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What age is best to stop breastfeeding?

(26 Posts)
jinglespots Mon 20-Dec-04 15:21:50

... if there is one...? Is it fair to do it at all if the baby isn't giving up him/herself? This is just drawing together thoughts that I've been reading on other threads - I wondered what the general feeling might be.

or am I obsessed?

PrettyHannukahndles Mon 20-Dec-04 15:28:28

I think it's something to decide between the mum and the baby, it's not necessarily one-sided. If feeding is a delight, or even if you're just feeling lazy and can't be bothered to change the status quo, then just go on as long as you feel like. If the mum is miserable and feels she's given it as long as she is willing, then she should be able to give up as soon as she wishes. I gave up with my first at 5.5m, but with my second at 22m.

Any amount of bm is better than none, so I don't think it's a big deal if you give up before the baby choose to wean himself. But on the other hand, if weaning is going badly and the baby is distressed, then I think they shoudl go back to breast for a while - unless obviously there are reasons (which are important to the mum, no-one else) not to.

xmashampermunker Mon 20-Dec-04 15:34:12

I don't think there's a best age that is the right one for every breastfeeding pair. I'm bfeeding DS who is 8.5 months old and I don't know that he'll stop any time soon - nor do I want to. I'd said a year and that seemed like such a LONG time when I started (each feed seemed like forever at the very beginning - ow!), but now he's nearly nine months, a year doesn't seem long enough!

I think that extended nursing is lovely when both parties are happy about it (other people's opinions don't come into it IMO - I'm already getting 'looks' if I feed DS in public which is a pity). But if as the mum, you're hoping to give up sooner rather than later, it's difficult when your child feels very attached to it.

I don't really have a figure in mind for when I'll stop bfeeding DS. If he still wants it, I'll probably still nurse, but so much can happen that I don't make plans where babies are concerned any more! If I get pg again, I'll reevaluate it, but I don't have anything against nursing through pregnancy or tandem nursing - just not sure I'm cut out for that kind of demand!

aloha Mon 20-Dec-04 15:46:04

It depends on you and your baby IMO. For optimum health the WHO suggests up to two years, but I stopped at 14 months after mixed feeding and it felt fine for us.

tiktok Mon 20-Dec-04 16:41:26

aloha, the WHO says 'at least two years'

There is no upper age limit at which breastfeeding stops being nutritious or beneficial but as the breastfeeding thing is a relationship between two people, it takes two to decide when to stop. Any breastfeeding is good. It's personal, really, when you stop.

aloha Mon 20-Dec-04 16:54:50


EbenyZebraScrooge Mon 20-Dec-04 16:58:27

Jinglespots, maybe this thread or this one are answering what you really want to ask.

serenequeen Mon 20-Dec-04 17:12:39

dd is getting her 6m exclusive (fingers crossed), then one month mixed to wean her on to formula and start her on solids. i have chosen to extend my mat leave by 1m at some cost to enable her to get the 6+1m. my work schedule will not permit mixed feeding once i go back - therefore the time to stop is a complete no brainer for me.

AMerryScot Mon 20-Dec-04 17:15:05

It's always worth breastfeeding your baby, even if you can't commit to doing it longterm.

Even if you only breastfeed for a few days, your baby is getting precious colostrum which has many, many benefits to your baby that aren't even close to being matched with formula.

Yes, it's fair to make at least an attempt. Then all you have to do is take it day by day and keep your goals within an easy reach.

Fran1 Mon 20-Dec-04 18:05:39

Those of you who bf longterm, don't you find it the most irritating thing in the world that those people who praised you for successfully breastfeeding your newborn now tut and raise eyebrows to hear you are still feeding your near two year old.

It drives me mad, people gasp when i tell them, childless friends seem to think it is something sexual, and EVERYONE laughs and says she won't be able to still do that when she goes to school.

oooh i feel better for that rant

EbenyZebraScrooge Mon 20-Dec-04 18:45:57

There was an interview a while back with a chap turning 100yo and he talked about breastfeeding when he came home from school (5yo). This was on the American frontier, nobody thought it so very odd then.

jinglespots Mon 20-Dec-04 20:08:43

Thanks for the links Zebra, very much the sort of thing I am wondering about. Though I'm also interested to know if people think that it is 'better' to stop at a certain stage for whatever reason. I'm not thinking of stopping bfeeding my 7 month old DD, just streamlining the feeds a bit now that she's taking solids... She however would rather feed 7 times a day whenever the fancy takes her. pore mite.

OhComeLetUsADiorHim Mon 20-Dec-04 20:16:51

With me and ds, b/f'ing was very much led by him. He cut feeds when he was ready. I merely fed on request. At 12 months, he was having a feed first thing in the morning, and last thing at night. Just after that, he dropped the bed-time feed. At 14m, he dropped the morning feed. It had all stopped so slowly and naturally that I did not have any soreness in my boobs when feeding stopped. All-in-all, I felt that I had a very happy experience of b/f'ing, and would recommend it to anyone.

