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How do I stop breastfeeding my 16 month old?

(31 Posts)
coveredinsnot Fri 03-Jul-09 11:07:44

Hi all,
I've been breastfeeding my 16 month old mainly in the evenings before bed (this is how he usually falls asleep) since he was born, and now this is the only feed I regularly do, apart from a morning feed most days (~75% of the time). I could drop the morning feed fairly easily I think, but I'm really stalling about dropping the evening feed for several reasons:
- I enjoy it
- he enjoys it
- it's part of the routine we've always had
- I can't imagine how on earth I'll get him to sleep without breastfeeding
- finishing breastfeeding completely will feel like the end of an era, and while I know saying this will probably elicit a lot of 'get over it, he's not a baby' and 'this sounds like you're breastfeeding more for your sake than his' kind of comments, which I think do hold a nugget of truth, but I would also pre-emptively say that it takes two to tango, and breastfeeding is a relationship, not a one way street so I'm happy that there's something in it for me also.
- I'm attracted by theories of attachment which suggest that extended breastfeeding is a good idea
- WHO suggest breastfeeding until 2 years, so if I stop will I be depriving him?
- if swine flu really takes off this winter, perhaps it would be helpful to ds's immune system to still be breastfeeding (not sure of the science behind this statement!)

My reasons for wanting to stop are:
- people think I'm a bit weird for still breastfeeding
- I'd quite like to go out and have a decent binge drink! shock grin
- I think sometimes a break, having a night off, just being away is sooo appealing, and this is impossible while I'm still breastfeeding.

Is anyone else in a similar pickle?
Has anyone worked through this before, and if so, how did it go?

Macdog Fri 03-Jul-09 11:12:35

Well done for getting this far!

I stopped bfing when my dd was 16 months. At thte time it felt like the right time to do it for both of us.
What I did was one night I put some EBM in a cup and dh offered it to her at bedtime.
if she woke in the night, she was changed and offered a drink of water.

She took to the new routine really well, and actually slept better for it.

Don't feel pressured to do something that you are not comfortable doing. it is a big decision to stop bfing.
If you are happy to coninue with a night feed, then keep doing so.
Do whatever makes YOU and your DS happy smile

minipinkscottish Fri 03-Jul-09 11:46:42

Well done you grin

I have 6 children and have bf for varying lengths of time but never less than a year and ds4 was 21 months when he stopped. I am still bf dd2 and she is 12 months.

Your reasons for keeping going are the right ones and you must go with this as long as you and lo are happy. As he grows things naturally change and the time to stop with come around and you will just know it is right. I remember the last feed of each of my children .....and just knew it was the lasthmm

Good are a good mumwink

AmIDoingThisRight Fri 03-Jul-09 12:23:48

Well coveredinsnot, I could have written your post word for word! Am still BF DS who is the same age as your little fellow and sometimes wonder when I should stop.

Feeding him first thing in the morning and at bedtime, and he takes much longer at the morning one, though maybe because he is still sleepy.

Had always maintained that I'd stop when he wanted to stop, but he shows no signs of losing interest and he seems really happy to carry on for a while. Am hoping he'll stay interested for a few more months so I can make it to the 2 year mark which is what the WHO recommend.

Is nice to know there are others in the same position - was getting a little weary of people thinking I'm an eccentric for "still feeding him". Let them think what they like.

coveredinsnot Fri 03-Jul-09 22:01:44

Thanks for all your replies. I think we will plod on for now. I think I'd feel uncomfortable stopping when my reasons for continuing outweigh my reasons for stopping. I'm just so happy to know there are others in the same boat. It is very comforting. Thank you mumsnet!!!

Now... anyone got any suggestions for witty retorts to members of my family who ask me every time I see them, 'Are you still breastfeeding him then?' or some other variation... This always annoys me, but I struggle to think of decent enough replies other than 'f off it's none of your business!' which is what I feel but never say...

PacificDogwood Fri 03-Jul-09 22:09:57

"Are your still Bfing him??"
-"Yes, isn't it great?!"
-"Yes, I am very proud!"
-"Yes, who'd've thought I'd get this far!"


Well done, you! You have got the might of the WHO behind you.

I stopped Bfing DS3 when he was just over 13 months because I was ready and he was not too bothered. We switched over to full-fat cows milk in a bottle at night only and he never asked for another feed shock.
My biggest concern was how on earth I was going to be able to persuade him that it was bed time: total non-issue as it turned out.
He has milk and water during the day from a variety of cups.

