Weaning at 12 Months

Spoiler Warning: This post is about weaning my baby at 12 months, if you’re not interested, feel free to skip it. He’s fine.

The reason I’m writing this post is that before I weaned him, I was so fearful of how to do it. I like to know what something involves before I get started with it, and with this next step in our relationship I was biting nails and agonizing and trying to think about how to wean. If you’re wondering about weaning, this is just a data point of my experience.

Why 12 months? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least one year, and for those of you who know me, I’ve been very interested in doing what I need to do to get an A. (Where’s my A for parenting? I want to know.) My goal with nursing had always been one year even if when people asked, I answered, “We’ll see how it goes.” Babies and toddlers still benefit from nursing beyond one year, I firmly believe, but it wasn’t for me. Here’s why.

Emotional Readiness to Wean:

  • I was tired of being the one who did the last 15-20 minutes of bedtime routine. I figured, if we quit now, we can substitute reading associated with bedtime.
  • Seamus had started pawing at my shirt, and while I don’t think this is entirely inappropriate behavior for a 12 month old, it annoyed me.
  • Mostly, he had gotten uninterested in nursing for food and wanted to nurse for comfort. I realize this makes me sound cold, but it’s important to me that all of the people who take care of him (myself included) develop skills to comfort him that don’t involve sticking food in his mouth.

Physical Readiness to Wean:

  • He’s a voracious eater of a variety of foods, so I know he’s getting a nutritionally complete diet now.
  • I’m five months pregnant and wanted a break before I nurse another baby for a year. Also my appetite had plummeted since weaning on Monday. I know you can nurse two babies at once, and I nursed Seamus through the early part of this pregnancy. However, I want at least some of the starting out stuff to be equal (and OMG, I’m starting to sound neurotic about this equality, which is surely going to come crashing down as soon as the next baby is born) and I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to nurse Baby 2 beyond Sept. 2011.
  • I had been tapering off the nursing by giving him bottles of expressed milk that I had in the freezer, so my body was preparing to ratchet it down and phase it out.

Things I’m Glad about Weaning:

  • Patrick has had fun putting Seamus down for the night, and I’m finding it therapeutic to work on cleaning up the kitchen. On the nights I put him to bed, I’m enjoying it more.
  • I don’t have to travel with my pump anymore!
  • Snuggling with Seamus with my shirt on.
  • General sense of peace with decision and types of readiness.

Things I’m Going to Miss about Nursing:

  • Lately, he had started laughing with delight right before he nursed. I’m really going to miss that little laugh.
  • The clean post-bath baby scalp snuggled up to me.
  • Sleeping in by bringing him into bed with us in the morning for the first feeding.

All in all, I feel good about it. I’m not too sad, which I thought I might be, and I’m not too sore, which some reading I had done really freaked me out about!  It really is a question of readiness, any earlier and I would not have been okay with weaning. Any later, and next time around I might pull out my hair. (What I mean by this is that I don’t really feel like my body is mine right now anyway so that when he’s nursing, it’s just more of the same, but next time, I think I’m going to be really really ready to have casa (yes, I feel like a house again, and it’s only 23 weeks) de Leigh back to just me.)



  1. This is a GREAT post. As much as I love nursing Molly, I feel fairly certain that I will want to wean her from it at a year, for basically the same reasons that you listed. Although I will add one more: nursing bras suck.

  2. Leigh, this is exactly how I felt when I weaned the girls. It was bittersweet, like most things in life. I felt a certain need to reach the year mark and I shunned any suggestion to deviate from the original plan. Yet, by the time we made it to the their first birthday, I really needed my personal space back. I sacrificed sovereignty long enough and I had to regain the thrown. Fortunately, both girls seemed ready to move on, too, and developed a true love for cow milk. I still miss those sweet moments in bed, the snuggles, and kisses. But, now we share other beautiful connections, like when we read together.

  3. I found this very interesting. Since I never had children, it is not a topic on which I’d spent a lot of thought. Glad for the insights. Seems like it went rather smoothly so you must have timed it correctly. You are a good mother.

  4. This was interesting. Since I had no children of my own it is not a topic I’ve spent much (or any) time thinking about. I found it very insightful. You are a good mother. Seamus is a lucky boy to have such good parents. Since the weaning seems to have gone smoothly, you must have timed it correctly.

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