When is the best time to stop breastfeeding and how?

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Rachelle - posted on 02/12/2010

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such a short questionn with such little info for such a BIG issue. The biggest question is why do you want to stop. If it's b/c you need to go back to work soon,....and can't/dont' want to pump, then it's a logistical question. Another question to consider, how is it going for the two of you....enjoying it? I'm guessing that's a no for you if you're considering stopping for reasons other than work. My experience....when my first was born, I thought of it as only a health issue and planned to nurse for 6-9 months.....we stopped at 14 b/c I was 6 months pregnant with #2. I nursed my second and 3 sons for 22 months (stopped at 18 for daytime nursing). This is not only a question of nourishment. I'm a stay at home mom, so I believe that if I can nurse, I should. It's sooooo good for them and for you. Now that my youngest is 3.....that fact becomes more clear each day. Beyond nourishment and bonding, I believe it's also good for their overall mental health. Some like to think it's makes them MORE dependent on you, but I think it's the opposite. I believe that because they feel so loved and secure, they are more willing to become their own little person and walk away from you (knowing you're still there for them). I was just looking at some old pics of my boys last night and said to my husband, "I'd do it all over again, and again, if I could". Of course, every person is different....and not everyone shares my beliefs. I get that. AND for the record, nursing wasn't easy for me at all....my first was never good at latching, and I had more breast infections that I can remember, mostly with my first. When my first was about 2 months old and I had a fever with cracked and bleeding nipples I questioned quitting. But my midwife said, "I promise you that it WILL get better". THAT is THE reason I didnt' quit and I will forever be grateful to her. Yes, I was sleep deprived throughout it all, and I remained the one and only parent responsible for feeding, which is exhausting and didnt' always seem fair, but still SO worth it. I think our culture does a very poor job of preparing us for how difficult it is to be a mom....a good one anyway. Also, don't forget how expensive formula is. This may not be what you wanted to hear and maybe it offends you...that's not my intent. Bottom line in my opinion, do what's best for you and your baby....even if it that's not what's most convenient for you. If it's what's best, you can't possible regret that decision. Good Luck!

[deleted account]

I think I agree with Emily, though I think what she said about a child outgrowing the need is a little vague since different people have different opinions on this. Some believe that a baby never REALLY needs breast milk. Others think that after 6 months they no longer need it. And again, others believe that once they are a year and you can introduce cows milk, breast milk is no longer needed. But I believe that a child needs it as long as they want it. I intend to let my son self-wean.

I would like to encourage you to make it to at least a year. It'd be awesome if you went longer, but if you get to a year to can skip formula and bottles altogether:)

Kirsty - posted on 02/16/2010

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Hi Katie,
a friend who is a paeditritcian said what my daughter us doing is normal for children who eat as much solid food as she does throughout the day to be self weaning.
I plan to start stopping her morning and night feeds from 12 months, but as she rarely takes her afternoon feed, it was advised to offer and if she refuses not to stress as she obviously isn't hungry. My daughter is on 3 solid meals which consist of 2 courses and drinks water adlib throughout the day.
At 8 months she weighed 9.3kg (20.5lbs) and from 7 to 8 months she put on 1.3kgs and currently weighs over 10kg.
I planned on weaning her but she is doing it herself. :), I have been told that this has happened before with my aunties and grandmothers children, some were weaned and others self weaned.

Lindsay - posted on 02/12/2010

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The best time to stop is when your lil one decides they are ready. However this is not always what is best for mommy or practical. I'd suggest shooting for at least 1 yr.

Keshia - posted on 02/11/2010

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When I was breastfeeding my son him doctor said 1 years old was enough because he could start drinking whole milk after that but I stopped at 1 year and 2 months. I went on a cruise and my mother had him and when I came back he didn't want any more but as time goes by and they get older they will remember the breast because they will constantly touch and try to put their hands down your shirt and his doctor said that is normal for breastfeed babies. My mom said that he fuss a lot but she knew he had not choice so he eventually took the sippy cup. He didn't like the bottle and took himself off.

