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When is the right time to stop breastfeeding?

Posted by on Sep. 23, 2012 at 6:30 AM
  • 26 Replies

My baby turned 1c and I am wondering if I should stop breastfeeding.I don't if this is the right time...some folks i asked say i should stop others say i should let her continue  What should I do???

by on Sep. 23, 2012 at 6:30 AM
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by on Sep. 23, 2012 at 6:38 AM

im glad you took my advice and came here, these ladies are great.

i stand by what i orginially said, when its right for you & for baby because baby will wean when ready

extended breastfeeding offers wonderful benifits for mom & baby, there is no reason to stop before baby weans themselves

by on Sep. 23, 2012 at 6:49 AM

The right time is to be determined by the baby. He or she will stop when ready! Some wean at 2 or 3, mine is 5 and still nurses. He has a peanut allergy and used to have really bad eczema. I think that's why he has nursed for so long. Intuitively, they know what they need. His eczema has cleared up, blood tests for the peanut allergy show his numbers coming down, as he is outgrowing that, as well. He has never had an ear infection, nor have I ever taken him to the doctor for stomach bugs or any childhood illnesses. Some will say his health is a coincidence and we are lucky. I say it is due to breastmilk! You go girl! Best of luck to you!

you rock

by mel on Sep. 23, 2012 at 6:58 AM
When it's right for you and baby. No one elses opinion on when you should stop matters. its recommended to nurse until 2, the health benefits are great for mom and baby. I allow my children to self wean, I feel they will cut back and wean when theyre ready
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by on Sep. 23, 2012 at 6:59 AM
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You should breastfeed for as long as it is mutually desired by you and your baby, in my opinion.
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by on Sep. 23, 2012 at 7:10 AM
This! :)

Quoting melindabelcher:

When it's right for you and baby. No one elses opinion on when you should stop matters. its recommended to nurse until 2, the health benefits are great for mom and baby. I allow my children to self wean, I feel they will cut back and wean when theyre ready
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by on Sep. 23, 2012 at 10:27 AM
For as long as you want
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by on Sep. 23, 2012 at 10:30 AM
When baby decides its over :)
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by on Sep. 23, 2012 at 12:12 PM
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Lots of health orgainizations say a minimum of 2 years. This is my story of reaching that 2 yr goal:

It was two years ago that I first began nursing my daughter.

Last month my little sweetie turned two years old. Yes, she is now two years old and we are still breastfeeding. A lot. She really likes to nurse.

Now, to many of the people I hang out with, this is totally normal. However, I realize that for most of the people in the US this may seem weird. My minimum breastfeeding goal has always been two years, though I fell a few months short with both of my boys. Why at least two years? Why would you still be breastfeeding a toddler? Can’t she have “regular” milk now? Doesn’t she have a full set of teeth and eat solid food?

Most people are simply unaware of the huge list of benefits of continuing to breastfeed full term. One of my favorite collection of research based information on this is at Breastfeeding Past Infancy: Fact Sheet
While it may seem “weird” to many in our culture, scientific research by Katherine A. Dettwyler, PhD shows that 2.5 to 7.0 years of nursing is what our children have been designed to expect (Dettwyler 1995). 
In short:
Weird = Some person’s opinion
Normal = Science
So, if science says it is normal to be nursing a two year old, then why is it so often considered "weird"? Dr. Karan Epstein-Gilboa points out in her book, Interaction and Relationships in Breastfeeding Families, "In western environments, non-nursing or, at most, short term nursing are the norm. Behaviors veering from the normal status are therefore considered abnormal."

Some people may read this and think about how much breastfeeding is promoted as "best" and be mislead to think that we live in a breastfeeding culture. When you consider the fact that in the US approximately 11% of babies are still nursing at 12 months old, knowing that the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests baby is nursed a MINIMUM of 12 months, you can see that we are a culture in which bottle feeding and short term breastfeeding are the norm. The vast majority of children in the US are not nursing on their first birthday. Not normal is abnormal by default.

