Breastfeeding and Baby-Led Weaning at Nine Months

by Lara on May 22, 2013

Background reading:  Introducing Solids Through Baby-Led Weaning

Originally this was going to be two separate posts; one on solids and one on breastfeeding, but then it occurred to me that these subjects are inextricably linked.  It is called baby-led weaning, after all, meaning the gradual process that a child goes through in order to transition himself from a breastmilk-based diet to a solids-based diet.  This is the story of our transition up to nine months.

BLW from 6-9 Months

Six Months:  Getting through the gagging

When I last wrote about our baby-led weaning journey, G was six months old and had only just been exposed to solid foods.  Breastfeeding was going strong (nursing anywhere from 7 to one million times per 24 hours).  Some days we offered him food, many days we didn’t.  On the occasions when we did offer it, he would gag.  Almost every time.  It freaked me out big time.  I second-guessed our method as most of the babies around me were eating exotic, flavorful homemade purees and he was taking an hour to (almost literally) choke down two bites of a banana.

I had to remind myself why BLW was important to us, and that gagging was actually a protective mechanism.  It is part of the learning process.  I had also read that a baby’s gag point moves further back in his mouth as he grows, which meant it would only get more difficult as time passed.  So we decided to pursue, but slowly…offer him less food, less often.  Let him mature a bit, let his interest grow.  Have a paramedic over for dinner to go over the Heimlich (no really, we did that).

BLW at 7 Months

Eating toast with Dad at 7 Months

Seven Months:  Building his confidence

G was still nursing with the same frequency, but something clicked with chewing and swallowing at seven months.  One meal at dinner, he just didn’t gag.  He was chewing–actually chewing–and swallowing his food perfectly.  At this point, his interest in food would be strong at the beginning of the meal.  Then he would eat a bite or two and it would dwindle quickly.  Though we were only feeding him once a day at most, his motor skills were improving at every meal.  By the end of the month, he was picking up peas with two fingers and could feed himself almost anything we put in front of him.

BLW at 8 Months

Eight Months

Eight Months:  Less nursing

This was a big turning point for both nursing and solids.  Almost overnight, G started refusing to nurse more than a few times during the day (and only if he was very tired and about to go to sleep), and once at night.  This was all a drop from his usual.  I panicked.  He wasn’t having enough solids to be dropping milk feedings so rapidly.  I was very worried about his weight and my supply.

For a month I pushed back hard with him on nursing.  Really hard.   I went back to his newborn days and began TRULY feeding on demand again (I liked to think I was feeding on demand before but admittedly I had begun trying to get him on a four-hour schedule).  Though I was used to him feeding every three to four hours, I began to offer constantly: before he went down for a nap, after he woke up from a nap, during playtime, etc.  If I offered and he rejected, I would pump.  I ended up pumping multiple times a day for the month of April, more than I had pumped in all previous months combined.

We began to offer him two solid meals a day, and found that he was receptive to it and generally fed himself well.  I started to accept that since he had always regulated his own intake (milk and solids), maybe he really was starting the weaning process.

BLW at 9 Months

Nine Months – Spaghetti Monster!

Nine Months:  Following his lead

After speaking with two lactation consultants and G’s pediatrician,  I feel a lot more confident that we are doing just fine.  G is gaining weight as he should, and he has even jumped up a little on his weight curve.  Technically speaking, he is weaning.  But he is weaning the same way I am (supposedly) losing weight:  slowly.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  It doesn’t happen at one meal, or in one week, or even one month.

I continue to nurse on demand (it’s driving me crazy having no schedule!), and we now offer G two meals a day and a few sips of water after each meal.  Some meals he hardly eats anything and other days he packs it away.  For the most part, he eats what we eat, but not always.  That is one aspect of BLW that I haven’t followed strictly; when we went to a baseball game, for example, I wasn’t going to feed him kettle corn and a hot dog.  So I gave him one of those organic fruit and veggie packet things and let him go to town.  It was a puree, yes, but he fed himself, so I could live with it.

