When to Stop Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a personal journey that is different for every mother and her baby. There are of course many benefits of breastfeeding, not just in terms of the nutritional value for your baby but the special emotional connection that it can create between a little one and their mother. 

 

However, there does come a time when your infant needs to move on to solid foods and while some babies may show obvious signs that they are ready to be weaned while others are less clear. In light of World Breastfeeding Week, we’ve put together this useful blog to make the transition easier.

 

Is there a recommended time to stop breastfeeding?

According to the World Health Organization, it is recommended that all babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months for optimum growth. The first year of a baby's life is one of the most important as this is the time when they develop a strong immune system through the vitamins and minerals they get from breast milk - studies have shown that breastfeeding for at least 6 months can significantly reduce illness and infection. 2 years old is a popular time for mothers to stop breastfeeding and by this age, you can replace breast milk with cow's milk.

Dont cry over spilled milk.

unless its breastmilk, in that case cry a lot. 

 

Signs your child is ready to be weaned

When your baby starts to have solid foods, some breastfeeding sessions are replaced by meals. However, your baby still needs extra nutrients so you may choose to continue breastfeeding alongside weaning or move on to formula. Common signs that your baby is ready to be weaned include:

  • Your baby can hold his head steady while sitting
  • Your baby is reaching for food and can’t take their eyes off you when eating
  • Your baby is a healthy weight (double the size they were a birth)
  • They want extra feeds and shows signs of being hungrier than usual such as chewing their fists

Why stop breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding does not have a one size fits all approach so your reason for stopping is likely to be different to other parents. It’s not always practical or possible to continue breastfeeding and that’s completely fine as long as your child is still getting the nutrition they need in other ways. You may choose to stop breastfeeding if:

 

  • Your child’s of an age when they are ready to stop breast milk
  • You are going back to work and breastfeeding isn’t a suitable option
  • Your child is old enough to move on to cow’s milk
  • You are struggling to breastfeed
  • You’re pregnant again
  • Your baby’s ready to wean onto solid food and you want to combine that with a move to formula milk
  • It feels like the right time to stop for you

Don't Stress

Breastfeeding is an amazing journey for those who are lucky enough to experience it. Remember, go with what feels right for you and your child, don’t feel pressure to give up breastfeeding or continue for longer than what feels comfortable. Bear that in mind and you’ll make the right decision about when to stop.

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