How to stop Breasfeeding a Toddler

11 March 2021

by Dr Melanie Majaham, Consultant Peadiatrician

Congratulations to moms who have made it this far breastfeeding your toddler! However, there comes a time when all good things must come to an end.

World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months but to continue breastfeeding ( combined with solid foods) until the age of 2 years and beyond.

If you have decided to stop breastfeeding your toddler, you may need to do so in stages rather than going cold turkey. Breastfeeding has not only been a source of nutrition for your child but has always been a warm sanctuary for your child to seek comfort. It is not a surprise then, that , attempting to stop breastfeeding a toddler can be met with much resistance and tantrums . Here are some tips that can help to ease the transition.

  1. Give your child a few weeks to prepare himself/herself by explaining that he/she is now a big boy/girl and is ready for a new step in his/her life! You can use story books to illustrate what big boys/girls can now do.
  2. Replace one breastfeeding session at a time with a big girl/boy activity like reading or singing nursery rhymes together. Distraction usually works better then scolding your child or avoiding your child completely.
  3. Try to avoid stopping the night feeds first as these are usually the hardest to stop as it provides comfort to your child before sleeping
  4. Avoid weaning during occasions ,such as, starting a new preschool , moving house or the arrival of a new baby. Your child is already going through a major upheaval !
  5. Do ensure your child has adequate nutritional alternatives, such as fresh/formula milk and  regular, well-balanced meals.
  6. Wear clothes that are harder to access for breastfeeding to discourage your toddler further.

Otherwise, you can always opt for natural term weaning . In other words, let your child slowly learn to let go and stop breastfeeding by himself/herself whenever he/she is ready. This can occur over months  as your child gradually reduce and finally, stop breastfeeding completely .