Having said that, I had all the time in the world to b/f ds. If I had a second child, I can't guarantee that time would permit such a stress-free experience!

Eulalia Mon 20-Dec-04 20:40:10

ds who is nearly 5 1/2 (years that is!) has just about stopped. In the past few months it has been a 'token' effort every couple of weeks at bedtime. I've just let him stop in his own time. dd is still feeding quite regularly at 2.8 and I am not long pregnant with no 3. It can be hard work but lovely too. It has been my failsafe device when all else fails. has helped with having very few periods too in the past 6 years. However my boobs have completely lost their shape but that could be due to my age

Weatherwax Mon 20-Dec-04 20:50:56

Yes I agree Fran1. My dd2 went to just past her third birthday but we had to talk about it. She knew it was best behind closed doors because of some adults. It slowed down naturally and I find it a shame that she had to learn to keep something so natural private at such an early age.

Piffleoffagus Mon 20-Dec-04 20:54:04

Both of my two came to a natural and mutual end of exclusive b/f at 16 mths, I would have been happy to continue but it just petered out for them both... one chose a bottle afterwards and one didn't.
I've always felt that I would only ever do it as long as the child wanted it, I would never have kept it up for my sake, although I would not say anything against a mother who did as it such a rewarding relationship and very sad to end
xx piff

tiktok Mon 20-Dec-04 23:34:04

There is a good article here about breastfeeding an older baby.

xmashampermunker Tue 21-Dec-04 11:57:19

Fascinating, Tiktok. Have just been and sought out the painting mentioned in the article - very interesting!

tiktok Tue 21-Dec-04 12:13:56

There is another 'extended breastfeeding' story which the author of the piece I linked to didn't the end of Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, the new mother, Rose of Sharon, whose baby has been delivered stillborn, breastfeeds a starving old man. It is incredibly moving: Rose does it as a gesture of love and humanity, and yes, as a baby replacement.

I can't remember if they show this scene in the film, but I bet they don't.

NotQuiteCockney Tue 21-Dec-04 14:32:16

I think in one of the James Ellroy novels, a mother breastfeeds her much older child, who is 7? (or maybe even 12?) He's been through something really horrific (as is normal in a James Ellroy novel), and although she hasn't fed for years, she nurses him for a few days.

It's treated as perfectly normal.

Of course, it's her own kid, and breastfeeding to 7 is the hunter-gatherer norm, from what I know, but it's certainly not the norm here!

NotQuiteCockney Tue 21-Dec-04 14:34:15

Oh, I should add, I stopped breastfeeding DS1 at 18 months, as I'd heard that if you feed them at 2, they remember, and will want to BF with the next baby.

Of course, DS1 remembered anyway, and expressed some interest when I had DS2, but I decided I'd rather have tandem feeding than tantrums. In the end, he hasn't fed, but I think he'd have been more interested if I'd forbidden it.

DS2 is 3 months, and will certainly be BF to 1, and probably beyond.

SantaFio2 Tue 21-Dec-04 14:34:34


venetiangirl Tue 21-Dec-04 22:12:02

I bf my ds until he was 2 and I haven't regretted it at all. But after he was about a year I became almost secretive and ended only bf him in bed at night and didn't admit it to people unless I knew they were hugely supportive of bfing.
Re: stopping - I waited until the thought of it didn't make me want to cry. In fact I waited until it was a slight irritation and then didn't feel bereft at all. DS was absolutely fine about it. It was like people say, that there can be an ending that's almost mutual and feels right. I would strongly recommend a woman to look for what she intuits is right and try to block out the huge social disapproval we can all feel if we bf beyond a few acceptable months!

hercyulelog Wed 22-Dec-04 08:50:59

I breastfed ds until he was 4 but will only feed dd until she is two. Dh was bf until he was 4 and I knew lots of people from la leche who fed for this time or longer so it was no big deal for us. I cant face another 4 years though. We have lots of allergies in our family and seeing ds suffer as a baby due to phlegm, night coughs etc made me want to do the best I could and after lots of reading I wanted to give him the best chance against asthma. My brother as a nearly 40 year old suffers badly from asthma, nut allergy, excema.
Dd was exclusive bf until 6 months and so far shows no sign of problems. I know it's no guarantee of course but I didnt want to take the chance.
I also went back to work full time with ds when he was 3 and had plenty of evenings out. DD at 14 months is able to go to sleep on her own with out the breast, I made sure of this as I went back to work when she was 6 months.

There is of course lots of negative stuff people say about extended bf but it worked for us. In fact, ds's bestfriend self weaned at 2 1/2 years and i've met lots of people who were also long term bfs but it's not something people are quick to admit to because of others attitudes.

I believe the average world wide age for breastfeeding is 4 years old.

hercyulelog Wed 22-Dec-04 08:51:51

Btw to stop we just told ds that I was on medicine that meant I couldnt bf anymore. No problems at stopping.

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