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I’d really love to get an idea of how many babies/toddlers/children did stop breastfeeding entirely of their own decision, and at what age?

With my DD we stopped at around 15 months, because the feeding had become a bit of a power struggle and was no longer a bonding experience - I was really comfortable that it was time to stop and our relationship improved massively after we stopped, but the decision really came more from me than DD.
With DS, who is now 19 months, I do feel ready to stop but he is showing no signs of stopping at all (in fact, whenever I even start thinking about stopping I am sure he senses that and becomes even more booby dependent). He is still feeding about 3 times per night and that is usually how he gets to sleep, and the same in the day time, though he will nap in the car. If he is out for the day with DH and sister he is fine but wants it the moment he sees me again.
I must admit that I am now getting really tired, and it feels like “it takes a lot out of me” these days and pretty “drained” by the end of the day (is that where these expressions come from I wonder), and my body feels like I’m slowly falling to pieces, nails breaking, dehydrated, back pain, shoulder pain etc but whenever I’ve tried to cut out a feed in the day when I’m around, he is just devastated, really sad and then cross, and I can’t bear it so I give in.
I had a chat with one Mum who was convinced that at around 2 there is a natural chance to make the break, and I would just love the decision to come from DS. If I had faith that he really would want to stop one day I’d quite like to go with that, but I don’t think he will ever choose to stop until he’s 18 and he’s found a replacement pair!!!

So, hence my question ... did your child make the decision to wean and at what age? Does it ever really come from the little ones!?


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Toby is 19 months now, and still going strong; hardly any solids yet.

Attachment and travelling mama, home educating Toby, 17.02.2012. Vegs. Neither telly nor car. Brompton bikes. Live in Reading, Berkshire.
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The general age of child led weaning is between 2.5 and 7.

Only one of mine is weaned, Len was 6yrs and 9mths.
Fliss only nurses once a week or so and is 4yrs 6mths.
Miri is 20mths old and nurses about eight times a day!

Hippy-anarchist-feminist-eco-crafty Mama of

Helena July 06
Felicity March 09
Miranda December 11 - home!

my daughter self weaned at 19 months BUT i was pregnant at the time and my supply had decreased massively. Plus i was very poorly (and my son was stillborn) which i believe all had an effect on my daughter weaning. Had i NOT have been pregnant i know she would have fed for a lot longer. My third child is now 12 months and he still feeds a lot (but also eats a lot of solid food too) and I had wanted to let him self wean too however I may need to start some medication in the next 6 months that may not be safe while bf, by which time he will be 18 months, but i havent yet decided what will happen about weaning..or the medication for that matter!!! a friend of mines little boy self weaned at 13 months…i couldnt quite believe it when she said!

Wow, what an age range.
I’d love some more posters though, especially ones that say around 2 to give me hope! ... pretty please smile

Frowstypink, I’m interested to know with Fliss only nursing say once a week, was there a definite stop with Len that he talked about, ie did you both know that was the end, or did he just never come back one day? ... and, around what age do you think they slowed down to just occasional feeds? (if you can remember?) Also did your 2.5 - 7 range come from your personal knowledge or from a book/other source?

Also, question to everyone, were there any “hiccups” where you thought they might be stopping but then they came back ... ? (this comes from something someone said to me also - I wonder if there will be an optimum moment for me to make the break if the decision is to come from me)

Its so tricky because of course each child is different, but I find collective experience just helps in me getting my head straight!

... and if any other “stoppers” (lol just had a vision of me putting a “cork in it!”) are following this, I’d love to know what age you stopped and why and any top tips?

Thanks everyone smile keep it coming!

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i think that each child is very different and even if other posters have had their children wean at 2, there is always going to be some that have weaned sooner or later. as I said with my daughter she would have carried on and i would have been more than happy too (and feel guilty all the time about that pregnancy because of the effect it had on my daughters nursing relationship and its outcome anyway) but hey. If youre feeling unwell and like its because of breastfeeding I would look at diet but also, untilately, both mother and child have to be gaining from a long term breastfeeding relationship and if you are no longer, i would say thats something to consider. I have a health condition which im pretty sure is made worse by breastfeeding and in 6 months i will have to make the decision whether to medicate or not, but i will weigh up the pros and cons of continuing feeding with weaning (i also dont know how to wean a child that isnt otherwise ready for weaning!!)

the W.H.O say the average age of weaning worldwide is somewere between 2 and 7 i believe. 2 is optimal as a minimum alongside solid food, but as i say, i dont feel a mother should long term breastfeed if she is beginning to loose the love for it x

I have two children who are still going DS is 5 and a half and has some every evening before bed although, sometimes goes 3 or 4 days if he falls asleep before DD. He will v occasionally have some in the daytime if he’s hurt himself etc.

DD is 3y 2m and has some before bed and on waking and then approx. twice in the day but only if we are home and she asks. She doesn’t want it when we are out really unless she’s upset/hurt.

I believe the world average figure comes from the WHO but not sure.

Whatever you decide to do, you have done a brilliant thing feeding your child beyond 6 months and every drop is a benefit. If you are not happy then wean and do so without any guilt smile Everyone is different. I would’ve happily weaned DS during my pregnancy but once I started making the decision milk came back and it was good again!