Now that G’s self-feeding is well established, we’ve introduced a few “loaded spoons,” for him to navigate (I liken this to breastfeeding being well established before you introduce a bottle).  I did this because, even with his sloppy handling of the spoon, he usually gets a lot more food in his mouth than he does with just his hands, and I don’t want him to get too used to such large amounts of food going so quickly into his mouth.  This is because I have heard a common hurdle with mainstream weaning is that children can get very frustrated when they try to feed themselves if they’ve already experienced traditional spoon feeding.

Loaded spoon of homemade soup

Loaded spoon of homemade soup

This leads me to my interpretation of BLW.  To me, it comes down to self-feeding.  Switching between purees or finger foods is just that…switching.  Personally the texture isn’t my main concern; to me the control of intake has to stay with the baby the whole time for it to be baby-led.

Going forward

I originally became passionate about BLW because I thought it would help G develop a healthy relationship with food.  This is still my hope, but of course I have no idea if it will be the outcome.  In the meantime, I still take great comfort that by giving G responsibility of the weaning process, he will stop breastfeeding on his own timeline.  I also hope that doing things this way will ease us both through the weaning process gradually.

The dogs love BLW, too!

The dogs love BLW, too!

Nursing and formerly nursing mamas:  How was the weaning experience for you and your baby?  Did you struggle with emotional highs and lows or other difficulties?  Was it sudden or gradual?  I am interested to hear about your experiences as I anticipate how this will all turn out for us.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessie May 22, 2013 at 7:07 am

Weaning was very gradual for us. But I remember being absolutely BAFFLED about when to nurse when Lyric was on a 3 meals a day schedule. I felt like I was trapped in the house bc she was either nursing or eating solids every 1.5-2 hrs! It was so confusing! I think around 9-10 months I sought advice from a LC and figured out a schedule where she nursed when she woke up, once again between breakfast & lunch, between lunch & dinner (optional) and then before bed. (We had night-weaned at 7 months.) By 12 months we had cut out the middle two feeds and by 13 months I stopped the bedtime one. She was completely weaned at 14.5 months but I did have to use her “assistance” in helping clear a plugged duct about a week later since my pump was buried in storage! Not a lot of emotional ups & downs though. Gradual weaning was definitely a lot like wandering in the dark but I figured it out eventually!


Lara May 22, 2013 at 11:19 am

YES, that is exactly how I feel these days with solids, nursing, and naps (being trapped in the house). Unfortunately G won’t nurse lately unless it’s RIGHT before sleep, so I’m still trying to figure out a good routine for us where we’re not stuck inside all day.
Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂


Laura September 25, 2013 at 12:58 am

YES YES YES!! This is so how I feel but up until I just read this felt like I was the only one!!! I too am doing BLW and feel trapped in the house as my LO is either breastfeeding, eating solids or napping. I can’t figure out how to get back to a routine/schedule thats works for all of us and allows us to do some fun things out of the house. I keep telling myself its just a phase but thenI wonder if I need to do anything to move things in the right direction or leave it to my little girl!!?? It does make me feel a little better knowing Im not the only one. Thanks ladies for sharing your experiences.


Lara September 25, 2013 at 11:25 am

In my experience, it takes a while to find your rhythm, but it will come, and it will get easier. Some things that helped me: getting more comfortable with nursing in public; being OK with some naps on the go and some meals on the go; being OK with only getting out once a day (for us, it was after his second nap and before dinner). When they drop down to one nap, you have a lot more free time!


Sarah S. May 22, 2013 at 9:58 am

I still feel a little sad about how we weaned. Eli – during a night feed – simply slapped my breast away and never went back. I believe he was about 9 months old. Looking back, I see a lot of things I would have liked to have done differently – the major thing being just to RELAX. I’m still trying to do that. Eli is still big on milk, and I give him raw milk from grass-fed cows from a local farm. He loves it. More than food, for sure. Being that he’s slow on tooth development – he’s just cutting molars now, and only has two bottom teeth – most food needs to be easily gummed down. That being said, I try my best not to freak out if he doesn’t eat much at dinner, etc. He’s happy, healthy, and clearly gaining weight just fine. The kiddos let us know when they aren’t happy!

