the formula box and say “ahhh! X formula! of course!” it’s a real joke! I don’t think it’s such a problem in Bali but I know Indonesia as a whole had some of the worst statistics for breastfeeding and babies were dying because their mothers thought they had to give them formula but they couldn’t afford it so they were watering it down! I think midwives and doctors used to get commission from formula companies but they’re not allowed to now. I actually remember reading somewhere that it’s illegal to not breastfeed your baby to the age of 6 months unless there are medical reasons! The government are obviously aware of the problem but I think their strategy isn’t working that well so far. They were talking about banning all formula advertising which would be a good start.

    Think you’re right about the second child thing to – it’s natural to baby them more and I guess they pick up on that.

    It’s not so amazing here as kids toilet train a lot earlier- it’s much easier because it’s hot and they’re outside for most of the day so you can let them run around wtihout a nappy on. Maya was completely day trained by 2 but still wears a nappy for naps and at night (showing no signs of being ready for night training either). I thought kiran was going to be much later as we started with maya younger (she started telling us she needed a poo from about 13 months but I got a bit lazy about it when kiran was born obviously! A couple of weeks ago i thought I’d try though so I just took his nappy off and asked him to do a weewee and he did (after a fair bit of concentration!) Now he’s sometimes pulling his own pants off and telling me when he needs to go but we still have a lot of accidents – if I asked him every 15 minutes I’m sure he’d get the hang of it within a couple of days! He watches maya and wants to join in which makes it a lot easier!

  6. Christine says:

    Just been watching a woman on the television who is breast feeding a 5 year old, an 18 month and a 3 month all at the same time. Now that’s dedication or madness !