How to Wean a Toddler (Step by Step Guide)

Now that your child is older, how do you stop?

Congratulations, you successfully breastfed your child through the infant phase and well into the toddler years! That’s something you should be incredibly proud of – extended breastfeeding takes commitment.

But now that your child is older, how do you stop?

Toddlers are notorious for their tantrums and unyielding desire to get their way, so it’s likely you’re expecting the process of weaning to be tear-filled and difficult. Truly, the process can be challenging.

Thankfully, though, it’s possible to stop nursing your older child without all the drama. Here’s how.

What To Know About Weaning

Before you begin the weaning process, there are a few things you need to know about your child’s nutrition, developmental stage, and the physical effects of weaning on your own body.

How Will It Affect Their Nutrition?

One of the first things you’re probably concerned about is your toddler’s nutrition. It’s impossible to know precisely how much they’re getting from you on a regular basis – some mothers may be producing nearly nothing, while others produce quite a bit of milk.

Since breastfeeding provides your child with more calories, nutrients, and fat, what you should focus on when weaning your child is making sure you’re still offering enough additional calories throughout the day (1).

So, as you remove your milk as a food source, you’ll need to make sure your child is receiving those nutrients from the food you offer. However, don’t get so caught up tracking your child’s food intake that you make yourself crazy.

Take Note

The amount toddlers eat varies significantly from one day to the next – some days, they seem to eat next to nothing, while on other days they eat more than an adult. Recognize this wild variance is normal and don’t expect your toddler to sit down and eat a balanced meal every time they come to the table.

Instead, strive for a balanced nutritional week. Children’s bodies are intuitive and they will eat what they need. Your job is simply to make a variety of foods available at regular intervals, and they’ll decide whether to eat and how much (2).

How Will It Affect Their Development?

For toddlers, rituals and routines present a sense of security and predictability as they go through their day. For your breastfeeding toddler, nursing may have become part of this routine and contributes to their sense of stability.

Therefore, it’s important to understand you will need to find a way to reinforce their need for security after breastfeeding has been removed. You can do this by identifying a nursing substitute. It may be an oral replacement, or simply a soothing activity. Some ideas for a substitute are:

  • Milk in an extra-special sippy cup they picked out themselves.
  • A pacifier (if your child still uses one; don’t introduce one at this age if they don’t already use it).
  • A water bottle.
  • A story with mom.
  • Soothing music.
  • Five minutes of snuggle time.

When your child asks to nurse after you’ve either dropped certain nursing sessions or weaned altogether, offer them their special substitute. You know your child best, so choose something they will enjoy and find comforting.

It is also helpful that, at this age, your child is still easily distracted (3). This means when they get upset because you prevent them from nursing, distraction by substitution can be a great strategy to satisfy them.

How Will It Affect You?

As you wean, be mindful that weaning can be as stressful on your body as it is on your toddler’s emotions. Your breasts are a milk factory accustomed to producing milk for your toddler, and they produce to keep the supply in line with demand.

Learn More
Stressed mother with post weaning depressionThe Connection Between Weaning Your Baby and Depression

As you decrease your nursing length and frequency, your body will respond by reducing its supply. Abrupt weaning, however, has the potential to cause breast engorgement, clogged milk ducts (which can be painful), and mastitis (if they become infected).

Clogged milk ducts have the following symptoms (4):

  • A small, hard spot in the breast.
  • Swelling or bruising.
  • Localized breast tenderness.
  • A hot feeling in the breast.

If you have a clogged milk duct, massage it to try and release the milk, place warm compresses on it, and continue nursing from that side until the clogged duct is resolved.

Related Reading
Mother breasfeeding her toddlerYour Ultimate Guide To Drying Up Your Breast Milk

If the discomfort persists and you develop any of the following symptoms, contact your physician as you may have mastitis, which is an infection that may require antibiotics (5):

  • Fever.
  • Discharge (pus) from the breast.
  • Chills.
  • Flu-like symptoms.
  • Quick onset of feeling ill.

Weaning Step by Step

Now that you know everything you need to know about the science behind weaning a toddler – here are the 6 steps you should follow.

1. Get Committed To The Process.

Mom, the first step is yours alone. While weaning will free you of the physical burden of nursing, it can also be unexpectedly emotional for you to realize the days of intense physical connection with your child are coming to an end.

Prepare yourself before jumping in and be committed – if you begin the process and then decide to back off, it can make things more difficult the next time you try to wean.

At the same time, it’s important to watch your child’s cues, just like you did with starting to breastfeed. If weaning is going too fast or if your child just isn’t ready, you may see an increase in tantrums. You may want to slow down the changes for a few days or weeks.
Headshot of Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC

Editor's Note:

Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC

2. Talk to Your Toddler.

Most toddlers can understand a lot of things and even be reasoned with if they’re creeping toward preschool age. So, talk with your child often about how breastfeeding is for babies and they are growing up and becoming a big kid. Let them know that soon; they will no longer be allowed to nurse.

Very young toddlers can begin to understand postponement, too. For instance, let them know they can’t nurse when it’s light out, only when it’s dark. Or that you will nurse, but not until after dinner.
Headshot of Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC

Editor's Note:

Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC

3. Stop On-Demand Nursing.

Every mother-child relationship is different but, by this age, many toddlers will have fallen into a routine and will expect nursing sessions at set times (after waking, before nap, at bedtime).

However, if this is not the case in your home and you nurse at irregular intervals based on your child’s request, it’s time to stop.

If your child asks to breastfeed outside of “regular” breastfeeding sessions, gently refuse – but offer the substitute you have identified and reassure them you will be happy to nurse them later, before their nap, for example.

4. Shorten Nursing Sessions.

While your body stops producing a large volume of milk, gradually tapering off your nursing is a good idea both for your child’s emotional adjustment as well as your physical comfort.


Depending on how much you produce, your body may need to gradually reduce its milk output to avoid engorgement, discomfort, and blocked milk ducts.