But really, time is flying! G is such a big boy now! And I love how you are approached the BLW.


Lara May 22, 2013 at 11:25 am

That must have been so tough! Did you have to supplement with formula until he was a year, or were you able to just do cow’s milk and solids? There was a time when I worried we wouldn’t make it to the one year mark and I was very worried…


Sarah S. May 22, 2013 at 11:27 am

Yes, we did. I actually started to supplement with formula(and boy was that fun and $$$ to find a formula that didn’t make me hyperventilate) after 3 months. It was HEARTBREAKING, but the pressure it relieved made me a much more adjusted person. I started Eli on raw goat’s milk (it is easier on the digestive system) at the 1 year mark.

I am so glad you’ve made it – WTG! It is definitely not easy!


Lara May 22, 2013 at 11:33 am

Gotcha. Yeah the expense of formula is why my husband is my biggest bf supporter 😉 Good to know about the goat’s milk too!

Thanks for the support 🙂 Hope you are feeling great!


Elise May 22, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Oh man. I am so glad I have these posts of yours. I was thinking of giving p some plastic utensils now to start getting him used to grabbing it. He’s all about the rings and Sophie going straight to his mouth so I thought maybe a spoon could be good practice. Who knows.

Seems like being a mom is an on demand job like no other. Here I thought I was going to have a life once we got further down the road w less beast feeding…


Lara May 22, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Ha! Kind of like how I thought life would be easy once we nail sleeping, until I remembered we get to deal with potty training, temper tantrums, etc. Oy!

I think letting him play with utensils is great. We did that with his baby spoon and his silver cup at dinnertime for a few weeks before we gave him actual food. It was fun…but loud 😉


glidingcalm May 22, 2013 at 2:51 pm

this is sooo interesting! i am TOTALLY going to come back to you, and hopefully these posts some day down the line when I have a child! i mean YEARS AND YEARS, but ferreaaaals…. fascinating!

also, thanks again for the birthday card! it was the perfect card for me!


Lara May 22, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Haha…well thank you, sweet friend! I hope you are feeling better today!


Kellie May 22, 2013 at 6:44 pm

You have no idea how much I enjoy reading these posts! Sorry it’s been waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long for me to offer any tips or advice LOL it seems to me that it’s going perfectly for you 🙂
And, by the way, I keep texting my daughter-in-law links to your posts… 🙂


Lara May 22, 2013 at 8:33 pm

You are so sweet, and I am so excited for you and your family! When is your grandbaby due?


Kellie May 31, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Baby due November 2 (football season!) and we find out next week if its a girl or boy (well, providing baby is cooperative


glidingcalm May 22, 2013 at 8:51 pm

I forgot to say that I also LOVE the new sidebar pic of you in pink! gorgeous!


Lara May 24, 2013 at 8:57 pm

You’re so sweet to say that. I think I’m changing it soon actually…ha! 😉


Biz May 24, 2013 at 4:00 pm

My daughter Hannah didn’t take to breast feeding at all. At about age one, I was washing bottles for the millionth time and I thought “I am so done with these bottles!” and I threw them all out. The next day I gave Hannah a sippy cup and we never looked back! 😀

Hope you have a great weekend Lara!


Lara May 24, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Oh man, dealing with bottles is the biggest pain in the neck! I totally get it!
You have a great weekend too, Biz!


Coco May 24, 2013 at 6:15 pm

My baby girl just started to refuse bottles this week, although she still nurse without problem. I was worried that she was weaning, but fortunately she just doesn’t like bottles, I suspect she might be teething.

I’m not ready emotionally to wean yet, I don’t know if I’d be when the one year mark comes. It’s really hard!!!

Is he still weaning? Was it teething? Is he getting back to nursing? I never thought baby would wean themselves before. Why do they do that?


