We’re very pleased to share an interview with Elyse April, author of the new children’s book, Ready to Wean: The Return of the Dangling Red Earrings.
This book is a welcome addition to the growing library of children’s books about breastfeeding, and is the only current one about the topic of weaning.
Want to see more children’s books about breastfeeding? Here’s our complete list!
Why did you want to write a children’s book about weaning?
After eight years of promoting breastfeeding books like: We Like to Nurse, Breastfeeding: Your Priceless Gift to Your Baby and Yourself,
and We Like to Nurse, Too
, I had moms approaching me at trade shows, like the National WIC (Women, Infant & Children) Convention, saying how they loved the books in “The Family & World Health Series” from HOHM Press
, but that they have had weaning nightmares when ending their experience of breastfeeding. “How could this be?” I wondered. To me, how we end breastfeeding is as important as how we begin breastfeeding and how we parent. It’s a process and an initiation into the next stage of life, moving out into the world, yet still wanting to know that mom is there. Why a picture book? Through this series of books, I have found that while children delight in the pictures, we are assisting in parent education. This is a less intimidating way to get across information for parents and more engaging than a pamphlet. Ready to Wean is for both young children and parents!
You suggest talking to babies about weaning when it is happening, no matter what their age. Why?
When I became pregnant with my son, I was very aware that a being was growing inside me, not just a body, but a conscious, sensing, presence whom I was now responsible for. This is a contrary perception to the blank slate metaphor. I do believe that babies bring something with them that is uniquely their own
, and I see the importance of providing a nurturing environment that establishes mutual love and respect. The monumental book Conscious Parenting
by Lee Lozowick is the foundation for all of the books in the Children’s Division of HOHM Press & Kalindi Press. That is why I suggest in We Like to Read
, reading to babies still in the womb (“Little ears listen…”). How we speak, move, conduct our daily lives - all that affects the baby in our womb and then the child in our life. By talking to our baby softly and gently about the ending of breastfeeding, whenever that is for our circumstance, whether it be for financial, medical or emotional reasons, we can assure our child that this closeness will extend beyond the breastfeeding time through physical touch, cuddling, play and growing together. Saying to the child that there will come a day for new ways to be close is a way to plant a seed for both the child and the parent.
You say that there is no need to explain the “why"of weaning to a child. Why is that?
Not burdening the child with one’s own struggle as an adult is an important part of parenting and maintaining appropriate boundaries. Babies have to get their basic needs met for food and protection as well as touch. And they need assurance that we are the parents who will steward them into the world. Simply saying, ” Mommy has to go back to work now,” or “Mommy’s body feels that it is time to end the breastfeeding” is enough, REALLY. To get into intricate explanations entangle the child in our drama. How we handle stress and obligations will be a template for our children. We do not want them to feel responsible in any way for our life choices. To free our children to experience their own destiny, we need to be clear as to what is ours and reassure them that we will remain central in their lives.
What was your own weaning experience like?
Six months into nursing my son, I developed a severe infection in my left breast that required antibiotics. There were no lactation consultants then and my milk dried up on one side. I had one torpedo breast on the right and one shrunken breast on the left - not great for my body image, but I was determined to keep nursing. For my son to get the balanced brain development that happens as a result of alternating nursing on each breast, I would adjust his positioning so he would experience right-left nursing. When he was two, I was beginning to get antsy. I wanted a normal body again. I started talking to Aaron, my son, who was a big boy at two (people thought he was four) about lessening the amount of our our nursing. I explained that when he was three, we would be close in other ways like reading and playing games, cuddling and drawing and having all sorts of adventures together. He loved nursing and probably would have continued far beyond three if it was up to him, but I knew that I was beginning to struggle with it and it felt timely. Even though we reduced nursing, I always let him nurse when he needed comforting. This was never denied. I also told him how on his third birthday, he would wake up to find his favorite snack on the night table beside his bed. Since I gave it one year and kept periodically speaking to him about the time when he would turn three, he delicately nibbled at his birthday treat on that morning and never asked to nurse again. He was done. Now that he is a man, I look back on those cherished days and there is no doubt for me that our breastfeeding and weaning experience significantly contributed to his growth into a bright and creative adult. I wish that for more children and hope that Ready to Wean
can assist in that happening.