19 answers

Weaning 2 1/2 Year Old

Hi Mama's. I wanted to get any information available re weaning a 2 1/2 year old little girl. I'm certain she isn't ready to self-wean at this point. Please respond with comments for or against and with advice on how to go about it. Thank you all in advance.

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Just an FYI...continued breast feeding past one year does not provide them w/ contiueed immunilogical protection. There immune systems have developed and taken over at that point.

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I think you might be surprised. There is an excellent book: "Mothering your Nursing Toddler" that talks about the process. Some of the easier things to do are to substitute reading with her in your lap or doing an activity as a substitute for nursing. The reading is great for bedtime. If she's a morning nurser, having something ready to eat or drink as soon as she gets up and cuddling afterwards or while she's eating/drinking can swap out for that nursing. Also, she is old enough to understand there is an appropriate time and place for nursing, so you should be able to eliminate any issues with others thinking you're doing this too long.

While some folks think nursing at this age is crazy, you are still providing her with optimal nutrients and helping her immune system (and minimizing the potential for and severity of onset of future health issues). Also, nursing babies tend to have a better sense of when they are full and have had enough to eat, thus they're less likely to be overweight as children or adults. And, you are reducing your chances of breast cancer.

So, I personally feel that letting the child wean at their own pace (negotiating some of the feedings as time goes by) is the best approach. My older son self-weaned at 2+ and my younger son at almost 3 1/2. However, I think my younger son nursed longer as we later learned he had alot of food allergies (and celiac). He is also a more sensitive child, so I think the nursing was really important to him for comfort and re-assurance. And, contrary to what some folks might say, extended nursing does not make them more dependent or clingy - my younger son is extremely independent, but he is still a warm and loving child (at 13!).

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Hi S.-

Congrats. You sound like a wonderful, responsive mother. Nursing our babies beyond one year provides them with continued immunological protection. If you choose to wean now, be good to yourself... remember that weaning takes more energy than not weaning (all change takes energy). The best tip for keeping both of you happy and comfortable is "Slowly with love."

You may be interested in attending the local La Leche League Toddler meeting.


It is wonderful source of info and support for nursing issues but also parenting issues in general. You would find many mothers who share your questions and would probably be happy to share their weaning tips. I always enjoy the companionship of like-minded moms. You and your daughter would both be most welcome (whether you wean or not!).


Edited to add: Actually, there are important immunological benefits to nursing beyond a year. See below:

Nursing toddlers are SICK LESS OFTEN (from www.kellymom.com)

The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that children weaned before two years of age are at increased risk of illness (AAFP 2001).

Nursing toddlers between the ages of 16 and 30 months have been found to have fewer illnesses and illnesses of shorter duration than their non-nursing peers (Gulick 1986).

"Antibodies are abundant in human milk throughout lactation" (Nutrition During Lactation 1991; p. 134). In fact, some of the immune factors in breastmilk increase in concentration during the second year and also during the weaning process. (Goldman 1983, Goldman & Goldblum 1983, Institute of Medicine 1991).

Per the World Health Organization, "a modest increase in breastfeeding rates could prevent up to 10% of all deaths of children under five: Breastfeeding plays an essential and sometimes underestimated role in the treatment and prevention of childhood illness."

1 mom found this helpful

Good for you!!!! Don't let anyone pressure you that you're nursing "too long". I nursed my daughter until she was 2.5 and my son until 18 mos. I had to be gone from my son for a week and allowed someone close to me pressure me into weaning him at that point. I could've very easily started again, but didn't, something I'll always regret.

I'm sure you know in Europe it is nothing to see 4-5 year olds still nursing. I lived in Spain for 6 years and it was amazing. It ruffles my feathers a bit when people are impatient or think the mother is wierd if you choose to nurse longer than a year. As with other parenting issues, it's a private matter and is nobody else's business.

I think you've gotten a lot of good advice. I agree that the nursing relationship should be continued as long as BOTH of you are happy nursing together.

