Thoughtful Thursday: On Weaning

What are we going to talk about today?  Weaning!

But it’s Breastfeeding Awareness Month – how does weaning fit?

A couple of ways…BAW is wrapping up, so it’s time to “wean” ourselves off of this topic.  (I couldn’t resist…sorry!!)  Secondly, it fits into Breastfeeding Awareness Month because weaning is part of the breastfeeding journey.  Have you thought about what you are going to give your baby after (s)he is no longer nursing?

Weaning is thought of as the “end” of the breastfeeding relationship.  As stated on the Baby-Led Weaning website, the reality is that the moment we introduce solids, we have started weaning.

How many other mammals continue to drink milk after they are weaned?  Think about that.  We are the only creatures that have figured out how to express milk from a maternal or non-maternal source to continue milk-feeding.  I believe we are the only ones to have found a way for milk to be consumed from something other than directly from a nipple attached to milk ducts.

While this helps make the case for extended breastfeeding (if you want to give them milk, it may as well be your own), it really is something to think about when you consider the age your child stops breastfeeding.  Think about this: milk from other animals is not made to help our human children develop – it’s made to be specific for their species.  Have you ever considered that this may be the reason so many of us are considered “lactose intolerant”?

If weaning happens when your child is under a year of age, you may very well want to supplement with formula.  We do know that scientists are doing the best they can to mimic human milk with that product.  If you are weaning a toddler, you may want to consider just going straight to water and skip alternative milk altogether.

Does your child need to drink milk after they wean?  We are conditioned to believe in the nutritional benefits of milk – how else will they get calcium?!?  I will admit, it’s hard to overcome our indoctrination.  Here is a list of Top 10 Highest-Calcium food sources.  Milk is third on the list.

Do you have time to read one more?  HERE is an article that talks about the benefits of probiotics.  While our family does not buy cow’s milk anymore, we are big consumers of yogurt products.  I read this article and it gave me peace of mind that we are making the right choice in that aspect:

“Babies whose mothers take probiotics while pregnant and those who are given the so-called “good bacteria” supplements early in life may be at lower risk for allergies but not asthma than other kids.”

This is the choice that worked for our family:  We drink water…a lot of it.  We drink it straight, we flavor the water with fruit and herbs overnight, or sometimes we make fruit-based teas.  If we drink juice, it’s homemade.  I juice fruit for the kiddos before I juice for myself in the morning.  I simply cannot justify store-bought juice anymore.  We will only buy Honest-Tea juice for a party – special occasions merit a little fun and which kid doesn’t like a “juice box”?

So anyway, I will close with this thought: Cassandra and I have really enjoyed sharing Breastfeeding Awareness Month with you.  We wish you all continued peace and joy as you and your nursling continue to do the breastfeeding dance.  Lead, follow, and when it’s time to exit the floor, may you do so with wonderful memories and the knowledge that whether it was for three minutes, three days, three months, or three years, you did something amazing.