Lara May 24, 2013 at 9:00 pm

It’s statistically very unlikely for a baby to wean themselves before one year. G continues to nurse less frequently but he IS still nursing…he is just down to about four sessions a day.

If your daughter is still taking the breast she is not weaning! Bottle refusal and weaning are two totally separate things. Don’t worry!


Rebekah June 10, 2013 at 10:58 am

Lara – I’m a little late to this party – but wanted to say great job mama. I pumped until 14 months, and then decided to stop – it was a lot of work. We did baby led weaning with my son and he started eating foods around 5 months, we never did purees and now despite the picky days, he’s a pretty brave and good eater (indian food, mushrooms, fresh fruits and veggies, tofu). I nursed him at night and early morning for another almost 10 months, I didn’t want weaning to be stressful and I just left it up to him. We kept nursing to those times, and then did food at every meal – a small plate of whatever we were eating, and that worked great for us. He self weaned a week before his second birthday, no tears, no drama, lots of cuddles.


Lara June 10, 2013 at 12:44 pm

It’s great to read your story! Thanks for sharing and for the support. I would be thrilled if we could make it to 24 months! Way to go on the pumping…that takes so much dedication.


Steph June 13, 2013 at 10:15 am

Hi Lara,
I’m late to this post but wanted to offer my experience thus far with my 17 month old. I breastfed exclusively until 6 months and then did BLW with a little bit of purees (because my baby was tiny and as a first time mom I was nervous). My son was and still is an EATER. At 17 months there are days where I feel like he does not stop eating, which is fine with me because he still only weighs about 20lbs. However, he is still nursing, for sure at wake up, before nap, and before bed and then usually one time in the afternoon. My plan for weaning him is whenever he decides he is ready. What I really wanted to share with you is this though, at 17 months I look at nursing differently. I am so thankful we still nurse because it is the one way I know I can comfort my son. When he isn’t feeling well, is teething, tired, or just overwhelmed by a situation (which happens when we are around a large group of people). For so long I had tunnel vision on the nutrition it provided, etc etc and yes that is all true and great but now its knowing I can make my son feel safe and happy… makes only being able to have one margarita worth it LOL


Lara June 15, 2013 at 9:38 am

Thanks for sharing, Steph. It’s wonderful that you have had such a great experience with your son…17 months is really something to be proud of! I hope we can make it that long! I agree about the other “forgotten” benefits of breastfeeding. There are just countless reasons why it is amazing, right?!


Lauren July 29, 2013 at 8:06 pm

So glad I found these posts of yours! I have an almost 9 month old little boy who refuses anything but nursing. My plan was to introduce solids at 6 months and nurse until at least a year, but this little guy still wants nothing to do with food! I originally was making him homemade purees and he never liked anything we offered so I then started just putting little bits of fruits and veggies on his tray. He would pick things up, put them in his mouth and immediately spit them out. Now he just pushes things around and makes disgusted faces! I’m so glad he’s still nursing, but am getting a little concerned that I’m going to have a very picky eater on my hands. It’s funny because he will put everything in his mouth these days…unless it’s food 🙂


Lara July 29, 2013 at 8:33 pm

He’ll come around! I really think letting them figure it out is the way to go. Good luck!


Clare September 27, 2013 at 7:53 am

I am SO glad I found this post! I have an 8 month old son, and we have been doing BLW since he was about 6 months old. I feel like I am the only person doing it – none of my friends with babies, my ped, etc. know anything about BLW when I ask advice, and throw in that I am back at work and trying to pump for him while I am gone, and it has been really hard to figure out. So, he has been gradually dropping nursing sessions, and I, like you, saw a major change in his nursing habits this month – he is nursing for less time and is less interested in it than before. I am really trying to stay calm about it, but of course I am worried about supply, and all that. The good news is that he seriously loves solids! Thanks for sharing your experience!


Lara October 1, 2013 at 7:27 pm

I am always so in awe of women who pump at work! Good for you! I hope your BLW experience continues to be positive 🙂 As long as it is, don’t listen to the naysayers!


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