Before I had a baby one of the biggest parts of motherhood I craved was breastfeeding. The look on a contented mother’s face while feeding was always so inspiring to me and I couldn’t wait to experience it on my own. When I gave birth, my daughter was put on my belly and she made her way up to my chest where we had our first experience of breastfeeding minutes after she was born. With blood still in her hair and her body covered in vernix that I slowly massaged into her skin, we started our external relationship as mother and daughter.
I am really glad I had such affection for breastfeeding because my daughter was a trooper. She fed all the time. Really. Many of my photos of her in the first year of her life are of me feeding her or are audio clips of the sounds she made while sucking. I loved it so much and had made the decision early on that I wouldn’t stop breastfeeding until she was ready. As she got older we decided we would do “baby-led weaning” (as it is called in the UK, child led weaning in the USA). For us this meant that her first means of nutrition would be from breast milk and she would be allowed to eat any food she wanted. No purees, no jars. She would shift into eating solids when she was ready and subsequently she would shift where she would get her main source of nutrition from as well.
Shortly after she was 6 months old she picked up a slice of apple and sucked on it. Slowly she ate more and more solids, exploring textures and flavors with vigour. Something we have found is that she still goes through phases that children who are puree weaned go through. For example, right now she doesn’t eat any vegetables but carrots. I am not worried, though, because we trust that she will crave what she needs. That concept, trusting, is what made her weaning such a graceful transition for us all. Once she was able to walk and talk, breastfeeding became a new adventure of independence. The first sign of weaning was that she stopped asking for milk. She still wanted it whenever offered, but she didn’t ask. I would say “milk time” and she would pick up the breastfeeding pillow and run over to me with it. I would put it on my lap and she would giggle with delight as I got her into the appropriate position. Then something shifted. I would say “milk time” and she would bring her pillow then run away. A game, I thought. Dan would pick her up and put her on the pillow and she would giggle and eat happily. Then I would say “milk time” with the pillow on my lap already. Dan would bring her over and she would be very unhappy about it. Finally she said “no”. And that was it. She had one more feed after that. Because the feeds and the transition was so gradual, I have had no aches or pains due to weaning. My daughter wants to stay a bit closer to me in the middle of the night but otherwise you would have never guessed such a huge transition has taken place for us all.
For more information and great support on breastfeeding:
For information on baby-led weaning: