How do I stop breastfeeding?

Comment arrêter l’allaitement ?

What is weaning from breastfeeding?

Weaning, or stopping breastfeeding, consists in gradually or not replacing breastfeeding with another type of food.

Weaning means switching from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding, and diversification means switching to a more varied diet, introducing fruits, vegetables and proteins, for example.

When should a baby stop suckling?

Weaning can be natural, i.e. from the baby itself, or planned, i.e. desired by the mother.

If weaning comes from the baby, he may stiffen and throw his head back, or turn his head when approached . However, this attitude may be temporary - a "feeding strike" - or permanent.

As early as around 6 months, babies gradually begin to diversify their diet, discovering foods other than milk. This corresponds to a gradual weaning that generally lasts until the baby is 2 or 4 years old.

Nevertheless, stopping breastfeeding can be voluntary for the mother.

The judgment surrounding breastfeeding :

Breastfeeding is a personal choice. Whether you breastfeed for the first few days postpartum, for the first 18 months of your child's life, or not at all, the choice is yours. Feel free to breastfeed or stop breastfeeding whenever you like.

How do I stop breastfeeding?

Whatever your reasons for stopping, it's best to opt for a gentle weaning. We therefore advise you to stop breastfeeding gradually, over several weeks, at your own pace and that of your baby. However, this can be shorter or longer, depending on your needs and desires. To start with, you can replace one feed a day with a bottle of your own milk, or with infant milk. Ideally, we advise you to eliminate the feeds where your lactation is at its weakest. Then gradually eliminate more and more feeds.

What are the advantages of long weaning for mom?

Gradual weaning has the advantage of avoiding engorgement, blocked ducts or mastitis for mothers. For children, weaning will be easier because the detachment will be done gently and will avoid disturbing your child's digestion and immune system. What's more, phasing out breastfeeding is often emotionally easier for both mother and child.

It's also worth noting that the fewer feeds you have, the less milk you'll produce. This also applies to breast pumps, which should be avoided as they also stimulate lactation. It all depends on why you want to stop breastfeeding. If you simply don't have the time to breastfeed during the day, but want to continue breastfeeding your child with breast milk, you can pump and store it. If you really want to stop breastfeeding with breast milk, it's best not to use a breast pump. What's more, if your breasts are swollen and painful, you can empty them under the shower by squeezing them to avoid engorgement.

Finally, it's not advisable to give your baby cow's milk, nor vegetable milk, which is not adapted to his needs and could lead to deficiencies. Instead, use infant milk specially designed to meet your baby's needs. Quantities should of course be adapted according to your child's age.

What are the alternatives to complete weaning?

There are several weaning options. You may want to stop breastfeeding altogether. On the other hand, you may not wish to stop breastfeeding, and may therefore express your milk if necessary. Note that breast-feeding when you return to work is a right enshrined in the French Labor Code, which states that "for one year from the day of birth, an employee breast-feeding her child is entitled to one hour's breast-feeding time per day during working hours". What's more, some day-care centers accept bottles of breast milk, so find out more if that's what you'd like to set up. But you may also want to mix breastfeeding. This involves giving bottles of infant milk, while continuing to feed at the breast, usually in the morning and/or evening.

How can I make it easier to stop breastfeeding?

Once again, the more positive the weaning, the easier it will be for both mother and baby. So, if your child is reluctant to bottle-feed, don't force him or her, and try again later. During this period, you can reduce the length of feedings.

To make weaning easier, you can also start by giving bottles of breast milk to get your child used to the bottle, then switch to infant milk. Incidentally, your child may not like this new-tasting milk. But don't give up - your baby and his intestines will eventually get used to the change. If you want to try out different infant formulas, contact a paediatrician.

Mothers can also move away from the baby and into another room while their partner feeds. This will prevent the baby from smelling his mother's breast. You can also change the context by changing the place where you give the bottle.

Then, when weaning, reassure your baby and be attentive both during and after bottle-feeding. You can also position him in the same position as when you were breast-feeding him in the first instance.

Finally, it's advisable to start weaning at a time that is not disruptive for your child. In other words, no nursery or kindergarten start date, no travel, no move or any other event that could disrupt the child.

What precautions should I take when I stop breastfeeding?

When you stop breastfeeding, you may still be producing milk. A milk surge may occur if your baby cries from hunger. This will soon return to normal, but as a precaution you can wear our nursing bra.

Finally, if you're not entirely sure you want to stop breastfeeding, don't worry! It's often possible to restart lactation even after weaning.

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The information contained in the articles on is general information only. Although reviewed by health professionals, this information is not error-free, does not constitute health advice or consultation, and is not intended to provide a diagnosis or suggest a course of treatment. Under no circumstances may this information be used as a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.