MrsPickles Fri 03-Jul-09 22:15:22

Hi, I stopped bf-ing at 16m and this was my experience:
Until then DD was always bf to sleep, co-slept & helped herself up to 3 times a night - if I was not there, held up at work or boob not immediately available in night she'd scream herself silly. DH could occasionally get her to sleep by wedging her between 2 pillows and lying with her shushing her but usually took a lot of tears!

I like you still loved the attachment & closeness & saw no real reason to stop except slightly wishing i could have my life back and just one night off without feeling guilty! Unfortunately DD got thrush in her mouth & me in my nipple and I didn't want us to reinfect each other so I had an incentive. Went cold turkey, took 3 nights (lay with DD but no boob for first 2, DH did third night, fourth night in cot & much less crying and my 5th night miracle she slept through for first time ever in cot!).
I wanted to keep the morning feed for closeness when DD got better but she was not interested! She also did not want to sleep in bed at all with us, would cry until put in cot when would go straight to sleep for whole night!
So after 1 week suddenly I was no longer co-sleeping or bfing - felt very sad, my DD was no longer a baby..... BUT I had my life back and it was GREAT! DH & I had our bed back & we soon were able to have a long awaited arranged a night out!!

Sorry no real tips for you, I know I would have kept putting if off if DD had not got thrush BUT if you decide to stop the evening feed, it was not terrible and it was really lovely to have life that little bit easier & freer once we had stopped.

babyOcho Fri 03-Jul-09 22:18:43

If you really don't want to stop then don't. You can have the occasional nights away and someone else put your DC to bed at night with no impact to your BFing.

I have gone back to work part time and after I drop DD on the Monday morning I don't see her until the Tuesday evening when I collect her. Milk supply is fine (I was worried about leaking rather than less milk, because I was confident that milk supply at this stage is fine). So you can have you big drink up and night away if you want without compromising the BFing.

I've not had any hassle from anyone about still BFing, so cannot offer any advice on that aspect.

[DD is coming up to 16 months and BF on non working days 3 times, and on working days only once - either morning or before bed]

meebles Fri 03-Jul-09 22:31:42

Well, I stopped feeding my DD before bed when she was a similar age as quite often it didn't put her to sleep anyway, and looking after her from 5am - 8.30pm made a really long day. Now she has cows milk and goes to sleep really well for either of us - hurrah, not just my job now! I also went back to work when she was 14 months, and as I was working some evening/night shifts she had to adapt really. I still feed her in the morning, and during the day sometimes if she wants.

Oh and I just go with 'yup...and?' and slightly puzzled stare to the 'are you still breastfeeding?' question. I have no good reason to stop, so why would I?

plimple Fri 03-Jul-09 22:37:56

If I was you I'd try to get him to fall asleep a different way so you can have the odd night out. You'd be surprised how unbothered your boobs and baby are by a night off. Aside from that carry on regardless.
If anyone asks just tell them the truth. They might not be passing negative judgement you know so don't assume it. I like Pacific's positive replies.

plimple Fri 03-Jul-09 22:40:18

I think your immunity argument is the best by the way (others all understandable too, but immunity best used with family/friends), that's what makes me sometimes regret I'm not still feeding my 25 month old DD, just for times of illness.

Grendle Fri 03-Jul-09 22:43:06

You might find sometime fairly soon, that if your not there then your baby can be settled by someone else without too much difficulty even if when you are there bf is the only way to go. It doesn't work for everyone, but sometime around this age, both of mine were happy to settle with dh if I was out. They reach a stage where they are old enough to understand that you are out, but will be back later.

coveredinsnot Sat 04-Jul-09 10:50:20

Thanks for all your kind replies.

So... if I were to just stop, how would I do it? Just stop, that's it? Or cut out the morning feed completely, then the night feed?

I'm slightly concerned about getting mastitis again, which I've had twice already, and it's truly horrible.

Also worried about my boobs getting more droopy and depressing than they already are... someone please tell me they'll suddenly bounce back to their former pert(ish) glory?!

PacificDogwood Sat 04-Jul-09 18:35:42

Well, if you do decide to stop, then yes, sounds like cutting out the morning feed first makes sense for you.
I had DH give the first few bottles with cow's milk at bed time with me nowhere near. I continued to feed a few times over the next couple of weeks for "decompression". Like you, I had had lots of problems with blocked ducts and mastitis, so was a bit anxious what would happen when I stopped. The very last feed was about 3 ir 4 days after the one before.
Re boobs grin: like so many things v individually different what happens to them. The milk making glands will shrink, so temporarily boobs may be "looser" IYKWIM, but then good old oestrogen will fill them up with fat cells again. I am back into my old grey comfy bras 2 months down the line.

HTH. smile

mummalish Sat 04-Jul-09 19:45:18

Hi coveredinsnot (love the name), I am also breastfeeding my son, and want, well, not want, but for various reasons, am going to stop when he is a year old in a few weeks time.

