How To Stop Breastfeeding

Okay, so you are now a pro at it. Now the question is: How to stop breastfeeding?

For breastfeeding moms (specially the first-timers), there are two questions that definitely pop up sooner or later: When and how to discontinue breastfeeding?

When to stop breastfeeding?

Believe it or not, you might be the best person to answer this question. We have seen mothers who have always expressed their breast milk; and also those who breast feed only till their baby starts weaning at the age of 4-6 months, or they decide to end this amazing feeding relationship as soon as the child blows the candle on his first birthday.

But then, we have also seen mothers who feed their toddlers and preschoolers till the age of 3 or sometimes even more. If you think about it, all of these children, whether breastfed for a couple of months or till they enter preschool, grow up to become pretty smart individuals.

So the reason why I just wrote a hundred words above is to let you know that it’s your decision. Whatever you and your baby are comfortable with, go for that, and then be proud about it.

How long should I breastfeed for?

For help in deciding on how long you should breastfeed for, read our article on extended breastfeeding. It will cover all the merits and demerits of extended breastfeeding. If you want to discontinue breastfeeding and switch to formula instead, perhaps it would be a good idea if you read our articles on Benefits of Breastfeeding and Breastfeeding versus Bottle Feeding to give you motivation and guidance.

How to stop breastfeeding?

When you decide to stop breastfeeding your baby, you will then come to this very important question: How to stop breastfeeding? Doctors and experts believe that you can adopt 3 strategies to stop breastfeeding.

Strategy # 1 - For your infant:

  1. Skip a breastfeeding session and replace it with a session of playtime accompanied with normal milk or formula milk (in case you want to switch from breast to exclusively bottle feeding), or a healthy snack (if your child is above six months or has started taking solids).
  2. Continue doing this for 3-4 days and then when your child is used to the new routine, skip another feeding session and so on.
  3. Ideally, using this technique your child should give up breastfeeding in a month.

Strategy # 2 - For your toddler:

How to stop breastfeeding an older baby:

  1. If you have a toddler, it is easier for you to explain to him why he needs to leave breastmik or the bottle, and switch to the normal milk. As an incentive, you can go for chocolate flavored milk. You can purchase a pack of colorful straws and when it's his milk time, you can pour normal milk in a mug and ask him which color straw he wants to have. This will distract his mind.
  2. Generally the child may not notice his new routine at daytime, but at nighttime he would get cranky and may throw tantrums until he is breastfed.
  3. Try replacing his nighttime feeding routine with normal or flavored milk and lull the baby to sleep. You may find it hard for a couple of nights but then both you and your baby will fall into a routine. Distract your little one through bedtime stories and nursery rhymes.

Strategy # 3 - For you:

The hardest part of ending breastfeeding does not only come to your child, but to you as well. If you dread stopping breastfeeding because you might have painful and sore breasts, let us help you with the following information:

  • When you stop breastfeeding, your breasts will still fill up with milk, so try to pump out some milk from both the breasts. Do not empty both breasts; this will only trigger the milk production process. Only pump out a little amount so the breasts stop hurting you. Continue this for some days till your breasts adapt to the new routine. You do not have to throw the pumped milk. Even if your child is a toddler now, you can give him this milk in a sippy cup.
  • If you feel lumps in your breast, it might be due to the clogged milk ducts. Gently massage each breast till the lump dissolves. You might want to do it during shower as getting those lumps straightened may cause your breasts to leak.
  • Wear a nice firm bra and avoid the under-wired ones.
  • To sooth sore breasts, you could freeze a couple of lettuce leaves and then apply them on your breasts.

If you are still having difficulty or pain, you can always talk to your doctor. Remember, discontinuing breastfeeding is a natural process that all breastfeeding mothers go through. You are not alone here, so be focused on your goal and in a matter of weeks, you will be a proud mom who just finished up her breastfeeding routine, and then you will be telling other moms how to stop breastfeeding successfully!


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