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Weaning Parties for Toddlers and Some Weaning Problems of My Own

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I’m back home in Boston for the weekend, and lo and behold The Boston Globe had a story on the growing trend to breastfeed toddlers and young children.
At the start of the story we meet a little girl who is having a weaning party, complete with cake and friends.
On a recent Saturday evening, Ruth Tincoff and Bruce Inglehart of Wellesley had a party for Gwen, their not-quite-5-year-old daughter. They served six squealing girls squiggly pasta with red sauce and Gwen’s favorite dessert — vanilla cake with raspberry – and – lemon frosting. While the adults munched on veggies and dip, the girls played dress-up.
According to the piece, more and more moms are breastfeeding longer.
Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from Abbott Labs’ Ross Mothers Survey show a steady increase in the number of women who initiate breast-feeding, from 57 percent in 1994 to 72 percent in 2005. Less well-known is the gradual increase in the age at which breast-feeding stops. In 1997, 26 percent of mothers were still nursing their babies at six months; in 2005, 39 percent were. In 1997, 14.5 percent of mothers were still breast-feeding at 12 months; by 2005, the number had climbed to 20 percent.
No one keeps count beyond 18 months, not even La Leche League International, a lactation support system. Katherine Dettwyler , the nation’s leading breast-feeding researcher, says women who continue to nurse typically keep quiet about it, sometimes even to family members, because the culture is so biased against it.
So why the new trend? Here’s what the article says:
Public health campaigns account for the increase in women who breast-feed, says Lawrence. Those who stay with it, particularly beyond 18 months, tend to be highly educated. “This is not a cult,” she says. “It’s about education and learning that the benefits persist.” Research shows that breast-feeding provides continued protection against infection and allergies.
There is also the matter of the mother-child relationship. For a working mother who is separated from her child all day, nursing in the morning and at night is a loving way to reconnect, says Naomi Bar-Yam of the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition.

As for me, here’s the latest on the breastfeeding front with The Bear (12 months). We’re down to just one feeding per day…unfortunately at 5 a.m. But we’ve had a few set backs lately. When I tried to transition him from formula to whole milk at 12 months, he rejected the milk. I tried mixing the formula with milk, and then tapering the formula until we were left with milk. That didn’t work. Eventually, I just fed him when I was certain he was hungry and had no choice but to drink the milk.
Eventually I broke the formula addiction. But now that seems to be replaced by a general rejection of the sippy cup. Every day I find myself struggling to make sure he drinks enough, and thus monitoring the number of ounces he’s getting. The pediatrician told me to aim for a cup and a half to two cups each day. (Our cups hold about 8 ounces). On days that I’m really concerned, I’ve fed him milk with a spoon, and even held the cup up to his lips for him to drink like a grown-up. He’s thus earned a new nickname here, The Guzzler. This weekend we’re trying some different style sippy cups.
I’ll let you know how things are going in a week or so. I’m aiming to be done with breastfeeding by May. What then? I think we’ll have a little family party. Vanilla cake, chocolate frosting.