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Reply #245: The average age of full weaning is about 3 years. In the US 83% of children are weaned [View All]

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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-09-10 10:41 PM
Response to Reply #240
245. The average age of full weaning is about 3 years. In the US 83% of children are weaned
Edited on Thu Dec-09-10 10:48 PM by Hannah Bell
completely at less than a year, and about 50% at 6 months. (CDC data)

That's statistically abnormal, and very early.

"Early" weaning = earlier than the cultural average of about 3 years (which also happens to be the age when children will "naturally" tend to stop by themselves), as I thought was clear from the context.

"While breastfeeding beyond 1 year of age is considered extended breastfeeding in the United States <96>, experts say that the average age of weaning worldwide is 4 to years <95> (should be 3 to 4).

In Guinea-Bissau, West Africa, the average length of breastfeeding is 22.6 months <97> and in India, mothers commonly breastfeed their children until 3 to 4 years of age. Stein says that In India, women often wean their 3 or 4-year-old by putting the juice of a bitter gourd or melon on their nipples.

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics stated in 1997 that It is recommended that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter as mutually desired, the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least 2 years. .

There are indeed cultures where children are allowed to nurse at will & thus some 6-year-olds continue to "comfort nurse" without being considered "abnormal". I linked Erik Ericson's description of the Sioux mother, circa 40s, who came to school to breastfeed her sick 8-year-old.

I've made no argument that there are culture where ALL or MOST 6-year-olds are nursing regularly & taking the majority of calories by breast. Neither is the child in the article nursing regularly or taking the majority of his calories by the breast. This is because the majority of active children allowed to nurse at will will stop by themselves around age 3 if they get enough food. The difference is there are cultures where it's "normal" to withhold the breast at a prescribed (or parent-determined) age, & cultures where it's not, or that age is late.

"One often hears that the worldwide average age of weaning is 4.2 years, but this figure is neither accurate nor meaningful.

A survey of 64 "traditional" studies done prior to the 1940s showed a median duration of breastfeeding of about 2.8 years, but with some societies breastfeeding for much shorter, and some for much longer.

It is meaningless, statistically, to speak of an average age of weaning worldwide, as so many children never nurse at all, or their mothers give up in the first few days, or at six weeks when they go back to work.

It is true that there are still many societies in the world where children are routinely breastfed until the age of four or five years or older, and even in the United States, some children are nursed for this long and longer.

In societies where children are allowed to nurse "as long as they want" they usually self-wean, with no arguments or emotional trauma, between 3 and 4 years of age."

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