Weaning: When and How to Stop Breastfeeding

Some moms want to know how to stop breastfeeding. But how do you know when it is the right time? Should you just stop feeding one day? Weaning can be hard on both mom and baby, so it is important to start with these 11 tips to make the process easier!

Why do Moms Choose to Wean

Some moms choose to wean their baby from breastfeeding because they plan to go back to work, are ready for another child, or find themselves in an uncomfortable situation. However, the most common reason moms choose weaning is because they think their baby is too old and should be done breastfeeding already!

Ways to Wean

Some choose to stop breastfeeding cold turkey while others slowly take out one nursing session at a time. There is no right or wrong way to do it, but some methods may be easier than others.

-Weaning gradually: This method involves slowly taking out one nursing session at a time until the baby is no longer breastfeeding. For example, if you usually nurse your baby in the morning and night, start by dropping the morning feeding first.

-Weaning cold turkey: This method involves stopping breastfeeding all at once. If you are the kind of person who likes to jump in, this may be your best option.

-The combination approach: Some moms try a mixture of both methods by starting out slowly and then dropping one session every few days until their baby is completely weaned off.

how to stop breastfeeding

Tips for Transitioning from Breastfeeding to Bottle-Feeding

Transitioning your breastfed baby to a bottle can be difficult at times. There are lots of tips for transitioning your baby here but some things that help are:

  • Try different style nipples with different flow rates and textures
  • Have a family member try to feed your baby
  • Don’t wait for when they are over hungry or they won’t be willing to try something new

Concerns About When You Should Start the Process

If you are considering weaning because of pressure from others then now is not the right time. This is a personal choice and it only affects you and your baby. There are a lot of benefits to breastfeeding your toddler if that is what you choose.

You can always thank them for their concern and then continue doing what works for your family.

What Can Happen if You Don’t Stop Breastfeeding

Some moms are concerned that if they don’t wean them by their first birthday that they will have a hard time when they do choose to wean their baby. Often this depends on the approach that you choose when you do wean. Having a more gradual process will be much easier for your baby and you when it comes to engorgement and clogged ducts!

thrush in nipples

11 Tips on How to Stop Breastfeeding Naturally Without Pain or Stress

Keep it gradual

Don’t force anything. You can slowly cut out a nursing session over a couple of weeks by sometimes nursing at that time and shortening it or sometimes cutting it out completely. Just follow your baby’s cues.

Try substituting with a bottle or solid food

Some babies love to eat and they will be happy with their bottle in your place. If you think this might work for you, try it out!

Try a pacifier

Sometimes these can make the transition easier by giving them something to suck on while also weaning them off of breastfeeding. You may want to try one and see if it helps!

Be sure to take care of yourself

If you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed or anxious about weaning your baby then this will make the process more difficult. Make sure that you find someone who can help with things like cleaning or cooking so that you can spend time bonding and nursing with your little one while also taking a break.

Don’t wait until they are completely weaned to stop

This can be hard on both mom and baby. If you are done, just stop!

Talk about it

Let your partner know what is going on so that they can support you emotionally as well. It’s a process for everyone involved!

Have a family member feed your baby or put them down for bed

It might be hard for them to be put down by mom if they are expecting to breastfeed so try having the night off of bedtime and have someone else try to put them down.

Use cabbage leaves

If you are having problems with clogged ducts or mastitis, you can use cabbage leaves to help soothe and heal your breasts.

Start with the times of day that are hardest for you

If you dread nighttime nursing, start there! This will make it a little bit easier to get through

Prepare yourself emotionally and mentally

Weaning can be tough on both mom and baby so be prepared for some potential ups and downs.

Take care of your breasts

After breastfeeding for a while, you may have engorged breasts. You can try using cold compresses to help with the swelling and pain while your breast milk supply adjusts.

When and How to Stop Breastfeeding

It is recommended by other health organizations that the baby be fed breastmilk for the first six months of life. Some scientists think the natural age to stop breastfeeding is more than two. Today over 60% of moms give baby formula or complementary food before the age of six months, although the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines say it’s not recommended.

If you can, exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months of life and continue for the first year of life with complementary foods. After this, it is a personal choice on what is working for you and your baby.

Approaches to Stopping Breastfeeding

Some parents choose to breastfeed to a natural age when the child decides when to stop breastfeeding. Some choose to wean the child from breastfeeding at a certain age. There is no right or wrong way of going about it, as long as you and your baby are both comfortable with your decision.

