Knowing when to stop breastfeeding is an emotive issue for many women because they feel under pressure to either breastfeed for longer than they want to or stop before they’re ready. If you are enjoying breastfeeding your little one, you can continue for as long as you and your baby want to. That could mean until he’s a year old, or even two. There is no need to stop before you are both ready to.
Most doctors recommend breastfeeding babies until the age of six months and also breastfeeding alongside solids until the end of the first year. These recommendations are based on the benefits of breast milk for your baby’s physical and emotional health.
Your baby may have needed constant feeding in the early days, but as he grows older he will start cutting back. For some little ones, it may only be a matter of weeks before they are eating three solid meals a day and only 2 or 3 milk feeds. Other babies may take longer and some will show a complete lack of interest when it comes to weaning.
When it comes to stopping breastfeeding, try to put the pressures and voices of everyone, other than your doctor out of your head and make a decision based on what’s best for you and your baby. If you need to stop early because you are having problems with breastfeeding, you don’t enjoy it or it doesn’t fit around your work schedule, there is no need to feel guilty. The same goes for continuing to breastfeeding as your baby starts weaning. Some people may disapprove of breastfeeding much after the introduction to solids, but if you see no real reason to stop, don’t let negative views put you off.
Whenever you do decide to stop, it’s best to make the change slowly, particularly if you’ve been breastfeeding full time. Cutting of breastfeeding too quickly can lead to sore breasts and a risk case of mastitis. Try and replace one breastfeed at a time.