Weaning is one of those things every breastfeeding mom has thought about, whether she's looking forward to it or dreading it. But self-weaning? That seems to be one aspect of the process a lot of parents aren't prepared for. Are you wondering, "Is my baby self-weaning?" It makes sense. Babies are known for being fickle creatures and a day of refusing your breast or fussing instead of breastfeeding can make you think they're ready to self-wean. But more often than not, your baby's not as ready to give up the breast as you may think.
According to Kelly Mom, if your baby is not yet 1 year old, it's highly unlikely that any of their actions regarding breastfeeding are self-weaning. Instead, a baby who is truly self-weaning is well over 1 year old gets most of their nutrition from solids, drinks well from a cup, and cuts down on breastfeeding gradually. International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Tiffany Gallagher of The Boob Geek tells Romper that, generally, babies don't self-wean before they are 18 months old.
According to Certified Lactation Counselor Danielle Downs Spradlin of Oasis Lactation Services, it is normal to think your baby is self-weaning at an earlier age. "Babies under 12 months who refuse the breast are having a nursing strike, a short-term behavior feeding issue usually related to approaching developmental leaps," she tells Romper. Unfortunately, this can take a toll on your milk supply, especially if you're supplementing for your baby's needs or not pumping during those missed feedings.
And low milk supply can also make you think your baby is self-weaning. Kelly Mom also noted that if your milk supply is low, your baby may prefer drinking from a cup or bottle and become less interested in breastfeeding. But as long as you're feeding your baby on their cue and they are emptying your breasts regularly, you're making as much milk as your baby needs.
If your baby is around 18 months old and up, their refusal to breastfeed could be a sign of self-weaning. But if your little one is still getting most of their nutrition from your breasts and are under 1 year old, they're probably just distracted or going through some developmental milestones that make them less interested in the breast. Talk to an IBCLC if you're concerned about your milk supply or your baby's refusal to breastfeed.