Breastfeeding Your Baby

Updated on December 11, 2006
W.L. asks from Cleveland, OH
17 answers

i was just wondering is it hard to stop your baby from breastfeeding. i have heard so many stories about 2 and 3 and 4 year olds breastfeeding. i was wondering is it really as hard as the rumors make it out to be. I know this may seem to be a dumb question but i have thought about this for a long time. i am about to be a new mom in february and i just want to know what i have to look forward to as far as breastfeeding! thanks

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answers from Dayton on

W., I am a lactation consultant , so I am a little biased, but.... There are so many advantages to breastfeeding: less allergies and asthma, less obesity, less childhood cancer, convenience, cost and even less breast cancer for Moms who breastfeed!!!
Some Moms and babies will breastfeed beyond 1 year, but most wean pretty easily by the end of the first year.
I might suggest you sign up for a breastfeeding class at the hospital where you are birthing. D. W.

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answers from Cincinnati on

Breastfeeding is the most natural way to nurture and bond with your baby. It is the best first choice you can make. It is also a mutual commitment, if you want to wean at 2 and your child does not, ultimatley you will wean if that is what YOU want to do. If a woman is breastfeeding a 3 or 4 year old, that is her decison, if she wanted to stop - she would, it is obviously working well for her at that point, and is not harming the child.
Good luck to you in any decision you make!

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answers from Cleveland on

First off, is it hard to get a baby to stop drinking from a bottle? Is it hard to get a baby to give a pacifier? Is it hard to potty train? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. My neighbor's kid is permanently glued to his binky, but at 11 months my son spit his out and refused to take it anymore. I know many babies that weaned themselves from the breast at 10 months, 1 year, 15 months, 18 months...and I know women who weaned their babies from the breast because the baby would have never stopped on his own. It is up to you to decide when it is no longer right for you. The benefits of breatsfeeding are so great that even 1 day of breastfeeding is better than none at all. I am proud of you for exploring this now and really encourage you to breastfeed. It is wonderfully bonding and so much better for your baby. (plus it burns tons of calories- I eat like a pig and have lost 55 pounds!) is a great site. I was afraid to breastfeed until I went to the breastfeeding preparedness class at Farview when I was pregnant.

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answers from Cincinnati on

Hi W. - congrats on being a mom-to-be and for planning to breastfeed! The benefits are soooo numerous that I couldn't even list them all here, but the gigantic benefits include decreasing your cancer risk AND your child's cancer risk (and the longer you breastfeed, the more protection you continue to accrue), a drastic decrease in your child's risk for obesity, and increased protection against illness (thanks to amazing, living immunological factors that your breastmilk provides!) for your child *as long as* you are breastfeeding him/her.

Breastmilk is always healthy, ALL the time. It doesn't suddenly lose it's nutritional value, no matter how young or old the baby is who is nursing -- and that's a medical fact. Some people will try to tell you that when your child reaches a certain age that breastmilk all of a sudden becomes "worthless" after a certain date, but that's a complete lie! Whoever tries to feed you such misinformation is clearly NOT well-educated on breastmilk & breastfeeding!!!

Now onto weaning. If you are really concerned about weaning, here's a fantastic web page with lots of different resources - you can read about weaning techniques, different approaches to weaning, etc:

OK, so that's one good place to start your research on weaning. However, rather than worrying about weaning your little baby-to-be before you've ever even started breastfeeding, I would like to suggest that you focus on first things first: setting yourself up for a successful start at breastfeeding. :)

Would you be open to refocusing your energy on reading reliable resources like Dr. Jack Newman's "Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers" (by J. Newman, MD and Teresa Pitman) and attending non-profit mother-to-mother support meetings that are supportive of breastfeeding now while you're pregnant and after the baby comes (like LLL and DFB )? Doing things like this will help you breastfeed successfully - you can worry more about the weaning after you've gotten the breastfeeding working!

As far as breastfeeding goes, I think it's really important to take the experience as it comes instead of forming too many expectations about how long you want to do it, when or how you want to wean, etc. I'm only saying this because of my personal experiences with breastfeeding --> I had to work really hard at and fight for being able to breastfeed both of my babies, which I didn't expect. The first 8 weeks for each of my babies was a real challenge in terms of our getting breastfeeding well established, and I'm SO very glad and grateful that I hung in there, reached out for support, and stuck it out through the learning stage of breastfeeding (because even though it might be natural, it is definitely a LEARNED skill and was challenging for us)!

