When to Wean

Too busy to nurse

Too busy to nurse

When we began our breastfeeding journey, I remember hearing the advice, “even one day is better than nothing. And one week is better than one day, one month is better than one week. Any amount of time breastfeeding is a good choice.” It was comforting to know that no matter how long we breastfed, it was a good choice.

Even though I still believe in this advice, it’s hard to make the decision to wean. If one month is better than one week, isn’t 16 months better than 15? I’m finding it very difficult to decide to end something that is so good for my child.

We’ve already passed the American Association of Pediatric’s recommendation of one year, and I don’t think we’ll make it to World Health Organization’s recommendation of two years. (Thank goodness we’re not weaning according to these milestones).

In the course of researching weaning, I noticed that no one wants to suggest cues or milestones that indicate a child is ready to stop breastfeeding. Instead the advice is a vague, like, “when the child is ready…” or “when the child initiates weaning”. Well, what does this look like?? Some organizations, like the Mayo Clinic and La Leche League, provide tips on how to wean, but nothing about what signs to look for.

I realize that no one wants to get criticized for providing advice that someone may not like or agree with, but it sure doesn’t make a hard decision easier!

What “signs” led you to end your breastfeeding journey? After it was over, did you wish you had stopped sooner or kept at it longer?


  1. I weaned with my first around 14 months because I really wanted a second child and was not having my period. It was so hard to end that binding time but I found there were other ways to bond when we stopped and we all did ok and the timing worked well for us.

    With my second son I stopped about the same time because he was an early talker and for me– I didn’t want the awkwardness or a child asking for the breast. Also he was becoming more and more interested in real food and less interested in the quiet time of nursing. It worked out for that timing too.

    Oh– also both kids were on the smaller end of the scale and my ped said that breastmilk stops having as much protein as kiddos need so they need supplements in other ways which helped us transition to other options too.

    It is highly personal and I’m sure your choice will be what’s best for you all.

  2. We actually ended up weaning over the weekend. Franci has been so busy and disinterested in nursing lately, it was hard to get her to stay still more than 5 seconds at a time. We had slowly reduced her feedings until only morning and bedtime were left.

    Bedtime was the next to go, because she preferred to crawl all over me rather than nurse. She didn’t even notice when we skipped breastfeeding and went right to bed instead. I think I wasn’t producing much milk once we were nursing twice a day and now that I’m in my second trimester.

    Then, over the weekend, when she got up in the morning, I offered her one side and she nursed for a few seconds and then stopped and shook her head. I offered her the other side and she just shook her head. And that was that!

    I’ll miss the quiet times, but then I guess that really ended months ago. Plus, in five months from now I’ll get to do it all again!

  3. Sounds like she was ready! I’m 14 weeks preggo now too with a surprise pregnancy and excited to nurse again. But we plan for this to be our last for age and hqving 2 others… : ). I’ve also been so sick– I’m at least glad this is my last pregnancy! O They are a blessing though!!

  4. Our situation was similar with my youngest in that the milk seemed to be gone and she would actually ask for milk once she was finished nursing. I think she was around 18 months when it became painful I decided it was time to end it. I was simultaneously extremely sad and relieved to be done with it and that it was painless for her. I am glad now that she stopped on her own because, given her strong personality, I am pretty sure she would have ended up being pretty demanding about nursing as she got older.

  5. Coriander says

    How nice that weaning went so easily for you!
    I weaned my children when I was ready to, pregnant at both weanings, easy for the first one at 22 months, difficult for the second at 19 months. The second wasn’t ready, but I wanted a break before the Big Milk comes in for the third. Less interest at nursing times, easily getting down to one nursing a day, eating and drinking well at table, and if past twelve months or so, not sleeping well and waking up to nurse, those would be signs for me. Though on that note, night-weaning worked well for us for excellent sleep for all in the house before total weaning was desired.

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