The Ultimate Guide: How to Stop Breastfeeding

Google Play

If you chose to breastfeed your little one, congratulations on making it this far. But as all good things come to an end, the time to wean has arrived. Deciding to stop breastfeeding is hard, so whether it’s been days, months, weeks, or years, know that it is OK. Whether your sweet pea is 3 months old or 3 years old we’re here with helpful tips and strategies on how to stop breastfeeding. 

Want to know how to stop breastfeeding a toddler? Need to know the best way to stop breastfeeding? Curious how long your milk takes to dry up? Here is all the information you need to efficiently stop breastfeeding in a way that’s most comfortable for you and your baby.

How Long to Breastfeed – up to how many years of the child?

When and how to stop breastfeeding is ultimately your decision to make. Some mothers choose to nurse their infants well into toddlerhood, whereas others start to wean their young ones before their first birthday (commonly between 10 to 12 months). There is no right or wrong choice!

However, breastfeeding is beneficial to both you and your bub. It is recommended to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of your baby’s life and then start with solid food along with breast milk for as long as you like. There is no harm in breastfeeding a 3-year-old baby if the arrangement works for you. 

But what if you want to wean sooner than that? Ultimately, deciding when to stop breastfeeding is personal, and every mother should do what she thinks is the right thing to do.  

When Is It Appropriate to Stop Breastfeeding?

It is recommended that babies feed exclusively for the first 6 months and continue to breastfeed for two years and beyond. Experts say that breastfeeding has multiple benefits for children who are older than a year.

How to recognize that a baby is ready to stop being breastfed?

There is no right or wrong time to start with the weaning process. You should watch the signs your baby gives, not the calendar. 

Remember that breastfeeding is based on “supply and demand”. Your breasts will continue to produce milk as long as your baby will keep asking for it.  And the benefits of breastfeeding continue for both you and your baby as long as you are eager and able to continue breastfeeding.

Older children get more of their nutrition from solids and become more independent. Some may even lose interest in nursing whereas some will eventually begin to nurse less often than when they were younger. 

How Do You Naturally Stop Breastfeeding?

Children grow and change dramatically in the first few years of life which makes them eventually stop breastfeeding. To stop breastfeeding naturally allow children to give up breastfeeding according to their own timetable. 

To encourage your baby to stop breastfeeding naturally, simply follow their lead. Don’t offer to breastfeed, but don’t say no to them when they ask for it either. 

Common Reasons for Stopping Breastfeeding

If you find yourself facing difficulty breastfeeding your child please don’t feel guilty about fully weaning your child or making a change to cow milk if they’re over 1 year old. Adding cow’s milk to food is fine for children under 1 year of age, but not as a main drink. For a baby younger than 1 year, you’ll need to replace breastfeeding with formula feeding from a bottle or a sippy cup or a beaker instead.

Most common reasons for stopping breastfeeding are:

Exhaustion

Because breast milk is easily absorbed, breastfed babies require feedings considerably more frequently than newborns who receive formula. Some breastfed babies want to suck on the breast for comfort even if they’re full. 

An infant that is breastfed may wake up between one and ten times every night, which might be difficult for you. Sleep deprivation might impact a mother’s emotional, mental, and physical health.  Tired of feeling exhausted and wanting to catch up on missed Zzzz?  It’s okay to stop breastfeeding!

You have to go back to work

Joining work is a very common reason why breastfeeding mothers quit. Breast pumping at work can be time-consuming and tiring. Exclusively pumping moms feel exhausted, sore, and sick of hearing that woosh-woosh sound of the breast pump. 

The baby is not gaining weight or drinking enough

In some cases, mothers worry their children are not gaining weight as quickly as they should. The amount of milk her baby receives from her breasts may be insufficient, or her milk production may be too low.

What Is the Best Way to Stop Breastfeeding?

Phasing out breastfeeding gently over a period of weeks or even months will give you and your baby time to get used to the idea. Stopping gradually allows your milk supply to decrease which will prevent problems like breast engorgement and mastitis

It’s a lot easier to drop one feed at a time – slow and steady wins the race here. And then slowly night weaning a toddler will be more comfortable and less stressful for both of you. 

If you want to dry up your breast milk you have to stop nursing. The length of time breast milk takes to dry can vary from person to person. For some women, it may dry over just a few days. For some, it may take weeks or months.

How Long Does Your Milk Take to Dry Up?

The time it takes for milk supply to dry up varies from person to person. The amount of time needed depends on the quantity of milk, for example. Someone with a high supply may need a month or more, while someone with a low supply may need only a few. You might notice a decrease in your milk production if you do not breastfeed or pump. 

In order to dry breast milk:

  • Wear a good-fitting bra that holds your breasts in place.
  • Try cabbage leaves or ice packs to help with engorgement.
  • Hands express a small amount of milk to ease engorgement but do this sparingly. 
  • Use over-the-counter pain relievers to help manage pain.
  • Consumer herbs like sage, peppermint, chaste berry, parsley, and jasmine to dry up milk.

Tips to Help When Weaning

Weaning is not a one-and-done process, it takes time particularly when a baby has been nursed for a lengthy period.  If you’re wondering how to stop breastfeeding an infant, a toddler, or how to stop breastfeeding a 2-year-old follow these tips: 

  • If you know that your little one will want to nurse, plan distractions around that time. For example, if your baby feeds in the afternoon every day, take them to the park or play their favorite game instead. Other distractions include singing, dancing, reading books, car or bike rides, and a new toy or activities.
  • Don’t offer your child milk until they ask for it. The “don’t offer, don’t refuse” technique may help speed up the weaning process.
  • Shorten or postpone the amount of time you spend nursing by telling your child “not now, mommy is busy”, or “only nurse for a few minutes till mommy counts to 15”.
  • Take it slow. Going cold turkey will be difficult for you and your baby. It may even lead to some serious complications like engorgement and plugged ducts. Rather than removing all feedings at once, remove one at a time. For example, you can start with nap time feedings first, then move to the morning nursing session, and finally tackle the nighttime feedings.
  • Allow your partner or other family members to take over and help.
  • Offer water if your child wakes up thirsty.
  • Make some one-on-one time for cuddles and snuggles. 

Breastfeeding Older Babies

Breastfeeding is very personal. Just because you are breastfeeding a 3-year-old baby, a 2-year-old baby, or a year old doesn’t mean you have to stop!

Whether or not to breastfeed a 2-year-old and older

Extended breastfeeding can enhance the mother-child bond and has many benefits for as long as mom and child want to do it. It is best if babies are breastfed for 2 years or more, as long as all their nutritional needs are being met. One of the benefits of continued breastfeeding a 3-year-old baby is the nutritional boost it can provide, especially if your child is a picky eater. Experts believe that the nutrients in breast milk change to adapt to a toddler’s nutritional needs.

By: Subata

Subata is an expert in all things baby, wellness, and beauty. She is a Karachi based writer and the mom of one precious boy.

In addition to her work for Annie baby, Subata has worked for many parenting websites and enjoys working as a full-time freelancer.

Check out also:

Google Play

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Scroll Up Back to articles

Share your experience with us!

#AnnieBabyMonitor
Wanna 50% OFF?