Please give yourself & your baby a good 6-8 weeks to truly give breastfeeding an honest, devoted effort - and I cannot stress enough how important it is to seek out the support and help you might need BEFORE your baby arrives. Unfortunately, most pediatricians and hospitals (nurses, etc.) are not good at providing accurate breastfeeding support or info. It is *so* important to get the name & number of a good lactation consultant who is an IBCLC, AND to get in touch with a breastfeeding support group like La Leche League. These resources are solely focused on breastfeeding information, research, and support - it's their expertise. Having the IBCLC and LLL contact info at your fingertips (and USING THEM if something doesn't seem to be working just right) will help you nurse successfully! Also, double and triple check any info you get about breastfeeding from your doctor or nurse - accurate breastfeeding information exists, but misinformation is sadly still much more common.

More on weaning... If you're interested, I'll share with you how my daughter weaned (if not interested, you don't have to read any further!). Her weaning was not difficult for either of us - in fact, it was so subtle and gradual, I can't even tell you the date she last nursed. Breastfeeding just slowly faded out. She is my 1st child (now 3.5 yrs old), and she weaned at around 2.5 yrs old while I was pregnant with my 2nd child (who is now 10 months old and thankfully still loves to nurse). My 1st had a very gentle weaning, led a little bit by both of us - we each had needs and were able to work together over time, making small adjustments all along the way, so that breastfeeding & weaning was pleasant for both of us. Sometimes I did put limits on nursing, and sometimes she did. Anyway, I plan to go this same route with my 2nd baby. Stopping nursing suddenly is just not at all appealing to me (engorged breasts, no thank you!) nor is it appealing to my babies (too sudden, too confusing, a bit unsettling to say the least).

Breastfeeding/weaning is a process, a dance between mother and child that evolves over time. For us, breastfeeding has been such a fantastic experience, even through the difficult beginnings and any temporary frustrations (teething, for example, can cause a temporary nursing strike or a change in nursing frequency) - overall I just cherish the times between me and my children that were spent cuddling and nursing together.

Best wishes for a gentle, empowering birth and a wonderful breastfeeding relationship with your baby that is surrounded by support and encouragement!

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answers from Cincinnati on

It's not that it's hard to stop your baby from breastfeeding. It's that there are still benefits to breastfeeding an older child. You are supporting that child's immune system as long as you are breastfeeding since it will be adolescence before your child's immune system is fully mature. It's also a great way to comfort an upset toddler/young child and an easy way to get a child to doze off to sleep. I feel like the longer I can nurse, the better. The world average age for weaning is 4.6 years, though the US is much younger. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a MINIMUM of one year. The World Health Organization recommends a MINIMUM of two years. I nursed my first for 3 1/2 years, my second for 2 years, and I'm still nursing my 9 month old. I will probably nurse until she's at least 3 because I really felt like I weaned my second too early. We would've had a much easier time at age 2 and 3 if I was still nursing.

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answers from Cleveland on

wow W. you've got alot of great advice, so i'll just throw in my 2 bits. my son is six months old, and while i was pregnant i thought i'd have him weaned by now. but after we learned what we were doing (and the other ladies are right, it is tough, with the sore nipples and sometimes bleeding and such) i found that . . . well, i love the time we get to spend nursing. its our own special quiet time where we get to cuddle and be close. we went to a wellbaby checkup on monday and when our ped. told me that i should give him lots more solids and juice and such and only breastfeed maybe four times a day, i about cried.

what i guess i'm trying to say is actually doing the momma thing is so much different from how you think its gonna be when you're preg. that little one comes and turns everything on its head. what you have to look foreward to if you decide to breastfeed is saving a ton of cash from not buying formula, probably some frustration while the two of you learn how to work together, maybe some sore nips, smellin sort of like a sheep when you use lanolin, and then once you get it figured out, you get some lovely time to be close to your baby. and you give it the best possible start. as far as weaning goes, do it when it feels right for you and your little one.

congrats and good luck with your impending birth! hope its all you want it to be.

EDITED TO ADD: there is alot of benefit to extended breastfeeding as well. some moms make the choice to continue and some don't, and whatever works for you n yours is best, but here is a link to some good info about it so that you can make a concious informed decision.

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answers from Cleveland on

Hi W.:
I'm only 5 months into it now, but I love breastfeeding. I wouldn't have it any other way. I've set a goal to continue it until at least 18 months. My baby is so happy and healthy and, although I'm away from her at work all day (where I pump), we still have that bonding experience of "straight from the tap" every night and morning. I can't give you any advice on weaning since I'm not there yet, but one thing you should consider (that nobody told me about) is the time commitment. I can't be away from my baby or pump for more than 4 hours. This sucks if I'm out shopping or at meetings all day or out having fun at night -- I have to "excuse" myself to leave or go pump. It's like a 2nd job, really. The other thing is that for the first month it was non-stop 2-3 hour feedings 24 hours a day/7 days a week. I didn't have any trouble with nipple pain, but I was so tired sometimes that my brain ached! Anyhow, it has all been WELL WORTHWHILE -- just know what you're getting into and be ready to make the commitment. I think a lot of women just give up otherwise. But if you're dedicated, you'll make it happen. Good luck!

