I didn't set out to do extended nursing. In fact, I only planned to nurse for a year because "once they can ask for it, it is weird." Of course, I didn't know anything about breastfeeding when I made that comment. Once I learned more about the benefits of extended breastfeeding and child-led weaning, it just made sense. Still, I never expected that he'd nurse this long.
Ian's weaning was not completely child-led. He nursed a lot until he was almost 2 and then suddenly dropped down to twice a day due to my pregnancy. He stopped completely about 6 weeks before my daughter was born, but then wanted to start again. I let him, but only twice a day: before nap and before bed. Even those sessions were short. As he got closer to 3, I started talking to him about weaning. I thought I'd do it when he turned 3, but he just wasn't ready. By 3.5, he started all-day preschool and stopped taking a nap so he was down to once a day. A few months later, he stopped asking to nurse every day. When he did, I would say,"How about we just cuddle?" If he accepted that, we cuddled and did not nurse. If he didn't we nursed. When we traveled this past summer, he went two weeks without asking. Then, he asked again.
He turned 4 in September and for the past several months he has had many periods of going a week or two without nursing. I felt he was ready and chose New Year's Eve as his last day. We talked about it all week and counted down the days. I let him nurse a lot longer than I usually did.
The last time, I let him nurse as long as he wanted to and when he was done I thanked him for being my first nursling and told him I was happy that he was growing up.
Today, we had his weaning party. We made a cake and gave him a few presents: a new movie and two boxes of big kid Legos that Curt wanted to give him for Christmas. I held them back because I wanted to see how he played with the first set of big kid Legos. He did great, so we felt he was ready.
We sang,"Happy Weaning Day to You" and he blew out the candles, one for every year he nursed. Then, he opened his presents and put on his movie.
Eva, on the other hand, is no where NEAR weaning. Right now we are working on limits because she's nurse 24-7 if I let her!