The thing that frightens me most is the immunity thing. I am worried that come winter he will get very sick with various bugs, which I think breastfeeding has protected him against so far. I am hoping that by having breastfed this long, that it has somehow strengthened his immunity. Surely he wont just get ill now that he has stopped having breast milk.

I also struggle with people's comments, especially my in-laws, who say things like: "Oh you're not still doing THAT are you?". I see red, why do people think its ok to make comments like that, they should mind their own business.

It's amazing how many people like to encourage me to stop breastfeeding, from quite early on, I had no intention of stopping, even my gp told me to :"Stop being silly and give him formula". And a particular gem, (from the gp), "The nutritional content of breastmilk past 6 months is questionable".

So I dont know if I am ready to sstop, but I am going to, and I am sure all will be ok.

I am so worried though, that when I stop, his skin will break out in hives, and he will get constipated etc, I know this may sound silly, but these are my very real concerns.


MildredRoper Sat 04-Jul-09 19:57:43

My dd is 14 months and I still feed her at night, but her dad has put her to bed a few times now with just a cup of milk.

I don't intend to stop feeding her yet but it's good to know that we don't always have to. Maybe you should just try it with someone else and see how it goes?

JFly Sat 04-Jul-09 20:15:15

I'm struggling with this right now with my 15.5 month DS. I have really enjoyed BFing but now I feel I'm "done" with it. DS still wakes in the night and I am hoping that he will stop if the boob is no longer an option. So far I cave in b/c I can't handle the crying and the tantrums. How does one cope with that??

He's never had a bottle, so trying to figure out how to substitute cows milk at bedtime is proving difficult. I also think cutting out the morning feed would be easiest as you're gearing up for the day rather than winding down. But, it's really the bedtime feed that gets me antsy and makes me want to quit. Having DH do that feed would be great, apart from he's not always home by bedtime. But I will try that! I will try anything. hmm

As for the comments, I usually reply with an exasperated "yes, I still am" but I don't know why. I'm not embarrassed nor do I really care what people think, but I guess in some way I'm pandering to their disapproval. If you are happy BFing then that's all that matters. If people ask you about it, say "how kind of you to take an interest." They'll find it very hard to respond to that! It's my new favourite phrase!

chandellina Sat 04-Jul-09 20:36:13

i don't understand why anyone needs to know if your BFing still or not. (since it's only at home anyway). I'm BFing my nearly one-year old in the morning and night, but I don't remember the last time anyone asked me if I were still BFing.

All i can think is your family likes to gossip about it!

my son is also quite happy to take a bottle before bed on the rare night i've gone out. i've just fed him a bit before i go, for my boob's sake. (though i don't think they even fill up these days, and i've gone from 36E to 34B, yikes.)

best wishes

coveredinsnot Sun 05-Jul-09 10:44:56

JFly have you thought about using Dr Jay Gordon's technique to cut out the night feeds? We tried it (we still co-sleep though, sort of), and it worked exactly as it said on his website although we have since lapsed due to going away travelling and teething, but at least I know I can endure the crying that ensues with the first night of no boob... I struggled with crying/screaming/demanding boob during the night as I didn't think I could tolerate depriving ds of something that was so readily available and easy to give, but the night feeds became exhausting especially when he was relentlessly sucking due to teething, so I caved, and I was glad I found Dr Gordon's advice. Thinking about his crying as anger and frustration rather than pain, illness or anything darker helped me a lot, plus being absolutely so exhausted I could bear anything...!

PacificDogwood thanks for the reminder of what happens to boobs when you stop breastfeeding. I knew it was something like that. I just hope they don't turn into spaniels' ears! I'll end up having to roll them up to get them in my bra....

mummalish when my ds started nursery for 1.5 days at 10 months old, I thought my breastmilk would protect him from all the bugs, but no, he caught everything plus more, he was basically ill constantly for the first four months of nursery. I think breastmilk provides some immune support, but it will not stop your little one from catching everything/ anything, perhaps only reduce the symptoms of something you already have - but if they're catching things before you have them, you won't have the antibodies to pass on to them (does that make sense?!).

I'm interested to know what your various reasons are for stopping? I'm just being nosy - don't share if you don't want to! (Obviously!).

chandellina yes, perfect diagnosis - my family love to gossip, you've hit the nail on the head! Maybe I should say I'm also breastfeeding dh as well (I'm definitely not btw!)... I wonder what they'd say then? Oooh I'd love to know what they say about all this behind my back hmm

I think for now I'll continue, thanks to all your replies I've got a firmer idea in my head of what stopping might be like, and how to do it. And for now, instead of an angry retort or bitter face when my family ask me if I'm still breastfeeding, I'll say nicely, 'well thanks for taking an interest! Yes I am. Isn't it great that we can do that still?' etc..!