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Marsha - posted on 02/17/2010

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There are a lot of experienced moms out there! Awesome! For me, I let my first daughter wean herself, which was around 18 months. I am nursing now, as my second daughter is only 9 months, but she is getting less dependant on nursing now that she is eating solids.
I think they will loose interest, it is a natural process.
If it is cause you have to go to work and can't nurse, I highly recommend pumping and storing so baby still gets your BM, it is so vital.

Amy - posted on 02/17/2010

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I nursed my son til just a little after he was 2 y o and my daughter til just before her second birthday. I just went cold turkey, ice packs were a godsend but after 3 days nursing was a thing of the past!

Cinda - posted on 02/17/2010

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The best time to stop breast feeding is when you & your son are ready. You shouldn't feel pressured into nursing longer than you can or want to.
Personally, my son is over 14 months & is still nursed full-time & supplemented with baby food & finger foods. This is what is best for US.
For a 'standard' point of view, the World Health Organization suggests breast feeding until at least 1 year & continuing to breast feed while supplementing with other food until age 2 years. Obviously, not every one does that.
I think that this is a pretty good plan but wouldn't want to make another mommy feel guilty or 'less than' because she can't or doesn't want to nurse that long. Many mommies try to make it until at least 6 months, when most babies start eating rice cereal & pureed baby foods. A lot of mommies shoot for the 12 month mark b/c that's when babies are supposed to be able to switch to whole cow's milk (cheaper than formula). These are just some standard time frame that many nursng mommies shoot for. Many babies will start to wean away from nursing as much after baby foods are introduced anyway.
You should nurse as long as YOU want to & feel comfortable with.
Just remember, it takes a whie for your milk to go away naturally if you don't want to get engorged & be uncomfortable.

[deleted account]

Nadia, 3-5 times a day is wonderful for an 18 month old. And you said that you are still offering. As long as you're still offering (even just once or twice a day) and your little one continues to accept it, then I think you're fine. 'Don't offer, don't refuse', is when you aren't offering at all. Some parents are told to feed on demand and so they think that they must feed solely on demand. They don't bother offering unless their little one asks. When babies/toddlers become more active and occupied, they may not ask to nurse as often. This doesn't mean that they wouldn't take it if offered though. During the day when my son is very busy and playing hard, that's when I offer. It's like offering any other drink or snack. Sometimes kids get too busy to ask but are often more than happy when you say, "hey, would you like some cheese and crackers?"

For people who are consciously using, don't offer, don't refuse' they do not offer at all. And often they also try to keep their little ones more occupied and busy. Personally, I have chosen to allow my son to self-wean. I feel it's most natural. But when it comes to forced weaning, I feel that this method (DO,DR) is the most kind and gentle on both mother and child.



As for the nursing to sleep and sucking for comfort, I personally don't think that there's anything wrong with that. I think that it's wonderful that you are his pacifier. As much as I'm not a big fan of pacifiers (the plastic kind), my son does use one. He had a very strong urge to suck early on and although I was his pacifier at times, I didn't want to be his pacifier all the time. Lately I've been finding that my son seems to need his paci less and less. So I have decided to gently try to wean him off of it. He only uses it to sleep but for the past few days, as soon as he has drifted off to sleep, I pull the paci out. Sometimes he half wakes up and even cries out for a second. But I'm right there and I try my best to soothe him back to sleep with my touch and my voice. If he gets too upset, I give him back the paci and try again. If you feel the need to wean him from this habit (I hate the word habit because I feel it has a negative undertone), then I don't see why you couldn't do something similar to what I'm doing...except with your breast of course. But do whatever you're comfortable with.