Reduce nursing sessions by one minute per day until your child nurses for three minutes or less. Or nurse only for the length of a nursery rhyme or favorite song – I can remember times when I would allow nursing only until I made it through the ABCs!

If your child is upset when the nursing session ends before they’d like it to, again offer them the substitute you have identified.

5. Drop Nursing Sessions One By One.

Starting with your daytime nursing sessions, drop one session per week to allow both your body and child time to adjust. This step will vary from mother to mother – some may still be nursing five times each day, while others may only be nursing twice.

Generally, the bedtime nursing session is the most difficult one to drop as children use it primarily for self-soothing and comfort before going to sleep. Drop this one last.

If your child fusses and asks to breastfeed at a time when you’ve already dropped that nursing session, offer them the substitute.

Take Note

Don’t give in and allow them a “quick nurse” as this will reinforce to your child that pleading is effective and can make it more difficult the next time you try to say no; be firm.

6. Enlist Help.

When you’re ready to drop your final nursing session, it’s time to rally the troops! Have someone else (husband/mom/friend) over bedtime duty – many children forget that breastfeeding is even an option if mom isn’t there to ask.

Make sure your sidekick is on the same page about not giving in to the child’s pleas, and they know about the acceptable substitutes to offer if the child asks about breastfeeding.

Frequently Asked Questions

Weaning While Co-sleeping?

A slow weaning approach, dropping one night feeding a night, would be best in this case. If your baby falls asleep during nursing sessions at night, you might need to find another way to soothe them to get them to sleep as your drop feedings.

Try rocking them to sleep to comfort them without breastfeeding. It might take some time; but if you’re consistent, most toddlers will catch on.

Baby Won’t Stop Crying – I’m Desperate!

It’s tough for some moms to wean their toddlers because they wake up in the middle of the night and do not go back to sleep until they breastfeed. Mamas, we sympathize with you. A helpful suggestion is to hold off for as long as possible while practicing soothing substitute methods and eventually breastfeed when you’re out of patience.

This only works if you keep extending the wait time each night. For example, if you wait two hours before giving in one week and then three hours the next week, you increase your toddler’s threshold gradually. You may wean them sooner than you think!

Winning The Weaning Battle

To summarize, here are the 6 steps to wean your toddler successfully:

  1. Commit to the process.
  2. Talk to your toddler about the changes.
  3. Stop on-demand and irregular nursing.
  4. Shorten your nursing sessions.
  5. Reduce your nursing sessions one by one.
  6. Have your partner take over bedtime duty.

Weaning a toddler can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. If you have a rock-solid strategy before you begin, wean slowly, and offer a comforting substitute to your child, you can stop breastfeeding with minimal drama.

Do you have any tips for weaning an older child? I’d love to know. Also, don’t hesitate to share this with a mama who needs it!

Headshot of Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC

Reviewed by

Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC

Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC is a writer, editor, and board-certified lactation consultant for two busy pediatric practices. She is a former La Leche League Leader, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, and Certified Infant Massage Instructor.
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123 Reader Comments

  1. Zakiyyah

    I’m soon ready to stop breastfeeding feeding my two to son.. it’s difficult when I’m breastfeeding my 6 month old daughter… And when my husband insists that I continue to feed our son… Any advice

    • Ella

      Hi Zakiyyah,

      I’m having the same issue now. I’m wondering what did you end up doing? I have a 4-month-old and a 22-month-old that I need to stop breastfeeding. I just don’t know what to do.

  2. Natalie

    Hi Jenny- thank you for this article! My son is 22 months old, and we’re trying to begin the on-demand weaning before I leave for a trip in March. Do you have suggestions for weaning while co-sleeping?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hi Natalie,

      I recommend a slow weaning approach, dropping one night feeding a night. If your baby falls asleep during nursing sessions at night, you might need to find another way to soothe them to get them to sleep as your drop feedings. Have you tried rocking him to sleep to help comfort him without the breast? It might take some time, but if you’re consistent, he will catch on. Good luck!

  3. Thank you for writing this. ❤ 2.5 years in. We’ve had a good run.

  4. bee

    I love how you just say “have your partner do bedtime duty” or whatever totally ASSUMING every woman has a partner, or wants one. it’s 2018…come on…how isolating is that for single mothers.

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hi Bee,

      I apologize if that made you feel excluded, that certainly wasn’t my intention.

      I’ve updated the post based on your suggestion, so thanks for the great feedback!

      Good luck with the weaning!

      Best regards,

    • SWARD

      Geeze you could’ve pointed that out in a nicer way, it was nice enough for her to give us this information and to take time out of her day to provide information like this to mothers that are trying to stop breastfeeding. Yes its 2018 and people are in different situations, but you could have pointed that out very differently. Thank you Jenny for this information, I plan on trying to utilize some of your recommendations.

      • Jenny Silverstone

        You are more than welcome 🙂 Thanks for dropping by and I hope the tips help!

    • Candy

      I wish that my husband worked in town during the week, that way he could help me when it comes to nursing our daughter to sleep. This is the only nursing session that she is holding onto and I do not have anyone else to help out. I am going to try simply rocking her, wish me luck.

      • Jenny Silverstone

        I understand that it is a lot harder to stop when you do not have anyone there to help or distract your little one. I hope that rocking her to sleep helps. Please check in and let us know how it goes.

      • Sydney

        Hi, I was wondering if rocking helped or if you ever found a substitute for her?

    • tammy gates

      Clearly, that was not her intention; she is just trying to help. We all know there a lot of mammas pulling double duty so kudos to you and keep on being an awesome mom!!!

    • Heather

      I don’t have a partner either. No one can help with bedtime since my son and I live alone. I feel your pain.
      My son is 2.5 and I see no end in sight. We co-sleep, nurse to sleep, and he wakes multiples times in the night. Something has got to give.