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answers from Columbus on

I breastfed 1 daughter until she was 1 1/2, she did not want to give it up but I had to because I was pregnant again. I tried everything, but I mixed vanilla rice milk w/ apple juice and water, and tah-dah! she took it gladly.
My second daughter breastfed till she was 3, but that was because she is special needs and I wanted to give her as much smartness (the longer you breastfeed, the smarter the child) as I could. You ultimately are in control, some babies stop sooner, some later, either way, feeding them breastmilk creates a wonderful bond and gives your child the best a mother can give along with love. Good Luck, having children are a huge blessing.

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answers from Cincinnati on

Breastfeeding is as individual an experience as each child is. My first child was very awkward to nurse and we worked it for about 9 months when he gave up and started drinking from a cup. My second child latched on immediately and suckled as long as I would let her. It was like she knew exactly what to do. Although she loved and was great at nursing she still was easy to wean. Once they start taking solids and learning to drink from a cup, by about age 1, they won't need it as often and will mostly be a part of their routine. If you just switch up the routine, like say, sing good night songs and read books in a different chair, they may not even miss it. It's definitely worth it! Good luck to you - I hope your little one is a natural!

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answers from Cleveland on

Hi, just wanted to comment on the breastfeeding. I just stopped nursing my 5 month old (my first!!) a few weeks ago. Physically it wasn't hard at all, simply because I had gradually decreased the nursing schedule and increased the formula over about a months time. Emotionally it was a little harder. I felt guilty for a little while, but soon got over that. It really isn't that bad, and I definitely recommend breastfeeding. The first few weeks can be kinda rough, i won't lie, but it's totally worth it after you make it through. The only reason I stopped at 5 months is because she started biting me and she was more interested in looking around instead of nursing.
Good luck with everything. I'm sure you'll be great :-)



answers from Toledo on

Breastfeeding is all in what you make of it. If you want to nurse for 3 months, do it. If you want to nurse for 6 months, do it. If you want to nurse for the full 12 months that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, then do it. Anything beyond that period of time is no longer beneficial to the child so that is just personal preference. Nursing is not hard at all. It is natural. It is what our bodies are made for. Babies are not really meant to have artificial nutrients. If that were the case God would not have made mammals lactating beings. I'd say for sure give it a try. You can wean your baby any time you would like, so the fears of a 4 year old still nursing would be a situation that you are in complete control of.
What you have to look forward to as far as breastfeeding will be whatever you put into it. Cherish the time you have with your infant. Before you know it they will be toddlers and then heading off to school (ah! - I am freaking out about my 5 year old!) But really, it is an awesome bonding experience between mother and child, and it serves as some quiet down-time in a busy day. It is so easy to don't need to bring anything with you when traveling, or shopping, or anything. I was cut short nursing my second one because of my medical complications, so I have done both breastfeeding and bottle feeding. I can 100% tell you that breastfeeding is much easier on you and the child. There is no question in my mind that I will do it with every child I have.
I will tell you that it is painful for the first couple of weeks, but there are many things you can do to comfort yourself. There are plenty of support groups all around the Toledo area and you can always find support from your pediatrician or hospital. They will have all kinds of ideas to help you along your journey. Breastfeeding is also very time consuming. It is a full time job that takes 100% commitment from you to make it happen. So many women nowadays are lazy and selfish so they just go for the bottle because it is an easy way out. Nursing will take up a ton of your time, but if you are commited to your baby, it will not seem like a chore. You also must make sure you continue to treat your body as a temple. You must eat, drink, and live as if you are still pregnant because everything you do and everything you are exposed to comes through your breast milk.
I hope this helps, please let me know if I can be of any help. Take care and good luck.



answers from Toledo on

what worked well with me, is when you are almost done ( maybe 1.5 to 2 months from your goal to stop) to start weening. I started with feeding my daughter one less time than normal and substituting with table food, juice, etc...
Hope that makes sense and helps some. Good luck and congrats on the baby!



answers from Canton on

I encourage you to speak with a lactation consultant in the hospital. It is really important for you to understand that you and the baby may need help to make sure breastfeeding is comfortable for both of you. Also you may request they put a "No Bottles" sign on your babies basinet to ensure the child does not get a bottle before the breast. People will tell you it doesn't affect the baby, but I am a strong believer it does. My sister had a horrible experience and ended up not being able to breast feed. I can tell you it is I think the most significant experience in my life. Nothing compares to it and you can't beat the convinence, if you are a really active mom like me, and the cost effectiveness if you are strapped for cash.

I bet more moms would breast feed if people told them how much formula actually costs.

