How to stop breastfeeding: When and how is best to stop breastfeeding your baby?

(14 ratings)
Breast feeding
The decision on when and how to stop breastfeeding is personal to every mother and should be based on whatever works best for you and your baby.

It's recommended that you breastfeed your child exclusively for the first six months of their life, as all of the hydration and nutrition that they need is perfectly catered for in your breast milk.

If a mother is unable to breastfeed or chooses not to, you can start bottle feeding at any time, but it's worth noting that health professionals believe that formula does not benefit your baby in the same way and lacks many of the health and strength-building benefits that breast milk has.

Once a mother starts to bottle feed, her breasts will quickly react to the change in supply and demand and stop producing breast milk, so it's important to be sure of your decision once you've made it.

When should I stop breastfeeding?

Dr Yiannis Ioannou, a consultant paediatrician, spoke exclusively to GoodtoKnow about his expert opinion on when a mother should stop breastfeeding her child.

'Current recommendations are for exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months before commencing weaning. Breastfeeding can then continue as long as mother and baby want, may last to about a year of age or even beyond.

'While the benefits of breastfeeding to mother and baby are well recognised, I should add that there are many factors that affect mothers' decision regarding feeding and if they choose to breastfeed for a shorter period and supplement with formula or indeed mix feed this is absolutely fine. From a year of age cow's milk is all that is needed in terms of milk, in addition to solid food with multivitamin supplements recommended.'

Ultimately every woman is different and her decision is entirely her own. Many women plan to breastfeed for about a year, but plenty go on to breastfeed for two years or more.

Some mothers choose to breastfeed their children until four years or even older, and different cultures around the world set out different norms.

Common reasons for stopping breastfeeding

Sore or painful breasts

Some women can suffer from painful breasts whilst breastfeeding which can contribute to them wanting to stop. The most common reasons for feeling pain in your breasts whilst you nurse is because your baby isn't latched on properly. It is important that your child takes a large mouthful of your breast with the entire arelio in their mouth, not just the nipple. Your midwife and health visitor can help you get the right breastfeeding position for your baby to properly attach.

Some women also suffer from cracked or sore nipples when they breastfeed. There are a few things you can do to help this such as letting your nipples dry before you dress, wearing a cotton non-underwired bra that is designed for breastfeeding and covering your nipples in a thin layer of Vaseline to sooth them.

Increasing breast milk supply

Some women worry that their breast milk supply is coming to an end, however your breasts will continue to produce breast milk for as long as your child keeps feeding so this is very rarely the case.

If you feel like your milk supply is dwindling it is probably that your baby isn't latched on properly so you need to speak with your health visitor about trying different positions. Ultimately the more you breastfeed the more breast milk you will produce.

Going back to work

If you'd like to continue breastfeeding but you're concerned about how to manage with going back to work, it's still possible to feed your baby breast milk.

Express your breast milk with a pump or by hand and bottle it up for your child minder or family member to feed to your baby when you're not around. This way they will still benefit from al the goodness in your breast milk and you will continue producing.

If you continue to breastfeed outside of work hours your breast milk supply should stay established and you will be fine to express for whilst you are away.

How to stop breastfeeding

It's important to phase out breastfeeding slowly as your body will continue to produce milk and by cutting down the demand your body will react accordingly. If you immediately stop breastfeeding your breasts may become engorged and swollen, which will be very uncomfortable!

Your baby will also rely on your breast milk as a source of comfort so it's important not to take this away from them too drastically. You should start by dropping down by one feed per week and starting with a certain time of the day, for example cutting down on morning feeds first.

You don't need to stop breastfeeding as soon as your baby begins on solids, breastfeeding and first solids can in fact work well together. There is some research that shows breast milk helps aid your baby's digestive system ready for solids.

Continued below...

If your baby is under a year old you will need to replace your breast milk with a formula feed with a bottle, however if they are older than a year they should be fine.

Your rating

Average rating

  • 4
(14 ratings)

Your comments


Good for her! I bf my first baby for 19 months, my second for 24, and my last for 33 months. Go Mama!


I breastfed my youngest until he was 8 - at that time, I was getting tired of it; but after all the reading I had done on the subject, I made the conclusion that it was best for my child. As an aside, after a bad birth experience with my first child, I decided to never have to go through that again. Ten years later, I had done a sufficient amount of research to make the decision to not only have more children, but to have them without a doctor's assistance - although I am the first to point out that I was under the constant care of an obstetrician with each of my five other children and was never given anything but positive support concerning my decision.

Anne Miller

ok, its up to the people involved, the mother and the child. i loved breastfeeding, i accept it its not for everyone. i allowed my toddler to have a breastfeed whenever he wanted it even though he was having a compleat diet. one day he commented " big boys dont have boobies, im a big boy now, i dont want boobies any more. i said ok, its up to you. and he never did. he was just turned three.

paul bennett

I agree with Lorraine above. This is more about the mother than the child. It's just plain odd. and before anyone says 'what's odd about breastfeeding ?' at six years of age!!!!!!!!!


I have NOTHING against women breastfeeding but has this woman got no shame? Doesn't she realise that she will be teased at school by the other kids? I think she is doing it more for her own sake than the young girl's sake

Melanie Jean Hoyle

If this was an article about a woman breastfeeding her 6 year old son this page would be flooded with comments such as "lucky b*st*rd, wish I were him!", "can she be my mother?", and "I'd go up to her doorstop for a cup of coffee - with extra breast milk!"


Human breast milk is bought by private maternity wards at up to nearly £200 per pint, the mortgage can be paid off before you decide to have another child. I invented a method of increasing breast milk production in the 1970s, and some women have gone on to make careers out of it.


I didn't breastfeed any of mine, and they are now all strapping, healthy lads in their thirties and forties, and all six-feet tall or just over, with hardly a day's illness between them. Bottle is definitely best!

comments powered by Disqus

FREE Newsletter