Saturday, May 29, 2010

Weaning party

A few weeks ago, Zari looked up from eating breakfast and said, "I'm think I'm done nursing."

"Whenever you're ready," I told her.

"Well, I think I'm all done, though," she said.

She didn't ask to nurse for a week. I think she would have gone longer, but then we traveled to France. With all of the upheavals--new location, new time, new language--she has nursed a few times in the past two weeks.

Zari's latch had been getting very lazy even before her sudden announcement that she was done. But after her week-long hiatus, I realized that she had literally forgotten how to nurse. She would roll my nipple around in her mouth, give a few half-hearted sucks, and then stop.

It was time to wean.

I told Zari that we would have a "nursing party," since she was forgetting how to nurse. When she was ready, she could pick any cake she wanted from a patisserie. We would have a party, eat the cake, and then she would be all done nursing.

Nursing parties--more commonly called weaning parties--date back thousands of years. For example, Abraham threw a big party when his son Isaac weaned: "And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned." (Genesis 21:8). They're still done today, too; see examples of modern-day weaning parties in Australia and the States.

Several times this week, Zari asked about going to the patisserie. This evening, while I was cooking a potato & leek soup, Eric and Zari went on a walk to buy her "nursing cake."

After dinner, we brought the cake out. I told her the story of when she was born and when she first nursed. We took pictures. I hugged her and told her how much I loved her. I told her how glad I was that I was able to nurse her for a long time.

And then we ate cake. It was good.


  1. Such a beautiful idea! I love it. I will keep this in mind when the time comes! And the photo of you and Zari is just precious! You're both so beautiful!

  2. Beautiful story. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Margaret's not ready for weaning yet, but I know lots of moms who have had weaning parties or go get a special weaning gift for the child. It's something I'll like to do in the future.

  4. What a great idea! I hadn't heard that before. I'll definitely have to remember that for when Asher is ready to wean.

  5. So sweet, congrats to you both!

  6. Hoe old is Zari? We are going back and forth over whether or not my Emma is going to wean or not. I have mixed feelings about it so I'm sure I am confusing her too, which I don't want. This is my first time nursing a toddler/preschooler (she'll be three in a few weeks) and I'm just not sure how to handle her requests around people who aren't so knowledgeable about breasts and their accompanying function of nursing babies AND young children. I guess I just need to work on my "testimony" of toddler nursing since I have no qualms whatever when it comes to publicly nursing my 3mo, Eli. Any suggestions?

    Thanks, Crystal
    (This is my first time commenting I think. Tophat introduced me to you via her blog and I'm a semi-regular reader.)

  7. Just beautiful! Thanks for sharing this tender moment. :-)

  8. Just beautiful! I knew weaning would be bittersweet, but I was unprepared for how sweet it would be. I knew it would give some amount of freedom to me and I'd be done with the (minor) annoyances of nursing, but I didn't realize just how special the weaning itself would be for my kids. My son loves to talk about how I gave him all the milk so he could be a big boy. So cute!

    I love the idea of a weaning party. Wish I'd thought of it for my kiddos.

  9. Thank you for sharing this story. As with all things you do, it seems you are very intuned to making things simple and special and lovely. I admire your family and think you are all so lovely, truly. I dont know how else to say it!

    I have weaned 3 kids so far and it was very unceremonious. It almost always took months, and then it was over. Casey and charlie BOTH nursed throughout my pregnancy with Eska, and once she came, after alomst a week in hospital with the c section, when I got home, I could barely stand nursing Charlie (2)let alone the baby with all the pain, etc. When Casey (4)came along for his turn at *nursey* I just told him, "Baby, its too much right now" and he smiled and said "Yeah! Plus you only have two nursies!" and we shared a little laugh, and he MIGHT have nursed a few more times, in the sleepy mornings.

    I might need to have a party for the remaining two nurslings. Its a very sweet idea that I had forgotten about.

  10. Congrats on reaching this milestone in Zari's life!! I shed a few tears for you, and celebrate with you at the same time! =)
    What a big girl!!

  11. What a beautiful celebration. I am not sure when my oldest two weaned because the next youngest was still nursing. They never announced they weren't going to nurse or that they were too big. Being clinging and loving skin-to-skin were part of the weaning. I wonder if my youngest will let me know he's done or will he just forget??

  12. Thank you so much for posting this beautiful story. It's so funny but a dear friend, my oldest daughter (22) and I were talking about when to wean. I asked my daughter when she thought the 'right age' was and she said "When they are done." My daughter often makes me very proud and this was one of those moments. I very much like the reminder also to celebrate all the milestones in life. A big party is always appropriate!

  13. Beautiful story, beautiful women!

  14. such a beautiful inspiring story.

    i nursed my first until he was 15 1/2 months old. i weaned him when i was 18 weeks pregnant with my 2nd and just could not keep going because of the pain it was causing me. it was such a sad thing to wean him (and sad because he didn't really care). i know in many people's eyes, nursing for 15 1/2 months is forever, but i sincerely want to nurse longer this next time and i love the attitude of "we'll wean when you're ready."

    i'm going to remember this idea and perhaps put it to use with my little one, maude. she's 5 months old and i feel she's much more attached than my son was, as she loves to nurse for comfort and he didn't ever seem to want that.

    thanks again!

  15. A nice tradition! Isn't it amazing how quickly they can forget how? I've had this happen with a few of mine when I tried to nurse them not long after weaning. Congratulations and also a few sniffles on Zari getting to be such a big girl. :)

  16. That is a beautiful idea! I know that we had a cake and celebration when I started my period. I love that tradition and am sad I have no daughters to pass it on to. This tradition makes me want to have another baby to breastfeed!

  17. Lovely. I will keep this in mind for my own nursling. I think she's approaching an end to nursing. I'll miss it.

  18. I love this! I've pondered a weaning party, but I don't know who among our friends would really "get" it, so I love the idea of having a special cake even if it is just our family. My older one is 26 months, and every once in a while weaning crosses my mind. He is seeming to need it less, and I've been tandeming for 14 months and wouldn't mind if he were done in the next six months or so. We'll see...


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