Make sure that this process occurs slowly. You don’t want any sudden changes in feeding time because then they might get confused by it. Also, you don’t want them to get upset or stressed out because this will make the process more difficult for both of you.

why your baby will fall asleep while breastfeeding


When your baby is ready, stop breastfeeding gradually by reducing one feeding at a time over a few weeks until they are fully weaned from breastfeeding. If your child is not quite ready and they still need breast milk, supplement with formula or other food.

When you are supplementing a feeding session, it will depend on your baby’s age on what you will supplement with. If they are under 1 year of age, you can supplement with infant formula or if they eat solid foods, you can use that.

If they are over a year you can supplement with cow’s milk or soy milk.

Drying up Breast Milk

If you are having problems with clogged ducts or mastitis, you can use cabbage leaves to help soothe and heal your breasts.

By slowly weaning, this will give your body time to adjust and slow down milk production. If you start weaning abruptly, this will cause a lot of engorgement and possibly a breast infection.

Do I Need to Stop Breastfeeding?

Sometimes breastfeeding mothers believe that they need to wean baby. Breastfeeding is a great way of maintaining a close bond with your baby. You could express milk with a breast pump for your baby at your job and keep nursing sessions to be a special time together.

Depending on whether you can continue breastfeeding for six weeks at least try this with a baby who has breastfed twice each day and has replaced it with some formula. Some children will take longer to be happy for these changes but things will become easier with time.

how to stop breastfeeding

When is the Right Time to Wean Your Baby?

An average 7-month-old girl still gets most of her milk calories. While it isn’t recommended to replace food for breast milk at that time that milk should help with the nutrition she can consume between the ages of 12 months and on. Solid foods will simply complement your baby’s milk intake as you increase their solid foods gradually.

Breast milk is her main source of nutrients for months to come. From there on the baby’s weaning process takes as much time as mom and baby desire. Do not feel pressured by what other people in life are doing or what someone else has said.

Partial Weaning

If you are exclusively breastfeeding and want to just focus on night weaning, that is always an option. Some women find that just supplementing one feeding session or a few will help their baby adjust and it might work best for both of you while still being able to give your baby that liquid gold.

What if I Need to Stop Breastfeeding?

Some may have to stop breastfeeding abruptly and it could take a couple of weeks for your breasts to adjust. You can express milk to avoid engorged breasts and slowly cut down how much you pump.

Try using a cold compress and chilled cabbage leaves to help with the pain.

how long does breast milk last after its been warmed

Recommendations for When to Stop

WHO advises mothers to exclusively breastfeed their baby for six months. The older the child is breastfed, the higher the potential for health benefits he or she will get.

The main thing is breastfeeding for as long as it works out for your new baby instead of just what other people think about it. In the meantime, it is still important to consider what is your motivation behind discontinuing breastfeeding to protect your health.

FAQ on Weaning

How long does it take to wean off breastfeeding?

It is recommended to slowly wean your baby. This can take a few months depending on if you are exclusively breastfeeding or not.

What happens if you stop breastfeeding immediately?

This can potentially cause clogged ducts and even a breast infection. This can also be hard for your baby to adjust from stopping breastfeeding suddenly so it is recommended to wean gradually.

What do I do if I don’t want to breastfeed?

This is a personal choice for you to make. The important thing is that you educate yourself on all of your options. Breast milk is the most nutritionally optimal food for your baby.

There are breast pumps and nipple shields if that helps but ultimately it is up to you and what works with your family.

What happens to the baby if you don’t breastfeed?

Many mothers use formula milk for their baby so it is an option. Studies have shown that babies that don’t breastfeed are at higher risk for obesity as well as type 1 and 2 diabetes.

Is weaning traumatic for a baby?

If breastfeeding ends suddenly it can be hard on your baby since it is such a close bonding experience for you and your baby.

How long does it take for a baby to get used to the formula after breastfeeding?

It will depend on your baby and how long you have been breastfeeding. You can start to slowly introduce formula after a couple of weeks if your baby doesn’t seem uncomfortable with the change at all.


Weaning can be a difficult process, but with these 11 tips it can be made a little bit easier. Whether you are ending your breastfeeding journey or just night weaning, there are options available to make the process smoother for both mom and baby. It is important to remember that every baby is different and will take different amounts of time to wean.

Be sure to read How to Treat a Milk Blister While Breastfeeding and What You Need to Know About Baby Growth Spurts

About the author

Lacy Reason is a highly experienced and compassionate lactation counselor, who has dedicated her career to educating and supporting new mothers on their breastfeeding journey.

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