How do you know when the time is right to stop breastfeeding?

I was recently asked how I knew that the time was right to begin moving Amy to formula.  How do you know when the time is right to stop breastfeeding?
 
I think, like everything to do with breastfeeding, the decision is entirely personal.  You will know what is right for you and your baby.

With Ben I steadily cut out feeds from the age of around 6 months when he started to be really nosy feeding in public.  I ended up stopping completely around my 30th birthday as by this point he was down to just that bedtime feed and as I was going to be out at bedtime for two nights it made sense to end it there.  At 8 months Ben really couldn’t have cared less.

Daddy feeding baby with a bottle
We gave Ben bottles of expressed milk from a very young age

Chloe was trickier. She was always happier with boob than a bottle however we had the pressure of a deadline.  On a purely selfish level we were getting married and I needed my breasts to have settled back down to make sure that my dress was properly fitted (as it turned out this was a bit of a fail and I ended up supporting my boobs with rolled up bibs on my wedding day – oh yes!)

bride looking excited
You’d never know I was using bibs in place of a bra . . .
But a more significant reason was that I was due to return to work full time the week after we got married.  I know people manage to continue feeding whilst working full time but it really wasn’t practical – I was commuting from Manchester to Leeds on a daily basis, taking Chloe with me – it was utterly exhausting and I couldn’t realistically have managed to maintain breastfeeding her as well.    Dropping her feeds was tricky, she wasn’t keen on the bottle and it took determination to get her there.  I remember feeling so incredibly guilty during those final feeds as I knew she wouldn’t have stopped given the choice, and really neither would I.  I completely stopped breastfeeding Chloe at just slightly over 8 months.
baby feeding herself with a bottle
I used to feed Chloe at school each morning before taking her to Nursery

And Amy.  Amy was almost 9 months when I went away for the weekend which finally signalled a slow and steady move to formula.  With Amy the decision has been based on her not feeding efficiently during the day, she is too easily distracted and would often leave me with far too much on show.  I have steadily dropped those day time feeds and now only feed her at night.  Last week I came close to giving up those night feeds, this week I’m not confident enough in her bottle drinking to risk taking the breast away.  I have said that I will finally stop breastfeeding her when she moves into her own room as I think it will be much easier to refuse it during the night if I’m not in the same room!  We shall see. Some nights I think I’ve had enough (the occasional bite adds fuel to that fire) but more often I relish those night time feeds, those feeds where she feeds properly, snuggles in and relaxes.  They are precious moments and I know their days are numbered.

baby breastfeeding

So how do you know when the time is right to stop breastfeeding?  Circumstance, personal preference or because your baby is no longer interested . . . you will know when the time is right.

8 Comments

  1. August 27, 2014 / 7:44 pm

    I'm going through this at the moment my lg is 6 months and I'm trying to introduce a bottle although she's having none of it it sounds selfish but i want abit of a life back again not just being a milk machine!

    • August 27, 2014 / 9:10 pm

      Just keep trying. You'll get there in the end x x x

  2. August 27, 2014 / 10:54 pm

    Oh look at her all snuggled in, such a lovely photo – It makes me miss breastfeeding although we had definitely come to the right time to stop! You're right, the decision to stop is so personal and so different for every woman x

    • August 28, 2014 / 10:56 pm

      She does love a sleepy night time feed and much as I really do want her to sleep through those are the feeds I will miss the most now x

  3. Tas D
    August 29, 2014 / 9:07 am

    Rolled up bibs eh?? 🙂 You definitely can't tell! Z came off at just past 3 months, it was kind of my own fault as I was giving him a bottle a night and he ended up just preferring it more probably as it was faster flow.

    • August 29, 2014 / 6:59 pm

      It was a proper last minute panic – my dress had been fine when I'd tried it a couple of days before then on the day it just wasn't right. I was getting in a right old tizz then saw the bibs on side and thought I'd give them a go! They worked a treat 😉 x

  4. August 12, 2016 / 8:21 am

    This is a great post and really well done. I have to admit I made the final decision not to go back to work which enabled me to continue breastfeeding. My youngest 2 boys self-weaned and it was what was best for all of us – I’d felt so bad about not succeeding with my first two children.

  5. August 5, 2017 / 6:19 pm

    Well done for breastfeeding 3 children!

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