When to Stop Breastfeeding

If you are enjoying your breastfeeding relationship, you can continue to breastfeed until one of you decide that you would like to stop.

It is recommended to breastfeed for at least one year, but you can continue for much longer. In some countries it is not uncommon for mothers to breastfeed their babies up to the age of 4! There is no set time to end breastfeeding, it is best to wait until you are both eager to stop. You do not need to feel pressured either way. It is always your decision to make, and you need not feel guilty about it.

When should I Stop Breastfeeding?

Exclusive breastfeeding is advised for the first six months of your baby’s life, this is to give him/her the best possible start in life. Breastfeeding for the first six months will dramatically reduce the risk of lung infections, allergies and gut issues. After these six months you can still continue to breastfeed exclusively (if your baby shows signs of unreadiness) or you can start to introduce solids at your baby’s individual pace.

Baby led weaning is a way to get your baby to set the pace.

What are the readiness signs that your baby can start solids.


Breastfeeding Exclusively for Seven Months and Longer...

Babies can thrive on breast milk alone for the first seven months and in some cases even longer.

Research:

Every small amount of milk is beneficial to your baby and the longer you can breastfeed, the better. Breast milk is often referred to as “liquid gold". At the very least it is important that your baby receives the first milk called colostrum. Colostrum is full of immune boosting substances that protect your baby. Read more about the importance of colostrum here.


Stop Breastfeeding Early

If you are still in the early stages of your breastfeeding relationship, and feeling overwhelmed, you should remember that babies breastfeed less as they get older. Breastfeeding around the clock during the first few weeks is normal.

Whether you want to stop breastfeeding earlier (it's always your choice) or continue to breastfeed longer than the “norm", it's a good idea to surround yourself with the appropriate support. Find other women around you who have similar goals. How to handle breastfeeding criticism.

There are so many benefits of breastfeeding. Before you stop, please read the following, so that you can make an informed decision. 

Why should early weaning from breast milk be avoided?

Babies who are weaned from breast milk before 6 months:

  • May show digestive issues
  • Skin issues such as eczema
  • Higher risk of ear infection and colds and flu

If you decide to stop breastfeeding before your baby turns 1, you will need to give your baby infant formula. After 12 months infant formulas are no longer necessary if your baby is eating well.

Most breastfeeding issues can be overcome with the help of a lactation consultant, but sometimes a mother is forced to stop breastfeeding...

A support group for mothers who cannot breastfeed.

When you Feel Forced to Wean

If you are returning to work soon, you should know that it is possible to continue to give your baby breast milk. Breastfeeding in the evenings will also allow for that extra bonding time needed after a day apart from each other. Read more about juggling breastfeeding while continuing to work.

If you become pregnant while breastfeeding, you may continue to breastfeed and then tandem feed. Read more about breastfeeding while pregnant.

If you would like to conceive a child, but think that weaning is the only way to do this, please read our article about fertility and breastfeeding.


How do you Stop Breastfeeding?

If and when you do decide to wean, stopping breastfeeding cold turkey is a bad idea. The best way to stop breastfeeding, is gradually. This is to avoid mastitis and to give your baby some time to get accustomed to the idea. It could be traumatic for your baby to lose that connection with you all in one go. It is important to replace that close time with lots of touch and cuddles.


Other pages on breastfeeding problems in connection with when to stop breastfeeding


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