How to Stop Extended Breastfeeding

extended breastfeedingWhen I decided to breastfeed Max, my original goal was 6 months. I reached 6 months in no time and thought to myself, I can make it to 12 months. Well, 12 months came and wentPIN IT! and I never made an effort to wean him because I really wanted him to self-wean. Everyone kept reassuring me that he would stop when he’s ready.

Finally, at 18 months I decided it was time to try to make a nudge in that direction. He clearly wasn’t going to give up boobie so I had to do something. We worked our way down on feedings to start. I weaned him off the left side to just the right because it produced more. From there I slowly started to take away feedings until we were down to just night feedings.

This is where the fun began. Taking away feedings were so easy that I thought taking away night time feedings would be a breeze. Wrong. Max had a meltdown, he cried harder than I had ever heard him cry before. He was in extreme emotional pain that I just couldn’t do it. My heart hurt seeing him that upset and so the boob was his again.

I posted a photo of Max and I nursing a couple of weeks ago and though I loved the photo, I realized I was finished. I needed my body back and Max has wide enough dietary options that he would be fine. Starting that night, I stated several times to Max that boobie was going to go bye bye. He would just say no of course and get his way but I decided to tell him this for a few days before implementing it.

A week passed and decided now is the time. I had the weekend off from work and let me husband know that this was finally the day. We climbed into bed ready to go to sleep when Max came over to do his normal snuggle. I sat him up and explained that boobie had gone bye-bye and there was no milky. I was prepared for that terrible cry again but instead was welcomed by a whiny cry. He was irritated but honestly not that upset.

My husband and I just sort of looked at each other in amazement. He tried again and again for about 30 minutes before he finally gave up and went to sleep. We couldn’t believe our eyes! After 27.5 months it was working! From that night on we kept up the same routine. He’d ask for boobie, I’d deny, he’d get mad and fling his arms then move on. A few minutes later he would be snuggled up with dad and pass out.

Though it took a lot of self will to tell him no and stand my ground, I am so happy to state that we have stopped extended breastfeeding. I get sad occasionally knowing that its over and never again will we nurse but at the same time, I’m so happy to not stress over it anymore. He can stay the night with grandpa or his aunts and I won’t have to worry if he’s going to wake up screaming because there’s no boob. It’s such a relief.

With my success, I decided to create a list of quick tips I think really helped us bring our extended breastfeeding to an end. I also decided to add in some suggestions I received from others that didn’t work for me but may work for you. No matter how long you made it on your journey, I hope you have a smooth transition when that time comes.

How to Stop Extended Breastfeeding

  1. Bandaids/ouchies – One of the suggestions I received was putting bandaids over your nipples. I wanted to try this but my skin is so sensitive to adhesives that I was too scared to do it. All I could think about was the layer of skin that would be pulled off with it. However, as you read above, so I had “boo boos” worked pretty well for us. He was mad but sort of accepted it.
  2. Distraction – Many people have had luck with using distraction as a method when it came time to nurse. When they’d reach for it, mom would quickly ask if they want to watch a movie, play with toys, or even read a book. Max loves books but not more than boobie.
  3. Get Marinated – Okay, I couldn’t help myself with that one but really. It was suggested that I rub something odd tasting on my nips to keep the suckling at bay. Many people suggest citruses like lemons and limes.
  4. Minimize Opportunities – This was something I tried constantly. I tried to avoid any “trigger” that would call for feeding sesh as much as possible. Situations like sitting down, avoid it if possible.
  5. Get Dad – This is one of your greatest vices. Dad has been off the hook for years now so it’s up to him to step up his game and play his part in the weaning. Every time Max wanted to eat I would hand him to dad and walk away. If we were in bed dad would try to cuddle him or walk around with him. Dad is a big key to weaning!
  6. Be Patient – The greatest tip I can give anyone who’s extended breastfeeding. Be patient. It’s probably not going to be easy and if you try and it doesn’t work, give it time and try again. As you read earlier, it didn’t go well the first time we tried to wean but the second time was successful.

