Breastfeeding Your Toddler
When Your Toddler Decides to Stop
As your toddler grows, she or he will learn to eat solid foods more and more independently. This begins the natural process of weaning. When ready, your toddler will begin to wean her‑ or himself from breastfeeding. You do not have to wean your toddler, it occurs naturally. Your toddler will gradually stop breastfeeding at her or his own pace.
Allowing your toddler to decide when to stop breastfeeding lets:
- You both adjust more easily to the end of your breastfeeding relationship.
- Your body reduce the amount of milk it produces in a natural way, which will prevent your breasts becoming overfull and uncomfortable.
If You Decide to Wean Your Toddler
If you need or want to stop breastfeeding before your toddler completes the process him‑ or herself, here are some tips on how to do it. The time it takes to stop breastfeeding will vary, depending on you and your toddler. If possible, try not to rush the process. Mothers can find that breasts become sore and full of milk if they wean too quickly. Weaning gradually helps to give your body time to adjust to the reduced demand on breast milk production.
Here are some tips to help the weaning process be comfortable for both you and your toddler:
- Plan ahead: Choose a non‑stressful time to start. Starting to wean your toddler on your first day of work or child care, or during a move, can add to the stress of these situations.
- Start slowly: Choose to replace one feeding every day for the first week. You may wish to pick the feeding that provides the least comfort for your toddler. This is often the late‑afternoon feeding. To provide enough nutrition, replace the skipped feeding with expressed breast milk and food.
- Skip one more: After one week, or when you feel comfortable, replace one more feeding.
- Continue to skip: Keep replacing one feeding per week with food and other fluids.
- Last to go: Last of all, replace the feeding that provides the most comfort. Often these are the morning and bedtime feedings. When you are ready to stop the morning or bedtime feeding, it may work best to have your partner or another family member take over the routines at this time.
- Be ready to give more comfort and cuddles: You may be looking forward to fewer demands on your time and energy when you stop breastfeeding. However, this most likely willnot be the case. Your toddler may need moreattention and love during and after weaning.