When to Stop Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding During the First Month
I never thought I’d love breastfeeding. As a matter of fact, when I was single, the idea of me breastfeeding was quite strange to me. LOL. Maybe because the thought of me being someone’s mother was also strange. Not that I didn’t want kids, of course, I did, but it just felt strange that my breasts would be so important for somebody’s survival.
I hated breastfeeding at first because it was painful. Oh my God! I cried as my baby suckled. At a point, I felt my baby was wicked for not caring about my feelings as she suckled away. I remember saying in agony one time as I fed her, “You this girl, have mercy on me!”
My nipples were cracked and sore and I was in serious pain. But the pain later gave way to joyful feeding moments. I love breastfeeding for some reasons. But as much as I love it, I’m also looking forward to weaning my baby completely off breast milk. I’ll miss breastfeeding but everything that has a beginning would surely have an end. My baby is six months already and I can’t but wonder when I’ll stop breastfeeding. I’m not in a haste though. Breastfeeding is both fun and work.
When to Stop Breastfeeding
Even though when to stop breastfeeding is usually up to the mother and baby, the World Health Organization says that, “exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.”
Also, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) “reaffirms its recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months of a baby’s life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until at least 12 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby.”
But as we all know, life isn’t the same for everyone. Life happens to us differently. Some mothers are unable to breastfeed their babies exclusively for six months for some reasons and some are unable to breastfeed for as long as they want. Whatever your case may be, don’t feel guilty. Your baby will be fine as long as he gets the required nutrients from other sources.
I didn’t do exclusive breastfeeding because my baby was a big baby and couldn’t be satisfied with breast milk only. However, I gave her breastmilk mostly until her nurse advised that I commence her on complementary foods at five months because her weight was dropping.
Types of Weaning
There are two types of weaning-
Baby-led weaning – This is when a baby loses interest in breastfeeding and prefers formula or other solids. This type of weaning is easier for both mother and baby.
Mother-led weaning – This is when a mother decides to stop breastfeeding for whatever reason e.g going back to work, illness, stress, lack of interest, a new pregnancy etc. If the baby isn’t ready to give up breastmilk, this could be quite challenging for both mother and baby.
Signs Your Baby is Ready for Solids
1. He’s interested in what you or other members of the family are eating. At four months, my baby started struggling with me for my apple, and when I put it to her mouth, she sucks it with her toothless gum with gusto. Her nurse asked that I commence her on solids the next time she visited.
2. He doesn’t push food out of his mouth.
3. He can sit with his head stable.
4. He tolerates the taste of other foods aside breast milk.
10 Tips for Introducing Solids to Your Baby
1. Wean gradually instead of stopping breastfeeding cold turkey. It’ll help you and your baby to adjust gradually to the new experience. This also reduces painful weaning experience for the mother.
2. You can introduce weaning by reducing the number of breastfeeding times or reducing breastfeeding duration. For instance, if your baby feeds eight times daily, you can reduce it to four times daily. Just as my baby’s nurse told me. She advised that I breastfeed my baby not more than four times daily and that I should try to not to breastfeed in the midnight. This will help my baby sleep throughout the night.
Well, let’s just say my baby and I are still struggling with that. But we’ll be fine. LOL.
3. Introduce your baby to complimentary foods little by little. Don’t make a lot of foods at first to prevent wastage. Try with a little quantity and see if your baby tolerates it. Start by putting a little food on the tip of his tongue in order for him to feel the taste. Don’t feel bad if he doesn’t take much. It’s something new and it could take some getting used to.
4. Try not to start with/mix too many foods at a time; just in case your baby is allergic to any food, you’ll be able to detect which of the foods he’s allergic to.
5. Find out creative ways to make your baby’s foods sweet and delicious because babies love sweet tastes. You wonder why breast milk is sweet.
6. Don’t include sugar or natural sweeteners like honey into your baby’s foods. You can sweeten your baby’s foods by adding soft/pureed fruits or baby formula depending on the food.