Hope you find what’s best for you x

smile Mummy to DS born March 08 and DD born July 2010 smile

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Len gradually tailed off, until she lost her first milk tooth and decided to stop then. There were lots of times over about eighteen months when I thought she had stopped, in fact, she stopped for a while when I was pregnant with Miri and then started again.

Yep, the 2-7 thing is from Kathy Dettwyler’s research. She writes really fascinating stuff about the biology of breast feeding cessation if you’re interested!

There are lots of gentle ways to stop, the most gradual being ‘don’t offer, don’t refuse’, the La Leche website has lots of good ideas if that’s what you decide!

Hippy-anarchist-feminist-eco-crafty Mama of

Helena July 06
Felicity March 09
Miranda December 11 - home!

Thank you. I really love the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” idea - that sounds like just the kind of approach I need in my life xx

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My youngest daughter self-weaned at just over 6yrs old (about 6yrs 4 months I think).

HE’ing, formerly co-sleeping, BF’ing, BWing, BLWing & Cloth-nappying wannabe eco-warrior, organic-eating, mostly vegan mum to K (16/11/06) and M (26/04/04) and squish due 5/7/16 :D.
Also 2 dogs, 6 cats, and 6 hens.

Grace stopped just after her 4th birthday - she had decided to stop on her birthday, but she had a stomach bug a couple of days before, so I suggested carrying on a little longer. At that stage she was just having about 5 secs before sleeping. We did have a couple of conversations about who did and didn’t have mummy milk prior to that, as I don’t think she had realised that some people didn’t! Once she had decided to stop, she was pretty definite though. She asked to try again a couple of times a few months later, but she had lost her latch, and it wasn’t a great experience for either of us.

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My oldest stopped at 16months, BUT I had night weaned at 13 months as she was awake constantly (like between 6 and 10 times a night! I tried co sleeping and it didn’t work for me or her). She was never that into milk in retrospect…or food generally to be honest.

My second is an entirely different child. Feeds really well, not really easily distracted, I suspect (and hope) she will bf for longer.

My friends oldest weaned the day after her 2nd birthday, but she was pregnant.

If you aren’t loving it then don’t feel guilty about wanting to cut down on it. Would night weaning help? Obviously only if you’re comfortable with that.

My eldest DD was 20 months when she self-weaned, but as Gem said, I was pregnant and I think my milk dried up. However, I have heard lots of stories of children nursing right through a pregnancy even if there was no milk, if they weren’t ready to stop, so I have to conclude that DD1 was readyish at least. She did cut down fairly quickly from feeding around 8 times a day and 3-6 times a night to sleeping right through, to then dropping all feeds - all within 6 months and starting from before I was pregnant. She was always a big eater of solids.

My son was 5 when he finally stopped though he had only been having a couple of minutes last thing at night for at least 18 months prior to that. Also, I have since found that DS has Asperger’s and he always needs ‘encouragement’ to move on to the next step even when it is clear to everyone that he is ready. I think without the Asperger’s he would probably have been happy to wean at 3-3.5.

My littlest DD is just turned 2 and I am putting some definite limits on feeding as she had been jumping on me the second I sat down every time I sat down and I was just finding it overwhelming and draining. So, since she turned 2 I have started an ‘only when you’re going to sleep’ rule, though I also allow it when she’s hurt herself. We’ve had a few moments of real anger from her about this and I’ve felt awful, but I really felt that if I didn’t set some limits on it then I was going to have to wean her totally as I was resenting it so much emotionally, and feeling so drained physically. After 4 weeks of the limits, she is starting to accept it and only asks if she needs a daytime nap (she’s starting to drop her nap) and at bedtime. I allow her unlimited during the night and first thing in the morning so she still gets plenty of milk though she is a huge eater of solids as well. She is the only one of mine that I have put limits on though I did try ‘never offer never refuse’ with DS and didn’t really feel that it helped weaning really - I started it at 2 with him and he carried on for another 3 years! But he may be a special case wink I have to say, it really doesn’t look like DD2 is going to be voluntarily self-weaning any time soon!

So, not sure if that helps you at all, apart from to reiterate what others have said - breastfeeding is a relationship involving 2 people and you need to make sure it works for you as well as the little one so don’t feel guilty about setting limits for your sanity/wellbeing.


Liz grin x

Druid, boat-dwelling, home educating mum of DD1 (11), Aspie DS (9) and baby DD2 (2), & part-time step-mum to 2 stepdaughters, 9 and 7.

My DD (now 8) self weaned at 3 and a half.  Her feeding just dwindled slowly over the last few months to a few times a week, to nothing. She still has a quick suck occasionally now, when she’s in bed with me, and expresses disappointment that there’s no ‘moop’!

One beautiful DD, born April 2005

My ds2 self weaned just after his second birthday, he was just feeding before bed for comfort and I was having really bad morning sickness with no. 3 and breastfeeding had become a very uncomfortable experience for me. So my dh just put him to bed for a couple of nights instead of me and he was absolutely fine and never asked again until the new baby was feeding. I just said the milk was for the baby now nd he seemed quite happy with that answer! X

Unschooling Mama to River (7), Rain (4) and Blossom (2) xx

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