      • I can relate…my 22 month old co-sleep, also wakes up multiple times during the night to nurse, have irregular on-demand nursing during the day. Last night I decided to go “cold-turkey” on her. Yes she cried but after offering everything I could think of as a substitute,
        her source of comfort and substitution was my husband. But then I’m afraid if this constant tantrums persist he may become worn-out. I’m a bit worried about my body’s response to this abrupt stopping nursing because almost a year ago I had mastitis in my right breast although I was breastfeeding as regular. My milk production was more than my baby could consume and my milk ducts became blocked and infected. Suffered all the intense symptoms that came with it. Antibiotics and strong pain-killers eventually helped and a long week of progressing pain. I’m hoping it’s going to be different this time.

      • Lynne

        Hi Heather, I’m a single parent to an almost 3 year old and have been wanting to wean for awhile but he’s obsessed. I started talking to him at 33 months explaining it would stop after his birthday. I’ve ended up on antibiotics 2 weeks before his birthday and had to cold turkey. He’s handling it really well, I just explain the medicine has made the milk bad so we have extra cuddles instead. He’s doing great, I’m a sobbing mess as I know it’s the end of that special time but I’m looking forward to having my body back. Keep going. You can do it.

        • Team Mom Loves Best

          Hi Lynne, we’re so proud of you! Well done, mama!

  5. Thank you for taking the time and energy to write this free advice for other mothers out there looking for tips. Very classy response by the way to heckler, it is your advice based on your experiences, which should be self explanatory. Anyway, good article, I will use these tips, thank you.

  6. Rachel

    My baby is 15 months old and still nurses all day. Some days are worse than others, but it’s often non-stop. Is there anything I can do to get him to stop?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      It sounds like your son uses nursing as a comfort as much as for nutritional needs. I recommend that you start to wean slowly, by dropping one feeding at a time. You can also help him by soothing him in other ways, such as rocking him or helping him learn to self-soothe at times.

      Do any mama’s have tips for teaching toddlers to self-soothe?

  7. Janet

    Yes thank you for your advice! It is very well received, as this is a very anxious time for me. The title of your article definitely hooked me, that is the most anxious part of it for me. I just don’t want her to have to suffer through it.

  8. Brittany W

    2 years and 9 months in! My plan was to breastfeed for a year, then 1.5 years, and well here we are. 🙂 Thank you so much for the helpful tips!

  9. Michelle

    Wish I had read this before I started weaning my toddler. It’s been 2 nights and one day. During the day she ate a lot of everything but right before bed she wanted to be breastfed and that’s where the nightmare begins. My husband is not on the same page he believes I should breastfeed until our baby wants to. So he goes to bed before early so that he won’t have to help me with our crying toddler. Makes me want to give in.

  10. Very helpful article — thank you very much for writing it. 19 months and it’s time. It is time!

    • Tina

      My 19 month old still demands breastmilk- how it goes your?

  11. Andraia

    I’m stressed my toddler barely eats food and only wants boobie all day! I’m so desperate to get her to eat more food so I can start to wean. She literally screams if I refuse her the boob sbd barely will drink from her cup. This is stressing me out. I want to get oral surgery and I need to wean her beforehand because the anesthesia is harmful to her in the milk. But overall I’m ready to be done with it. Please help! P.S she’s a very demanding 20-month old who’ll scream like she’s dying if I don’t give her boobie or she will hardly eat

    • Rosie

      I share the same problems, Andreina. My daughter refused to take a bottle as a baby (even after trying over 20 different bottles) and now she screams and throws a fit intensively (especially at night) when I don’t give in to feed her. My child also doesn’t eat very much. She only likes a snack a bit, but barely any. Has your process gotten any better?

      • Bec

        I have the exact situation with my 22 mth old girl. She has always been an intense and demanding baby and goes into absolute hysterics and punching kicking if try to comfort any other way, and won’t back down.

        • Team Mom Loves Best

          Oh, Bec, that sounds like a lot! We hope she adjusts with time. All the best!

      • Angela Barron

        Hi Rosie and Andraia,
        My situation sounds similar to the both of yours. Have either of you had any success yet in the process while figuring out how to get through or not have intense intense scream-crying?? I don’t mind breastfeeding but my 20 month old literally wakes every hour, or less, and he won’t go back to sleep without a nipple. I’ve tried so many ways, but it’s an insane kind of fit. I’m hoping if we wean the hourly wake ups will stop. If you’ve gotten through weaning with the screaming, please let me know!

    • Christy

      Omg, this is what I am going through now too! Have you had any progress with stopping?

  12. Erica

    Thank you for this piece! I work all day and only fed my son and bed time with no pumping throughout the day. I’ve been trying to wean him for awhile, but since our only time we share between the two of us I had been so iffy. But I will use some of your steps! He’s 2 years and 4 months. From struggling in the start to having the hardest time getting him off lol.

  13. Shadora

    Thank you for sharing! The journey begins now and my biggest concern is not caving in.

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Good luck Shadora! You’ve got this 🙂

  14. Erin

    Thank you for the article. My son is almost 26 mo and I’m almost 15 weeks pregnant. The nursing is really wearing on me & becoming painful.

    I just started trying to give a bottle at night when he wakes which I was hesitant to do bc I don’t want him to get “addicted” to this now … but I need a break… probably a special sippy cup is better.
    Also getting out of his crib now.

    Basically we nurse before bed and in the morning.
    And he wakes once sometimes twice a night.

    When I get home from work he asks to nurse but I’ve been trying to cut this one.

    Thanks and just curious others thoughts

  15. We’re 3.5 years in, and my little one has reduced her feedings to two feedings a day. And at times still wakes up at night for another feeding????. We’ve been through a long journey.

    • M Wae

      Holy smokes!!!! How in the world do you manage to breastfeed for 3.5 years?! We are only at 24 months, and I worry she’ll never stop! I certainly don’t want a breastfeeding teenager! You give me hope that I can last 3.5 years but I’m also concerned. I am hoping she’ll stop wanting to breastfeed like she stopped wanting to use her binky when she was 8 months old. It was a smoothe process then, but I’m not sure weaning will be.

      • Jenny Silverstone

        One of my children weaned on their own, the other took a little more work. The one thing I can assure you is that eventually, they will wean. Good luck!

