It’s breast to stop, now!

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I have decided to write about stopping breastfeeding (after 6 months and once it has become firmly established and part of yours and your baby’s routine), and particularly my own experiences, as this is a little talked about issue. Most of the bump out there is about starting breastfeeding, not stopping, and it isn’t something many of us think about when embarking on the breastfeeding journey.

I started out by thinking that I would try to breastfeed my son until he was 6 months and then move him onto formula and then cow’s milk, after a year. In reality, 6 months came and went and there was no way I (or my son) was ready to stop, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is just so darn convenient! No bottles to make up, no having to go downstairs first thing in the morning to get milk and no sterilisation required. Also, it’s free. I would much rather have an extra piece of cake and know that the calories were going to my son, through me, than buying expensive formula. Lastly, I loved the idea of continuing to provide antibodies to my son, through the milk, and it was a fantastic bonding activity for both of us and very comforting for him (especially if he was upset).

I decided to reassess stopping breastfeeding at a year and as his first birthday approached, I felt we were ready to start thinking about it again. I had heard horror stories of woman who had stopped ‘cold turkey’ and had experienced mastitis or very painful boobs as the milk had nowhere to go. I decided the best course of action was to stop gradually and so I started introducing formula at 9 months and replaced it with cow’s milk at a year. By 13 months, we were down to morning and evening breastfeeds and at 13 ½ months we had dropped down to just morning breastfeeds (as I just couldn’t face jumping out of bed!).

Around this time, Charlie also started getting his first teeth through (quite late) and found it hilarious to clamp down on my nipple. He was quite cunning and waited until he had drank as much as he wanted as he knew I would take him off straight away and squeeze his earlobe (my attempt to teach him that biting me definitely isn’t on). Suddenly breastfeeding wasn’t quite so bonding with the constant threat of being chomped, so this contributed to my decision to stop.

I don’t remember the last feed. I think I decided a couple of feeds before the last one that this would be the last and then I relented a couple of times, when Charlie didn’t want his bottle. He quickly got use to the idea that it was the bottle from now on and didn’t shown any signs that he missed breastfeeding.

From other mums’ stories, I think that there are two other ways it can typically go. The first is that your baby decides before you do that they have had enough of breastfeeding and refuse to feed, or cry when it’s offered and the second is that you have decided to stop feeding but your baby has other ideas. In the first case I would express milk, when your boobs feel full, gradually decreasing the amount, until you are no longer producing milk, or your boobs don’t feel uncomfortable. I think the second scenario is a much more challenging situation as it must be very stressful to have your baby grabbing your top and demanding to be fed when you no longer feel happy to do this. My only advice would be to be consistent with your baby. You might decide to offer feeds in the morning and evening at home, but no longer when out and about or you may be happy to keep feeding your baby on demand, until they choose to stop.

One more thing… I thought I would stop producing milk shortly after stopping feeding my son but I still produce milk (a very small amount as my boobs never get engorged) and Charlie is now 15 months. However, I have other friends who knew they weren’t producing enough milk in the first few months of their baby’s life and so supplemented their milk with formula. As with all things baby, nothing is quite how you expect it to be! I would love to hear your experiences on this subject.

Rosie Wright runs weaning workshops for first time parents in Brighton.

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10 comments for “It’s breast to stop, now!

  1. Lunachick
    25/07/2012 at 2:58 pm

    Your friends that felt they weren’t producing enough milk in the first few months of their baby’s life may well have got poor information or support early on. is a great website for evidence-based information on all things to do with mothers’ milk :) The section on feeding with teeth is helpful to many mums, too.

  2. Katie
    25/07/2012 at 3:22 pm

    I only managed five weeks of breastfeeding and would have loved to have done more. I had a HUGE supply of milk and after that five weeks I stopped cold turkey and boy oh boy, what a mistake. Can anyone say pain? I will definitely not go cold turkey next time as I plan to have another go at breastfeeding baby number two whenever he or she comes along. I leaked milk for a very long time – about 8 months – and I wonder if it was to do with trying to stop cold turkey when I had such a strong supply.

  3. jenni dunlop
    25/07/2012 at 3:37 pm

    I stopped breastfeeding my son a few days after his first birthday with no problems. He had a healthy appetite for solids from when we started baby led weaning at six months. He wad a mixed feed baby due to doctors insistence for tongue tie and from six months had one formula a day mon-fri at his grandparents and all the rest breastfed. I had no pain when we stopped cold turkey from feeds 2-3 times a day. Felt sad to be stopping but also so very proud we made it to a year (as I only made it to 8 months with his sister). This was thanks to my local council’s breastfeeding team and one particular member who is also an NCT trained breastfeeding counsellor.

