Many babies go through a distractible or disinterested phase somewhere around 10-15 months, where baby seems much less interested in nursing. For moms who would like to wean around 12 months, this can be a window of time that can make that transition easier. If you are interested in weaning, you can use this opportunity to try some gentle weaning techniques.
One popular technique is “Don’t Offer, Don’t Refuse”. For this weaning method, you don’t nurse unless your baby has requested to nurse. You may already be doing this without having even considered that it is a weaning technique. If you had previously been nursing at specific times in your daily routine (such as upon wake-up, or before nap time), try seeing what happens if you don’t automatically nurse. Does your baby request to nurse, or get upset? During the distractible/ disinterested window, she might not notice that you haven’t nursed. You may be able to wean during this phase without much or any protest.
For moms who would like to continue nursing, that is also possible. When Sweets went through this phase, she was about 14 months old. For me though, weaning at 14 months was not something I was interested in. It was my priority to nurse her until at least 2 years old.
If you are not interested in weaning, be careful not to fall into the “Don’t Offer, Don’t Refuse” pattern. Consider “Don’t Offer, Don’t Refuse” a gentle weaning technique, and don’t use it if you are not interested in weaning. You will really need to continue to offer nursing through this phase. There were many times when I knew that if I did not offer, Sweets would not have asked to nurse. If I was interested in weaning, I would have just gone along with that – but I wasn’t, so I continued to offer. Once I offered, she would nurse, though maybe not for a long time.
I was also working out of the home through this, and while I considered quitting pumping (due to her age and that she could drink cow’s milk at daycare), I decided to continue pumping at work to keep up my supply. I wanted to make sure that there would be milk for the times when she DID want to nurse. So that she wouldn’t ask to nurse one day and end up frustrated at the breast due to no milk.
I also continued to co-sleep and night-nurse during this time. Though I considered at least night-weaning her during the disinterested phase, I was afraid that if she wasn’t nursing at night that she would stop nursing all-together because she seemed to nurse the best and longest at night.
After about 6-8 weeks or so, the phase passed and she started to be more interested in nursing again. I successfully nursed her past her 2nd birthday, and she is still nursing once or twice per day most days now at almost 3 years old.