While breastfeeding your baby, you must be wondering when is the right time to end breastfeeding and how to do it as efficiently as possible. If you do it gradually and with love, stopping breastfeeding will be a positive experience for both of you. It is essential to keep in mind that, whenever possible, breastfeeding should not be stopped abruptly.

How long you will breastfeed your baby is your decision—the WHO recommends that breastfeeding lasts for at least a year. The prolonged breastfeeding in the second year and beyond is increasingly encouraged. Breast milk is the best source of all nutrients at any age, and there is a growing knowledge that the long-term benefits of breast milk for a child are directly related to the length of breastfeeding. 

Throughout the history of our species, prolonged breastfeeding has been a common practice. Only in the last century, the length of breastfeeding is shortened and shortened, as well as the number of breastfed children. The reason is not scientific facts, but above all, the influence of culture. Fortunately, we have slowly begun to return to nature, and there will undoubtedly be less criticism and advice to mothers who decide to breastfeed their child in the second year or longer.

You can best estimate when it is time to stop breastfeeding because you know your baby best. Whenever you decide to stop breastfeeding, stay focused on the needs of your baby and yours. Do not compare your situation with other families you know and think again about the deadlines you set for yourself while you were pregnant or after the birth of a child.

Natural cessation of breastfeeding

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Ideally, the baby should only stop breastfeeding when it outgrows this need (stopping breastfeeding driven by the baby’s needs). The change in the rhythm of breastfeeding occurs after the introduction of non-dairy foods. The child becomes more interested in other foods, and at the end of the first year, after trying different foods and flavors and learning to drink from a cup, he gradually stops sucking. Some babies in the second year become less interested in breastfeeding because they do not have the patience to rest during breastfeeding. When you leave the decision to stop breastfeeding to your baby, you are spared the unpleasant task of separating from the breast when it is not ready yet!

When mom decides it was enough

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When a mother decides to stop breastfeeding, regardless of whether the reason is an emergency or the mother’s feeling that it is time for that, stopping breastfeeding requires a lot of time and patience. Breastfeeding is an intimate bond between mother and child, so feelings about this decision can be mixed. Don’t stop breastfeeding because your environment thinks it’s time if you don’t feel that way!

How weaning will take place depends on the age of the child and how he accepts the changes. If possible, concentrate on the process of weaning from breastfeeding for a few weeks. If the baby does not show signs that he wants to stop breastfeeding, he will not give up so easily, after sucking for a year or longer. There is no reason for any feeling of guilt; you have breastfed your baby longer than older mothers. Stay calm, and be persistent! Stopping breastfeeding does not mean breaking the special bond you have established with your baby while breastfeeding!

Tips that can facilitate the weaning process

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– Go slowly and initially follow the signs your baby is sending you.

– Do not offer breastfeeds, but do not refuse them either. Rejection can make the baby focus even more on breastfeeding.

– Skip one pod; gradually increase the number of breastfeeds you have replaced with another meal over several weeks. In this way, the “production” of milk will be steadily reduced, and there will be no risk of inflammation and mastitis. Leave the first morning and last evening breastfeeding for last.

– Shorten the duration of breastfeeding; if the baby usually sucks for ten minutes, shorten to five. Then give the child other foods (for example, apple puree or a cup of milk). The hardest part is shrinking the bedtime before bed; it’s usually the last breastfeeding that remains in the end.

– Make sure your child gets all other meals and snacks on time, as well as enough fluids to avoid hunger or thirst.

– Postpone breastfeeding, entertain the child if it is an older child who understands you. Explain to him that the breastfeeding will be later and treat him with some activity; In the evening, explain to him that he will get a bedtime nap.

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– Change your usual daily routines to avoid a situation where the baby will ask to suck. You know that breastfeeding does not only provide food to the child, but also physical contact, comfort, and falling asleep. If the child is looking for a breast because he is bored, entertain him another way, give him a snack suitable for his age or take him outside. If he is used to lying next to him while he is falling asleep, try reading a book to him or rocking him. Avoid the usual place and position for breastfeeding, to which the child is accustomed.

– If he wakes up during the night, let Dad put him to sleep again; if he asks to suck as soon as he wakes up, have dad get him out of bed, and you give him breakfast.

– The first morning and breastfeeding before bed mean the most to the child; if you notice that the baby finds it difficult to accept the denial of these breastfeeds, continue for a few more weeks if you are not in a hurry to stop breastfeeding for some specific reason.

During this period, the child still needs physical contact, hugs, and comfort. Mothers avoid taking the child in their arms during weaning; keep in mind the baby’s need for skin-to-skin connection, avoid only the usual breastfeeding positions to which the baby is accustomed.

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