  16. This is a wonderful article. Just weaned my two years old recently. Thankfully the process was peaceful and quick too. Good to see a non-biased judgemental free weaning post.

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Thank you Jane! Appreciate your kind comment, and I’m glad to hear you had such an easy time weaning.

  17. Michael

    Hi Jenny… My kid is still latching although my wife is not producing any breast milk. She goes into a tantrum whenever my wife doesn’t allow her to latch as she is eating solids. She is already 2 and a half years old and is going to attend school soon. Do you have any advise on how we can get her to stop latching? We do know that she is latching for the sake of latching. Probably just for the comfort or for the attention.

  18. Star

    Hello I enjoyed reading this article, many things were true and very useful thanks for sharing. I wanted to get a few of your ideas on what to do in the case of night time nursing sessions. As you mentioned, its wise to drop the nursing-to-sleep session last and by having a partner there to put toddler to sleep. My husband and I have that part done but the hardest part is that my 1 1/2 year old son still wakes up 2-4 times a night to nurse like a newborn. If I try to rock him to sleep or pat his back or even pick him up and comfort him he cries so loudly and throws a sleepy tantrum because he just wants me to nurse him back to sleep. Because we all sleep in one room when he cries he wakes up my daughter who is 3 years old and so I get so frustrated at this point I just want him to be quiet and im tired as well so I just give him the milk and let him fall back to sleep. I really want these night sessions to end and I wonder if theres a way to get him to sleep all night without waking up. All suggestions are welcome!!!

    • Vanessa

      I’m in the same boat. My 20-month-old daughter also still wakes up 4 times a night to nurse. Tonight was very hard on both of us. I refused to nurse her. We read books, but as she fell very tired, the screaming started. She is my 3rd… I can’t remember it being so difficult with the boys.

      • Same boat! And Yes, I don’t remember it being like that with my son! So much screaming -_-

    • Same here! My baby 18 months old now and I just started to wean five days ago. I started off not nursing during the day and once at night. I’m not going to lie; the nights were hard. During the day it’s easier since I can distract him and spend the day outside playing. Sometimes he will still randomly ask, and I say that the milk is finished. Ten I offer him water or snacks. I actually miss feeding him, and now my breasts are sore and hurt.

      • Jenny Silverstone

        I did the same thing when I stopped nursing my daughter. I kept telling her that the milk was all gone and then offered a snack. It took a few days, but it eventually worked.

    • Kelly Jo

      Star, I was exactly where you are! My son was waking up every two hours at night to nurse. I decided I wouldn’t let him nurse unless three hours had gone by. He’d way up after two hours, and I would walk around our tiny house as he cried, holding and rocking him the whole time. He would eventually stop and go to sleep.

      If he didn’t stop, I would nurse him when it had been three hours. He quickly started waking up every three hours instead of every two. We then pushed it to nursing him every four hours with the same results. It only took a few nights for him to start waking up every four hours.

      One night he slept over 6 hours, so I decided to stick with that, and again he adjusted quickly. If he woke up after only a few hours, I would walk him around the house until he fell asleep. He would cry for a bit, but never for long.

      Eventually, we got to the point where he sleeps for 10 hours without waking. It was hard to do, but it only took a week or two for us to get to this point. It was so worth it!

      • Jenny Silverstone

        Thanks for sharing your story Kelly, I’m glad you found a solution that worked for you!

  19. Thanks for sharing your experience and tips! 2 years and 1 month in and we finally completely weaned. I didn’t read this article before weaning but it was great to read for reassurance that I mostly followed the same steps and had minimal drama weaning my toddler. I had weaned very gradually starting at 19 months, starting to drop the morning waking feed. Then a few months later dropped the before nap feed. It definitely helped to have my husband and mom to put him down during naps, and he never asked for feeding that way. I finally dropped the bedtime feed a week ago and was able to explain to him that he is older now and don’t need it. I still kept the same bedtime routine and instead snuggle with him for a few minutes to replace the breastfeeding time bonding. He’s been very receptive of it overall. Because I still get the snuggle bonding time, it’s also helped me cope with this ending of a chapter/milestone for us.

  20. Mommyof4

    I am nursing #4. He’s almost 2 1/2. My oldest weaned himself at 2 when I got pregnant. I guess my milk dried up, he said “all gone” and never asked to nurse again. #2 was ALWAYS nursing & I just got tired of it. Weaning was so hard on him & later I felt bad.
    With #3 I had a genius plan. I told him how my milk was getting old & put lemon juice on my nipples. He said “oh no, it’s yucky” & never asked again.
    Tried that with #4 & he was not phased by the lemon juice.

    • Jenny Silverstone

      LOL! I love the genius plan with the lemon juice. That is hilarious. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      • Sarah

        My 2.5 year wouldn’t quit–especially at night–but eventually, someone told me to put aloe vera on the nipple. I tried that and he dropped during the day, but again I gave in at night. Today I put marmite–this black colored medicine–so he got scared and I told him it’s dirty now. So far, it worked. It’s my first night today and he hasn’t asked for it yet.

        • Team Mom Loves Best

          Great tips, Sarah!

    • I love this idea! I will be trying this. Our son is almost three years old, and I’m 12 weeks pregnant. I’m really over nursing. If lemon doesn’t work, I’ll try something else. But thanks for an excellent idea!

      • Jenny Silverstone

        Please let us know if the lemon juice works! I hope you are able to wean soon.

      • Sarah

        Try aloe Vera gel

    • Jessica

      Hello, this made chuckle. I’m currently weaning baby #4 as well. He’ll be three next month. I’ve been nursing for ten solid years since my first baby was born. I’m very emotional about the transition, although I know that I am ready. I’m worried that little guy isn’t.

      I know he is a big boy and will be okay, I do not want the process of weaning to be traumatic. I’d love it if he would wean on his own, but I swear he would never stop nursing if I didn’t end it. All of my other children nursed until their 3rd birthday.

      I appreciate all of your advice, I was planning on doing a cold turkey wean, but now I think I might try some of the things in this article. Maybe even the lemon juice.????