Until recently, nursing into toddler/preschool ages was often labeled "Extended Breastfeeding". The reality is that there is nothing "extended" about it. It is the physiological norm for human children. Breastfeeding beyond infancy is not extended, simply "full term". Many babies are born before 40 weeks gestation. Do we consider a baby who stayed in utero until 40 weeks "extended gestation"? No, it is normal. It is full term. Same thing with breastfeeding a toddler.

Full term breastfeeding has been in the mainstream media lately with Mayim Bialik being vocal about breastfeeding her toddlers, and child-led weaning. You can find may articles by her and interviews with her with titles like: I Breastfeed My Toddler. Got A Problem With It?

Don't even get me started on people who claim that a mother who nurses beyond infancy does it to meet her own needs, not the needs of the child.

Why at least two years?
There are literally dozens of reasons. Here are just a couple:
  • The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that breastfeeding continue throughout the first year of life and that "As recommended by the WHO, breastfeeding should ideally continue beyond infancy, but this is not the cultural norm in the United States and requires ongoing support and encouragement. It has been estimated that a natural weaning age for humans is between two and seven years. Family physicians should be knowledgeable regarding the ongoing benefits to the child of extended breastfeeding, including continued immune protection, better social adjustment, and having a sustainable food source in times of emergency. The longer women breastfeed, the greater the decrease in their risk of breast cancer." They also note that "If the child is younger than two years of age, the child is at increased risk of illness if weaned." (AAFP 2008)
  • Nursing toddlers between the ages of 16 and 30 months have been found to have fewer illnesses and illnesses of shorter duration than their non-nursing peers (Gulick 1986).
  • "Breast milk continues to provide substantial amounts of key nutrients well beyond the first year of life, especially protein, fat, and most vitamins."
    -- Dewey 2001
Can’t she have “regular” milk now?
I think it is a funny thing in our culture that “regular milk”, or cows milk, is considered such an important part of our diet. There is an entire nutrition category based on a SINGLE food source: cows milk. Every other “group” has multiple sources of nutrition: Grains (rice, wheat, oats, corn etc.), proteins (meat, fish, eggs, legumes etc.), vegetable, fruits, you get the idea. The reality is that although the Diary Council would like you to think otherwise, NO ONE needs to consume any dairy products to be healthy (and many of us would probably be much healthier without them!). Some good info at Cows Milk?and Is Cow's Milk Necessary For Toddlers?

Yes, she can and does drink cows milk, as that is a food that our family keeps in the house. But, the best nutrition she gets is from species-specific milk made by her mama.
Doesn’t she have a full set of teeth and eat solid food? Yes. She actually got all of her teeth rather early. She is a great eater and powers down lots of food. She loves fruit and chicken enchiladas.

Baby teeth are also sometimes referred to as: "milk teeth". If you look at it, the common time for kids to start losing their “milk teeth” around 5-7 years, coincides with the later age of natural weaning.

Isn't she nursing just for comfort?

Sometimes, yes. I think it is perfectly acceptable to comfort my child, and breastfeeding is sometimes the way to do it. Remember, it is not only about the milk.

I’m glad we are still nursing. I was really glad last weekend when we ended up in the ER after a fall. She didn’t need any pain meds, she was happy and comfortable sitting on my lap and nursing when she wanted.

Last week when we had a 4 hour layover at 6am in a strange airport, it was great to be able to nurse her and watch her relax and fall fast asleep.

Some people may be wondering how long we will continue to nurse. Ainsley is pretty much the boss on that one. She will let me know when she no longer needs it.

Want to read more about full term breastfeeding?

Six Misconceptions About 'Extended' Breastfeeding

Is breastfeeding a six year old ok? Er where do you live?

Breastfeeding Beyond Infancy: Radio Documentary

Breastfeeding My Jump-Roping Hula Hooper 

To Wean or Not to Wean: Who Says When Is Enough
by Silver Member on Sep. 23, 2012 at 12:12 PM
I'm going at least 2 years (1 year 15 days so far!) But I may go longer...

It's up to you and baby:)
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by on Sep. 23, 2012 at 12:15 PM

 stop breastfeeding when YOU want to. there are good arguements on both side of this "what age should we stop" debate (in this group you'll likely only hear one side of this debate though). regardless of what others think or say this decision is 100% yours to make.

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