57 answers

When to Stop Breastfeeding

I am looking for opinions on when it is ok to stop breastfeeding. I nursed my 1st child to 11 mo, second didn't work out so well, and was only able to nurse for 7 weeks. My third child is now 8 mo, and I would really like to be done. He takes a bottle fine when I pump, and has also had formula, and doesn't seem to mind it. Everytime I think about stopping, I have so much guilt. I think if I made it to 1 year, I would be ok with stopping, but I'm wondering if it is really that important or beneficial to keep nursing these last few months. Am I just being selfish?

Anyway, Just wondering what you all think. I know there will be varying opinions, but I would like your HONEST opinion!


1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks to everyone for your comments and support! I can't believe how many responses I got! What a great network of MOMS! For now I have decided to definitely keep nursing in the morning and before bed. I think I will just do a little of both Nursing/formula. Whatever works for the day! I don't mind pumping, so If I need to pump to get some time away, I know that works too!

God Bless all of you who took the time to share your stories. I definitely won't have any more guilt when I do decide to quit completely!


Featured Answers

J., I think one of the best reasons to breastfeed is to provide the antibodies for fighting sicknesses. With the winter months pretty much gone you should feel ok/better about stopping. I fed my first for 15 months and couldnt WAIT to be done. I lasted 10 with my second in case he was as smart as the first about it. Congrats for doing it in the first place!!

1 mom found this helpful

I only breast fed my 2 boys for 6 weeks. My doctor (who is a specialist in the pediatric field) told me that even if you only breast feed for 1 week it is better than not at all. I don't think you should feel guilty. You have done a good job and now it's time for you, too. I think you could stop any time. Good luck

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

I guess I see it from the other angle... why pay so much for something that is synthetic, full of man made things that isn't really the best for your baby when your body makes what his body needs and is made to use for free.

I just couldn't justify spending that much for formula when in reality its not all that great. You have 4 months until your baby turns a year old. That may seem daunting, but its really not THAT long, and at 8 months he should be down to nursing only a few times a day and eating solids, and moving to table foods. In a month or two he'll be nursing 2-4times a day, and eating more table foods. by 10 months he'll be nursing twice a day and eating mostly table foods.

I know its hard, and I know with BOTH my children I kind of his a breaking point around 8/9 months where I was like 'ok get this leech off me!' but I refused to pay for formula. I don't like the way they market and 'attack' new moms with thier stuff. Or the way they override the WHO code, or pay off doctors to push thier product. I just couldn't justify it.

Whatever you choose, your baby will be ok. But the benefits of breastfeeding are as important today as they were his first hour of life. He is still getting the fats and nutrients his body needs, the perfect food for his brain, bones, muscles. Plus he's recieving antibodies that will stay with him, fighting off illness and making his immune system super strong.

Plus, if he is your last baby, in a month or two you will enjoy those first morning and before bed nursings... when your baby is too wiggly to give hugs or kisses during the day. When he wants to follow his brothers around instead of snuggle with mom. Those will be your times together, and you will cherish them.

Good luck with your choice, you've done amazing to breastfeed for 8 months, and you should feel proud of that.

4 moms found this helpful

My honest opinion is that this is such a short time in your life that has such an impact on your child's! Think about it it's only a couple of years out of what 70-80 years of your life? I have been BF straight for 4 1/2 yr thought the 2 of my children & it can definitely be hard, but I will get through it knowing the benefits I am giving. Maybe people around you have discounted what it is worth. Also maybe you need more of a break. Just stick it out! The benefits to your child are life long! Here's some compelling info:
HELPFORM –extended nursing refs


Nursing toddlers benefit NUTRITIONALLY
Although there has been little research done on children who
beyond the age of two, the available information indicates that
breastfeeding continues to be a valuable source of nutrition and
protection for as long as breastfeeding continues.

"Breast milk continues to provide substantial amounts of key
nutrients well
beyond the first year of life, especially protein, fat, and most
-- Dewey 2001

In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:
29% of energy requirements
43% of protein requirements
36% of calcium requirements
75% of vitamin A requirements
76% of folate requirements
94% of vitamin B12 requirements
60% of vitamin C requirements
-- Dewey 2001

"The estimated mean 24-hour milk intake was 548 g for the 97% who were
breastfed at 12 to 23 months and 312 g for the 73% who were breastfed
at 24
to 36 months. This represents an average daily intake of 41% and 23%
of the
safe recommended daily intake (400 RE) for vitamin A, respectively."
-- Persson 1998

It's not uncommon for weaning to be recommended for toddlers who are
few solids. However, this recommendation is not supported by research.
According to Sally Kneidel in "Nursing Beyond One Year" (New
Vol. 6 No. 4, July-August 1990, pp. 99-103.):

Some doctors may feel that nursing will interfere with a child's
for other foods. Yet there has been no documentation that nursing
are more likely than weaned children to refuse supplementary foods.

