When does Nature Want us to Wean?
Baby weaning is a decision best left to mom and baby. Sometimes baby tells you when they'd like to move on, while other times a mother's schedule or desire to gain a little freedom forces the wean. But what about the rest of the animal kingdom?
When it comes to cutting down breastfeeding, every mother has their own opinions and restrictions. Time, work outside the home, and other children are huge factors in whether or not a mom can continue the rigorous feeding schedule an infant requires. And beyond restrictions, any mom can relate to wanting a little freedom from opening her blouse every other hour.
Weaning your baby should always be up to you and the little one. Unless baby is teething or ill, you’ll probably be able to sense the signs. The lack of interest in your breast or short, distracted eating can signal that baby is ready to move on to something a little more substantial. And if you are uninterested in breastfeeding, you can bet baby will pick up on it.
There’s no right time to wean your baby, but there’s a lot we can learn from other species when it comes to breastfeeding.
Biologically speaking, the natural baby weaning process can range from when your child is 2 1/2 all the way up to 7. This range was predicted by comparing natural weaning from our closest relatives: primates. Gorillas and chimpanzees share more than 98% of their genes with humans, so the study of their natural breastfeeding patterns is believed to be close to what we should be practicing.
Read on for other factors to consider when determining a natural age for baby weaning.