when is it the best time to stop breast feeding??

Linda - posted on 10/29/2010 ( 53 moms have responded )

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I have gotten many different thoughts and ideas on breast feeding and when to stop... so i would like to hear from you guys, sometimes the best advice comes from experience!!! So let your experience talk!!

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[deleted account]

Personally, I always wanted to at least bf my daughter for the first six months because of the enormous benefits of exclusive bfing at that time, but really I was aiming at one year, so I wouldn't have to give her formula at all. I didn't think much further at the time, but in the back of my head there was always that WHO recommendation of at least 2 years. Now (my girl is 14 months old) when anyone asks how long I'll be nursing her, I generally say 'until one of us gets sick of it'. I don't think there is an upper limit to when you should wean your child. If you are happy to give it, why stop? I do think there are disadvantages to early weaning though, which moms should take into consideration when making that decision.

[deleted account]

Someone posted to use a bottle when they are older so you can get time off. I don't know any 2 year old that nurses often enough that you couldn't be apart all day or even overnight without needing to give a bottle. My son self-weaned at 2 years and 4 months. For over a year he had been spending all day Saturday and Sunday with his grandparents most weekends. While he was with them, he drank water and ate normal solid food.

Sharlene - posted on 10/29/2010

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The first 3 years is when breastmilk is beneficial for brain development (not to mention it boosts the immune system...yes even in toddlers). It's easiest to let them self-wean if they will...My first weaned herself at 17 months. I had been doing breast & bottle for a long time, but I still wasn't prepared for her to wean that early. My second, even though he got bottles too (when I was at work once a week, and when he was a toddler)...would not wean until he was 2 &3/4 years. I decided that was a good time. He asked to nurse a few times, but gave it up easily. My third is 19 months & I will probably nurse her until she weans herself too...it's just easier than cutting them off. The age really comes down to what works for you.

Mary - posted on 11/01/2010

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I personally think everyone should breast feed as long as they possibly can. The international weaning age is between 4 yrs and 7 yrs.
I do not think its acceptable to stop before the World Health Organization's recommendation of 2 years. Children lose out on a lot of nutrition between ages 1 and 2 years because toddlers are hard to get to eat full servings of each food group to remain healthy (aside from fit throwing and parents giving filling but useless snacks). If these children were still receiving breast milk they would have at least something nutritious in their systems everyday.
I currently nurse my 25 month old and my 6 month old.
My 25 month old is a very sporadic eater as are most toddlers. Some days she will eat everything I put in front of her (I only offer healthy choices) but some days she picks like a bird. On days where she doesn't eat as much I know she will be fine because she nurses.

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Nichole - posted on 11/06/2010

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Oh honey, after breastfeeding four children for 15 months a piece, my breasts are definitely NOT sexual play things! lol! All jokes aside. My point was that you will know when the time is right through signals from your child and through your own feelings :o)

Merry - posted on 11/06/2010

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What if they say "mommy I'd like a drink of some orange juice" then are they too old to drink orange juice?

That's a bit confusing I'd say unless you are under the belief that breasts are sexual organs as opposed to nutritional organs.

When we can realize that breasts are our mammary glands which sole purpose is to feed our young, it's easier to imagine an older child breastfeeding. But if we slip into the idea that breasts are some taboo sex toys then yes it's weird to think about it. But honestly, we are mammals and most similar mammals (great apes) breastfeed in terms of years not months. And then don't drink another mammals milk after weaning :)

Nichole - posted on 11/05/2010

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Well, they aren't supposed to be switched to cow's milk until 1 year old, so any time after that. You'll know when the time is right. For my first three, they were pretty much too busy to lay down and nurse during the day and they preferred the portability of their sippy cup with milk. I then nursed them only at nap time and bed time and eventually weaned them around 15 months old. About the same time they were interested in potty training, they gave up on nursing. I am sorry, but I can not imagine breastfeeding a preschooler! I am a huge advocate of breastfeeding, but I feel if your child is old enough to say "Mommy, I would like a drink from your booby" he/she is too old to be nursing.