Nursing toddlers are SICK LESS OFTEN
The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that children weaned
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
have fewer illnesses and illnesses of shorter duration than their
non-nursing peers (Gulick 1986).

"Antibodies are abundant in human milk throughout lactation"
During Lactation 1991; p. 134). In fact, some of the immune factors in
breastmilk increase in concentration during the second year and also
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:
plays an essential and sometimes underestimated role in the treatment
prevention of childhood illness." [emphasis added]

Nursing toddlers have FEWER ALLERGIES
Many studies have shown that one of the best ways to prevent
allergies and
asthma is to breastfeed exclusively for at least 6 months and continue
breastfeeding long-term after that point.

Breastfeeding can be helpful for preventing allergy by:
reducing exposure to potential allergens (the later baby is exposed,
less likely that there will be an allergic reaction),
speeding maturation of the protective intestinal barrier in baby's
coating the gut and providing a barrier to potentially allergenic
providing anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the risk of
(which can act as allergy triggers).

Nursing toddlers are SMART
Extensive research on the relationship between cognitive achievement
scores, grades in school) and breastfeeding has shown the greatest
gains for
those children breastfed the longest.

Nursing toddlers are WELL ADJUSTED SOCIALLY
According to Sally Kneidel in "Nursing Beyond One Year" (New
Vol. 6 No. 4, July-August 1990, pp. 99-103.):

"Research reports on the psychological aspects of nursing are scarce.
study that dealt specifically with babies nursed longer than a year
showed a
significant link between the duration of nursing and mothers' and
ratings of social adjustment in six- to eight-year-old children
(Ferguson et
al, 1987). In the words of the researchers, 'There are statistically
significant tendencies for conduct disorder scores to decline with
increasing duration of breastfeeding.'"
According to Elizabeth N. Baldwin, Esq. in "Extended Breastfeeding
and the
"Breastfeeding is a warm and loving way to meet the needs of toddlers
young children. It not only perks them up and energizes them; it also
soothes the frustrations, bumps and bruises, and daily stresses of
childhood. In addition, nursing past infancy helps little ones make a
gradual transition to childhood."
Baldwin continues: "Meeting a child's dependency needs is the key to
that child achieve independence. And children outgrow these needs
to their own unique timetable." Children who achieve independence at
own pace are more secure in that independence then children forced
independence prematurely.

Nursing a toddler is NORMAL
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be
breastfed for
at least 12 months, and for as long after that as mother and child
both wish
to continue (AAP 1997).
The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that
continue throughout the first year of life and that "Breastfeeding
the first year offers considerable benefits to both mother and child,
should continue as long as mutually desired." They also note that "If
child is younger than two years of age, the child is at increased
risk of
illness if weaned." (AAFP 2001)
A US Surgeon General has stated that it is a lucky baby who continues
nurse until age two. (Novello 1990)
The World Health Organization emphasizes the importance of nursing at
years of age or beyond (WHO 1992, WHO 2002).
Scientific research by Katherine A. Dettwyler, PhD shows that 2.5 to
years of nursing is what our children have been designed to expect
(Dettwyler 1995).

MOTHERS also benefit from nursing past infancy
Extended nursing delays the return of fertility in some women by
Breastfeeding reduces the risk of ovarian cancer.
Breastfeeding reduces the risk of uterine cancer.
Breastfeeding reduces the risk of endometrial cancer.
Breastfeeding protects against osteoporosis. During lactation a
mother may
experience decreases of bone mineral. A nursing mom's bone mineral
may be reduced in the whole body by 1 to 2 percent while she is still
nursing. This is gained back, and bone mineral density may actually
increase, when the baby is weaned from the breast. This is not
dependent on
additional calcium supplementation in the mother's diet.
Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer Studies have found a
significant inverse association between duration of lactation and
cancer risk.
Breastfeeding has been shown to decrease insulin requirements in
Breastfeeding moms tend to lose weight easier.

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Immunological Protection by Kathryn Orlinsky

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Goldman AS et al. Immunologic components in human milk during
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Hamosh M, Dewey, Garza C, et al: Nutrition During Lactation.
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Lawrence R and Lawrence R. Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical
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Breastfeeding and Cognitive Function Bibliography by Marsha

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Morrow-Tlucak M, Haude RH, Ernhart CB. Breastfeeding and cognitive
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Mortensen EL, Michaelsen KF, Sanders SA, Reinisch JM. The Association
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American Academy of Pediatrics. Work Group on Breastfeeding.
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The American Academy of Family Physicians. Position Paper on

Dettwyler KA. A Natural Age of Weaning.

Dettwyler KA."A Time to Wean" from Breastfeeding: Biocultural

Novello A, MD, US Surgeon General, "You Can Eat Healthy," Parade
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feeding. 16 April 2002.

World Health Organization. Innocenti Declaration: World Declaration
Plan of Action for Nutrition. Rome, December 1992.

