To Wean or Not to Wean from the Breast?

Updated on September 29, 2010
J.R. asks from Geneva, IL
22 answers

Hi mamas,

I have a one year old daughter who has been exclusively breasted since she was born. She is doing great on solids and still loves to nurse. She finds it very comforting. She usually nurses really well in the morning and right before bed, and then has what I would describe as a few comfort snacks during the day. Or if she needs comfort she will let me know she wants to nurse.

I always thought I'd wean at one year, but now I'm not so sure. I am debating between weaning now and just letting her self-wean when she's ready.

What age did you wean, and were you happy with your decision? And if you did wean, how did you do it?

What can I do next?

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answers from Kalamazoo on

Self weaning is GREAT. As long as it doesn't take YEARS right? :) Breastfeeding has to be mutually enjoyable for both Mama and Baby. So if you're both enjoying it, better for her. Sounds like she's starting the process already. I wish mine was, she still eats 6-7 full meals of breastmilk per day and she's 1. Plus three large meals of solids. However she's in the 5th percentile for weight, down from 15th, so I don't think pushing weaning is a good thing for us right now. I'm ready to be done, but she is not, so we'll just see how it goes in the next few months.

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answers from San Diego on

I have 3 children that I have extended nursed. My first nursed until he was 3, through my pregnancy with #2 and 2 months after #2 was born. My second nursed until 2 months before he turned 5. I found out I was pregnant with #3 within a week of the last time he nursed. My third is 15months old, going on 16months, and I have no plans to make her stop any time soon.
World Health Organization recommends breast feeding until at least the age of 2, if not longer as mutually desired.
Breastmilk does not become any less nutritious for your child just because they are older. It changes to meet your child's nutritional needs at whatever age they are at.
I am beyond glad that I have nursed all my children for as long as they needed.
When I had my first I originally thought I would be one of those nurse until a year, stop, wait a year then try to get pregnant. Funny how things change!
Please consider continuing to breast feed. It is the best thing you can do for your baby and for you.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I would let her self-wean. As long as you are comfortable nursing her, keep it up. It is a wonderful, amazing bond that is really priceless. Both my kids loved nursing--I let them self-wean at their own pace.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Fort Collins on

Well.You don't really have to stop if you are not ready.Self weaning kind be very easy on both the mom and the child.My first daughter weaned herself one month before her third birthday.Her little brother was 11 months old at the time and nursing too.I had no problem nursing her throughtout my pregnancy and for almost a year afterward.At the time she wean she was nursing once before nap and before bed.And she went from nursing twice a day to none in just one day.We were in Vacation for Christmas at grandma's and i was putting the baby down to sleep nursing him.She came next to me as she always used too and i thought she wanted to nurse too as usual when i was nursing a brother.So i asked if she wanted to nurse and take a nap too.She looked at her brother nursing and tell me No that she is a big girl now and informed me that the nanas were for the baby only from now on.Ever since that day,she's been wean,no cry, no tear .She was just done with it just like that in one day.My second one weaned himself at two and a half when i became pregnant with my third.My milk changed taste and it did bother him enough to wean.He was somewhat hard as it did not quiet understand what was going on and still wanted to nurse and kept telling me that my milk was bad and to put good milk in there:-).My third is still nursing twice a day at 24 months and i am 12 weeks away from giving birth to my four and last chid.And i decided to let my third self wean so if he is still nursing by the time baby comes around ,so be it.If he decided to wean suddenly like my daughter so be it too.So, i really never weaned any of my children .They just decided to wean when the time was right for them.And the two last one will just do the same ,wean in their on time when they are ready....Hope this help.And yes i am very proud and happy about my decision to let my children self wean although it can be unsettling for some people to know that i have been nursing non stop since my first daughter was born seven years ago.I do not hide that fact as i am very proud confident and happy in my nursing relationship with my children.To me this a magical quiet bonding time that goes away too fast....but as you can probably tell i do love nursing.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

If you are both happy and comfortable, I see no reason for you to wean. With my son I was a ready to have my "body back" and he was ready to move on to a sippy cup. So we slowly weaned. I started at about 10 months and just gradually took away a feeding. I didn't take away the next feeding until I no longer had engorgement issues, I always produced a lot of milk. I saved the a.m. and bedtimes for last. He was weaned completely two days before he turned one.

With my daughter, she was having issues with milk, or so we thought (come to find out it was grapes...but that's another story :) ). I was encouraged by my pedi to continue nursing. And my daughter seemed to enjoy and need it more than my son. So she nursed until she was almost 17 months old.