Jacquelyn - posted on 11/05/2010

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In my opinion anytime (preferably after a year) that mother or child wants to stop is a good time. Personally I nurse longer than most #1 - 2.5 yrs, #2 - 3 yrs and now #3 is almost a year and still going strong :)

Sally - posted on 11/05/2010

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The absolute best time for every baby in the world to stop breastfeeding is when THAT BABY no longer needs it. Your personal baby will let you know when they are done and it will be different for every baby.

Jessie - posted on 11/04/2010

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my son is almost 16 months and nurse 1-2 times a day. it works for us. he is dairy and wheat intolerant and so we are both on a strict diet. people keeping asking my I dont stop so I can 'eat normal food' but I wouldn't do that to my son.

DandieLion - posted on 11/04/2010

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I agree with the other Mommies. Stop nursing whenever the child wants to. I hope my baby nurses until he's three! ( very beneficial for his BRAIN!)

Jamie - posted on 11/04/2010

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I had set the goal to stop breast feeding at 18 months mostly because I was getting grief from family that it was about time to wean him. I was not completely sure but I thought we could try. One week before this deadline my son had decided on his own that he was done. He had already dropped most of his feedings but still had to have one at night and one in the morning. The day he was done nursing was harder on me because I missed the bonding but I was very glad that he did it on his own. I would do the same for future children and would recommend it to other moms (if you are able to do it). If you do decided to wean them make sure that you give your child the comfort in other ways. Do it in a loving way so your child knows they can always trust you. Good Luck you will know when it is right for you and your child.

Britany - posted on 11/04/2010

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Wow...there is s much pressure from society to breast feed brest feed breast feed! stop when you are ready! You went for as long as you thought you could good for you better then nothing I was told once if you do it for a week its better then nothing, I decided to stop at 6 months because thats when I decided i will be done with it there are so many studies out now that show that after 6 months the diference between BM and fomula is not that big becuse they are consuming other foods at that point...if u are ready before then its ok and if u can do a year great but dont feel you have to many women dont BF at all..its just crazy hw much pressure other moms put on you and how guilty you can feel for weaning before a year..

Gretchen - posted on 11/04/2010

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I'm still breastfeeding my 19 month old and I'm 6 months pregnant! I think it's different for each baby/toddler. My little guy is a total boob baby, uses it for comfort, to heal from an ouchie, or to recover from a temper tantrum. I plan on just letting him decide when he's done, at this point he's only nursing about 3 times a day anyway before naps and bedtime so it's no big deal or hassel. I plan on tandem nursing when the new baby comes to help the brothers bond. I guess my thinking is: Why would I wean my son off my breastmilk just so I could go out and spend money on another species milk that has inferior nutrition for him? When my milk is here, it's free and most importantly it's made specifically for him! To me the choice is obvious. Plus did you know that the longer you breastfeed the less likely you are to get breast cancer!?

Leslie - posted on 11/04/2010

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You stop breastfeeding when either you or your child are ready to stop. It is a partnership. My first daughter weaned when she was 18 months old. Of course, I was 20 weeks pregnant and my supply was not what it was. Now, my other child is 11 months old and we still have a strong breastfeeding relationship.

Angie - posted on 11/04/2010

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We allowed our daughter to self wean (Child Led Weaning). She turned three 2 weeks ago. She stopped sometime in the last month... I think. ;)

For the last 4 months or so, she hasn't nursed regularly, but was welcomed when asked. I never said anything about it either way.. just let her lead and choose.

There are many reasons, much education and information, and an endless supply of material to research on this subject. We chose to follow my instinct... and hers.

If I have another child, I will repeat my choice and hopefully the same wonderful experience, with the twist of the unique each child brings.

[deleted account]

I still breastfeeding my 2 and 8 months boy is hard and sometimes bory but it´s for his health.. or i hope so!!

Natasha - posted on 11/03/2010

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Whenever you and your child feel ready, as long as it not before 12 months :) There is no correct time to stop breastfeeding. Some babies wean themselves, it all depends on the child.

