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Respect your natural limits (aka when you’re almost ready to stop breastfeeding) 

Sep 29, 2018

Emily’s currently obsessed with Titty, which is not her favourite doll or a baby blanket. It’s MY booby. She calls it “my titty”, and when I try to make her understand titty is mine because it’s attached to my body (and that she has her own witty, by the way), she touches it and firmly says: “No. My titty”.

Not only. In the last couple of months, right on time to start nursery—kids always have the best timing—we reached the next level of obsession: she’d breastfeed 24/7, and when I say NO she throws herself on the floor in true “Sicilian widow” style (as we say in Italy) and cries kicking her feet.

I know this is a unique time and bond between us which will be gone forever once I put a stop to it. I know that in ten years (or less) I’ll look back to today and I’d give anything to have one more day with my kids as babies—and this makes me emotional because I know that day will come sooner than I think.

BUT.

A mother knows her natural limits

I always say that I’d like to let Emily decide when to stop breastfeeding (and preferably not before she’s two years old), but I also know a mother knows when she’s reaching her natural limits: when breastfeeding, I think it’s always a good idea to listen to your body and, even if it’s not exactly what’s best for your child, respect your natural limits.

As for me, I think I’m actually crossing mine.

I have breastfed my kids non-stop for three years and 7 months. I breastfed Oliver all through pregnancy, and tandem breastfed them for months after Emily was born.

With Oliver, weaning was easy. One day, when I offered him the booby, he looked at baby Emily lying on me, gently pushed her head with his hand towards my breast, and made me understand it was for Emily. We talked about it and agreed on it. A few days later he asked for it again, but I explained to him that we had agreed that titty was for Emily now: he shed a few tears, but he accepted it lightly.

Oliver’s always been like that: so far, when it came to major milestones like sleeping through the night, potty training and stop breastfeeding, he’s had a surprisingly good timing and, when in doubt, he’s usually welcomed our guide.

Emily is not quite like that. She’s a passionate and very determined little girl, and it’s usually her way or no way. On top of that, she definitely won’t “have to” give it up for another baby (unless I borrow one? Any volunteers out there?) and as long as titty is always available to her, she will never feel like it doesn’t belong to her.

So something is very clear to me now: if I want to keep breastfeeding, which I do, but slowly reduce it and stop in a way that is respectful for both of us, breastfeeding will have to start happening on my terms.

I’ve got a plan!

In theory, I know what I have to do. But I also know that practice might be very different from theory, and what works for me might not necessarily work for you. But here’s my plan (my sister will laugh, because I have a plan for everything ;-)

Stop breastfeeding at night

I believe the first step is done. I stopped breastfeeding her at night (which also coincided with her sleeping slightly better).

I “simply” (ah, forgetful memory, you’re such a blessing in disguise!) replaced titty with water. There was some crying and some huffing and puffing, but now she knows that at night there’s no titty until about 6-7am. She still falls asleep on the booby when I’m at home, which doesn’t seems to affect our no-titty-at-night policy.

Set a daily breastfeeding routine

My next step will be to set a daily routine. Give myself a limit of two-three times a day, and decide when to breastfeed (for example, in the morning, mid afternoon and to go to bed). When she asks for it outside of those times, I’ll try to distract her with games and food and hope for the best. I’ll be strict, but also very flexible, because I think flexibility is a great asset in motherhood.

Gradually and respectfully reducing it

Once the routine is set, I’ll try and reduce it in the most respectful way. For example, if I notice that in the middle of the afternoon I can “easily” take her mind off titty without her rolling on the floor crying, I will try and go till bed time, maybe by moving dinner slightly earlier (as sometimes hunger is a trigger for titty). Turtle steps. Little by little.

Motherhood expectations

From there, it’ll be easy peasy: she’ll be in nursery in the morning (🤞🏻), we’ll be busy in the afternoon and little by little mother and baby will work together to do the magic of respectful motherhood and Emily will be naturally, happily and baby-led weaned. Win win.

Reality check

I’ll have to put bandaids/chilly/lemon on my nipples to convince her that titty is just not good anymore, so she will stop abruptly, and it’ll be a trauma which somehow will screw her up in some way at some point in her adult life.

After all, that’s motherhood in a nutshell, isn’t it?