      • Jenny Silverstone

        Hi Jessica,

        Wow, ten years is a long time to be nursing! Have you tried the lemon juice yet? Please let us know how it works!

    • Dashoota

      I wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!!!! It IS a genius idea with the lemon juice!!!!!! You should get an award for this if it’s your own invention. It worked like a charm with my 3 y.o. son. I’ve never tried to make him nurse again and he said: “no, it’s yuck “. This information needs to be widespread 🙂 The struggling mommas must know this! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. What do you recommend as a substitute for nursing? My son is obsessed with nursing at night. I will have a 2-year-old soon in June. Thanks!

    • Jenny Silverstone

      With my kids, I would rock them to help comfort them instead of nursing. I also made sure to drop one nursing session at a time so that it was a slow and gentle process. It took some time, but eventually, we were able to fully wean at night.

      • Thanks so much for the tips. My son is almost 3 and stuck on me whenever we are home. I’m ready to wean completely. When I first attempted, he was teething which made him nurse more. Now it’s just a habit. Night time is by far the most difficult because he will kick or hit me when I refuse to nurse him as he wakes during the night. It’s a struggle but hopefully we will get over it sometime soon!

        • Team Mom Loves Best

          Hi Lou, we can only imagine how challenging it is for you, but you’re not alone — we’re rooting for you as you get past this milestone 🙂

        • Nicole

          Thank you so much for all this advice! It is really encouraging and supportive!

  22. Great advice on the last nursing session weaning. I started having my husband do the last part of bedtime two days ago before reading this. But before we did, I used to sing 4 songs while nursing as our bedtime routine. I slowing decreased the length of nursing about 2 weeks ago. I used the songs as guides since it was already part of our routine. The first couple nights I let him nurse during 3 of the songs and then cuddled with him during the last. Then did 2 and 2. And so on.. I think this helped tremendously as it was close to our normal routine.

  23. My son is now 13 months & has never taken a bottle. I’m down to only breastfeeding him at bedtime & SOMETIMES for an evening nap. But he feels he has to have boobs to go to sleep. I’m writing this as he sleeps on my chest after crying for almost 2hrs. I was so close to giving in. I want to stop breastfeeding so bad but it’s so hard to listen to him cry without giving in. He drinks from a sippy cups and eats regular food he just feels like he has to have my boobs to go to sleep and that’s that

    • Sandy

      Hi Toya! I’m in the same exact boat! Hows it going with weaning?

  24. Blessings

    Fantastic advice. Thank you for your nonjudgmental stance on breastfeeding so late in the piece. My son will still lie down in front of me if he would like a drink. I used to panic, what will people think, now I can reassure him, It’s ok I love you but not right now. He is delightful, but it is time to introduce the idea that this will finish one day. And it’s ok, I love him heaps… and it’s a good thing to be a big boy. Thanks again.

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Beautifully said 🙂 Thanks for your kind words, and good luck with your weaning!

  25. Rachel

    Two hours of crying today. I just rocked, held and reassured her but this was so hard. My 27 mo has a very strong personality and is not easy going. I am doing this as we will be traveling this summer a lot and cannot continue breastfeeding. I will miss it but that ship needs to sail. I did not give in this time. I just have to stay strong. How do I keep from engorging. My left boob feels tender and that is the only side that produces a decent amount of milk. Thanks for this article. I wish I could distract my child though.

  26. Kay Dee

    Hello. I found this interesting and informative. I am a father. Mum is breastfeeding our 19mth old. We aren’t a couple. I really care that our son has what he needs to get the best start in life and wouldn’t stand in the way of anything that promotes our efforts to provide this. Mum is a very quiet and introverted character. I am not. To say our communication styles aren’t well suited is an understatement. I do have a question coming….
    I am keen to have our son (Lucas) stay overnight, as soon as he is able. Trying to talk about his has proved impossible. I have paid for mediation, which was a disaster as mum broke down due to anxiety, I understand it’s a difficult situation. I was just wondering if you could provide an opinion on this and what I could reasonably suggest with the aim of gaining a overnight stay.

    When I see him, weekends (when mum works) and Wednesday afternoon (5-7 hours) he has never asked for nursing, doesn’t get agitated or seem stressed or anxious, in fact he is a very happy boy and it feels like mum is either just unable or unwilling to talk about how the situation will progress. I am not looking to hurry her up, I want what’s best for Lucas, but not having any sort of trajectory is difficult to deal with.

    Any helpful insight would be very much appreciated.


    • Medialuna

      When I was in the process of weaning my 25-month-old I had a very hard time emotionally. After 14 months he stopped drinking any expressed milk and only wanted it straight from my breast. I felt like I couldn’t wean because he constantly wanted to nurse.

      I had several work trips where I had to pump to keep my supply up for when I returned, but my husband said my son seemed fine without nursing while I was gone. I can understand a mother’s reluctance for an overnight stay, but every relationship is different, and it worked for us.

      • Jenny Silverstone

        Thank you for sharing your story. I’m glad you found a way to wean your son without putting undue strain on either of you. Do any other moms have advice for Kay Dee? Maybe someone who has dealt with coparenting before?

  27. Amber

    Excellent article and so helpful!! Maybe for the “partner” part, you could just say “Enlist help.”
    I realize you were trying to include everyone after that comment and people are entitled to their own opinion- God gave us free wills…but when you said “wife” that really distracted me from the great info you presented focused on the actual subject at hand.

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Thanks for the useful feedback Amber. It isn’t easy trying to please everyone 🙂

  28. xyrusrose

    What do you do if you don’t have a second helper to take over? My husband works early mornings and has school, so he’s usually asleep before the little one goes to bed.

    My daughter is almost 2 1/2 years old. I’ve weaned her off of the middle of the night nursing sessions, but she still gets the wakes up to nurse once first thing in the morning.

    I was going to drop the midday nursing session last, but maybe I should switch it up. Do you have any advice?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      It took me a while to wean my daughter as well. Have you attempted to drop the midday session, to see how it goes? It wouldn’t hurt, and if it doesn’t work, you can always add it back and go back to attempting to drop the morning session.