Briana - posted on 11/03/2010

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I don't think there is a real set "good" time for every single person. It's going to differ for each person and their baby. Our goal was 6 months, now it's 1 year for my husband and 15 months for me (for some reason extended BFing creeps him out but he'll be deployed until our son is 18 months so he can't stop me haha)

Mahfudzah Haji - posted on 11/03/2010

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in my opinion it's up one's own wish..I have breastfed my two children for two and a half year each and if i can go longer I would have till they're 3..just sharing my experience..seems that as they got older they fell sick less often than expected...really am all for breastfeeding...

Kristin - posted on 11/03/2010

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You stop when one or both of you is ready to stop. If it is no longer working, not just a nursing strike either, then it's time. Personally, I shoot for a year and anything beyond is icing. I've got super mobile boys, including my third and final, so I don't know how long he will go for. The first two (5 and 3 now) went for 14 and 18 months respectively before moving on.

Suzanne - posted on 11/03/2010

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I think the best time to stop BF is whenever it works best for both you and your child. I BF my daughter until she was 17 1/2 months old. I was going to stop when she turned one, but it didn't feel right. My little girl loved to nurse and I loved to nurse her. Stopping when we did worked for us as well as nursing for as long as we did. It's only something you and your baby can decide, no one else know's what will work for you or your baby.

Erin - posted on 11/03/2010

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I'm a huge supporter of nursing full term (until the child decides to stop) whenever it's possible for mom and baby. I'm currently nursing both of my daughters, ages 28 months and 4 months. My first nearly weaned herself at 14 months, but then teething and walking seemed to recharge her need for closeness. Even now at nearly 2 and a half she asks to nurse about 3 times a day - more if she's particularly underslept, or worn out. I have no idea how toddlers (or parents) make it through the age of two without nursing - it's been a lifesaver!

But yes, lots of people don't want to wait for a child to self wean, in which case I agree with the WHO that the first two years are a bare minimum. Best of luck!

Erin - posted on 11/03/2010

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I def. think it's personal preference in what you, the parent, feel is best for your child. I am def. 100% for Breastfeeding! I LOVE the benefits of it for Child and mother and I love the bonding that happens through it. However, I have a VERY close friend that is not able to breastfeed and has tried many different things to help this be possible for her but nothing has worked. I don't think she is ANY LESS a WONDERFUL mother and her children are very healthy. In fact, her babies get sick less than mine. I think what it comes down to is personal preferences and ability for Mother and baby.

Kim - posted on 11/03/2010

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Well, it is all so individual, that it is wise to seek the experiences of others, but your experience may vary drastically from what those around you (irl or online), so you have to do what works best for you and your baby and your family. I am an ardent breastfeeding fan (nursed my daughter until she was 4 and a half because I was pregnant with my son, and she had lost a tooth, so it was painful for me), and I think my son will probably nurse til about 3 or so. I kind of think that 3 is my idea of perfect. I was happy to be there for my daughter in her need to nurse til 4 and a half, but 3 seems perfect to me. My son is now 9 months old and is happily eating lots of solids, but he loves his "nummy nums" the most - bar none! I am so happy to hear that so many drs and the like are finally heeding the long-time recommendation to nurse for a minimum of TWO years with continuation until no longer satisfactory for both parties (WHO). Breastfeeding (especially long-term) is the single most important gift you can give your child for his/her lifetime health! Plus the preventative benefits of greatly decreased risk of breast cancer are huge!

Sara - posted on 11/03/2010

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Well I am a breast feeding mother with two boys my oldest stop breast feeding at 2 years and 1week. He did it on his terms with a little encouragement, Its not just about nutrition ( which is the most important thing) but also about love and respect and relationships. I told him I was proud of him and talked to him like an equal person and that he is growing up, but he will always be my baby. I am told by experts that 2 years old is a better time to stop because nutrition wise its better for the development of your child( DHA and other very important nutritional elements are involved that can not be replaced in as easy to digest form.)( Also the immune system for child and mother is stronger then than any time and builds the longer you breast feed. After a year you do not have too breast full time . :) feed them healthy food recommended by a nutritionist and doctor Our favorites at first where avocados rice cereal bananas, peas ( cooked and mashed) and work your way up to finger foods, As recommended by a doctor.

