Child-Led Weaning: It’s not Extreme; It’s Biological

Welcome to the Carnival of Weaning: Weaning – Your Stories

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Code Name: Mama and Aha! Parenting. Our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles about the end of the breastfeeding relationship.

Child-led weaning is not an extreme sport, contrary to certain media outlets.  To quote Dionna, of Code Name: Mama, “It’s normal. It’s natural.” To go a little farther, I say, “It’s biological.” As mammals, we are meant to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is the primary purpose of breasts. As we have developed as a species, child-led weaning has evolved to profer many benefits. These benefits are not diminished in regard to the wealth and accessibility of our local environment. These benefits are not socially based but are biologically based.

my little one
Photo by Desiree Fawn
  • A child’s imune system is not fully developed until around age 6 years. Breastmilk continues to augment a child’s immune system with antibodies from the mother for as long as breastmilk is produced. Studies show that as children naturally decrease their amount of nursing, those antibodies increase in number per breastmilk volume, aiding in the development of thechild’s own immune system.
  • Breastfeeding reduces risks for certain diseases. Studies show that longer durations of breastfeeding correlate with greater reductions in these diseases throughout the child’s life.
  • The physical act of breastfeeding aids in proper jaw development. Our jaws are still being shaped as we lose primary teeth, also known as milk teeth in other species.
  • The act of breastfeeding releases the hormone oxytocin into the mother’s bloodstream, resulting in a calmer mother.
  • Breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk for certain diseases, including a 10% reduction of breast cancer for each year she breastfeeds.
  • Ecological breastfeeding results in lactational amenorrhea for most women, naturally spacing children.
  • When comparing humans with the weaning ages of other mammals based on factors such as the age of the first permanent molars, size and gestational age, multiplying original birthweight, and reaching a percentage of adult weight, we see a range which corresponds mainly to human ages 3-5 for average weaning with outlying ages of 2-7. This data correlates with the natural ages of weaning we see in humans who practice child-led weaning.

While child-led weaning may not be what people in some areas are used to, it is in no way extreme. As humans, we are biologically and genetically programmed to nurse our young.

Thank you for visiting the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Dionna at Code Name: Mama and Dr. Laura at Aha! Parenting.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (and many thanks to Joni Rae of Tales of a Kitchen Witch for designing our lovely button):

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon May 21 with all the carnival links.)

10 thoughts on “Child-Led Weaning: It’s not Extreme; It’s Biological

Add yours

  1. Thank you for sharing all of these facts! Ecological breastfeeding (I love that term!) feels so natural to us, I’m so thankful that my community has normalized it for me.
    ~Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

  2. Loved . . . just tried to leave a comment and I think it disappeared. Oops. I love the term “ecological breastfeeding” . . . I’ve used it in conversation. Seriously. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Yes. I often thank my lucky stars that my children are so healthy, that they rarely come down with whatever bug is going around the classroom, that beyond the odd cold, they are very robust; but it’s very likely that breastfeeding longer than most has a lot to do with it. Talk about another way to make your parenting life easier…

  4. Love this post! I so enjoy being a part of a like minded community…even if it is online. When I notice people looking at me odd while breastfeeding my toddler around town it actually takes me a moment or two to realize that they are looking at me because I am breastfeeding. It is so normal in my world ❤

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