  29. Julie

    I’ve recently started weaning my 23-month-old because it’s gotten too much for me.

    We’ve eliminated all daytime feedings. I work so there was only after work and morning. However, nighttime has gotten worse as a result. My daughter wants to hang on me all night, killing my shoulders. Now she’s started rubbing my face while she nurses, which is keeping me awake at night.

    Tonight I woke up my husband and sent her in with him and she’s been sobbing for 30 min. She is screaming “no daddy, mommy” which is breaking my heart. Do you have any tips? Thanks.

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hi Julie,

      Are you trying to drop all of your night feedings at once or just one at a time? It might take a while for your daughter to get used to weaning. As hard as it is this might take some time. Have you asked a lactation consultant for advice? They might be able to give you some tips.

  30. This article is awesome; I’m at my wits end too but selfishly hesitant to end this journey.

    All the comments were super reassuring; I’m 19 months in and grateful I’m not alone with exclusively nursing on-demand.

    I’m going to follow these guidelines when I’m ready to stop!

    • Jenny Silverstone

      You are not alone. My youngest daughter nursed on-demand until it was time to wean her. It was exhausting, but I admit that I look back on that time with fondness. Nursing on-demand gave me the opportunity to sit down and take in what was going on around me.

  31. America

    Everyone’s comments have been very helpful. My daughter is two years and nine months old, and I’ve had such a hard time weaning her; mostly because I feel like a lot of people judge me because of how old she’s getting. Then I realize I am not the only one still breastfeeding their two year old; it makes me feel like I’m not alone.

    • Jenny Silverstone

      You are definitely not alone; there are so many moms that breastfeed over two years. I hope that when you’re ready to wean it is a quick and smooth process for you. Good luck!

  32. Do you have any suggestions on what to give him instead? Would a special gift work? I can’t think of what, though.

    My 3+-year-old is obsessed with my boobs and wants to feed every morning and sometimes in the night. I haven’t had milk for over a year!

    I can’t get him to stop with these techniques without a lot of tears. I went away for a week, and he was right back on me when I returned. Help!!

    • Jenny Silverstone

      At over three years old your child is old enough for you to explain to them that nursing isn’t an option anymore. Maybe you could pick him up and hug him every time he wants to nurse and explain that there is no more milk for him. Have you spoken to your pediatrician to see if they have any ideas?

  33. Perla

    I love this advice, thank you! I’m trying to wean my 16-month-old. I nursed my first until she was two years and three months old. I would’ve liked to nurse my son for longer, but I’m 16 weeks pregnant and cannot handle it anymore.

    My back hurts, he’s become more demanding during feeding sessions, and he also seems to have gotten more attached to me since I become pregnant. His molars have started to come in, and he’s waking up multiple times at night.

    I’ve bought him an amber teething necklace, and I’m hoping that will help, but I was wondering if you have any advice related to weaning while teething or possibly a method on gently weaning at night?

    Thank you so much, this info is already life-saving! Knowing I’m not alone is comforting.

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Weaning while teething can add another level of stress to weaning. You could try using a teething gel or another gentle soother to help with the teething pain. As for night weaning, I always try to do something else to comfort them instead of nursing. For example, I would rock them for a while until they fell asleep. You can also ask your pediatrician for advice on dealing with teething pain overnight.

  34. Reena

    My toddler is now 2.6 yrs and I used to feed him for his afternoon nap and at night. He kept getting up every 2-3 hours at night and demanding to be fed. But for the past two days I have completely stopped breastfeeding.

    I tried toddler toothpaste on my boobs and that seemed to help, but I’m worried if my boobs will be alright after this sudden stop. Do you have any idea if we have any tests to detect anything harmful in my breast? Or after how many days I should dry up?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hi Reena,

      I don’t recommend stopping cold turkey because engorgement can happen, although it’s less likely to happen as you breastfeed less throughout the day. The main complication that can occur is mastitis due to an infection in the breast tissue and clogged milk ducts.

      Have you experienced any fever, redness, or heat coming from your breast? You can read up on mastitis here if you are looking for more information:


  35. Jennifer Kim

    Hi Jenny,
    This is a really helpful post – thank you!
    I have some frozen milk, my baby is one-year-old, should I feed it in a sippy cup or bottle?


    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hi Jennifer,

      It’s generally recommended to use a sippy cup instead of a bottle when a child is over 12 months old. Do you have any tips for moms who are weaning? I’d love to hear about your experience!


  36. Cozy

    I am currently nursing my two-year-old and four-year-old. I am so ready to be done. However, I can’t seem to get my four-year-old to understand that we are done with nursing. He throws these horrible tantrums and fits; I can’t distract him at all.

    Now, my two-year-old is starting to be the same way. I don’t have anyone to take over or help with a bedtime routine, and it’s at the point where I am having massive anxiety and just don’t want to be touched. Help me!

    • Jenny Silverstone

      This is a hard one. Have you been consistent with telling your son that you are not nursing anymore, or do you keep eventually giving in?

      The truth is that your four-year-old unless there are underlying circumstances, is old enough to understand when you say that you are done. I think you are just going to have to stand your ground and be consistent with telling him no. I’m not going to lie, it will be a hard few days, but eventually, he will understand that your no really does mean no.

  37. BMags

    I just have to say thanks for the loving guidance and helpful tips. This is the best article I read, and it helped us successfully wean at 22 months. It’s bittersweet, and I don’t need to feel guilt on top of that so thanks for your words and ideas!

    • Jenny Silverstone

      I am so glad this article was able to help you wean your little one. My youngest was also 22 months when I finally weaned, so I know how you are feeling.

  38. Amanda

    So glad I found this article. I’m on week 3 of weaning my 19-month-old. It’s been really hard tonight since I’m trying to wean her off her bedtime feeding. The suggestions you made about having a significant other or family member put her to bed is a bit of a problem for me though. My husband works until 1 or 2 in the morning usually, and I don’t have family close enough to ask them to do that every night. Do you have any suggestions for an alternative?

