Tips on How to Stop Breastfeeding


The decision on whether or not to breastfeed is always left up to the mother (sometimes with dad’s input!) but the decision on when to stop is not always 100% in her hands. There are a number of factors which could impact when breastfeeding should be discontinued, but it isn’t always an easy process for either the mother or the child. By understanding the emotional and physiological benefits of breastfeeding it is easier to find a way to wean your child off mother’s milk when the time is right. Here is some information which might prove helpful in your quest to find tips on how to stop breastfeeding.

General Statistics on Breastfeeding

According to goals released in 2010 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), they want to see an increase in the number of children breastfed. Their target goals are to see 75% of infants being breastfed in early postpartum days, 50% up to the 6 month point and beyond that at least 25% until 1 year of age. They are also targeting an increase to 40% in children being breastfed exclusively for the first three months of their lives, and those exclusively being breastfed for the first 6 months at 17%. As of the last report, regional figures throughout the US are close to those percentages in certain areas such as the Pacific Northwest, California, Idaho, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Minnesota, Alaska, Massachusetts, Vermont and Hawaii. Most of the rest of the country is still working toward that goal and a few states are well behind target percentages.

The Importance of Breastfeeding

There are some very good reasons why you are encouraged to breastfeed your child, besides the obvious emotional bonding that takes place. While it is true that the mother and her baby become closer during this process, the child also feels a sense of safety and security that just isn’t accomplished in quite the same way when being bottle fed. Also, immunity is a huge factor. Antibodies that normally circulate through a mother’s body, generally in the intestinal region, begin finding their way to the mammary glands and from there into mommy’s milk. These antibodies help to bolster the baby’s immunity to such things as the rotavirus and even cholera to name just a couple. But after a certain stage in the child’s development, his/her immune system begins manufacturing its own antibodies and this is a good time to discontinue breastfeeding. Experts believe that between the ages of 24 to 36 months of age is that ‘magic moment’ in time.

Reasons Why Mothers Choose to Discontinue Breastfeeding

If you are one of the brave ones who choose to stick it out for the duration then perhaps your child will begin showing a disinterest in breastfeeding and will happily take a cup or bottle instead. Many toddlers prefer being active to sitting still breastfeeding so this is one of the easiest solutions for all involved. Sometimes the child gets enough solid food so that he/she is not hungry enough to breastfeed for long periods and other times the mother needs to return to work. Also, illness and disease is a big concern. Should the mother contract some communicable disease such as hepatitis or HIV that are known to be transmitted through mother’s milk, it is imperative that she discontinue immediately. Sometimes mom simply wants to start eating ‘regular’ foods again. Don’t forget that mom made an enormous sacrifice when choosing to breastfeed and will not be eating spicy or gassy foods that can cause her child gastrointestinal distress. Finally, if mom gets pregnant for another child she would need to cease breastfeeding.

Advice on How to Discontinue Breastfeeding

When looking for the top tips on how to stop breastfeeding, there are a number of things you can do to make the transition easier for both you and your child. The first thing that many moms do is to have someone else take over the nighttime feeding so the baby stops seeking solace from mom during hours of darkness. This may take some time, but baby will eventually get adjusted to the new nighttime routine and will probably even start sleeping through the night as well. Another step that many breastfeeding mothers take is to slowly introduce solid foods and a cup/bottle for one feeding a day. The child is apt to be more satiated and will probably be able to skip another breastfeeding session. Move on to adding another meal and finally the third meal in much the same way and if you see that your child is getting enough nutrition, try distracting them with activity if they express the desire to be breastfed.

What to Avoid During the Weaning Process

Tips on how to stop breastfeeding are important but you should also be aware of things you will certainly want to avoid. One of the ‘biggies’ is to avoid weaning when some major change in family dynamics has transpired. For instance, the family has moved or dad has left the house for service overseas or even through separation or divorce. Baby is more in tune to your emotional state than you can ever imagine so try to avoid the weaning process during times of emotional upheaval. Another thing that you will want to avoid is sitting in the spot where you normally breastfed your child. That spot is associated with nursing and if you sit there it could automatically trigger your child’s urge to nurse. Finally, if mom needs to go back to work and baby needs to go to daycare, this is not the time to wean. Baby will be insecure enough over this change in his/her routine. You can always breastfeed your child before and after daycare for a time and slowly discontinue one feeding, then the next, as your child gets used to the new surroundings.

It is important that you consider what is best for you and your child. What is right for you and your child may not be right for another mother and child. Take into consideration tips on how to stop breastfeeding passed down from mothers who have transitioned successfully and talk to your baby’s pediatrician for advice if need be. The key is to wean your child slowly over time so that the process is less traumatic for both you and your baby. You will also probably need to find suggestions on how to ease your pain as you stop breastfeeding while helping your body adjust to making less milk. All these things need to be considered and the process may be slow, and at times uncomfortable. With some well-founded tips on how to stop breastfeeding and a whole lot of patience, both you and baby will live through the experience and come out the other end just fine. (Keep that in mind when the going gets rough!)

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Colleen Crawford

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