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.
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.
- (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!
- 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?
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- Customize the front and back covers by adding photographs, colored paper, or a title to your photo book.
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):
- On Breastfeeding, Weaning, and One Mother’s Identity — Jessica at Natural Parents Network has been nursing one or more of her children since 1993 - breastfeeding is wrapped up in her concept of mothering and herself. She shares her thoughts on weaning.
- two tales of weaning — Aspen at Aspen Mama writes about their countdown to wean.
- Wean Me Gently — Tam at Please Send Parenting Books shares a beautiful weaning ceremony.
- You say potato, I say bleeeuuuuch... — Anelie at Mindcradle had read the books and knew just how to introduce her baby son to solids—unfortunately, he had other ideas.
- A Post Called Weaning — (Not) Maud at Awfully Chipper writes about how weaning her son took longer than she expected.
- On Weaning, Pregnancy and Emotion — Shannon at The Artful Mama talks about her mixed emotions as she allows her son, Little Man, to guide her through his weaning process.
- half of her life — Staci at Springpatch Jam looks back on her nursing relationship with her first born.
- Is it just this After Forty Mom or is it harder to wean when its your last? — Amanda of After Forty Mom shares her emotional journey towards the impending self-weaning of her toddler daughter.
- Nursing Limits — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how she has weaned her toddler down to minimal nursing and her guilt about the decision to do so.
- Weaning Video Series #1: Preparation for the Weaning Process — Why is weaning such a taboo topic? Dionna at Code Name: Mama got mamas from across the blogosphere to start talking about weaning - on video. Come check out the first video in a series of five that she'll be posting this week.
- Weaning due to anxiety — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about how she had to wean to preserve her mental health.
- When Will I Wean? A Guest Post — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama hosts a guest post from a mama who contemplates when her breastfeeding relationship will end.
- On His Own Terms — Momeeezen shares her heartbreak from when her son weaned much earlier than she anticipated.
- Our Weaning Story - Sudden, Surprised, and Embracing a New Season — Weaning doesn't always go how we imagine. That Mama Gretchen shares the story of her daughter's sudden weaning and how she has embraced this new season of motherhood.
- A Tale of Two Weanings — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares the similarities and differences of how her nursing relationships with her now six-year-old and four-year-old daughters came to a close.
- She Doesn't Remember — Alicia at Lactation Narration finds that her 6 year old no longer remembers nursing, only one year after weaning.
- It's The End of the World As We Know It — A story about the end of a tandem nursing relationship on Never Mind The Rain: A toddler moves on to a new phase in her life before mom is fully ready.
- A Natural End To Our Breastfeeding Relationship — With two self-weaning children, Jennifer at Our Muddy Boots does not know when the end will come, but that it will be natural and without regrets.
- Child-Led weaning: It's Not Extreme; It's Biological — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children explains why child-led weaning is based on biology rather than social constraints.
- 6 Years of Natural Weaning in 5 Steps — Jess at miniMum shares how and why she let her first child stop when he was good and ready.
- Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship.
- Memories of Weaning: Unique and Gentle — Cynthia at The Hippie Housewife shares her weaning experiences with her two sons, each one unique in how it happened and yet equally gentle in its approach.
- Weaning Aversion' — Gentle Mama Moon shares her experience of nursing and unplanned weaning due to pregnancy-induced 'feeding aversion'.
- Three Months Post-Mup: An Evolution of Thoughts On Weaning — cd at FidgetFace describes a brief look at her planned (but accelerated) weaning, as well as one mamma's evolution on weaning (and extended nursing)
- Weaning my Tandem Nursed Toddler — After tandem nursing for a year, Melissa at Permission to Live felt like weaning her older child would be impossible, but now she shares how gentle weaning worked for her 2 1/2 year old.
- Every Journey Begins with One Step — As Hannabert begins the weaning process, Hannah at Hannah and Horn's super power is diminishing.
- Reflections on Weaning - Love Changes Form — Amy from Presence Parenting (guest posting at Dulce de Leche) shares her experience and approach of embracing weaning as a continual process in parenting, not just breastfeeding.
- Weaning Gently: Three Special Ideas for Success — MudpieMama shares three ideas that help make weaning a gentle and special journey.
- Guest Post: Carnival of Weaning — Emily shares her first weaning experience and her hopes for her second nursling in a guest post on Farmer's Daughter.
- 12 Tips for Gentle Weaning — Dr. Laura at Aha! Parenting describes the process of gentle weaning and gives specific tips to make weaning an organic, joyful ripening.
- Quiz: Should You Wean for Fertility Treatments? — Paige at Baby Dust Diaries talks about the key issues in the difficult decision to wean for infertility treatments.
- I thought about weaning... — Kym at Our Crazy Corner of the World shares her story of how she thought about weaning several times, yet it still happened on its own timeline.
- Celebrating Weaning — Amy at Anktangle reflects on her thoughts and feelings about weaning, and she shares a quick tutorial for one of the ways she celebrated this transition with her son: through a story book with photographs!
- Naturally Weaning Twins — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses the gradual path to weaning she has taken with her preschool-aged twins.
- Gentle Weaning Means Knowing When to Stop — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl writes about knowing when your child is not ready to wean and taking their feelings into account in the process.
- Weaning, UnWeaning, and ReWeaning — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy discovers non-mutal weaning doesn't have to be the end. You can have a do-over.
- Prelude to weaning — Lauren at Hobo Mama talks about a tough tandem nursing period and what path she would like to encourage her older nursling to take.
- Demands of a Nursing Kind — Amy Willa at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work shares her conflicted feelings about nursing limits and explores different ways to achieve comfort, peace, and bodily integrity as a nursing mother.
- Breastfeeding: If there's one thing I know for sure... — Wendy at ABCs and Garden Peas explores the question: How do you know when it's time to wean?
- Five, Four, Three, Two, One, Two, Three? — Zoie at TouchstoneZ discusses going from 3 nurslings down to 1 and what might happen when her twins arrive.