    I’ve tried everything I can think of. Introducing a “wubby,” pacifiers, rocking, calming, even had her in her car seat carrier (which worked at first, but doesn’t anymore.) She just ends up falling asleep on my shoulder for 20 minutes then is awake for the next 3-4 hours.

    Maybe she isn’t ready? I’ve already come so far; I don’t want to mess up the progress I’ve made…should I only feed her at night until she gets a bit older?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hi Amanda, I’m so sorry you are going through this. I would say that she just might not be ready yet. That doesn’t mean you have to start nursing full-force again, but maybe wait a bit then try to drop the night feeding. Is there a reason you need to drop it now? My only other piece of advice is just to stay consistent. It might take a while, but eventually, she will start to self-soothe.

  39. Tiffany Turner

    This article was great! I’ve been using large band-aids to help wean my 2-year-old son. I will try the lemon juice idea; pickle juice could probably work too.

    • Jenny Silverstone

      I’m glad you liked the article. Good luck with weaning your little one, please check back to let us know how it goes!

  40. Kat

    Hi, I have started weaning my 26-month-old and like some of you, he wakes up every 2 hours at night to feed. I tried putting vinegar – didn’t work. I’ll try the lemon juice. Last week, I breastfed with lights on, read a story, turned off light and said “sleep time!” and let him fall asleep on his own (which actually took on about 30 minutes with so much rolling over, singing, etc). Last night, I refused the last breastfeeding session when he woke up at 5 am. I will try to be consistent with that this week and see our progress. My concern as well is how do I drop the breastfeeding before his daytime nap? Any advice?

    • Team Mom Loves Best

      Hi Kat! Well done on your work so far. Consistency is key with weaning. It’s really recommended that you start with your daytime nursing sessions when dropping sessions, and drop one session per week to allow both your body and child time to adjust. Since you’ve already started with a nighttime session, perhaps give your baby some time (a week or two) to adjust before dropping more sessions?

      Please keep us posted and keep up the good work 🙂

  41. I’m wondering how to wean my 2 yr old because she keeps getting sick lately. I am in my second trimester and want a few months off before the baby is born. My daughter can fall asleep at school without my milk but if I’m with her it’s a struggle for her to nap without nursing. I also feel so guilty with her being sick, should I wait until she stops getting sick? We have a whole week off (I teach) so I want to do it now but she is coughing. Any advice would be great, thanks!

    • Team Mom Loves Best

      Hey Kate, that sounds hard. Congrats on your pregnancy! Weaning can be challenging especially when a new baby is on the way. It seems your daughter is naturally attached/comforted by breastfeeding. Still, it’s important to be firm when weaning–whether or not your baby is sick. You may want to quit step by step by dropping breastfeeding sessions. So, if she asks to breastfeed outside of “regular” breastfeeding sessions, gently refuse – but offer the substitute you have identified and reassure them you will be happy to nurse them later.

      If you can, also get someone else to put her down for her nap for a while, since that’s when she seems to want to feed.

      We wish you all the best. Please keep us posted!

  42. Phill

    This is so helpful. I do have one question. My son and I co-sleep and I need to stop nursing at night. He cluster feeds at night and this is the only time he nurses. We are going to start to wean him off starting tonight! My husband can get him to sleep with no problems if I’m not around but as soon As he wakes up in the night he cries until I nurse. Should I remove myself right out of the room for a few weeks or will that be too traumatizing? I’m going away for work in a month and a half so I need to stop now and need help.

    • Team Mom Loves Best

      Hey Phil, well done on starting the weaning ASAP. You may want to remove yourself and see how he responds. Overall with weaning, it might take some time; but if you’re consistent, most toddlers will catch on. So, power on! We’re rooting for you 🙂 Please keep us posted.

  43. Thank you for this article. It is so comforting to know I’m not the only one in this. I don’t personally know anyone else who breastfed this long.
    My little one is two months short of three and has been a very constant nurser. She would nurse all day all night if I let her. I am two weeks into weaning. I was gone for a wedding for two days and came back and haven’t nursed her since. I started with large bandaids saying mommy had a boo boo. Then got a real boo boo from keeping the bandaids on too long. That seemed to help a bit. There have been lots of tears (from both us). Some tantrums (from just her lol). But I am wondering how it’ll take her to get over it. She still asks for it constantly. She has reverted from sleeping all night (which just happened and was very nice) to being up every 2-3 hours. Also wondering how long until my body stops producing milk. I am lucky enough to not be engorged or experiencing any pain but can still express milk. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Team Mom Loves Best

      Hey M, you’re doing great so far! Most mamas have mentioned that the best thing you can do is hold your ground. It also helps to keep distracting your little one and find her other interests. Please keep us posted and we wish you all the best! We’re rooting for you.

    • Danijela

      I have an almost 3-year-old who still nurses…well nursed I guess. Hubby went out of town and I said well maybe this is a good time to stop. Well it’s going good, she had it rough the first 2 days but then he came home and he took overnight. The first night at home went better than when he was out of town. So we made it to 5 days and now I’m second-guessing myself because I stopped completely and I’ll be honest it’s tearing at my heart strings a little because I didn’t think about the finality of it and didn’t think to prepare myself. But also wouldn’t want to set her back since she thinks mommy doesn’t have milk anymore. Ugh. Maybe it’s best we continue like this.

      • Team Mom Loves Best

        Hi Danijela, we feel for you, but you’re doing so well — don’t stop weaning! It’s difficult and hard on both baby and mama when you stop breastfeeding. We even have an article on post-weaning depression, which is something that could happen. Try to maintain a positive view of what you’re doing and remember that this is the best and next step for your three-year-old. We’re rooting for you 🙂

  44. Ajita

    Hello ma’am,

    Thank you for this information on weaning. My son is 3.6 years old. 95 out of 100 times he needs to latch and feed for a few seconds before he sleeps (both before afternoon nap as well as at night). I desperately want to wean him, but I have nobody to help me and my son is very stubborn when it comes to breastfeeding before bedtime. The entire day he does not demands any feeding. He also eats properly. I have tried a number of distractions, but nothing worked.