With both of my children I was very happy with my decision. I don't think there is any set time line for nursing. There is nothing wrong with you continuing to breastfeed. And there is no need to feel guilty if you are ready to stop. It's a very personal issue and just like the choice to breastfeed, you have to do what is best for you and your family. If you are enjoying it and she's enjoying it, there is no reason to stop.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I thought I would wean my son at one year, but once he reached his birthday we were both still very happily nursing. We finally weaned a few weeks ago at 22 months. But we only did because I'm pregnant and was having terrible pain, and not producing milk anymore. I do miss it and he still asks for it every couple days, but doesn't cry for it. Baby-led weaning is so much easier and less stressful for both of you. If you are still happy with nursing then stick with it!! As far as how we weaned, I started trying to distract him with snacks or toys before he asked to nurse. I knew when his "popular" times were and would offer a banana or yogurt or even a cookie before he could think about nursing. the first few days I would let him nurse first thing in the morning and maybe one other time. Then I cut out that one other time and eventually cut out his morning nursing. It was actually pretty easy because we took it slowly and I didn't force it on him. Good luck with whatever you decide!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

I didn't get to a full year with mine. We just sort of got busy and side tracked around 8 months. She would be playing and would forget to nurse and I did too until engorded and then we would nurse. So we slowly just stopped and one day there was no nursing and no asking. I think I was the one that had the bittersweet feeling of not being needed as such. But she is a happy healthy adult and it was a very personal experience to bond with your child in that manner. I would have nursed more if we had had them.

The other S.



answers from Detroit on

I had one who self weaned at 15 months... just up and quit one day. She was fine with it of course, I was a bit surprised but, I was pregnant with #3 so I wasn't sad to not be nursing...another one right around the corner. #3 did what yours is doing. It slowly turned into just a little snack at nap time and bedtime....she was 3 when she gave it up. I did the "don't offer/don't refuse" that Le Leche recommended. Since every time I sat down, she wanted to nurse, I did alot of standing up! Le Leche League does recommend "baby lead weaning". I have to agree. It worked well at both ages, even though it wasn't my idea both times .Good luck with whatever you decide!


answers from Seattle on

My son self weaned at about 18 months. He was nursing before bed, in the morning, and before nap until 18 months. I don't remember it being traumatic for him to stop nursing. I just took away the before nap. Then the wake up in the morning, then the before bed! One at a time...slowly, and it didn't seem to bother him at all. Just lots of cuddles!



answers from Spartanburg on

I weaned both of mine around 18-20 months. It was roughly a two month process. I am very happy with my decision and I think the kids are too. At least they didn't seem to mind :) Around 14 months I would go from demand nursing to setting limits, like only nursing at home, nursing once after brk, once before nap, once before bed. If the child asked to nurse I would say, "We nursed after breakfast, remember? We will again before nap. Would you like some water/juice/milk?" Then when I was ready to wean I dropped the middle of the day nursing. After a few weeks (to the point where they weren't even asking for it anymore) I would drop the morning nursing. After another few weeks (and this was the hardest for me) I would drop the last before bed nursing. For the first week my husband would tuck the child in. I probably don't remember perfectly to say that they never cried but overall it wasn't a difficult transition. I am pretty sure the only real upset was at bedtime. During the day it is easy to distract and give substitutes and still hold them. Nurse as long as you and your daughter are happy with it!



answers from Detroit on

When I thought we both might be ready, for us around 15 months I stopped offering the mid morning nurse and then the afternoon nurse, one by one slowly all of them... we did bed time last.... .... if she asked we still nursed I just didn't offer and avoided sitting in our usual spot and tried to keep her busy at that time... It went smoother than I thought and the whole process for us took something like 4-6 weeks....
at nighttime I offered her a sippy cup of milk while I walked and would sing... I avoided sitting and rocking in our nursing chair for a while....
good luck



answers from Detroit on

My daughter is 13 months. I was really hoping we'd at least make it to a year, and then I told myself, we'll see what happens after that. If either one of us was showing signs of being done with it, then we would end it. Well, it looks like she has weaned herself just last week. I am pumping right now to see if I can at least give her some in a cup, because I really want her to get the nutritional and immunity benefits from it, but I'm not sure how long I'll keep it up - I am only getting an ounce or two when I pump. So, it may be over. I'm bummed, but I'm glad we made it to a year at least.



answers from Detroit on

After weaning my first 3 early, I decided to let #4 go on until she seemed ready. She was 2 1/2 at that point and every day was rewarding and happy with the nursing. I have absolutely no regrets at all, though I have many for having weaned early with the others. Now that I see what it's like to nurse a toddler, I'd never recommend anything else. Very S. and gives you such a strong foundation for your relationship with your kiddo. Please consider it. Happy times!



answers from Kansas City on

I wanted to make it at least one year. When I heard mamas talk about babies weaning themselves earlier than that I was scared my son would want to too! I was determined to go at least a year, then as long as he wanted. I was also determined that he would never have formula - and he didn't. (He never really took a pacifier, either!) We weaned slowly, dropping nursing times as he stopped wanting them. At one year, he nursed in the morning, at naptime (or had a bottle/cup of my milk at daycare), afternoon, maybe one in the evening, and at bedtime. By two years, he was down to nursing in the morning, sometimes at nap, and at bedtime. My son was mainly nursing at bedtime at 33 months when I started taking some medication, and I wasn't comfortable with having him nurse while I was taking it. I figured we went nearly three years and he was practically finished anyway, so I hurried it along for a couple weeks. It was painless since I think he was ready. We both still miss it sometimes. I miss the closeness and snuggletime. He grew up so fast, and now without the necessity of nursing, I barely get the cuddles I used to get! He misses it when he is oversleepy. I am very happy with my decision. We are very close and connected, and I attribute a lot of that to breastfeeding for so long.



