When the time came for Kiwi Yvette Reid to stop breastfeeding her toddler son, she knew storytelling would help make the transition easier for him. She was dismayed to find, though, that none of the popular weaning storybooks struck the right tone. Sure, they gave toddlers a heads-up that the milk would soon be gone, but they didn’t imbue the process with the joy, ritual or excitement that she wanted. So she wrote her own.
Booby Moon, inspired by both Indigenous storytelling and Western mythology like the Tooth Fairy, uses a simple rhyming format to prepare toddlers – and parents – for this monumental milestone. It explains that the moon sends down magical booby milk for babies to drink, and that the time will soon come to send that magic back to the moon, so that new babies can have milk, too.
As in Reid’s real life, the mum and toddler in the book mark the occasion, on the night of the toddler’s birthday, by having one last feed before releasing a glow-in-the-dark helium balloon, thanking the milk and waving goodbye as it floats away. She writes tenderly about how special breastfeeding has been and how they’ll both miss it sometimes but will have water and cuddles instead.
The back section of Booby Moon contains kind, insightful guidance for using the book to facilitate weaning. As Reid points out, you can tweak the details to suit your family – for example, changing ‘booby milk’ to whatever term you use or carrying out the ritual after a special ‘Milkday’ party if your child’s birthday isn’t the right time.
When I first read Booby Moon, I loved the tone and the idea but wondered if the mythological aspect would be right for me when it came time to wean my almost two-year-old. (I’m one of those parents who doesn’t plan to ‘do’ Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, etc. I know, I know.)
However, my son noticed the book on my desk and asked me to read it to him, and he’s since requested it many more times. Even though we’re not officially weaning yet, he’s fascinated by the idea that the toddler in Booby Moon doesn’t need milk anymore, and I can see it’s a first step towards laying the foundations. On reflection, I realise it doesn’t matter how literally we follow the book. Maybe we’ll have a party and release a magical balloon; maybe we’ll just talk about how he doesn’t need milk anymore, “Like the toddler in Booby Moon!” Either way, I think this beautiful story will help us and many other families.
Reviewer: India Lopez