Either way your baby and you will need an experienced hand to help you with latching on, or you could end up with bloody nipples, like me. Finally after a week of doing it incorrectly I had help and it was so much better after that. I also had experienced mothers (with similar working situations as myself) to ask for help throughout the following months. I say that because I had a lot of advice from mothers with great intentions, but unrealistic solutions for my situation. Find what suits you best.

Just remember it may take some time for you and your baby to get use to it, so give it time. Try not to get frusterated and ask for help. It is the best gift you can give your child if you are able to. Do not be discouraged if you are unable to breastfeed. I think I heard 1 in 4 women are actually able to breast feed.(That could very well be wrong, but I know it is not a majority.)

You can also do what my sister did and pump and feed your baby breast milk out of a bottle if you find you can not breast feed for one reason or another. It is time consuming and takes a great deal of dedication, but once again you can't beat it.

Good luck, I wish you and your baby all the success with breastfeeding.

So I am sorry I can not help you with weening, I have not started that with my daughter yet, and I plan on not doing so until after a year, if it works out that way. I hope you find some good answers. I'll be interested in reading what others have done.



answers from Youngstown on

It's not hard to stop nursing maybe a little painful for mom only in the sense that we miss the time together. My son was not nursed for medical reason but my second child was and I have to say the bond I have with my daughter is stronger for the time together and my sons a little more independent. I'm currently nursing my 8 month old and plan to do so until her first birthday. By that time they have so much else going on around them that they are easily preoccupied with walking and in my kids cases running. They usually are fine with a cup anyway by this time. Good Luck with the birth and enjoy the benifit of nursing not only for your baby but for you! It's said to prevent most breast cancers!



answers from Cleveland on

I've nursed three of them and I don't know how bottle feeders do it--nursing seems so simple in comparision. Some people do choose to nurse their babies a long time but I've noticed that right around 6-8 months as they are sitting up and beginning to crawl, babies are so distracted by their new skills, that this can be an easy time to wean. It's also nice to have a nursing toddler and to my mind helps reduce some of the stress of that age. The first couple of weeks can be challenging. You might want to attend a La Leche League meeting while you are pregnant.
Good Luck and Happy nursing!



answers from Lima on

Hey W., I breastfed my daughter for about a month every 45 minute of the day and night- just because she was hungry, but by the time I had been back to work when she was 4 weeks old, she took a bottle with no problem, in fact she prefrred it rather than to nurse. Some babies want nothing to do with bottles, and then there are babies like my cousins baby who wanted nothing to do with breastfeeding. It depends on the baby, try it and he/she may prefer to nurse, rather than a bottle. I preferred to breastfeed, but Sarah was indifferent as to where her meals came from! If I wouldnt have had to go back to work when she was a month old, I wouldnt have stopped nursing her, but as the only income in our house at that time (my fiance was laid off about 3 weeks after she was born), I had very little choice! I wish you all the luck in this, and you will hear horror stories about it, but PLEASE dont listen to them, because your baby will be different! Have fun and enjoy the time you will have with your new baby, because he/she will grow up too fast! :-)



answers from Mansfield on

I think that it depends on the baby...I suppose that's the way it is with everything though. My son LOVED nursing...he's 16 months old and I was finally able to completely ween him about a month ago. The trick to weening is to get them interested in something else. My mother-in-law nursed her boys and they weened themselves, which is what I was hoping for...not so lucky. When my son was a year old he was still nursing constantly. He wasn't on any type of feeding schedule...he seemed to just nurse when he was bored or uncomfortable, which seemed to happen around the same time everyday (i.e. mid morning, mid afternoon, early evening). I cut one of those a week until he was just nursing at night (before bed) and early in the morning (around 5). Then I gave him a chance to get used to that. Then I weened his nighttime feeding and gave him some time to get used to that, then I finally weened the morning one. It was hard, but it only took 2 or 3 days for each one to catch on. You just have to be patient...offer them a cup/bottle of milk and know that sometimes a baby has to cry. The hardest part of being a parent is letting them cry when you know that you're doing what's best for them. Good Luck with this...I wouldn't have done it any other's very demanding, but it's a wonderful feeling knowing that you're giving your child the very best he can have! It's also cheap and convenient!!

One other thing on this subject -- you should NOT have sore nipples or bleed...I thought that this was part of the whole thing and it's not. My nipples were a little bit sore after about a week of my son latching on incorrectly. I thought he was doing fine. I accidentally came into contact with a LICENSED lactation consultant which is different than the supposed experts at my hospital. I met with her one time and had about 3 phone consultations over the 15 months that I nursed. This was the BEST money that I ever spent. She helped me on everything from my sore nipple (which were never sore again) to weening to my son's nutrition. I highly recommend investing in this.

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