How I bribed my 3-year-old off my breast.

This passionate breast-feeding mum found her son needed more than a little distraction to wean – in the shape of an iPhone.

I used to feel guilty talking about how easy breastfeeding was for me. I have friends who really wanted to breastfeed, and tried, and had awful, painful experiences, and had no choice but to turn to the bottle. But recently I read a study that looked at families where one child was breastfed and another was not. It found most of the purported long-term benefits of breastfeeding, like higher intelligence and lower chance of obesity, are a load of bollocks. Basically, whether your children are going to be smart and slim or whatever depends on how you bring them up generally, not whether you breastfeed them.

Of course breastfeeding is good for babies. There’s no doubt that it boosts their immunity. They will almost definitely get sick less often in their first year if they are breastfed (my daughter didn’t even catch a cold till she was two and a half). But it won’t turn them into superhumans. (Which is a pity, because I used to think having breastfed my kids for years made up for all my other parental failings.)

"I used to think having breastfed my kids for years made up for all my other parental failings"

When my daughter was born, I hoped to breastfeed, but fully expected to fail. I mean, I’d hoped for a natural birth, but ended up having an emergency caesarean under general anaesthetic. When I brought my daughter home from hospital, I was lucky enough to have my older sister – a doctor and breastfeeding champion – staying with me. She encouraged me to feed my baby whenever she wanted to be fed, for however long she wanted. So I did. It was a little painful at first, but not very. Soon it didn’t hurt at all. I breastfed pretty much trouble-free for the next two-and-a-half years. The biting phase was not fun (for me, anyway – she obviously thought it was hilarious), but I got through it.


I had a similar experience with my son. It hurt a little bit in the early days, then stopped hurting. He went through a very long biting phase – he developed the not-so-endearing habit of nipping my nipple to show he was finished – but again, I gritted my teeth, just like he was gritting his, and got through it.

Breastfeeding was great for me. It fit in so beautifully with my life. My kids slept in bed with me when they were babies, so I never had to get up during the night, or even sit up. I worked from home, so every time my baby wanted a feed, I would pop him or her on the boob and get half an hour of uninterrupted writing time. My kids never cried for long because feeding always stopped the tears. (It took me ages to realise that kids naturally stop crying about 30 seconds after falling over – I always thought it was the magic of breastmilk.) I saved a heap of money by never buying formula or bottles or dummies. (Of course, all the money I saved went on Tim-Tams, because I was ravenously hungry for seven years.)

In all that time of getting my boobs out in public places, including in pubs and offices, on trains and planes, no one ever asked me to stop. No one even stared. Or maybe they did, but I was too busy reading. (Another upside to breastfeeding: I read a lot of books.)

Breastfeeding was great for me. It fit in so beautifully with my life. My kids slept in bed with me when they were babies.

Of course, there was a downside. I couldn’t do any serious drinking for seven years. Seven very long years.

And, although breastfeeding my kids was easy, getting them interested in solid food was a real struggle. My daughter ate very little apart from mashed-up fruit and yoghurt for the first two years of her life. It was like she was auditioning for one of those late-night British shows on pay TV about extreme eaters. She’s still very reluctant to try new foods.

I’m not saying my kids are picky eaters because I breastfed them for a long time, but I think that if you do have picky eaters, extended breastfeeding allows them to be even more picky. They know that they don’t have to eat what you put in front of them – they can just hold out for a breastfeed later.

I stopped breastfeeding my daughter when she was almost three because I got an infection and I just couldn’t do it anymore. She cried a bit, but accepted it. My son got past the age of three, and showed no signs of giving up or even cutting back. I was a believer in the philosophy of baby-led weaning – letting him decide when he was ready to stop – but I started to think he might never be ready. I tried talking him out of breastfeeding (or, as he called it, “ah-boo-more-boo”), but he wasn’t open to persuasion.

“I’ve got some yummy vegie chips,” I’d say, trying to entice him to eat food.

“I’ve got some yummy ah-boo-more-boo,” he’d reply in the same patronising tone.


Or he’d list off his reasons why he wanted it: “It’s my favourite food! It makes me feel better! It tastes like toast!”

"Finally he was weaned". This blogger let her son play with an iPhone to distract him from wanting to be breastfed.

Eventually, due to his continuing lack of interest in eating, I decided it was time for some adult-led weaning. I gradually cut the feeds down to one a day, in the morning, and stayed firm through his wailing. One day he said he didn’t think he’d need a feed the next morning. When he got up and came into our bedroom, he was wavering in his resolve, so my husband let him play on the iPhone. The same thing the next morning, and the next. Finally he was weaned. Getting him to eat solid food became easier, even though that solid food mostly ended up being Vegemite on toast.

I loved breastfeeding. If you can get it to work for you, it can be fantastic. For me, it was the move to solids that was fraught with frustration and tears. I felt so envious going on Facebook and seeing photos of my friends’ babies smeared with mashed-up pumpkin, or their toddlers happily chowing down on spaghetti and quiche and yum cha.

In hindsight, I wonder if I should have stopped breastfeeding sooner. But you do what you think is the best thing for your child at the time. Now I’ve just got to move on, and start thinking about the hundreds of other ways I can screw up my kids.

This blog first appeared here. It is republished with full permission. 

When did you stop breastfeeding your child? Was weening difficult?