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Mother breastfeeding an infant

How to wean your baby and stop breastfeeding

Mother breastfeeding an infant1

April 2, 2019

There comes a point when every breastfeeding mom stops breastfeeding, or weans the baby off the breast. Sometimes the choice is made for you and sometimes you’re just ready.

When is the right time to wean?

Despite some people’s strong feelings, there is no right or wrong answer for weaning. If you’re ready, it’s the right time. If your baby is ready, it’s the right time. If your situation demands it, it’s the right time. There is no need to feel guilty for stopping breastfeeding. If you'd like to know more about breastfeeding recommendations and averages for the US, check out our Breastfeeding FAQs.

How do I wean my baby off breastfeeding?

So, do you just wake up one day and just stop? Not ideally. A slow, gradual process is best to prevent engorgement (ouch!).

You can start by taking away your baby’s least favorite feeding first. Usually, the favorite ones are right before bed and right after waking up. Every few days, drop another feeding.

If your baby is less than a year old, you'll need to substitute these feedings with formula. If he or she is over a year old, there is no need (cow’s milk is an option, but not necessary).

If your breasts become uncomfortable, you may need to express some milk or pump a tiny amount (less than the amount you normally would for a feeding) to relieve the pressure.

To help your baby with the transition, you may want to avoid sitting in your special nursing chair, and distract your child with an activity outing during the times when you would normally nurse. For example, if your baby likes to nurse to sleep, let your partner do the bedtime routine.

Remember, even if you and your child are ready to wean, it can be hard emotionally on both of you. Some women experience weaning-related depression and anxiety. Usually it passes after a few weeks, but sometimes it’s severe and requires treatment. Try to give yourself some slack and congratulations on completing this journey!

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