7. Don’t give up when your baby does not like the food the first time you give her. Try again the following day.
8. Exercise patience and tolerance. Feeding a baby usually takes time. Some babies like to play amidst feeding. Most of the time, I sing for my baby or play cartoons just to encourage her to eat. So you need some doses of patience in order not to be frustrated.
9. Ensure your baby is relaxed and calm whenever you want to introduce a new food to him. Don’t introduce a new food to him when he’s cranky, crying, ill or anxious. Chances are that you won’t get a positive response that way.
10. Ensure very good hygiene when preparing your baby’s foods. Remember baby’s immunity isn’t as developed as adults’, thus, they’re more likely to get easily infected.
I asked a group of mothers when they stopped breastfeeding their babies. I understand that each baby is unique. However, their responses can give you an idea of when to likely stop breastfeeding and to also assure you that you’re not alone, whatever your case may be.
Question – When did you stop breastfeeding?
“One year.” Olaitan
“15 months and I did 6 months exclusive breastfeeding.” Evelyn
“First,10 months; second, 12 months.” Sugar Berrie
“First stopped herself at 11 months. Second, I stopped at 13 months. Third, I stopped at a year and half.” Olukorede
“A year and 2 weeks and that’s because I was placed on strong antibiotics, so I had to stop. Would have done 18 months at least. I miss breastfeeding, thinking about the bond it created.” Temitope
“Averagely 12 months.” Bosede
“Number 1….. One year
2…………………14months with struggle o
3………………….9months (she stopped in her own)
4……………………14months (with struggle).
Note…2nd and 4th are boys and we struggled, fought before they stopped.
So, girls stop easier than boys.QED.” Ebube
“I never exceeded 1 year. First one was 11 months.
The second was at 8 months. The boy wasn’t keen on breastmilk. I had to use extractor to force him along till 8 months. Just do what works for your baby and you.” Adaeze
“1st child- 2 years plus
2nd child- Still breastfeeding. She’s 8months old.” Ceicilia
“1st born 18months
2nd born 7months
3rd born 13months
4th is still tugging at my beasts at 15months, I will stop her at 18months.” Lami
“Always alternated with formula, longest time of breastfeeding for me was about 4 weeks! I can’t cope with a crying baby! Formula took over. Baby slept, I slept. Exclusively for just 4 weeks, weaned at 10 months.” Fetepigi
“15-18 months.” Fola
“9 months.” Vickie
“1 year 3 months.” Adenike
“With my first daughter, 9 months. And that’s because I no get money to afford better formula.
My baby don stop, she is now on formula and every food wey dey available especially semo.” Zoba
“A week after delivery.” Imuwahen
“One year.” Amarachi
Second-1 year.” Joyfulnoise
“First child taught me a lesson: she refused to eat anything except breast milk because of exclusive breastfeeding. So I decided not to do same for others. Fortunately however, the second one on her own rejected at 4 months. Exigencies of job denied the last one of it. He couldn’t breastfeed for more than 2 months. But they were both healthy and fine. All the same I’d rather stop the moment baby takes first his/her steps.” Bolanle
“My first -1 year 3 months; my second – 1 year 3 months too; my third is 1 year 7months plus and he is still breastfeeding.” Opeyemi
“The very moment they start biting. To save the nipple (then you can stop). That would be around approx. (2yrs).” Shola
“One year.” Chinyere
“Nine months.” Edith
“1 year 1 month for my first, same will be for my second too.” Adenike
“15 months.” Kenney
“16 months.” Balqees
“First at 8 months and second at 12 months.” Yetunde
“First – 8 months. He stopped by himself(exclusive 3months). 2nd child, 1 year and 3 months was going to go on(I enjoyed giving it, my mum used to tease me) until one cool Sunday service right in church, my baby said ‘mummy I want bes milk’ and the sisters close by thought he said ‘I want baby’. Ah, uncle no more ‘besmilk’ oo. I got home and started soft solids straight.” Oluwakemi
“My first 7 months… second 9 months.” Elizabeth
“1 year 2 months
1 year 7months
1 year 10months.” Blessing
“1st born, a year and six months; 2nd born, 2 years, 3 months. Though for both of them, I weaned them gradually as they were both sucking mostly at night only after clocking almost a year.” Sharon
“First-10 months, second -10 months, third 14 months.” Ogochukwu
“When Kennedy was almost 3.” Kandi
“One year.” Monica
“6 months, 2weeks old.” Sadiyat
“15 months.” Oyindamola
“21 months.” Olu Bunmi
“1st 11 months. 2nd I don’t know yet.” Fehintola
“18 months.” Olayide
“18 months each time.” Teejay
“Each child comes with their uniqueness in this field and you can’t use ‘A’s child/ren to evaluate another..