answers from Detroit on

My first daughter I weaned at 14 months because she would lift my shirt when she wanted to nurse ans I wasn't comfortable with it. My second daughter I nursed till 16 months. She was just nursed in the morning so it was easy to do. It was still very painfull but we were both ready. Good luck with your choice!



answers from Denver on

I wouldn't say I weaned my first daughter. She discovered the bottle at a little after one and took both bottle and breast for about 4 more months and then slowly went to all bottle. The bottle and breast were both comfort --only one meant being face first into Mommy's chest and one meant watching a show, reading a book or walking around-she liked the freedom of the bottle. Second daughter just weaned 2 mos. ago at 27 mos. I am pregnant with number 3 and my boobs are sore! But I feel like we both miss it and if my milk hadn't dried up, I would still nurse her. I think my boobs got harder from being pregnant and maybe the milk changed so she seemed confused--like "why did things change here?" But like I said, we still miss it. It's been a few months and she wanted to nurse the other day. :(
I don't think stopping cold turkey would have worked for us in either case. I never turned my children down. I let them nurse until they showed no interest. Good luck!



answers from Houston on

I loved nursing and due to medical reasons was forced to wean at 15 months. I miss it terribly and regret having to stop. If your happy with it and so is she, I would keep going. Good luck.



answers from Detroit on

I weaned my first three around a year, give or take a few weeks. It was actually a great time to do so, b/c I my supply dropped significantly (and we cut back our sessions to 1-2 times a day by then), as I have always been pregnant again by my kids' first birthdays.
I'm pregnant with #4, and plan to nurse until the baby self-weans, as s/he will be our last.
I say if you're both happy still nursing, then go for it! I always found it an enjoyable part of my day - with no other obligations to worry about, except focusing on me & my baby!



answers from Detroit on

I nursed all four of my children first for 1 year, then each child added a month. Just weaned the fourth last week. I was nursing basically at nap/ bed times. I gradually took away day feeds replaced with sippy(don't expect them to drink much) , just developing new routine. Then you body will slow down to the point they will want to stop too! I took a month with last child and it went the best of all four!Allowing them to self wean may take alot of time but if you gently encourage it by shortening the feeds and frequency they will self wean but I believe it what works best for you both!
Good Luck
T. k



answers from Detroit on

I weaned both my boys shortly after they turned 1 year (I think 14 and 15 months). I would nurse them first thing in the morning, and replace one of the day feedings with milk. Then they had milk at lunch and dinner, and I would nurse only at morning and bedtime. Then I eliminated the morning feeding, so nighttime would be the only time I would nurse. That was the hardest one to get rid of, for both my boys (and me), but eventually I just read, rocked and put them down. They both took pacifiers, so that helped.

I was happy with my decision for a couple of reasons. One, I didn't feel quite as tied to the house as I had been before. It was liberating to know that I didn't have to rush home in time for bed, or couldn't go out for more than 4 hours, etc. (My second son wouldn't take a bottle at all) My husband could put the kids to bed instead of me, which was good for him. Bedtime snuggles are the best snuggles of the day!
Ultimately, it's up to you and that you're comfortable with your decision. If you do decide to wean, replace the comfort snacks with snuggles and a book and see if that's just as good for her. I was surprised at how well my sons did with it. I think the novelty of a sippy cup with milk was very helpful.

Good luck!


answers from Pocatello on

Well it can be really hard to wean. With my first I did right at the 12 month mark. With my second.....i think she was about 14 months when we were completely done. I just wasn't ready to stop at a year and she wasn't either. I think it's a personal choice between you and your S. baby. Lots of woman continue to nurse even past the 12 month mark. I am pregnant again right now with my last baby and I have the feeling that I will let this one nurse for even longer cause it's my last baby. So really if you don't feel ready you don't have to stop yet. You'll know when you are'll just start to have that feeling that enough is enough and once you feel that way you just start cutting out feeding one at a time for a few weeks until you are all done. Good luck.



answers from Detroit on

My three-year-old daughter was weaned at about 2 1/2 years. I had wanted to let her self-wean, but other medical stuff for me necessitated us stopping. She still likes to reach down my shirt to touch my 'nursers' when we're in private.
Since she was only nursing once or twice a day (usually first thing in the morning and another time) by that time, I made sure my husband was the one to get up with her for a week or so, and we just stopped nursing. When she asked, I'd say, "No. Sorry," and distract her with something else.
I'm glad we nursed as long as we did, and I'd have happily gone on longer.

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