Do you have any tips for weaning? How long did it take you?

  • Tara pittmman

    Each child was different. I had one who nursed until 2 1/2 but I just told him no more and he was good as he was ready. One child stopped after an illness and the other one I gave him a bottle at night time.

  • robin Rue

    I was a formula feeding mom, but I know so many moms breastfeed and this is really going to help them. Great info.

  • Alli Smith

    Glad that it wasn’t as hard as you thought it would be to wean your son. I didn’t do the extended breastfeeding, I did breastfeed my babies until they were 12 months old.

  • Christy Maurer

    Both of mine were child-led weaning. My daughter weaned around 2 1/2 years when I was pregnant with my son, but my son didn’t wean until he was around 4. I know everyone is different. La Leche League and reading about other cultures and nursing really formed my views on weaning.

  • Shirley Wood

    Although I did not breastfeed my children, my daughter did with her own children. They were weaned in the same manner as weaning from the bottle, a little bit along when the time was right.

  • Elizabeth O.

    It really depends on your child sometimes. After all, they’re all different, some would quit the boob earlier and some a bit later. It’s really important to be patient like you mentioned.

  • Amanda Farris

    I’m nursing my 4th kid. My other 3 all stopped at 9 months.

  • Jaime Nicole

    I breastfed both of my girls for a year, and they really self-weaned. These are great tips for the reluctant toddler!

  • candy

    I nursed all of my children and they all stopped during at different times. They did it on their own. Nursing if you can is the best way to start out your baby life.

  • Hannah Marie

    My sister is still on extended breastfeeding with niece who is now 334 months. I will let her see this so she could now start stopping it.

  • Azlin Bloor

    I think you come to a stage when you know it’s time to move on, and everybody is different in that. I fed all my 4 kids, the first 3 for 2 years, and the last one for 3, because he was the baby!

  • Pam

    It can be hard to stop extended breastfeeding, but you have some great tips. I bet this post will help a lot of people!

  • Annemarie LeBlanc

    I will pass on this article to my daughter. She wants to wean her child but it gets difficult at night. At times when she has to work overtime and her husband has to watch the baby, troubles begin when he wakes up at night and there is no boob! The baby is fine during the day but at night, it is different. I think I will let her try the band aid trick.

  • ricci

    I’m not a mom but I hope to be one day! These are all great tips!!

  • Dawn McAlexander

    I guess each child has their own way of deciding when it is time to stop breastfeeding, but sometimes they need a little help. These tips should do the trick.

  • Ali Rost

    Good for you for making it as long as you did breastfeeding. Your little one is going to reap the benefits for life. My daughter-in-law is going through this right now. Our grandson is 14 months old and she’s in the process of weening him. I’ve sent her your post .. the tips are great

  • Rebecca Swenor

    These are great tips to stop extended breastfeeding. I know when I stopped breastfeeding my son it was harder on me than him. The bonding experience was the hardest to give up for me but bonding could be done in other ways. Thanks for sharing the tips.

  • Kiwi

    These are some really great tips! I am not a mom but I would love to breastfeed for at least a year in the future. No disrespect to moms who extend breastfeeding further but no I personally would think it would be too much as the child starts walking and talking properly and have full set of baby teeth.

  • Ana John

    Well its quite far to experience being mom for me but as I have seen its depends from child to child. Although the article is really helpful.

  • Gábor

    I love the name of your site. Very clever! 🙂

  • Kita Bryant

    It can be difficult sometimes but a slow wean, especially at the age he was at, was definitely ok. 🙂 It’s definitely not ok to never wean them though, that’s for sure!

  • Oyinkan Ogunleye

    Bandaids over the nips sounds painful! I think getting the dad would be easiest lol

  • eazynazy

    These are really great tips for Moms…

  • Paula Bendfeldt

    This is great info for parents trying to wean their little ones. I’m sure it was hard for you to do. It’s great that you where able to breastfeed for so long!