Son Almost 1 Year Old- Starting to Feel Breastfeeding Backlash; When to Wean?

Updated on October 23, 2008
J.K. asks from Brea, CA
8 answers

I am starting to feel a little backlash regarding breastfeeding my son. He is going to be 1 year old in about two weeks. My goal was to breastfeed through the first year; I am proud of myself because we have made it! I feel like it is an accomplishment- my son has NEVER been sick...not even the sniffles! He is an extremely happy and well adjusted (almost) toddler. Here is the in laws recently have been making little comments (although they never really "got" the whole breastfeeding thing in the first place), my friends have started saying "you're STILL breastfeeding?", people say when are you going to wean him, and many of my friends who have babies roughly the same age- stopped the breastfeeding a month or two ago. My son only breastfeeds three times a day now. It doesn't really bother me at all, I like it 90% of the time, and it feels like the most natural thing for us. The only thing is that I want to get pregnant in the next few months and it seems like I will go from breastfeeding to pregnant- and won't have the opportunity to "get my own body" even for a couple months! My husband and I have yet to have a night away (I know I could pump- but, really that is such a pain- and the baby really doesn't like bottles) and having him "off the boob" would make that night away easier! When do you know it's time to wean?? Last month, when I noticed we were (naturally) slowly cutting out breastfeedings (when the baby started eating more and more nutritous foods) I tried to give him a little follow up formula with meals- just as a supplement...and he was not having it. He hated the taste!! I don't know I guess I am looking for a little support and/ or perspective on when to wean and why people wean. I know it is a personal choice, I just feel pressured at his one year birthday to start the weaning- from others and I guess a little from me, since that was "the plan". One more thing- when I was trying the formula (which he hated) I tried regular milk too- just a sip to see what he'd do...and he hated it too...How do you get them to start drinking cow's milk when they are used to mommy's sweet warm milk? Sorry for the rambling- just a little torn on the subject.

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answers from Los Angeles on


I breastfed my daughter until she was a year and a half. I had to stop because my daughter tried to pull my boob out in public to get some milk.LOL. and she got teeth.ouch. I think now would be a great time to start to wean.

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answers from San Diego on

Hi J.,

I worried so much about what others thought after I had my son--friends, family, doctors, lactation consultants, nurses, baby books, society in general, etc. Sigh. I felt a lot of pressure if what I was doing didn't match what others thought/did. I feel for you! What I eventually realized is that feeding your baby is a personal issue. There are many ways to do it, many approaches from which to choose, and many emotions wrapped up in it.

I would just do whatever makes sense to you and what you deem is reasonable and comfortable. Happy, relaxed moms make for happy, relaxed kids. We are fortunate enough to live in this country where we can feed our babies pretty much however we want no matter what. I believe that all moms should support and respect one another in the feeding of our children. Period. There are good reasons to use a variety of schedules and methods. I think it's also important to remember that some people do not have the luxury of making the same feeding choices as others.

Also: the Mommy Police do not exist. They will not knock down your door and insist that you feed your baby a certain way, or start or stop a certain method at a certain time.

And: it's okay to change your "plan." Shoot, that's what parents have to do, right? Parenting makes us flexible if we want to be or not. I think my husband and I set ourselves up for anxiety when we had "planned" for things that we hadn't encountered yet. Now, we try to go-with-the-flow a bit more and not freak out if circumstances change. All kids are different and come with separate needs.

As far as your in-laws go, it helps me to remember that my own parents and in-laws haven't cared for babies and small children in about 30 years--when different parenting methodologies existed. (Heck, your in-laws' comments might be more about them and their choices than yours! Maybe they're feeling guilty for not doing things more like you are).

:-) D.
P.S. About the cow's milk--I worried about my son drinking it, too--and then he did, from a sippy cup, on his first birthday. Another unnecessary worry on my part--just like I worried (again, unnecessarily) about him sleeping through the night in his own room, giving up a pacifier, and learning to use the toilet...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

Congratulations on BFing for a whole year! What an awesome gift to your son (and yourself). I echo the sentiments of a couple of the other mamas: this is your decision and you get to choose what is right for your son and your family. Some people might not understand your choices, but if you feel good about them, you won't need to feel defensive.

I nursed my first daughter for 15 months. We weaned very slowly but deliberately because I was 4 months pregnant, and I wanted her completely weaned by the time the baby was born. I didn't want to wean her right before her sister was born, both to prevent resentment and to prevent her from wanting to start nursing again. My second daughter self-weaned at 11 months, when I was about 3 months pregnant. I really wanted to nurse her longer, but she was very clear that she was done. My son is 11 months old now, and he is still nursing very actively. I plan to nurse him for as long as it continues to work for both of us.

