When it comes to feeding your baby, there’s no perfect system. While you may set goals for yourself — say “I’ll breastfeed exclusively for a year” — sometimes life just gets in the way of your best-laid plans and you have to reevaluate things as they come. And that’s fine! Every family is different, and what works for one won’t necessarily work for another.
Moms face a whole range of experiences, and that’s why we decided to speak with mamas who shared information about their own baby feeding journeys. They each weighed in on how they knew it was time to stop breastfeeding their little ones — and the answers? Well, they represent the wonderful variety of experiences we all have as moms.
So read on for more on how, when and why these mothers realized it was time to stop nursing.
The mama who found a sleep solution
“I had originally planned to breastfeed until my son was one year old. However, my son was waking up two or three times at night to nurse, and each time he would only nurse for about five minutes before falling back asleep. I was having such a hard time getting sleep that I decided to stop nursing [when he was 10 months old]. I felt some guilt, but he started sleeping through the night, and I was a much better mom to all of my kids with eight hours of sleep under my belt.” -Crystal, @fundamentalbooks
The mama whose baby wanted more than milk
“I knew it was time to stop breastfeeding my son because he was way more interested in real food than milk of any kind. Seriously though, I went through both of my pregnancies planning on breastfeeding for a year because I felt like most doctors recommended that and was happy to do it for a year. Ultimately though I was at a point where I wanted my body back just for me and felt like I had done what was recommended by most doctors.” – Amy, @thedailyhostess
The mama who went longer than expected
I ended my breastfeeding journey this past spring after 19 months. Never did I imagine breastfeeding beyond a year, and in the beginning, even making it another month felt difficult. I can’t pinpoint an exact moment but eventually breastfeeding just clicked. My daughter and I found our groove, and I’m so grateful for so many months of successful nursing. I decided it was time to wean my baby after 19 months because I needed to have my body back. I wanted to remember our breastfeeding relationship fondly and knew that if I didn’t wean then, it might be compromised. I was beginning to feel ‘touched out’ and needed some time for my body to be just mine again. Especially with the hopes of growing our family on the horizon.” – Alli, @momsmartnotheard
The mama who is raising a little foodie
“I am a Mom of two, and I just in the last month stopped breastfeeding my youngest at 14 months old. My youngest made it really easy to stop breastfeeding. We own two restaurants, so from day one, they’ve seen how important cooking, food and family meals are to our lives. So after he turned one, we very slowly started replacing breast with food he could play with and eat. I let him lead the way and after about a month he was all done breastfeeding. ” – Briana, @brianarocks
The mama whose baby got distracted
The mama who set a goal
The mama who had two very different experiences
“Both breastfeeding experiences were incredibly unique as were the decision, timing, and process that went into stopping. With my son, I was ready to be done [when he was six months old] and felt it was the best thing for us to stop. The weaning process was easy (I think having to do with me pumping more at that time) and my body responded quickly. With my [seven-month-old] daughter, our nursing relationship has been much more rewarding. The bond and the closeness is much stronger and I am feeling pretty upset about stopping. I have recently returned to work and it seems that my milk supply is decreasing, so we are transitioning to more bottles. I am not sure how my body will react yet to stopping, but emotionally it is already harder than it was last time around.” – Talya, @themotherfix
The mama who had a rough time with breastfeeding…twice
“My oldest nursed for six months, but it was a really hard six months. He had undiagnosed thrush for two months (despite numerous doctor’s appointments) and cried through most of his feedings. After it was finally cleared up he seemed to be very adverse to nursing – probably because the first two months were so traumatic for him! I exclusively nursed for four months and added in formula after four months to make sure he got enough food…I feel like I knew I needed to stop when I dreaded feeding him for fear of him crying and not getting enough food. After stopping I felt relieved and really began loving being a mom even more! I was cautiously optimistic it would be different with my second. She did amazing the first two months – my milk came in and she latched right on within 24 hours of being born! She was a great little eater and we had zero problems. But then she got really sick when she was two months old and wasn’t able to breastfeed well since it made her cough. Since she was on the smaller side I used bottles for three days to ensure she got enough food. After that, she never went back to breastfeeding. I started to get a ton of anxiety about producing enough and feeling pretty down about the whole thing. That’s when I knew I needed to stop. Again, after I stopped I felt so much better than when I was doing everything possible to give her breastmilk!” -Jen, @paisleyandsparrow