6 Signs You’re Ready to Stop Breastfeeding
If you’re nursing on demand, pumping, supplementing with formula—or any combo of the above, you’re likely aware that the APA recommends you breastfeed exclusively for six months, and keep going for about a year. If you’ve crossed that finish line, brb, we're engraving your medal (seriously). And if you’ve thought—OK, cried—about throwing in the towel sooner, you can officially turn off the guilt along with the pump. Here are signs you—and your family—could be ready to wean.
Some moms choose to tandem breastfeed a toddler and a newborn. Others view the news of their next pregnancy as a natural sign to wean their older child. If you go that route, experts advise beginning the process by the halfway mark of your new pregnancy, as nursing can cause premature uterine contractions and nipple soreness (good times). Plus, it can take weeks to months to gradually transfer your toddler from breast to sippy cup. Replace the time you used to spend nursing him with extra attention, cuddles and reading sessions.
He’s Eating Plenty of Solids
As long as the baby is at least 12 months old, a balanced diet of veggies, protein, grains and whole cow’s milk can likely replace the nutrients he was getting from nursing. But check with your pediatrician about whether you should still keep some breastmilk or formula in the mix.
Your Kid Seems Distracted
Looking around while nursing is one of a toddler’s favorite activities (aside from unspooling toilet paper). But if she starts chatting you up mid-latch or seems totally indifferent to the whole situation, it may mean she’s ready to move on. Still, pros advise weaning when home life is stable—not, say, right before you go back to work or she starts preschool.
You Want to Prioritize Sleep
If your baby is now waking only once a night to nurse, but your boobs are still on a newborn’s feeding schedule, sleeping through your pre-dawn pumping alarm sure sounds tempting. One mom we know who had a full-time job, a four-year-old and an infant decided she’d serve them all better by no longer waking up at 3:30 a.m. to pump.
It’s Making You Bonkers
For some moms, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to pump or breastfeed round the clock while also holding down a job, showering regularly, looking human, cooking and eating food, having friends, maintaining a relationship with a partner, keeping a pet alive, crafting homemade holiday cards and oh yeah—taking care of a child or several. Losing the pump to keep your sanity? Sounds like a solid move.
It’s Taking Away From Time With Your Kids
Raise your hand if you’ve become so obsessed with expressing milk that it emotionally overshadows or just plain eats up time you could be spending with your kid(s). If this sounds like you, it could be your cue to let it go.