Breastfeeding is one of the most important and beneficial things a mother can do for her baby. It helps promote healthy development, boosts immunity, and has incredible emotional benefits for both mom and baby. However, there comes a time when we have to stop breastfeeding our baby – but what age should you do so? In this article, we’ll explore the guidelines for when it’s time to stop breastfeeding and discuss some tips for weaning your baby off of breast milk.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies until they’re at least 6 months old, and continue nursing until the baby is at least 12 months old. Some mothers even choose to breastfeed their babies for longer – up to two years or more.
It is important to keep in mind that every child is different and there is no one size fits all answer when it comes to weaning from breastfeeding. If you are considering stopping breastfeeding your baby, keep reading to learn more about what age should you stop breastfeeding your baby, and some tips to make the transition easier.
What Age Should You Stop Breast Feeding?
When I was pregnant I asked myself, ”what age would I stop breastfeeding my baby”. One year is the age I’d chose. Though, when my son Noah’s 1st birthday was approaching, I couldn’t help but feel a bit saddened that our breastfeeding journey will come to an end. Since birth, we’ve basically been attached, first in the womb and then through breastfeeding. Although that may sound tiring and a bit overwhelming, I really enjoyed nursing and bonding with my baby. I just as much help transitioning and weaning as he did.
Eventually I decided to continue breastfeeding for another year, until he was 24 months. Since deciding to do so, I was asked a lot of questions and received many different reactions from people who have their own age limits on breastfeeding. So, I did a little research on the topic and created an article to answer a few of the most common questions, parents, an others may have regarding the age you should stop breastfeeding your baby.
“What age should you stop breastfeeding”?
It’s recommend that babies be exclusively breastfed their first 6 months of life and introduced to solids after 6 months, while continuing to breastfeed up until 12-24 months.
Most moms wean their babies at 1 year of age and stop completely between by 2 years of age. Though, the age you decide to stop breastfeeding is completely your choice! Any amount of time you choose to breastfeed will be beneficial for your baby, even if for a short period. It’s also not uncommon for some babies to breastfeed past the age of 2 and up to 4 years.
What Happens After I Stop Breastfeeding?
In their first year of life, babies who are not breastfed will need formula milk, while introducing some solids and puréed baby foods after 6 months. After a year, its okay to give your baby dairy. That means if you wait 12 months to wean, you won’t have to switch your baby to formula. Which, is why it’s a common age for moms to stop breastfeeding.
Once you begin to wean your baby from the breast, you can expect the transition to take a few weeks or longer – depending on how frequently you breastfed, and the weaning method you choose. During this time, your baby may become frustrated and cry more than usual as they adjust to not being nursed.
After you baby is completely weaned, you may experience discomfort in your breasts, as the milk production is no longer needed. This can be relieved using cold packs and wearing a supportive bra. You may also notice that you still produce breast milk even years after weaning. This is normal, and isn’t enough to cause discomfort, leaking, or need to express.
You may often notice for a while, that your baby will randomly ask for milk or try to nurse. This is also normal and second nature to them. It may take time for them to understand it’s not available anymore, or in the future.
How Do I Wean My Baby?
Weaning is a gradual process that can take some time. It’s important to remember, you don’t have to quit cold turkey! Instead, go at your baby’s pace and take your time with the transition. Here’s what helped me and my little one!
10 Breastfeeding Weaning Tips
• Reduce Breastfeeding Frequency –Start by gradually lowering the amount of times you breastfeed your baby. For example, if you normally nurse every 2-3 hours, go down to every 3-4 hours.
• Offer Alternatives – When it comes time to replace breastfeeding sessions with food or other activities like cuddling or reading, be sure to offer your baby a bottle or cup of milk.
• Increase Solid Foods – If your baby is already on solids, try offering more as a replacement for breastfeeding sessions. As an added benefit, it will help them get used to having meals and snacks throughout the day.
• Stay Calm and Comforting – During this time, keep the weaning process go smoothly by staying calm and comforting with your baby during the transition period. Remain patient with them while they become accustomed to not nursing.
• Don’t Offer – Don’t offer breast milk, let you baby ask. When baby is asking to breastfeed, don’t offer it straight away. Instead, try to distract them with another activity, toy, or food. This will help break their nursing habit and make the transition smoother.
• Set Decisive Times – If your baby is used to being nursed at certain times of day, instead of offering the breast, substitute other activities like reading a book or singing a song during those time slots.
• Have Someone Else Take Over – Having someone else take over for bottle feedings can help you gradually decrease your breastfeeding sessions without confusing your baby too much.
• Pump or Express Your Milk – To avoid engorgement and oversupply in breasts, try to express or pump them after feedings. This will help ease any discomfort you may feel.