Comments

Chantelle • Oct 6, 2018

Just what I needed to read, definitely needed to remind myself I have limits to. Taking it step by step but will get there! Thank you

🌸 Carlotta • Oct 8, 2018

You'll get there! In just two weeks Emily went from feeding pretty much whenever she wanted (or crying a lot if I said no) to feeding three times a day and most days not even asking about it outside of those times! She sometimes actually comes to me and says, "Titty no" (it sounds more like a question, but I take it as a statement haha). And all it took was to have a stricter routine, so she knows what to expect: she moaned and cried a bit the first few days, but then it was as if she understood that this way made everybody happier. I'm sure you'll get there sooner than you think! Thanks for your message!

Stacey • Dec 3, 2018

Hi there Carlotta (love your name!!),

Just found your site while doing research on learning towers! I’m just getting started on reading your posts. I’m intrigued by your montissori way of live and your trilingual (so am I)
This post is very interesting, thanks for sharing. When (age) and how did you get Emily to drink water at night... I’ve got an one year old booby addict here 😉
And I love that you have plans for everything too 😉👍🏻👌🏻

Kind wishes,
Stacey

🌸 Carlotta • Dec 4, 2018

Hi Stacey! Thanks for your comment and lovely words! Haha I do love plans, is it that evident? 😉 But I’m trying to make more flexible ones as, let’s be honest, kids and plans are highly incompatible!

Unfortunately, I really don’t remember when I decided to switch to water at night, but it was surely between 12 and 16 months, in a desperate attempt to improve our nights (you might have read that Emily was a terrible sleeper!). And we went back and forth for a while because she got sicka a couple of time, during which I decided to switch back to booby, and then it took a while to switch back to water again. I wish I remembered the time frame better (it’d make a good post ;-), but my memory is terrible!

And the “how”, oh well, with a bit (sometimes a lot) of crying! I first introduced the concept of “last one”/“last time” with other things, and then when I put her to sleep on the booby I always talked to her first and reminded her that it was the last time of the day, that we drink water at night, that titty sleeps, too. I got her a big girl bottle of water (this one: http://geni.us/VpqP3) and we filled it together every night before going to bed.

When she cried, I held her and told her I was there with and for her, and if she asked for titty, I simply said no and repeated that mummy was there for her, though. And little by little, she started asking for water, which also coincided with us sleeping slightly better (she was still waking up a million times a night, but she’d drink and put her head straight down).

Hope this helps! Good luck and I hope to see more of you in the comments 🌸

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The blog

I write mainly about Montessori, parenthood, and multilingualism. Here are some recent posts.

Montessori
One day a few years ago my husband came home and said, "Why don't we put a mattress on the floor in the baby room? It'd be much more natural". "Never" was my reply. That's how our Montessori journey started. Since then we've been living, breathing and applying the philosophy at home day in and day out, starting from ourselves. Because educating children starts from the parents.
Terrible twos
The organs of the body: workshop for kids
Kids understand if you give them honesty
Bean and seed mosaic
I'm not perfect. I'm aware
DIY yoga cards for kids
Children at the restaurant: let's recalibrate expectations
Don't ask your children to share their toys
Those "good job" that erode our children's confidence
Our Montessori birthday
Living sustainably
Living sustainably for me doesn’t only mean to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It means to make decisions that are sustainable for our planet, the people on it, but also for our life, our lifestyle, and our happiness. It means to take any daily chance to evolve and be happier, healthier, kinder, more responsible and more caring human beings—the only sustainable way for a meaningful future.
Face yoga is an act of self love
Why you should wear the same outfit twice on Instagram
The power of creating habits (and why you should do it, even if you then break them!)
Responsible eating is the diet of the future (Would you like to teach it to your kids?)
The power of NOT complaining: can you do it for a whole month?
Clean up your planet, please!
Infographic: 8 steps to switch to cloth nappies (a guide for reluctant parents)
A personal note on happiness
A personal note on social media
A change of life always widens your horizons
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Travel

We sold everything to travel the world for two years. We're currently in New Zealand.

Books

In 2020 I wrote 4 books for the Italian collection “Gioca and Impara con il metodo Montessori” curated by Grazia Honegger Fresco. The collection is a project by Il Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport.

We also implemented the workshops of the last 15 volumes of the collection with Oliver and Emily.

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Why La Tela di Carlotta?
I dreamed of the name La Tela di Carlotta. One morning I woke up and in my dreams I had created a blog named just like the American novel (Charlotte's Web). Many years and endless ups and downs later, this web of thoughts and stories is my work. It took me a long time to understand what kind of online presence I wanted and today I know: I'm transparent, I show real life, I don't advertise, I only recommend sustainable brands (and not only because they pay me) and I believe in the value of my blog and my courses—because if we don't believe in the value of our work, no one will believe in it for us.
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