Deciding when to stop breastfeeding is a very personal decision. There is not a recommended time of when to stop breastfeeding your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for "1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant." The World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend breastfeeding "up to 2 years of age or beyond."
There are two types of weaning processes: baby-led weaning and mother-led weaning. With baby-led weaning, the baby makes the decision when to stop breastfeeding. Weaning occurs when he/she naturally outgrows breastfeeding. Since every baby is different, weaning ages vary. This type of weaning is easier on baby and mom.
Mother-led weaning, on the other hand, occurs when the mother decides to wean her baby from the breast. If you have decided to stop breastfeeding, be sure not to stop breastfeeding abruptly. This can cause engorgement and can be very upsetting to your child.
To wean your child, begin slowly. Eliminate one nursing session every 3-7 days, depending on your child’s reaction to the weaning process. Replace the nursing session with a sippy cup, bottle, snack or some type of fun distraction activity. Generally speaking, the most comforting feeds and the hardest to wean are the morning and bedtime feeds. Waiting to eliminate these feeding times last will help to ease the transition.
If you begin to experience engorgement, try some of these tips to help relieve the discomfort. Remember that weaning can be an upsetting time for your child and he/she will require some extra TLC. The process may be strenuous on you, too, so be sure to take extra good care of yourself!
As nursing sessions are eliminated, be sure to provide your child with extra nutrition to replace the nutrition lost from breast milk.
Be sure to like, comment and share Babies 411 content with your friends to help keep babies healthy and safe.