Breastfeeding and Weaning in Japan

Yesterday I met my single solitary mum friend for a mum and baby yoga class. Which was amazing because I thought that these sort of things would be totally unavailable to me considering my poor Japanese skills and the general small-town character of the city which we call home.


Now, when I say yoga class, I use the term loosely. It was really more of a public nursing class than a yoga class. I spent about 70 percent of my time nursing, arranging snacks for Stella, or intervening as Stella stole other babies’ things. Mostly their food. Occasionally their water cups. So, as I was trying to sit in a meditative position with my daughter’s hand in my mouth as she latched on, I thought about weaning. 


Not about weaning Stella, per se, because god knows if there is one parenting philosophy to which I subscribe to with emphatic devotion, it is the POLR Approach (that’s Path of Least Resistance in case you didn’t know.)


So, I thought about weaning, as in, would things be easier with a weaned baby (answer NO), and I asked my friend, just out of curiosity, how people wean babies in Japan.


Seriously. You guys. What I’m about to tell you just might be the best idea you’ve ever heard.


But first a little background.


Breastfeeding in Japan, as far as I can tell, is the norm. It is encouraged and widely supported. Though I’ve heard that new mothers are offered formula samples in hospitals, but that didn’t happen to me. There are tons of nursing rooms available, you can breastfeed in public without anyone batting an eye (I’ve seen it done numerous times, and done it myself pretty much daily for a period of time), and many people continue to nurse their babies past one year. 


So, anyway, this weaning method I’m talking about is for the older baby crowd.


Okay, so, it works like this: you put bandaids on your nipples, and then you draw a character on your boob, like a bunny or a cat or something. And you tell your kid that the milk is gone, and now there’s a cat there. See, isn’t that cool! A CAT! You can change up the character, today it’s a cat, tomorrow it’s a bunny, the next day it’s Anpanman or whatever. Apparently it works really well. 


Anyway...now you know all about breastfeeding and weaning in Japan. You’re welcome. That’s totally why you come here, isn’t it. To bone up on your breastfeeding and weaning in Japan facts*. I know. It’s true.


*Facts spouted by me, a total breastfeeding and weaning in Japan expert**


**Where expert means an individual who once had a five minute conversation about the subject so clearly knows everything there is to know. And then some.


Quality stuff here, on this blog. Who writes it anyway???