God bless you and your little girl. Enjoy the special bond you have together. My daughter is 9 now, I can't believe how quickly time flies!


1 mom found this helpful

Hey Mama
I'm not reading the responses in fear it'll get me heated, haha.
I say let her wean - when my daughter hit 3 I limited our nursing sessions to "abc's" - for instance, she could nurse for one abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz - or two, or three - depending on the urgency. If she was hurt it was generally longer - if it was just b/c, it was just one abc. After not long my supply went down and she lost interest. Now she's 4 and nurses for 5 seconds every two or three days. I've got a newborn and she isn't into the taste anymore:) We've even had events where she's forgotten how to nurse and she's also gone two weeks without the breast.
Good luck to you, she WON'T nurse forever - may as well let her tell you when she's done so she looks back on breastfeeding with a positive experience
my .02
Nursing Mama to two girls

1 mom found this helpful

I don't have much advice b/c I have only nursed for about a year with all of mine. But since I am onmy last child (#5), I feel I could nurse forever. I look forward to reading all of the posts. And good for you for nursing for so long!

First of all, congrats on giving you daughter the best food possible for so long. It's not always easily achieved in our society.

"The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers" by Elizabeth Pantley has an entire section with GREAT ideas to wean toddler age children.

Your daughter is old enough that you can talk to her about how she is a big girl and can drink from a cup and that big girls don't need milk from mommy any more. You can make a bedtime book with poster board or card stock and use photographs of her as a baby and growing up and ending with pictures of a happy daughter who doesn't need mommy's milk anymore.

My son showed no signs of weaning at 20 months. I was ready to have a break as we were trying for #2. One day I just said, "Oh, that milk is all gone. You drank it all. I got you a special..." I don't remember what I got, maybe it was juice or yogurt. It worked though. He checked a several times a day times over the next week, then a few times the following weeks. However, he understood the concept of something being gone because he finished it. He never got upset, he just took it in stride. The hardest was when my daughter was born a year later almost to the day. He remembered nursing and thought he should start again. We explained that this was sister's milk and he still drank all his. Then sister got him some special milk from the store. Everything was better after that.

When I weaned my kids, I would replace a nursing with a special activity that was just me and them, so they knew that just because they weren't nursing didn't mean they wouldn't get mommy time still. I'd sit them on my lap and read a book for the approximate nursing time, or I'd sing songs to them on my lap.... Something of that sort where we were still snuggling and having interactive time. I'd also replace the nursing with a cup of milk to drink from a sippy cup so it would be a smoother transition. As for when to do it, you are the only one who can decide if you're going to let her decide when or if you will do it earlier than that.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with child-led weaning as long as you are also still happy nursing. My son just turned 2 1/2, and he weaned himself completely about a month ago. It happened gradually and was pain free for both of us. If you feel like you are done with nursing and would like her to wean, there is nothing wrong with encouraging and speeding up the process. I read a book called "How Weaning Happens" by Diane Bengson that has stories of all kinds of weaning scenerios and some tips for encouraging weaning. I don't know how often your daughter nurses at this point. Obviously, the more often she is nursing, the harder weaning will be. Oh, "Mothering Your Nursing Toddler" is also a helpful book. Good luck!

Breastfeeding is such a wonderful bond it can be difficult to end for both. If it is no longer beneficial to you or her it is time to approach weaning. I breastfed both daughters and the youngest until 26 months.Luckily our pediatrician was quite supportive of extended breastfeeding.Weaning began with ending feeding such as during the day and only nursing at night. The last feeding to go was the bedtime feeding. My husband became responsible for bedtime or we still cuddled while she had milk from her sip cup with a straw. It took about a week to accomplish once we decided to just do it. The first three days were the most trying but it will pass.

Good luck!