My first had his for 14months..
My second child was less than 5 months and actually stopped by himself while my last who is 16 now stopped at almost age 3..(FFO girl)…had exclusive for them all.” Yetunde
“I normally stop at 1 year or 1 year 1 month at most.” Vivian
“15 months.” Amaka
“1 year and a month.” Esther
“Last child was when he turned two.” Leticia
“6 months.” Adesua
“13 months for the first. 2 months for the second. He took bottle and rejected nipple. No be my fault.” Olufunke
“We weaned at 18 months.” Ai Dee
“My first daughter 6 months
My first son 10 months
The twins 18 months
See the progression?” Adebisi
“18 months.”- Kike
“My daughter 9 months when she started walking.” Blegold
“First – 9 months
Second -13 months.” Ibi
“6 months.” Sandra
“My babies stopped by themselves at 4 months.” Semiloore
“My daughter 18 months. My son months.” Kathryn
“After 12 months.” Abimbola
“First – 1 year 3months
Second- 6months.” Nikemi
“I year 3months.” Titilayo
“2 years.” Adaora
“An average of 10 months for all of them.” Uzoma
“10 months.” Deborah
“16 months.” Nne Ka
“12 months.” Sekemi
“10 months.” Efi
“6 months.” Honeylove
“1year 3 months. But I’Il advise you stop anytime after 6 months. Some babies never breastfed (like my friend’s and the baby is doing fine) so don’t mind what people say or think. Follow your mother-instinct.” Dolapo
“First – 1 year
Second – Still on it and she is almost 2.
Do what works for you. Follow your instinct.” Olaide
“My son stopped by himself when he was 10 months.” NwanneAmaka
“First one at 11 months (was ill-advised), 2nd at 15months (exclusively for 6months) and 3rd at 18mths.” Michelle
“I normally do 9 months but Bobo ocha was 1 year and 2 months; and because he called my name as his first word instead of ‘Daddy’, I added jara for my boo, biko. Special feeling.” Gracelove
” I personally love breast ehhh. I even went after my grandma’s own, not until I bit her for there, na that time she know say I have to go. That day was funny.” Henry
“My first child refused to be breastfed. She didn’t suck for one day. My second child rejected my breast at 4 months. I weaned my third child at exactly 15 months and she was and still is, very unhappy about it. Lol.” Obby
“Honestly, it is what works for you and when you are both ready or when you as the mother is ready. My boys went for 19 months and 15 months respectively. It can be tiring but was enjoyable for us.” Kike
“I am not a mother. But I told my wife to stop exactly a year, it’s my turn to dominate breasts again. She ‘kannur coman’ drain my wife for me.” Pedro
“I stopped at four months for Som. Nobody should @ me.” Nora
“No 1; At 4months she stopped by herself.
Twin 1; At 7months. I stopped her because she wanted to drain me.
Twin 2; At 5weeks. He said I should carry my breast and go since it wasn’t flowing to satisfy him.