[deleted account]

I like child-led weaning myself. I did that with both my children. After the first year, its not a "pain" to nurse anymore anyway, because they're only doing it a couple times a day. My daughter weaned herself at 26 months and my son at 13 months. I was sad with him because I thought he'd nurse a long time too, but at 13 months, I couldn't force him to nurse, lol! Its so relaxing to do it that way. There is no "mommy guilt" that you may have stopped too soon, and there is no dealing with a very upset baby who still wants to nurse!

Erin - posted on 11/03/2010

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@Dawn Layne,
Hmmmm, my first thoughts would be maybe it's a comfort thing between you and her. It seems if she can go to sleep fine with your husband when you're not home, that maybe it's like a "security blanket" type thing. I noticed that with my son... he didn't NEED to nurse, but he wanted to b/c it was soothing to him and helped him to relax and fall to sleep. Have you tried supplementing a bottle or sippy cup instead? Try that if you haven't.... I tried that with my son and at first he rejected it but eventually he took to it really well and he ended up not even needing that then. I hope something works out for you. Good Luck. :-)

Erin - posted on 11/03/2010

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Hi There! I think the best time to stop is whenever you or your baby are ready to stop. With my daughter (my first baby, now 7yrs. old) I stopped at 8 months... but that was b/c I had to. I was starting work and she had to have visittaion with her dad. Luckily she took to weaning in a day, LOL! With my son (baby #2, now 3 yrs. old) I nursed him until he was 13 months. I wanted to go to at least 10-12 months if I could but he didn't want to stop then, LOL! Finally, I had enough and HAD to stop b/c it was making me antsy and my body just couldn't do it anymore. I just started giving him a small bottle of water to go to sleep with b/c it turned out he just wanted something to soothe him to sleep (and he never took to a pacifier or thumb sucking). I am now expecting baby #3 in April and I am planning to nurse this one as well.... I'm not sure how long I'll nurse this one.... probably like the other 2, I'll stop when I have to or when the baby is showing signs of being ready to stop. Best of Luck to you!

Laura - posted on 11/03/2010

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When you and baby are ready is always the best. I have taken my cues from my children. My younger daughter is almost 3 1/2 and we are in the process of weaning, my older daughter decided she preferred the bottle at 4 months--(bottle is faster and less work) I certainly tried to breastfeed her but she would fuss so at the breast and be perfectly happy with the bottle of breast milk --needless to say I pumped my milk for her until she was walking, and I was DONE pumping. My younger daughter enjoys breast feeding, though now it is few and far between, she mostly needs it for getting to sleep when she over tired as a way to really relax. She can go to bed by herself now, and most nights she does. She has taken a bottle, sippy cup and big girl cups without issue, but still enjoys the closeness, comfort and relaxation nursing gives her. Nursing until this age is not for everyone, you have to determine for yourself and your child what is best. I certainly have had my share of family disapproval for the length of time my daughter has breast fed, but I have grown to accept that everyone has their own opinion and so do I and I have chosen this. I had difficulty with my sisters understanding why I had my girls sleeping in the bed with me too. I merely had to ask them if they let the dogs sleep in the bed with them, they said yes: I said so its ok for you to have animals sleeping in the bed with you and yet it is wrong for my children, who are my flesh and blood and loves of my life to be in the bed with me? I am also going to add, don't feel guilty if you decide not to breastfeed as long as others have. The length of time you breastfeed does not determine your quality of motherhood, nor does when your child sleeps through the night or becomes potty trained have any bearing on your success as a mother. Every child is different, every mother/child relationship is different. You know the answer to your question in your own heart first, when you ask the collective here you are looking for some validation of the feelings and desires that are there in your heart.