    • Team Mom Loves Best

      Hi Ajita, we hope you’ve made a bit more progress by now. Sometimes you just have to be firm — especially as your son is almost 4 years old. Reasoning with him may also go a long way. Ultimately, you’re the only one who can stop him from breastfeeding. We’re rooting for you!

  45. donna allen

    A good way of slowing milk production gradually is to pump or hand express just enough milk at regular intervals to avoid discomfort. In this way, milk production will slowly decrease. Keeping a little milk flowing prevents your breasts from becoming overly full and engorged, which could lead to a blocked duct, mastitis or even a breast abscess. It also makes it more comfortable to hold, carry and cuddle your baby if you need to distract him from nursing. Hope this helps!

    • Team Mom Loves Best

      Hey Donna, thanks a lot for sharing your tips with our community — and thanks for reading 🙂

  46. NS

    I’m starting the process of weaning from tomorrow to my 19 mo old. It is a very emotional phase. It’s comforting to see so many others moms are going through the same. My husband is going to help me in this process and we are planning to follow some of the tips you suggested in your article. Thank you very much.

    • Team Mom Loves Best

      Hi NS, thanks so much for reading and sharing. How’s it going? Please keep us posted. We’re rooting for you both 🙂

  47. Tracy Guibelondo

    Hi, I have a 39-month-old and I’m in the process of weaning him. He’s been breastfeeding exclusively since he was born & I kept on saying at every milestone I was going to stop, but it was so hard cause I felt so bad for him! Well, now that he will be 4 in October 2020 I decided this has to stop, not just because of his age, but he was breastfeeding on demand whenever, wherever and I was getting exhausted from it.

    So first I tried the cutting down which I did by putting fake blood and bandaids, but I wasn’t consistent so he would drink every day. Not as much, but would still drink more than I’d like. He went from like 20 feedings to like 10 then like 5 and so forth. Anyways I was just trying to do the morning feeding & night feeding, but he would throw tantrums and cry & I would give in cause he just wouldn’t stop. So one day even though some posts I read online suggested I don’t do I just quit cold turkey. And now over 48 hours later he hasn’t drunk from me!!!! He cries a little and begs 1-3xs a day, but he’s getting better. I really hope this won’t be hard on him or affect him in any way, but I had to do what I had to do. Plus he was waking me up 1-5xs a night for night just had to stop. I feel so bad and even cried a few times, but I’ll get over it — hopefully, he will too.

    • Team Mom Loves Best

      Hi Tracy, thank you for sharing your experience. You’re not hurting your son. You’d already reduced the frequency of feedings before finally quitting. We’re sure he won’t even remember this when he’s older. Keep showing him love in other ways and don’t give in to breastfeeding again. We’re certain things will be fine. Well done and all the best! 🙂

  48. Erin Watson

    I have so many tips I cannot possibly put them all in a comment! I have breastfed 3 children successfully — in total a little over 8 years of breastfeeding. My oldest was 3 and a half, my second 2, and my 3rd 2 and a half. I’m pregnant with my 4th and plan to breastfeed her just the same! You covered all my major tips. I found tips and tricks along the way, so each child seemed to be easier for me (the weaning experience with my first almost
    scared me out of breastfeeding my 2nd — thank god it didn’t). I guess practice makes perfect!

    • Team Mom Loves Best

      More grease to your elbow, Erin! Breastfeeding — and weaning — three babies is no joke! We’re glad your comment will encourage other mamas to continue on the breastfeeding and weaning path. We wish you all the best with baby number 4. 🙂

  49. Subi

    Hi.. my baby is 22 months old. Now I got a job and my baby has been away from me for 1 week. Is there any problem with feeding again? I didn’t feed or express any milk for 1 week. Would there still be a point breastfeeding him after a week?

    • Team Mom Loves Best

      Hi Subi, 22 months is a good time to quit breastfeeding, if that’s what you want. Since you’re already awake for a whole week at a time, you can use this time to wean your baby off breastfeeding. Let us know what you ended up doing please 🙂

  50. Katie W

    Glad I stumbled upon this and glad to know I’m not the only one struggling with this. I thought I was being lazy and that it was my fault that I had created a boobie obsessed monster (ok, she’s not a monster, but she is obsessed!)

    I have a 20 month old (my first and,right now, only child). She had stopped needing to be nursed to sleep and was sleeping through the night for the most part, and I thought we may be on the path to weaning. We haven’t had any kind of nursing schedule for quite a while now and have been nursing on demand.

    But lately, she is demanding “boo boos” CONSTANTLY and throws a huge fit if I don’t give in. I swear to God, it’s the first thing she asks for in the morning, when I pick her up, the minute we get home, whenever she wakes up at night, etc etc. I am sometimes able to distract her during the day or in the evening when we get home from daycare, but at night, she’s often inconsolable without the boob (and usually only works herself up more when I try to ignore her instead of wearing herself out).

    She’s waking up at night again and I usually just bring her back to bed with me (because mama’s gotta get up for work!) and we’ve co-slept since she was a baby. Last night after we had been sleeping for several hours, she woke up demanding boo boos and I tried to say no and not give in and rolled over, but she had a total meltdown! Screaming and crying and basically trying to crawl up my shirt. I eventually just gave in.

    She also has developed this really annoying habit of switching back and forth between boobs constantly, and although I have loved the experience of breastfeeding, I am over it at this point. I had planned to breastfeed for a year, and I’m not upset that I’m nursing a toddler, since she’s not even two yet, but this can’t go on forever.

    Just wanted to share my experience and say that I am encouraged by this article. I’m going to try to stop nursing on demand except for early morning (for now) and maybe stop bringing her into my bed so quickly if she wakes up at night.

    Hang in there everyone!

    • Team Mom Loves Best

      Hey Katie, thank you so much for sharing your experience. We’re rooting for you!

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