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How To Know When To Stop Breastfeeding

Every breastfeeding mom has a moment when she wonders when to stop breastfeeding.

Should you encourage baby to wean?

Should you follow child-led weaning?

When is a good time to stop?

These are a few of the questions that may be running through your head. There are so many opinions out there on this subject, it can be overwhelming.

RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding Your Child

We don’t want you to feel overwhelmed!

We have some thoughts to share that can help you decide when you are most likely ready to stop breastfeeding, but we believe there is no set time when you should or should not be breastfeeding.

Check out our thoughts on how to know when to stop breastfeeding Whether you are a first time mom or experienced mom these thoughts are impactful.

How To Know When To Stop Breastfeeding

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Most know that I am a huge advocate of extended breastfeeding. I nursed both of my children past the age of three years.

I believe in both the health benefits for the child as well as the mother. There are also comfort and bonding benefits from breastfeeding that are beneficial to both mother and baby.

(The magic calming effect of nursing on a toddler having a meltdown is amazing!)

I have no guide of how long is too long to breastfeed a child, but I believe each mother will know when the time has come to say she is done. These are simple guides that are easy to follow no matter how long you plan to breastfeed your child.

RELATED: 7 Things I Thought I Knew About Breastfeeding, But I Was Wrong

When your child is no longer asking to nurse.

Many children will self-wean. When your toddler is no longer seeking that comfort on a regular basis each day, it is a great time to discontinue and let them self-wean without fuss.

When it is denied initially they may fight, but since they have already begun to go without on a regular basis it will be an easy adjustment for them to make.

While this was the route I took with both of my kids, it was bittersweet when I realized they stopped requesting “mama milk.”

As our nursing sessions became more infrequent, I knew that our breastfeeding journey was coming to an end.

RELATED: Breastfeeding Obstacles: My Baby Forgot How To Nurse

When you are physically uncomfortable with breastfeeding.

There comes a point when your child is a bit older (past the one year mark) and it may become a physical burden for you to continue breastfeeding.

Whether they are getting too big, your breasts are too sore, you are constantly feeling touched out, or you have other physical concerns it is often simply a physical discomfort issue.

However, there are often physical discomforts that come along with breastfeeding that can be remedied.

Things like mastitis, nipple pain, poor latch or even your child biting as they suckle can all be worked around.

Don’t give up too early. Sometimes a little breastfeeding pain will go away and you’ll realize that wasn’t when to stop breastfeeding your child.

Look for things like lanolin, a lactation consultant, or nursing books to help you ease the pain before you give up.

RELATED: Why You Need a Breastfeeding Peer Support Group

When your child reaches an age that you personally feel is too old to continue nursing.

This has been a source of controversy for many years. There are many people who believe you should stop breastfeeding when a child turns a year old.

Others have no problem with extended breastfeeding into the toddler years. Still others are fine with breastfeeding into preschool or childhood years.

Worldwide, the average age when a child self-weans from breastfeeding is between four and seven years old.

While I have my own personal preference for how long I am comfortable nursing my children, this is a very personal decision.

I believe it is very much up to the mother and child to determine when it is right to wean from breastfeeding. It’s an important topic to discuss with your spouse or partner so they know how you feel about it and can support you.

If you feel the end date is one year, know that you are doing something many moms aren’t able to do for their child for so long. If you are comfortable with extended toddler breastfeeding then enjoy the bonding and health benefits as long as possible.

There is no true line in the sand about when to stop breastfeeding.

This is a highly personal choice for moms and their children.

Make sure whatever you choose to do, you are keeping your baby or toddler’s health in mind as well as your own emotional and physical needs. (You have to take care of yourself too!)

RELATED: 7 Self-Care Activities for Busy Moms

Breastfeeding is a wonderful experience that moms should enjoy for as long as possible to create better health and a great bond with their child.

Knowing when to stop breastfeeding is not something anyone else can determine for you.

Check out our other great breastfeeding tips:

Join the Beauty in Breastfeeding community for mom to mom support and encouragement.

Marissa Khosh |

Thursday 4th of May 2023

I love how you wrote this post to apply to anyone at any stage of breastfeeding. I completely agree with you - weaning from breastfeeding a personal decision and needs to be made whenever each mama feels it is necessary or right for them or their baby for physical, emotional or personal reasons.

Something many women are not aware of as first-time moms is how hard weaning is physically and emotionally until they are going through it. It is a HUGE shift for your hormones and can lead to a lot symptoms including depression, anxiety, wonky cycles, unpredictable PMS and more. It is also very common to feel grief during and after the weaning process even when you know it's the right time to wean. Weaning from breastfeeding changes your relationship with your child (from the mom's perspective - perhaps not from the child's perspective) and you want to make sure you are ready for that.

I was completely thrown for a loop when my emotions and body were both feeling utterly sick for several days during day-weaning my daughter. I wrote a whole post about it ( I had not heard anything about weaning being like that until it happened to me and I wanted to make sure other moms knew it was okay and normal to feel that way.

But it really is a big step to take and you want to make sure you and your child are truly ready to wean before doing it.

Darcy Zalewski

Thursday 4th of May 2023

Hi Marissa, thank you for sharing your experience. There are so many factors involved in the decision as well as the physical/emotional, as you mentioned. I hope both of our posts help other moms going through it!


Tuesday 27th of March 2018

I'm a first time Mom with a 5-month old. I had a really rough pregnancy with a high risk of preterm labor (and indeed he was born 7 weeks early). If we want to have more children I'll likely be in the same boat. I've read elsewhere that breastfeeding can exacerbate preterm labor risks. For me, that will probably be a major factor in how long we nurse together. I appreciate the insights listed in the article and it gives me food for thought for our future. :-)

Darcy Zalewski

Monday 2nd of April 2018

Thanks for reading, Morgan! :) I hope you found this helpful. You'll definitely want to talk with your healthcare provider if you are still nursing if/when you try for another baby, especially since you had a high risk of preterm labor.


Thursday 29th of June 2017

I totally agree that there is no good reason to force your child to stop ... it will come when the child is ready! Although my son stopped wanting to nurse all the time at about age two, we didn't fully wean until just after his fourth birthday. There is plenty of evidence that shows the benefits of breast feeding for as long as possible, so why not?!

Darcy Zalewski

Monday 3rd of July 2017

Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts with us!


Tuesday 15th of March 2016

Found your blog on Blog Fuel! Love this post, Darcy! I am nursing my 2-yr-old and she has no intention of stopping that I can see!! I never thought I would be nursing this long but here we are happily taking it in stride and loving it.

Darcy Zalewski

Tuesday 15th of March 2016

I know how you feel, Melissa! Before having my babies, I thought I'd breastfeed until maybe one year. Never thought I'd go 3 years! Thanks for stopping by. :)