I'm in the same boat as you. My son just turned 2. I sort of want to stop, especially when we get around my family or in public. But when it's just him and me, I can still remember holding him for the first time. He's my last, I tied my tubes, I have two older children 13 & 11. I stopped when they were 2 months old and went to formula. It's just really hard for me to stop with my baby. Plus, it's our time together. Don't get me wrong, he sleeps with me at night and there are some nights that I'm in a good sleep and he wakes me up and I can't fall right to sleep. Plus sometimes one of my breast will hurt, then I just want to stop.
My family gives me a hard time, which I would have given them too. I never planned on feeding over a year. I just wanted one year of only breast feeding, now I can't stop.
I read a couple of the articles other mamas have left, and the one by Dr. Jay Gordon, sounds like something I will do when it's right. I know it's hard, and I'm praying for you, just pray for me.

Stop one feeding at a time, as slow as you'd like - could be one dropped every couple of days or whatever. Stopping breast-feeding does NOT mean you stop the loving and closeness. Some moms are afraid that they will loose their "special" time when they stop. It doesn't have to be so. You can still cuddle, sit and talk, play games, rock together, read together, the list can go on. Rest assured: the love is the same.
Enjoy your girl!

My oldest weaned at 18 months, and we used a family vacation as a convenient time to do it. While we were visiting family on Spring Break we just did not have his bedtime nursing as part of the vacation routine. When we got back home, he asked maybe twice to nurse and each time I just told him it was all gone, and we were done! It could be harder for you because your child is older and more set in his routine, or it could be easier because he is better able to understand when you say the milk is all gone. But I found the change in routine to help a lot. Maybe Christmas vacation would work for you, if that is a time that you guys leave town or have lots of company in town that change your routine for a period of time.

Definitley Listen To Mary B! You are great mom!

I definitely agree with Mary B. I also wanted to add that if you haven't gotten it already a great book on weaning is The Nursing Mother's Guide to Weaning.
I personally have let all three of my children self-wean (child led weaning) and they have all weaned at different ages. With my first, she nursed until 1 month before she turned three years old. My second only nursed a few months past two and my third till he was 3 (ish).

This is probably the strangest advice you'll ever get, but it worked for me! I had a neighbor from a different country who suggested this to me, and it worked w/ 2 of my sons. Put food coloring on your nipple and she may not even be interested anymore. When it's a different color than what they're used to, they don't like the look of it and are not interested. That sounded mean to me at first, but I was so desperate as my boys were biting me. I only had to do it twice and they were done w/ breastfeeding. I don't know if this will work for everyone, but it certainly did for me! If you do try this, I'd love to hear from you to see if it worked for you too! If you don't like this advice, then just ignore my message! Thanks.

I didn't wean my daughter until she was almost 2 and it was very difficult. One of the things that made it much easier for me was having Dad put her to bed. At the time I weaned her I was working a lot and one day it had been 24 hrs since I had nursed her. I decided that was the time and kind of did it cold turkey. She still wanted to nurse, I just had to keep saying no. Of course, I still gave her lots of hugs and love and she did fine.

Hi S.,
Kudos to you for nursing her this long! My son is 2-1/2 and I tease him that his college roommate is going to think it is weird that he still nurses! It feels like he will never give it up. But, since I needed him to be off of me a little more often, I started offering other options when he wanted to nurse. Like Mary B said, reading and just cuddling was good. Also, sometimes he just wanted to sit and do nothing but doesn't have the ability to do that without a fuss, so sometimes we just snuggled on the couch and watched a TV program.

When he learned that he could get through the day without nursing several times, I limited his nursings to wake-up time, naptime, and bedtime. Then bedtime went away naturally, so we are down to 2 nursings per day. He will still sometimes ask for more, but when I say, "No, it's not time to lay down right now." He usually walks away and finds a book.

There's a lot of advice on child-led weaning. I think if my method has a name it would be the "mommy-suggested, child-agreed-to weaning."

Good luck!


Just an FYI...continued breast feeding past one year does not provide them w/ contiueed immunilogical protection. There immune systems have developed and taken over at that point.

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