  4. 25/07/2012 at 7:56 pm

    I stopped breastfeeding my little girl at 9 months when I decided to go back to work. I was already down to just morning and just before bed feeds. I dropped the evening feed first and let my husband give our daughter her milk and put her to bed. He loved having a bigger part in the bed time routine and probably puts her to bed most nights. Giving up that final feed wasn’t easy as I loved the feeling of breast feeding, however my daughter had five teeth and was starting to chomp! Of most of my friends, I think I was breastfeeding one of the longest; some couldn’t, some didn’t want to and for some it just became a chore. Not everyone likes breastfeeding but I loved it. That said I am glad I can go back to wearing nice bras now (they don’t make pretty nursing bras for big girls).

  5. beck
    25/07/2012 at 8:14 pm

    I stopped breastfeeding when my little girl was 9 months, I’d only planned to feed her till 6m but the little darling refused to take ANY milk in any other form or through any other means, frankly I was pig sick by 9m and found that there was next to no advice on how to stop bfeeding, even my health visitor was beyond useless. Everyone just assumes that at some point yr LO will suddenly surrender and decide actually she quite like that bottle/cup/ridiculously expensive ‘just like a breast’ bottle. Well, not mine. In the end I stopped dead and fed her milk one ml at a time through a medicine syringe and supplemented it with lots of milky food, after about two weeks of this she finally took a soft spouted cup. My boobs never hurt once which makes me think my body had had enough as well as my mind! sorry this is such a long post but I remember how hard it was for me and i felt totally alone in my quest to quit then, I think the nerve must still be raw! x

    • Star
      22/06/2013 at 10:35 am

      I understand I stopped cold turkey yesterday when dd unexpectedly took the bootle she is 10 months next week!! I had been trying her on the bottle since she was 6 months old and she wouldn’t take it! Like you I had tried the different cups the different bottles you name it and she still wouldn’t give in. She loved being breast fed and I enjoyed it too but I’ve to go back to work! My breast are swollen at the moment but the discomfort is minimum , I wander when they will go back to their normal size? Congratulation on breast feeding for as long as you did because its not easy at times. Xx

  6. Sara
    25/07/2012 at 9:02 pm

    Still breast feeding at 21mths been trying to stop for 10 months down to a night feed and some times during the night feed.

  7. 26/07/2012 at 11:01 am

    Thanks for all your responses! Breastfeeding is such a personal journey (with your baby of course) so thank you for sharing your stories. Lunachick- I have recommended the website you mentioned on my Facebook page, as I thought it was really informative. If you would like to follow me on facebook, go to would very much appreciate it. Thanks for reading!

  8. JaneB
    29/07/2012 at 8:15 am

    I decided to finish BF gradually. I started when Ionas was 10 months, by the time he was 1 we had just morning and evening feed, which I then reduced by minutes. He was exactly 1 year 1 months and 1 week when we finished. No fuss and no crying. I was very happy with my decision. The evening feed was replaced by an extra long cuddle.
    Most of the people who I met through NCT and through other baby-mum classes stopped BF very quickly. Either they did not feel comfortable, or it was cultural (French mums often use bottle), or they just could not make it work. Just one other mum was BF her daughter for quite long time. Her LO is now 19 months and can talk and walk. The mother is a bit distressed as LO would run after her, grab her shirt and demand boob! If she does not get it she has a very big tantrum. I really feel for the mother, but I think that she should have finished a bit earlier. Maybe I am wrong, but I think that nowadays there is no need to feed longer than 12-15 months. In olden days yes, as it gave the extra nutrients when there was not much food around. Already stretching it to a year is more about comfort, sharing “love” than actually feeding your child.

  9. Michelle J
    30/07/2012 at 4:04 pm

    I breastfed my son for 6 months and decided to give up as I felt he was ready and his daddy wanted to help out more. What I found was crazy was the lack of info out there on how to stop breastfeeding ! I bought books n looked up the Internet but the info was all over the place so I decided to reduce a feed until I was comfortable which was going great until the last two feeds the morning or evening feeds! All in all it took me a month to drop these feeds as I was so sore n uncomfortable!! Wish there was more advice on how to stop as being a first time mum I felt like I was doing it all wrong!

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