Nadia - posted on 02/16/2010

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Katie, you stated that "parents practice weaning methods such as, 'don't offer, don't refuse' without even knowing that they are encouraging weaning". Can you explain this because I kind of think that's what I'm doing. I mean, I've always nursed my 18 month old "on demand" (and still do) but the only time I offer is when he wakes up in the morning and before naps/bedtime (and if he wakes up during the night). I end up bf'ing probably 3-5 times/day. I don't want to encourage weaning but is this what I'm unintentionally doing? Should I "offer" him more times per day? He has a VERY healthy appetite and if it were up to him, he would eat and nurse all day & night!

The other question to you is that at night when I nurse him before bed, he soothes (suckles) more than drinks. Do you think this is causing him to "use" me and to also depend on me too much? I let him soothe for a while and usually after 5-10 min. he comes off the breast but other times I have to gently pull him off. I hate doing that but I've also noticed that the longer I let me soothe, the next time he'll take a little longer! He doesn't cry at all when I take him off but I feel bad!

Jennifer - posted on 02/16/2010

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Personally, I think the best time to stop is when baby decides. If they aren't interested anymore or don't need to nurse for nutritional reasons then I could see stopping, but that normally isn't until around a year or so, all kiddos are different. Some kiddos like to continue nursing for the bonding and comfort of just being close to momma. Don't be pressured to stop if it is something that you really enjoy doing and want to do for your baby. Nursing is the best food for baby, especially so young. If you have to go back to work, pump everything you can. It would be easier to let your little nurse as long as they need, they will stop when they are ready. It is such a short time that they nurse anyway, right?

Viola - posted on 02/16/2010

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I do believe as well that self-weaning is the best way...but I know that some children just don't do it :). Anyway, I'm going to try as well. Liam is now almost 18 month old and he used to be attached to my breast all day :). Now we nurse before he goes to bed (lunch time and evening), at night when he wants to and in the morning. But I can already tell that it's different. Sometimes in the evening I can actually say to him: Ok, off to your bed now (he has his bed next to me) and he's fine with that...whereas before he wouldn't fall asleep without the breast...
I'll just follow him and we will see...

Emily - posted on 02/16/2010

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But I agree with Katie.. true self-weaning doesn't usually occur until after age 2.

Emily - posted on 02/16/2010

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If she's still nursing four times a day I wouldn't really considered that close to weaning anyway.. my son was down to nursing 2-3 times a day at 18 months and now at 3 years he's still nursing about twice a day. Just saying.

Kirsty - posted on 02/16/2010

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As we had a really difficult start to breastfeeding, I am impressed that my daughter and I are still doing it. We shock everyone when I say that until she was 6-8 weeks old she was on bottles fulltime(ebm) and as l was losing my milk supply, peadtrticuan advised to put her back on breast at least once a day to encourage milk supply and we went back to fulltime breastfeeding.
My daughter is offered solids usually one hour after her milk feeds, so though she is on solids I don't deem them as filling her up enough to refuse milk, but I could be wrong. On a typical day:
7 - milk
8 - solids
10 - sleep
1130/12 - milk, she only takes one side, offer both but she just doesn't take it
1230/1 - solids
230/3 - sleep
4/415 - milk(is offered whatever time she wakes from sleep) - it is on a rare occasion she actual drinks this feed and usual only 1 side
5 - solids
7pm - milk before bed

I understand that every child is different and what everyone recommends but this is what works for us and as she is steadily growing, putting on weight and is happy, I am not comlai I g
I am no longer giving her feeds overnight and she pretty much sleeps through

Melissa - posted on 02/16/2010

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Typically kids will wean themselves. The more regular food they eat the less nursing they will do. My son still nurses and drinks regular milk also. If you are DONE with the whole breastfeeding deal than pump and offer him the bottle. It may take sometime for him to transition, but ideally lasting to 6 months is good, 9 months is great, a year is outstanding and 2 years...well, you are super mom!

[deleted account]

Pediatricians really don't know that much about breastfeeding. Regular doctors get very very little training on that subject. Talk to a lactation consultant. My son started to take less time at the breast shortly after starting solids too. The pediatrician said, "Oh, he's probably just weaning." But that was only because he was filling up on the solids. Which he should not have been doing. The don't have all the nutrients that a baby needs for optimal growth and development within that first year.