Dawn - posted on 11/03/2010

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I'm having the problem of trying to stop now and my daughter is 17 months she goes to nursery and everything and she drinks from a bottle fine even from me but after she takes the bottle from me she would leave back some of her milk and want to breastfeed and more so at night she wouldn't go to sleep without it and her father has told me that he doesnt have a problem getting her to sleep when i come home late sometimes so i cant understand why it is such a big deal to her for her to breastfeed when i'm there. her dad says it is our special thing which is true but we have other things and i'm getting tired

Ashley - posted on 11/02/2010

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I just stopped my daughter and she is 26 months old...she sometimes still ask for milk...she will not drink cows milk which is fine with me...i think the best time to stop is when ur ready and so is your baby! I was more ready then my daughter was but some babies will never want to stop..some are just so addicted to the comfort and closeness they have with you! but for me and mom daughter the closeness is still there..she will only go to bed with me at night and wants to play with my hair until she falls asleep...its such a problem that she doesnt want to be alone in her bed and my husband cant get her to go back to bed without me there...so its up to you but i do think u should least wait until your baby is 2yrs for the benefits it gives but good luck... and now im just trying to figure out how long it takes for the milk to dry up...it seems like im still producing alot!

Sarah - posted on 11/02/2010

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I'm thinking I would like to be done by the time my daughter turns 3, but we'll see once we get to that point.

[deleted account]

I stopped nursing my son around the time he turned one. I would have nursed up to 18 months but I found out I was pregnant again so I figured I would give myself a break and stop at a year.



MY OPINION...

6 months awesome!

1 year even better!

1 year+ amazing! but may not be for everyone

I think any breastfeeding at all is great even if its just the first six weeks.

Paula - posted on 11/01/2010

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Personally I think you should wean when you are ready (don't shoot me). I bottle fed my 1st 3 daughters, breastfed my son till he was 8 months and am still exclusively breastfeeding my 3 month old daughter. I have days where I feel I have had enough and consider putting her on the bottle and other days I'm ok, personally I don't really enjoy it and do it more for my partner and then my daughter. All my children are bright, alert and clever so I don't hink its done any of them harm. I stopped with my son when he had enough teeth than when he bit my nipples it blimen hurt !!

Mary - posted on 11/01/2010

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My 2.5 year old is just now weaned. She is getting a little more independent from me lately (she really clung to me for the first 2 years) and it seemed like a good time to try it. Besides that I'm 8 months pregnant and was not feeling physically or emotionally able to nurse her any more. My nipples were so sore! And somedays I feel so emotionally drained that I didn't think I had it in me any more. Because she can understand reasoning now, I would explain that my breasts hurt when she wanted to nurse. Most of the time she accepted that excuse and would want to "help" by getting the nipple cream. Over the course of a couple weeks there were 3 times that she was very insistent on nursing at naptime. But she seemed to get over it quickly when I refused to nurse. Part of me mourns the close connection that we had through nursing. I have so many good memories of it. Many times my daughter and I would look into each other's eyes and giggle - a silly silent mama-baby joke. Anyway, I'm proud that we made it this long.

Celeste - posted on 11/01/2010

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Quote by Laura: "Oh and always remember that there's a wives tale going around alot saying that the earlier you wean the easier it is. Oko so truth be told the longer you bf the easier weaning is because as the child gets closer to their natural weaning age it is even easier to use some gentle techniques to wean them if you aren't willing to continue until their natural weaning age. (which varies child to child) :)"

Yes! I've heard that before that the older the child is, the harder it is to wean.

Having nursed twins til 3 1/2 and 4, I can share my experience. One of my boys weaned on his own. One day, he decided he was done! Easy peezy. The other one just needed some gentle encouragement.

Of course, this isn't for everyone, it's ok to have your own comfort zone. But, just wanted to put this out there JIC someone does want to continue and they hear this comment :)

Merry - posted on 11/01/2010

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Ya my son is 1 1/2 now and he bf every two to three hours in the daytime, and once in the wee hours of the morning.
I sort of invented the term, environmental weaning. It means neither mom nor baby was actively trying to stop bf but something else affected natures natural timeline.
Many times this can be sleep training, bottles, moms job, daycare, a divorce, new pregnancy, mom sick, stress, offering food instead, time limits, restrictions on bf, or subtle peer pressure etc. These times it appears as if the child self weans but in actuality it is something else that is subtly causing weaning. Usually this happens somewhere between 9 months and 2 years as after the 2 years most kids are intellectual enough to not be subtly swayed away from bf!