My sister just do what works for you. I was conscious of mine cos I can’t be carrying slippers on my chest before clocking 30.” Chinenye
“2 years is the recommended time to stop.. But once my cuties are a year 6 months, we are learning to stop that bobo dragging.” Sussy
“9 months.” Bimmy
“11 months.” Janet
“One year old.” Oluwatoyin
“My first child was 23 months and 2 weeks when I stopped breastfeeding. My second was 23 months, and my third was 18 months.” Kate
“6 months.” Vera
“1 year and 4 days..with fights..with force..” Judith
“Hmmm. I told myself I’d stop at 9 months. I couldn’t. The truth is, the theatrics she puts up when she’s breastfeeding, the way she looks me straight in the eyes, give me so much joy! Hopefully, we will stop when she’s a year old.” Matty
“1 Year and 2 weeks. It took her just one day of crying and she forgot the breasts.” Joy
“One year with formula alternated because he no gree bellyful with the breastmilk. He stopped himself at one year. So, we continued with our food.” Beloved
“I stopped breastfeeding my baby on her first year birthday. Though it was not easy because she cried all through the night and I didn’t give her anything to eat throughout the niight. It was a vigil. Since that night, she doesn’t wakeup to eat in the night till date.” Patience
“This is my story … Idowu is 13 months now. We always fight bcos of breast anywhere. He is ready to remove it anywhere he feels like sucking. Boys and breasts can’t think straight.” Asake
“No 1…. 1 yr and 5 months
No 2…. 1 yr and 3 months
No 3…. 1 yr and 4 months
No 4…. He is 1 year already and still sucking breast.
All boys and I didnt do exclusive; that’s more reason I gave them breast up to that period.” Jovial Mum
“18 months (6 of which I was working 4 days a week in the U.K.)” Omoyeme
“1st born – 18 months, 2nd born – 14 months, 3rd born – 20 months.” Bernadette
“One year.” Lolo
“My first baby, I stopped when she was 20 months old. For my second, she’s 15 months and I’m still nursing her.” Olawande
“One year, nine months, and ten months respectively. It all depends on the situation at hand. I was a working mother(bank work, so you can imagine). I would have continued till 18 months if I had my way.” Adjuafati
“15 months.” Gbemisola
“Six months, 10 months, and one year three months.” Tolulope
“1 year 4 months exclusive for my 2 boys and planning same for my 3rd baby too… Breast milk is good for the body.” Seun
“Exclusive for 6 months, weaned at 1 year.” Yemisi
“Took a break at 6 months. Returned after a month. Stopped 9 months.” Tayo
“Both 14 months.” Josephine
“11 months both times. Definitely no rules, some mothers choose not to breastfeed at all!” Bunmi
“18 months. ” Chi
“First baby @ 6months; Second @ 5months.” Benedicta
“12 months on the dot.” Deb
“One year 2 months.” Remilekun
“My first baby 6 months, my second 12 months, last baby can’t remember for how long.” Abimbola
“1st baby a year, 2nd baby 7 months, 3rd baby 4 months.” Oloma
“I stopped after one year and two months.” Ada
“1st baby- 1year and 1week
2nd baby- just 5 months but planning weaning her at 8 months, that is if she doesn’t stop by herself before then the way I’m seeing her.” Promise
“1 year and 2 months. I’m currently still going through the pain of withdrawal. Just stopped on Friday.” Nike
“12 months.” Shola
“1 year.” Goody
“1 year 5 months.” Bridget
“16 months, 13 months and this time, I am planning 36 months.” Uche
“1 year 2 and half months.” Debby
“Around 10 months for both.” Damola
“1 year and 3 weeks.” Mercy
“6 to 9months. It increased from my first to second and last.” Ify
“13 months.” Zoe
You see? Different strokes for different folks. So you’re not alone. No matter what, you’re the best mother for your baby and your baby loves and appreciates you.