It's extremely rare for a child to self wean before a year and most children self-wean between 2 and 3 years if given the opportunity. If weaning occurs before a year, it's because of some other factor (such as filling up on solids, nursing strikes, etc). Also, many parents practice weaning methods such as, 'don't offer, don't refuse' without even knowing that they are encouraging weaning. Most parents are just uninformed and it's no fault of their own since their doctors aren't exactly passing on credible information either.

[deleted account]

Kirsty, breast milk should remain your baby's primary source of nutrition for the first year. I wouldn't recommend encouraging weaning within the first year unless you are replacing those feeds with formula (and I, along with this board, do not encourage the use of formula).

Shelly - posted on 02/16/2010

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I don't know when you should stop but when you do put a cabbage leaf in your bra on each breast! Sounds weird but it works, My doc is an old hippy and there is a natural chemical in cabbage leaves that will dry up your milk in a few days!

Kirsty - posted on 02/16/2010

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My daughter is currently self weaning herself from breastfeeding. She is 9 months old and she feeds 2 full feeds (morning and before bed) and has only 1 side twice during the day and we are in the process of cutting one of those out as she isnt interested....its a totally personal thing..and if you are really sure you need to or want to do it, I suggest talking to a maternal health nurse as they can give you all the information you need

Fanny - posted on 02/15/2010

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I only have breasfed for almost 6 monts and plan to do it until Genta is 2 years old.
Plan to use his theta brain wave while he was sleeping. I talk to him when he is asleep, telling him to stop when he is around 2. Works for many other thing. Believe it works too for weaning...

Emily - posted on 02/14/2010

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http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/infa...



Direct Quote from WHO website linked above:



"Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers. As a global public health recommendation, infants should be EXCLUSIVELY BREASTFED(1) for the first SIX MONTHS of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to TWO YEARS of age or beyond. Exclusive breastfeeding from birth is possible except for a few medical conditions, and unrestricted exclusive breastfeeding results in ample milk production.



(1) ""Exclusive breastfeeding" is defined as no other food or drink, not even water, except breast milk (including milk expressed or from a wet nurse) for 6 months of life, but allows the infant to receive ORS, drops and syrups (vitamins, minerals and medicines). "

Kristina - posted on 02/14/2010

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When you and your baby are ready to stop. I breastfed my first daughter until she was almost 2 and my second one still and she turned 2 in January. There is a book by La Leche League called "the womanly art of breastfeeding" it goes into weaning your baby off of breastfeeding with love. I am weaning my youngest daughter now, and we are down to nights only. When I weaned my older daughter off I didn't have the engorgement problem by trying to stop all of a sudden. It was cool. La Leche League is a support group for breastfeeding moms-in case you have never heard of them.

Sarah - posted on 02/14/2010

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World Health Org. says to nurse at least 2 years.



I plan to nurse as long as my little girls wants to but expect her to wean by 3 since the world is so fascinating and there are so many other delicious things to eat.



At 6 months, my babe just had her first taste of advocado - we nurse, nurse, nurse. No thoughts of stopping anytime. Why even consider that so soon? I look at my 8-year old and know that kids grow so fast, this intense time will pass too soon and I will savor every moment and not rush this child.

[deleted account]

i weaned my son around 10.5 months. i knew we were going out of town a month later, then we were going to try to get him on the straw cup and break the bottle habit (he took both bottle and breast). so, i took advantage of the fact that he really wasn't showing interest in the breast (only for naptime, i didn't want him to rely on falling asleep on the breast) so, we weaned. go luck, your baby will let you know.

Emily - posted on 02/14/2010

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Actually, the World Heath Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least 2 years.

My goal with my first was to make it to 1 year... unfortunately, I got pregnant pretty soon after her birth and didn't have the information or support to continue to nurse... so she was weaned at only 4 1/2 months. With my second, I sought out much more information and successfully nursed her for 2 years 8 months, including nursing through a pregnancy and she tandem nursed with her younger sister for 13 months. My #3 is still nursing now at 2 years 2 months... right along side her 5 month old twin brothers.

