Child Led Weaning and Hitting

family, parenting, Svara

When Svara was a baby , or maybe it was even while I was pregnant, I heard about child led weaning and I thought it was a nice concept.  Over time your small child would nurse less frequently, you don’t offer to nurse, but neither do you refuse, and eventually your child will wean him/herself and not want to nurse anymore.  I assumed that by the time Svara was 2 she’d only be nursing before bed and perhaps before her nap.


When Svara turned two not only was she nursing several times during the day, but she was still nursing several times during the night.  This “don’t offer, don’t refuse” method was not working!  So about a month after she turned two I night weaned Svara.  It went well for awhile, until she got sick and was also teething.  Then it went out the window.  Several weeks later I started all over again and she was doing fine.  She’ll go to bed around 8, then not nurse again until about 5 or 6 in the morning, at which time she goes back to sleep for an hour or two (or three if I’m super lucky!)

But she was still nursing a LOT during the day.  In fact if it was up to her she’d have open access every waking moment and my primary job would be to sit on the couch and be available.  Thank you, but… no thanks…   So gradually I started dissuading her from nursing during the day.   She didn’t take very kindly to that.  So about a week ago I decided to take a stand and just tell her that her “maymay” was for naptime and bedtime.  She was not a happy camper!  I’d have to tell her that “maymay” was sleeping or taking a nap.  She’s gradually starting to ask less frequently during the day now, I guess she’s understanding that the answer isn’t going to change.  When she stops asking during the day I’ll try to cut out the ‘wake up from nap’ nursing session.  I can live with naptime, bedtime, and morning for a few more months, and then I’ll see how I feel.

This step in weaning did have one interesting side effect.  Svara has always nursed when she was sad, angry, or upset.  But when that avenue of calming down was no longer available to her she had to find new ways to deal with her feelings.  One way she found was to hit.  She hit me often, and Naren as well.  We tried time outs a few times, but it didn’t seem to have much of an effect.  She knows to say sorry after she hits, and to kiss the owy spot, but she’d still hit in the first place.  I’ve had some luck with ideas from the theory of positive discipline, so I went there again.

They suggest that when your child hits you, you don’t say a word, just leave the room.  Go to another room (and lock it if necessary).  But to explain to the child beforehand (not during that moment) that if they hit you, you will leave.  So I decided to give it a try.  I explained to Svara that night that if she hit me or hit Papa that we’d leave the room and go into another room.  That we can’t play with her if she hits.  She has to be gentle and loving.  I don’t know how much of that she understood, but at least I told her…  So the next day when she hit me I got up and left the room and went into my room and locked the door.  She followed me of course, and stood crying outside my door saying “sorry Mama!”   So hard to resist!  But she has to understand not to hit in the first place and that just saying sorry isn’t the “be all end all” of it, right?  So I stayed in my room for 3 minutes.  Then I held her for awhile and again told her that if she hits me I have to go into another room and she has to be gentle if she wants me to play with her.  The next day she hit me again.  This time not out of anger, I think she was overexcited as we were cooking together.  But still…  I left and went into the next room.  She didn’t cry much, but she did keep saying “tell Mama sorry!  sorry Mama!” over and over.  Again I came out after about three minutes and hugged her and told her she cannot hit.  And we continued on with our day.  The next day she did raise her hand to hit me once, but I raised my eyebrows and put up my finger and she decided to put her hand down.  I gave her a big hug and told her that’s right, we need to be gentle.

Today is only half over, but considering that before I tried this method I was getting whacked several times a day, I’d say it’s going pretty well.

Thank goodness.  (and knock on wood)


One thought on “Child Led Weaning and Hitting

  1. Sounds like she understands the hitting thing now, it is so hard to help them learn in a positive way isn’t it! We are trying to use logical consequences with LP so she will understand why actions lead to reactions, and leaving the room after you’ve been hit is a very logical consequence, so I think it sounds like a very good approach!

    I need to cut back on our daytime nursing now and retackle night weaning, but we all have colds so next week sounds much better right now to me! “Don’t offer, don’t refuse” doesn’t make any difference here either, LP loves her boobies and always makes sure to ask in no uncertain terms 🙂

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