You mentioned that you are planning to get pregnant again. Nursing can inhibit that, but I never had a problem. (As I mentioned above, I've gotten pregnant twice while nursing). As long as you are getting periods, you shouldn't have problems conceiving. I was really grateful to be nursing early in my pregnancies, since I was so very tired, and appreciated an easy way to sit or lay down and be with my baby without having to run around.

I also understand the pull of wanting your body back, even if it is just for a little while. :) I've been nursing or pregnant or both for the past 5 years. I've chosen that, and I'm okay with it, but you should not feel like you need to apologize for wanting a break. It sounds like your son is already self-weaning, and it is up to you if you want to let that evolve over the next months (or longer), or if you want to encourage the process to proceed a little quicker.

I introduced organic (cow's) whole milk to my first 2 kids at a year, and plan to do so with my son in a couple weeks. I usually introduce it in a sippy cup, the same kind I use for water, so it was familiar. It can take a while before they get used to it. You can also mix breast milk and whole milk to slowly adapt your son to the taste. If you prefer to use a bottle, it's fine.

Good luck to you. It sounds like whatever you choose, you will be great. If I can be of any help, let me know.

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answers from Los Angeles on

J., you are awesome!!!

I wish I could have BF my son that long...I got sick and couldn't pull through past 9 months. So, I commend you. As for the comments, forget it!! People who make silly comments like that should mind their own business. To be honest, I think weaning is just a part of the natural progression. Especially, if your son is already starting to do it on his own.

The great thing about kids is that they know what they need and when, so we just have to follow along and throw in a little guidance here and there.

Formula was tough for me, and my son is lactose, we went with soy milk. But, my Mom used to warm up the cow's milk, on the stove top, for my sister so she would transition. With my son we did Enfamil Prosobee and instead of warming up the bottle, I let him take it cold one bottle a day, and that worked for us.

Just follow your instincts and they will guide, as will your little one. Don't worry about anything other people, and be proud of what you've done for your child.



answers from Los Angeles on

this is from the site --the article is called "Your Grandchild is Breastfed?" --one of my favorites "what can you say when they say..."

This is from the site too:
Normal mothering involved carrying the baby during the day and sleeping with the baby at night. No wheels, no cribs, no separate room, just the warmth of her body and the presence of her milk. Mothers continued their work with frequent, quick nursings - probably several an hour - lasting a few minutes each, usually using only one breast each time. Babies were not expected to last 2 and 3 and 4 hours, and were usually neither starved nor stuffed but in some happy place in between. Indeed, the notion that 2 hours is an average time between nursings is based in wishful thinking, not human biology. Some babies can wait that long, some will gain poorly and wean early if feedings are 2 hours or more apart. (Nursing more often is usually both more fun and easier for mom, just as taking occasional short breaks at work is less disruptive and more restful than having only one long break in the middle of a long workday.) All of a baby'ssucking provided calories - no stalling the baby with a pacifier that fails to offer food - and newborns spent a lot of time nursing. On the other hand, a baby who wants to suck all the time and never leaves the breast seeming satisfied may not be getting milk effectively; someone knowledgeable about breastfeeding needs to take a look.

Normal weaning probably occurred somewhere between 2 1/2 and 7 years of age. That means that a one-year-old's body, bones, and personality are geared for a diet of mostly breastmilk, not mostly solids. Nursings tapered off so gradually that often neither mother nor child knew exactly when the final nursing happened.

Normal nursing was pleasant - for both mother and baby. Otherwise, why would she have bothered? If it isn't fun, check with a breastfeeding specialist. You both deserve to enjoy it!
©2000 Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC



answers from Honolulu on

1) You can let him self-wean. He is only breastfeeding 3 times a day now... thus, he IS self-weaning. 3 times a day is not much... it's fine. You don't have to tell everyone you are nursing. It's a private matter. For me, I always was "proud" I self-weaned my kids... and others either gave me high-fives for it, or thought it was weird. So what.

*just wanted to add....even if you "stop" takes time for your breasts to "stop" making milk as well. Even after my kids were weaned completely... I STILL had milk in my breasts for MONTHS afterward. It takes time for it to "dry up" completely.