• Take it Slow – If your baby is still having trouble adjusting to not being nursed, take it slow and space out the weaning process even more than usual.
• Remember You And Your Baby Are Doing Great! – Weaning can be an emotional time for both you and your baby, so remember to be patient with yourselves as you go through this journey together.
While weaning can sometimes come with a few bumps in the road, don’t forget that by continuing to give your child nutrients from other sources like formula or solid foods, they will continue growing healthy and strong. With patience, dedication and understanding, you can help smooth the transition for both of you as your child moves from breastfeeding to other feeding methods.
Common Reasons To Stop Breastfeeding
There are a variety of reasons why you may decide to stop breastfeeding. Common reasons include:
•Your baby has reached the recommended age for weaning (12–24 months).
•You have returned to work full time and are unable to sustain milk production.
•You or your child is ill.
•To alleviate discomfort, such as an infection or sore nipples.
•Personal choice – it’s important to remember that this is a personal decision and should be respected without judgment.
No matter the reason, it’s important to keep in mind that each individual will have different needs when it comes to their breastfeeding journey.
Choosing to Stop Breastfeeding For Work
Returning to work can pose challenges for breastfeeding mothers. This is due to an increased need to pump, jobs not allowing the time to do so, and a decrease in milk supply.
You would need to pump as often as your baby would normally nurse to maintain milk supply and avoid becoming engorged. Moms who aren’t able to do so while working, choose to either supplement with formula or stop breastfeeding completely.
Choosing To Stop Breastfeeding Due To Peer pressure
When it comes to peer pressure, resisting the urge to give in to the negative comments from others may be hard. Not all mothers experience this, but sadly some breastfeeding moms will receive a negative reaction from others at least once.
Whether it’s someone expressing their discomfort of you nursing in public, or someone suggesting that your baby is ”too old” and ”too attached”, hearing constant negativity can start to have an impact.
It’s very surprising how many people have unfavorable things to say about breastfeeding. After all it’s natural and most beneficial for our babies. Yet, it’s a common thing that breastfeeding moms experience regular adverse reactions, even from close family and friends. It can become so discouraging that moms will start to resent those people or choose to stop breastfeeding.
While peer pressure has resulted in mothers choosing to stop earlier than recommended, other moms choose to do so on their own.
Choosing To Stop Breastfeeding Is Your Choice
Some mothers have their own reasoning behind wanting to stop. They may become overwhelmed or decide that it just isn’t for them. Again either way, any amount of time a baby is breastfed will be beneficial whether it is for 3 months or 2 years.
How Lifestyle Plays a Role in When To Stop Breastfeeding
Lifestyle plays a big role in how long you will breastfeed for, as well as your baby. That’s why every mom’s journey is different and there really isn’t any magic number on when you should stop breastfeeding.
Every mom should follow their own instincts and make decisions that best fit your and your baby’s lifestyle. It is important to take the time to consider all factors, such as your working schedule, daycare arrangements, and family commitments. As well as any other issues or concerns you may have in regards to breastfeeding.
Remember not to put too much pressure on yourself either way – whether that is deciding when it’s time to stop breastfeeding or trying too hard to continue beyond what works for you both.
There’s even a chance you’ll want to stop at 12 months, but your baby may have a hard time transitioning. Such as in my case. If your baby is taking a little longer to wean, that’s completely okay. If you choose to put a pin in it and revisit it 6 months or a year late, that okay too! I did! Nursing has become your baby’s main source of nutrition and comfort, so it’s no wonder that it take a little bit of time to transition.
No matter what, remember that breastfeeding your baby is a beautiful experience and when you decide to stop should be no different. It’s important to make this decision in the right way for you both, respecting each other’s choices along the way!
Patience Is Key When Choosing To Stop Breastfeeding
It’s important to take into consideration all aspects of making the decision when it is time to stop breastfeeding. It takes a lot of dedication and commitment from both mom and baby, so there’s no need to rush or feel pressured in any way. The best thing you can do is find the balance that works for your situation.
Be patient and understanding through the transition. Pressuring your baby, can actually have a negative impact and make it harder to wean. Give yourself a break and know that it’s not going to happen overnight. Find a manageable transition that works for your and your baby and wean at your own pace.
Most importantly, understand that no matter when you choose to stop breastfeeding, its completely your choice.
Final Remarks and Conclusion
Breastfeeding is a beautiful experience and it’s important to take the time to make the right decision when deciding when it’s time to stop breastfeeding. There isn’t one right answer on when this should be done, as every mom and baby will have different needs and preferences. What matters most is that you find a balance that works for both of you and respect each other’s choices during the transition.
No matter when the time comes to stop breastfeeding, remember that it is completely your choice. It’s important to not allow yourself to be pressured by society or anyone else and make sure that you’re doing what’s right for both you and your baby.