Oh and always remember that there's a wives tale going around alot saying that the earlier you wean the easier it is. Oko so truth be told the longer you bf the easier weaning is because as the child gets closer to their natural weaning age it is even easier to use some gentle techniques to wean them if you aren't willing to continue until their natural weaning age. (which varies child to child) :)
Weaning is intended on being a transition into a new life stage, not something mom has to work to achieve and child has to deal with.

Merry - posted on 11/01/2010

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Short answer, whenever your child is absolutely certain he or she is old enough to not want it anymore!
I'd take the estimation of 2.5/7 years as a timeline and realize the average age is 4 and go on that!
When the child grows out of it they will tell you so and not want to bf any longer.
I always say when Eric decides to wean I'll take him out to eat for a steak to celebrate!
I can give the long answer too if you want but first I'll read the other comments so I'm not rpeating anyone :)

Kendra - posted on 11/01/2010

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When the child decides it is time! Preferably after age 2. My 3 1/2 year old still nurses 2-4 times per day and my 13 month old is almost entirely on breastmilk only... with a few solids here and there.

Momof1 - posted on 11/01/2010

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It's all up to you! I would say not before a year, just because at a year, you can give whole milk and it would be way less expensive then giving formula, if you stop before a year. I'm almost at the year mark myself. Since, for the time being, I'm a sahm, I'm still going to breastfeed. I figure, since I'm going to be home with Bryce, why not? But I do work on weekends, so my husband will give him whole milk, then. My good pump broke a couple months ago, so now I'm stuck with the one we bought and it is sooo slow, so I'm not going to bother pumping anymore, for weekend cups of milk. But, again, it is all up to you. I don't know if I will go over the age of two, though. It depends and I'm not there yet. I want to TTC when Bryce is 3.5, so I may stop at 2, just so I can have time off between breastfeeding, being pregnant, then breastfeeding again. But who knows what will happen.

Melissa - posted on 10/31/2010

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Leigh- my 2yo nursed that much ;-). However, she also wouldn't take a bottle, and I certainly wouldn't have tried one only to have to have her wean off three nipples. :-)

Asmafiqi - posted on 10/30/2010

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It think 2years is the best time. However, you can breast and bottle at the same time , so sometimes u can get time off from breast feeding. my first child, I wasn't making a lot milk and she was going through allergies , so i breast and bottle fed her un till she was 18m. I wouldn't stop it , but i got pregnant and it was hard for me. My second is almost 5 mons and i am still breast feeding and bottle feed her 4 times.i hope u decide the best choice!

Melissa - posted on 10/29/2010

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Ideally after 24 mos at LEAST, but preferrably when the child self weans (and I don't mean a nursing strike, nipple confusion, etc). ;-) For my dd it was apparently at 4.5 yo, though for some it is later than that.

Aicha - posted on 10/29/2010

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I breast feed my 1st until 2 then he weaned and my second breastfeed until she was 18 months old she self weaned and my youngest is 13 months old and still nursing

Donna - posted on 10/29/2010

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my daughter is 12 months and we havent completely stopped, just slowed down alot. i feed her at night when i put her to sleep and if she wakes at night which is occuring less and less. And also after i get home from work. its kinda like her welcome home mommy greeting lol.

Celeste - posted on 10/29/2010

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I agree with Teresa-12 months so that you can forgo the cost of formula. After that, as long as you and/or your child want continue.

[deleted account]

The best time IMO is sometime after 12 months (minimum) when either mom or child want to be done.

For my twin girls... that time came at 15 months (for me and they were fine w/ it). My son is 2.5 years old and that time isn't even near yet. :)

Jennifer - posted on 10/29/2010

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Okay I am not an expert but i stopped breastfeeding 5 days ago. I stopped on my babys first birthday. for a couple of weeks before i stopped i took out one feeding a week. she did not even notice when it was all done. i am happy to have gone a year and now i am working on getting her to drink milk. Thats been hard. i miss the intimacy with her but she seems to be fine. If you want to stop earlier make sure you get your lo used to formula or whatever you are going to use before you stop.

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