JFly Sun 05-Jul-09 14:41:56

Thanks, covered. I hadn't seen that site, although I've heard of him. I like concrete methods like that so it's perfect for me. I will try starting tonight! I'm happy to start with night weaning and move on from there.

I find it interest that there are so many BF gurus (I like Jack Newman) but they often don't tell you how to stop. I'm all for BFing as long as you and baby like, but if you decide to stop, it can be so difficult to figure out just how to do it.

I'd like to stop for similar reasons you outlined: I put DS to bed every night b/c no one else can do the BF, of course. So, that's part of it - being able to go out in the evening before his bedtime and getting him used to others putting him down. Also, DH and I have never been away without him for the same reason. I'd like to be able to, even if we never go anywhere! (No family close by, so not many options for overnight childcare.) AND, as I said before, I feel like I'm done. I'd like to try to get PG with #2 in the next year and I'd like a break from BF before it all starts again. And my cycle is very short at the moment, so that won't help getting PG. Hopefully stopping BF will lengthen my luteal phase.

It's great to be able to implement a Plan. We'll see what DS thinks of it. smile

Meanbeansmum Sun 05-Jul-09 14:56:22

Carry on hunni, it's nobodys business apart from yours!

Why do family always feel they have the right to open discussion on how WE feed our babies!

Huge hugs, you are doing a great job! grin

My MIL is the worst..............her arguement is that breastfeeding rots their teeth........sigh....I tell her that I'm feeding dh too (her jaw drops and I walk away letting her think about it).

p.s. I am not breastfeeding my husband lol!!!!


Qally Sun 05-Jul-09 16:21:34

I've found swine flu really helpful when people ask why I want to keep giving ds some of my milk. I gravely tell them that he needs my antibodies and the protection of an adult immune system, especially if it mutates as they say it might this winter coming, and they can't think of any effective response to that one (like, but you aren't immune to it either) so leave it.

Harness their ignorance in a good cause. grin

mummalish Sun 05-Jul-09 16:28:58

coveredinsnot, I am stopping because of the comments, sometimes it gets to me. It is quite difficult if we go to the in laws for a weekend, or they are here, I feel as if I have to hide what I am doing. I shouldnt care, but it does get to me. Sometimes I think I should stop and then they can shut up.

Also, my lo never took to the breast despite months of trying, so I express all his milk. Yes, I know, crazy, people tell me that too. I have found it to be quite a positive experience, I do feel sad about not having him feed from the breast, and to be honest, if I knew then what I know now, I could have persevered a bit more, and been successful at it. Despite everything I am so proud to have given him breast milk for such a long time. I would quite happily continue, it is not a pain for me at all, but as I said the comments are getting to me.


Babieseverywhere Sun 05-Jul-09 16:40:16

The WHO recommends 'two years and beyond', so a minimum of two years breastfeeding not a maximum limit.

Before you potentially stop something which both you and you son enjoys, just a couple of things to bear in mind.

There will always be people who will judge you for various aspects of your parenting choices, if it is not breastfeeding it will be something else. Think carefully before you give other people permission to affect how you choose to parent your child.

Drinking and breastfeeding are not mutally exclusive. Mumsnet has had many discussions on this subject, sensible drinking is fine to continue breastfeeding as normal. If you want to binge drink, nothing to stop you leaving expressed milk for your baby in your absence. (or even nothing as your child could have solids or water while you are away)

Many mothers find that their older babies can be happily settled by dad or grandparents without milk, when the mother is not around. At 16 month old, the chances are your son will be fine without you if you decided to have a night or even two off without him.

BTW you start to care less about opinions of others the longer you nurse. I am tandem nursing an 11 month and an 2.11 year old. grin

Wonderstuff Sun 05-Jul-09 17:09:18

My dd is 20 months and I have been uming and ahing about stopping bf for ages. Never invisaged when I started that stopping would be a problem. I have decided to go for 24 months then think about stopping, I'm happy about this, I had been finding bfing a pain but it is the easiest way to get dd off for a nap and calm her when she gets stressed, generally have an easy life.. but what swung it for me was a friends lo getting sick and I felt that really they are still quite vunerable at this age and if I can help protect her then that is something I want to do. I feel much less stressed now I can stop worrying about how to stop.

Family have now stopped asking me when I am going to stop (think they got sick of being told of WHO recommendations) but are still making 'not nice when they get too big' comments hmm I really don't understand why anyone is bothered about older children bfing? Why do they care? V. strange.

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