2) Ignore what people say. They don't understand.
3) In MANY countries & cultures, they encourage extended breastfeeding... MANY child experts ALSO support extended breastfeeding for their own children.
4) The "breastfeeding for 1 year" rule... is so that Moms don't feel pressured. BUT, even the American Pediatric Academy supports extended breastfeeding.
5) It is an issue of your own "philosophy" about it. YOU need to decide what is best for your son.... do NOT let others tell you what to do about your breastfeeding.
6) In our culture, the emphasis is on "detachment" of the baby and NOT letting them "have" soothers, the breast, co-sleeping, pacifiers, etc. It's up to you to see how YOU want to proceed and raise your child...
7) To transition him to "milk"... you can mix part breastmilk and part whole milk, little by little and let him get accustomed to it, over time. It is an "acquired" taste for some babies/children. My son was like that. This is what I did to transition him. He got used to it.
8) If a child is allowed to "self-wean" they will. And your body will adjust to it. Both my kids eldest self-weaned by about 2.5 years old. My son self-weaned by 1 year old. My Hubby was proud of me, and he fully supported it. In Europe where he is from, this is what they do. They don't see it as "wrong" but nurturing for the child and healthy.
9) I got pregnant, while my first child was still breastfeeding... granted, it was not often by this point and her age... but nonetheless, you CAN get pregnant even if breastfeeding.
10) do NOT feel pressured to wean him, if this is not what you want to do. LOTS AND LOTS of Moms do extended breastfeeding. LOTS AND LOTS of Moms, allow their child to self-wean. There is NOTHING wrong with it. It's natural. Both my children are healthy, confident, and have no attachment problems.
11) The "rule" that a child has to be weaned by 1 year old... is not based on medical or psychological reasons. It is mainly, that this is the MINIMUM recommended length of time that a child SHOULD nurse....for growth and health reasons. Not the "maximum" length of time. It is NOT a "deadline" by which a child "has to" stop nursing.

There are so many different opinions. Each is personal and your own decision. Do what you feel is best. There is nothing "wrong" with nursing still. But it's your comfort level. So you need to decide and think about it. But don't feel guilty.

take care,



answers from Los Angeles on

Gosh, I wish I had more time right now to write everything that I am thinking. I'm going to try to keep this brief. You are your son's Mom. Why does it matter what others are saying? I'm lucky I guess. I didn't have rude or ignorant in laws, parents or family and I surrounded myself with like minded friends. I nursed my daughter until she was 2 ( I was 5 mos pregnant when she weaned) and nursed my son until just after his 3rd Birthday. I never got any of those comments like you've mentioned (maybe they knew better, LOL!). I'm very sorry for what you are going through but you really need to let their comments roll off your back. How long your child nurses is none of their business. If one did not breastfeed or extended breastfeed - they cannot understand. With my son who nursed until 3 years of age - one might gasp at that. But one might not know that he nursed once a day at the most, he'd even go days at a time without nursing. As they get older, they usually don't nurse as much but I'm so grateful he nursed as long as he did. He got the sniffles a lot, but they never lasted. He got stomach viruses a few times and I'm convinced we didn't end up at urgent care with an IV because he was nursing. There are plenty of benefits to extended breastfeeding. You've done great. If YOU wanted him to wean, then I'd say go for it. But don't do it because of what people around you are saying.

Best wishes,



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi J.,
Congratulations on making it to a year!! It's not easy, and even my OB told me that the AAP recommends breastfeeding to one year "but almost no one makes it that long." We had my daughter's first birthday party the weekend before last, and a friend of the family noticed my pumping stuff on the counter and commented that she didn't know anyone who BF for a year. She stopped at 6 months because her son started biting. Everyone else in my family stopped after about 6 weeks.

I still get hassled about it. We tried going out to dinner a few weeks ago and my daughter wouldn't stay seated at the restaurant. I took her outside thinking she wanted to BF, and she had absolutely no interest. She wanted to walk around and explore. While I was outside, my mother-in-law asked my husband if I was going to stop BF now, when that wasn't the issue at all. She tries to blame every issue, whether it's not sleeping through the night, not wanting to sit still, or my daughter's preference for me, on breastfeeding. Even my own mother has made comments that I need to stop once my daughter can ask for it, whether it's by pointing at the sofa or using words. My daughter came down with a bad cold this weekend, and was totally congested. I didn't want her to have cow's milk, figuring that would just make her even more congested. I used some of the frozen BM I had, and nursed her as much as possible. I figured since I never came down with the cold, my body must be making the antibodies for whatever she had. Sure enough, she was feeling well enough Sunday night that she didn't want to go to bed. Do what's best for you and your son.

My daughter didn't like cow's milk the first couple of times I tried giving it to her either. She only likes it warmed up and in a bottle. I started by mixing it with what I was pumping (i'm only pumping around 2 - 2.5 ounces at a time now) and she had no problems with it. I know people say to take the bottle away from them at age 1 and just have them use a sippy cup, but I figure we can do that gradually. She never took to a pacifier and doesn't have a lovey yet, so what's wrong with giving her a little comfort in a bottle?

There's nothing wrong with nursing past a year if you and your son enjoy it, and you aren't the only one still nursing past a year. Good luck and congratulations!

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