Monday, May 21, 2012

Celebrating Weaning

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.

Breastfeeding has been a huge part of my mothering until (relatively) recently. For the most part, I really enjoyed nursing Daniel and I also found writing about our journey to be very valuable. When Daniel was ten weeks old, I was inspired to reflect on my intention to practice child-led weaning by seeing a three-year-old nurse at the Big Latch On. After Daniel turned one, I thought a lot about our breastfeeding relationship and I made a point to check in with both of us to make sure we still wanted to continue (and we did). A month or so later, Daniel's nursing habits changed suddenly, and I feared he was weaning. I wrote a piece for Dionna's Joys of Nursing Past Infancy series about the ways our nursing relationship had changed over time—and also the ways it had stayed the same. Turns out, Daniel nursed for nearly six more months, deciding to wean around twenty months old.

Daniel's weaning was a difficult transition for me, perhaps mainly because I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know that I would experience such a dramatic hormonal shift in the days and weeks after his last nursing session. I didn't know that I would feel uncomfortably full of milk to the point of leaking, similar to the early days of engorgement. (Daniel was only nursing once a day at the end, sometimes for only a minute or two, so I assumed that this transition was gradual enough for my breasts to get the hint!) I didn't know I would feel so out of place in my body, having grown and fed another human being with it for close to three years.

More than anything, I struggled with how to express what I was going through to those who care about me, and I wondered how to mark the occasion in a way that would feel most meaningful to me.

I turned to some of my friends, the lovely volunteers at Natural Parents Network for thoughts on how to celebrate weaning, and I got some really great ideas! I went out and bought myself a few not-so-nursing-friendly shirts, and I've also been out shopping a couple of times for a new (standard, clip-free) bra. Trouble is, I have to go to special shops to get my size and I'm not ready to commit to the price tag that comes with that right now.

We thought about having a weaning party for Daniel, but that didn't feel quite right. Then I read this post from Alicia of Lactation Narration and I knew I had the right idea: I would make a book for Daniel telling the story our breastfeeding relationship.

I enjoyed making this book so much! It was also really therapeutic for me to spend time going through our old photographs and carefully writing out our story in kid-friendly language. I wrote it kind of like a social story (as best I could) because Daniel responds so well to them and they seem to be helpful, particularly with easing transitions.

Daniel loves to look at photographs of himself (don't all kids?), so this book is a real hit with him! My favorite part about it is having the opportunity to tell him our breastfeeding story in my own words while experiencing his reactions to these special photos of us together.

Here's what you need to make your own celebrating weaning (or any other life event) photo book:

  • A simple 4x6" photo album. The one I got had a 36 photo capacity and it cost $1.99 at a craft store.
  • Prints of your favorite photographs. I had about two dozen photos printed and it cost me a little over $4. (If you don't want to have to turn the book around while you're reading it, take care to select photographs that all have the same orientation, be it landscape or portrait.)
  • Markers. I know you already have some markers lying around the house that you can use for this. If you're feeling really fancy, you can use your printer to make the text look more professional. I was going for the "made for you by Mom" look, so I wrote my story out by hand.
  • Scissors.
  • (Optional) Matting paper in fun colors and textures. I got a book of 87 pre-cut sheets of matting paper for about $5, and I used only 16 of the sheets for this project. (You could just as easily use construction paper, card stock, or plain white paper with great results.)
  • (Optional) Additional decorative items: Stickers, stamps, pinking shears for jazzing up your photos—you can get as elaborate (or stay as simple) as you like. It's up to you!


Here's how:

  1. I think it helps to begin by writing your story, because then you'll get a better idea for how you want to arrange your photos and text in the book. Think about what you want your child to get from this book, and when you intend for them to read and enjoy it. Do you want to read it to them as a toddler (as was my aim)? Do you want to gift it to them as an adult? Is the book for you and not your child? 
  2. Arrange your photos in the book according to the story. This took me a few tries, to be honest, to get it just the way I wanted it.
  3. Add colored paper with the text of your story in the sleeves that don't have photographs in them. I had to trim some of my papers to fit nicely in the sleeves. One of those scrapbooking cutters or a paper cutter would be handy for this, but I did just fine with a pair of scissors.
    A page from our book. It reads,
    "Daniel nursed a lot in the beginning;
    as he got older, he nursed less often."
  4. Consider adding a special (hand-written) note to your child in part of the book. It could be on the back of one of the photographs, on the last page, or wherever seems like a natural place to put it.
  5. Customize the front and back covers by adding photographs, colored paper, or a title to your photo book.
Voilà! You end up with a beautiful keepsake gift to commemorate an important stage in your lives together.

How did you celebrate weaning with your child(ren)? I'd love to hear your ideas and stories!

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):


  1. That photo book is an awesome idea!! I love that! What a precious keepsake for him and you as he gets older, and maybe even one day when he has kids of his own to share with them!


  2. Amy- Thanks for the detailed description of how to make the book. It's the perfect idea to ease any transition -- and weaning is one of the biggest! I'll be recommending this post to other moms. - Dr. Laura at Aha!

  3. Oh, I love this!!! I really want to make one for each of my girls now! This is so timely for me as our nursing days are coming to a close. I know they love seeing pictures of themselves as babies and having a book about it all would be really special for all of us. Thank you, Amy!!!

  4. Amy I *love* the idea of a weaning book. Kieran is such an avid bookworm that I think he'd love it too. Thank you for the idea!!

  5. This story made me cry, know more of what to expect and I really want to do that photo album. I wish we had even more nursing photos!

  6. I love this idea! I hope I have enough photos to do it... I'd really love to read another story to get a clearer idea.

    I think this would be a really sweet way to help little ones remember nursing beyond their toddlerhood, you know?

    1. OK, funny thing, I've actually READ that post at Lactation Narration before!

  7. I *love* this idea. I'm a little teary reading this! We've just begun night-weaning at 19mo, and while I think the timing is right for my son and for me (currently pregnant w/#2), I still have some...heartaching reticence about it all. We still nurse plenty during the day. My son loves books, and this would be a touching gift to compose for him... I wish we had taken more pictures of us nursing over all these many months...
    -Rhianna from The Other Baby Book

  8. Been breastfeeding my daughter for 3 1/2 years and I still can't see any sign of weaning.I don't know if I dread for that day to come or I will be celebrating.. Either of the two, this post will greatly help a lot when that day comes:)

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