My personal preference with my children now is to nurse for at least 2 years... preferably until all 20 baby teeth are in (teething while nursing is much easier than teething without... in my opinion), but push for slow, gentle weaning before age 3. (My 2 year old is currently only nursing twice a day.)

Sondra - posted on 02/13/2010

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My little boy is 7 months and I am still breast feeding. I plan on continuing at least until he is a year if not beyond that point. I feel just as attached to the idea of breast feeding as he is. In a way it makes me sad to think of stopping, which tells me that I know I am not ready yet either! Like many other mommas have said, there are so many factors that contribute to this decision. I'm inclined to agree that the best time to stop is when your baby is ready to stop :)

Stacey - posted on 02/13/2010

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at the end of the day the decision is yours. My dd is 22mths and still bf. As much as it annoys me at times because i want to go to work etc I know she is not ready. She drinks from a training cup and eats most things fairly well but still wants me. I have come to the realisation that she will stop when she is ready. She is good in the sense that if we go to the shops it is rare that she will want it unless she is tired. I follow the 'dont offer but dont refuse' method and it is working. Each bub is diff. Our dr said either keep going until she stops or go away for a few days and then bub will have to learn to take a bottle.....up to you

Nicole - posted on 02/13/2010

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My son, too, is 4 months and I will stop when HE stops. AAP recommends breastfeeding to their first birthday at least. The World Health Organization recommends at least 2 years. You and your son will benefit greatly if you breastfeed to his first birthday at least! And the benefits continue beyond, if you breastfeed beyond a year.

Emily - posted on 02/12/2010

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Sorry, yes, what i meant was that only the child can determine when they outgrow the need (i.e. self-weaning).

Kenya - posted on 02/12/2010

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I also say aim for at least a year. My son is 13 months now and nurses in the morning, evening and on weekends. During the day at day car he now drinks cow's milk and water in his sippy cup.

[deleted account]

Nora, it's going to be difficult at pretty much any age if you're forcing it. If/when you have another child, I would hope you would at least go a year again. I'm not sure what makes you think that stopping sooner is going to be any easier. It may or it may not but that depends on multiple factors. One, being your baby's personality. There are ways to make the weaning process more gentle and less stressful for all. It takes longer, but it doesn't have to be awful.

Nora - posted on 02/12/2010

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Its your personal choice. My pediatrician recommended a year and I stuck with the program until my daughter was weaned at 13 months. My daughter was extremely healthy throughout and had an outstanding growth spurt.
The weaning process was the most difficult and as a result i probably will not go a whole year with my next child.

Emily - posted on 02/12/2010

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Personally I think breastfeeding should go on until the child outgrows the need. Which usually isn't before age 2.

Christy - posted on 02/12/2010

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I breastfed my son for 18mo, daughter for lil over 2 years and my youngest for 19 mo. Some babies wean themselves for others its just up to you but I would do it at least for a year so you can skip the formula stage. I found it easier to wean when you wean slower take out one or 2 feedings for a couple a days and then start taking out more until you get to just the night one and then your breast will adjust and won't hurt so bad. It hurts if you wean quickly!

[deleted account]

Let bub decide - 6 months, 12 months, 18 months??? It's the fairest and easiet way to go about it. Is there a reason you can't continue to b/f you son?

Amanda - posted on 02/11/2010

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mmm im not sure my son is almost 7 months and is not ready to give it up yet we have tried many times he doesnt seem to like the smell and feeling of a bottle or it teat he will drink from a cup not a training cup but a normal cup its very mesy as you can imagine. with our girl she was 6months old and she didnt like bottles at first but soon got used to it .

i guess it comes down to how long you want to BF for if your ready to stop try a bottle and see how it goes if you wanna keep tryin go for it. Lachlan will be BF now till he is ready to stop or when he is 12months good luck hope all is well

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