References: Mother's Fertility

The Lactational Amenorrhea Method of birth control

Badroui MHH, Hefnawi F. Ovarian function during lactation. In: Hafez
ed. Human Ovulation. Amsterdam: Elsevier-North Holland Biomedical,

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Diaz S, Peralta O, Juez G, Salvatierra AM, Casado ME, Duran E,
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References: Less Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis: Reduced risk with nursing? by Debbi Donovan, IBCLC

Osteoporosis by Kathryn Orlinsky, PhD

See Calcium for more information and references.

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Freudenheim JL et al. Exposure to breastmilk in infancy and the risk
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References: Less Breast Cancer (mother)

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[top] References: Diabetes - Decreased Insulin Requirements

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4 moms found this helpful

My honest opinion is that you are being selfish. The reason that you breastfeed is for the benefit of both you and your child. The longer the better. Formula is a very inferior product with cleaver marketing. It should only be used as a last resort- behind breastfeeding, pumping, or using donated breast milk. Even goat's milk is more nutritious. There is a big difference in children down the road, no matter what people say. No, you may not be able to look at them on the street and see the difference, but if you were to take a look at their medical histories and IQ scores you can tell who was breastfed and who was formula fed. There has been a lot of studies lately proving that the lining used in formula cans is causing health problems in children. There is a reason the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for the 1st 2 years MINIMUM. Pediatricians are not required to have any knowledge of breastfeeding and have money constantly thrown at them by formula manufacturers, so what do you expect them to say? There is a reason that you feel guilty- listen to your instincts.

3 moms found this helpful

This is really a decision you are going to have to make for yourself - one that you are going to have to be comfortable with. Either way, chances are you're going to hear comments from either side - breastfeeding and weaning is one of those hot button topics.

What the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends is to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months, and then to continue to breastfeed for at least the first 12 months and then for as long as mutually desired. The World Health Organization extends that out to two years.

Are there benefits to continuing to nurse? Absolutely. Are you going to alter the course of your child's life by weaning now? Probably not.

For what it's worth, my personal rule of thumb is, if you're feeling guilt at the thought of weaning, you're probably not really ready either. So then, you should probably ask yourself a couple of questions: why do you feel guilty? And why do you feel like you are ready? Answering these two questions may really be able to help you decide whether or not you're really ready to wean, and if so, help get you started. Or if you're not, help identify some areas to help you get the support you need to help you over the next few months.

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The benefits of breast feeding are unparalleled. There is absolutely nothing in the currently available, corn-syrup and gmo-based synthetic "milk" formulas that can compare with the nutrition of breast milk.

If you do decided to wean, please at least research better formulas that contain no artificial flavors, sweetners, corn-syrup, genetically-modified soybeans, or anti-biotic laden milk products.

Once you have found something that is as healthy as your own breast milk you will feel better about weaning.

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In all honesty, I would encourage you to BF till at least a year. How many teeth does your child have? Ideally, you want to avoid giving solid foods till the child has about 8 teeth or till at least 1 year of age. Why? Because the child's 'leaky gut' has not closed till around that time. There is a saliva test you can have child take to determine if the gut is closed. By waiting till the gut has closed, you avoid/prevent food allergies from forming.

If you would like more info - PM me. Also look up 'leaky gut' on google.
I solely BF my kids till at least 1. (Then we added veggies and egg yolk first) We have NO food allergies.

HOpe this helps!
-a holistic momma-

3 moms found this helpful

Hi J.,
My honest opinion is nurse your baby as long as possible... I nursed my daugter for 27 months and weaned her just before our new 3 month old arrived so that I didn't have to tandem nurse. I plan to nurse my son for just as long or longer if he'll let me;-) My daughter has never even had an ear infection and I am convinced that it's because of all of the antibodies from being breastfed for so long. Breastfeeding is the optimum nutrition for your baby. Formula does not even compare... There are so many benefits for you also. One example is that your risk for ovarian and breast cancer goes down.. I would suggest doing a google search on breastfeeding benefits to help guide your decision. You will be amazed at all of the reasons to stick with it! Dr.Sears.com is also a great website. Since you are a stay at home mom you won't have to deal with all of the pumping to keep up your milk supply. Although it might seem time consuming, keep in mind that they are only little once and it's bonding time for you and your baby and the best nutrients imagineable! I hope that you will really take the time to read about all of the many reasons to continue breastfeeding. If you stop completely you may regret it one day... Good luck!


2 moms found this helpful

Hi J.,
Sounds like you are a great Mom and enjoy your boys a lot! When to stop breast feeding is really up to you IMO. I suppose you could do the research on the benefits and such. Congrats for breast feeding. I breast fed my son till he was over 4 years old but he was also my only child so...
Blessings and Joy,
Homeschool mom of 13 year old a I have a business on Mamasource.

2 moms found this helpful

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