The benefits of breastfeeding
Breastfeeding has seen you nourish, nurture and comfort your baby. They've reaped the health benefits and you would have formed an unbreakable bond. You've given them the best possible start to life.
Breastfeed for as long as possible
Guidelines recommend that you exclusively breastfeed for the first six months and you carry on until your baby is fully weaned. However, you may decide to stop before then, it's just important you make a decision based on what is best for you and your baby. If you decide to stop before your baby is six months old, talk to your healthcare professional.
If you decide to stop breastfeeding
Babies under a year will still require breast milk or follow-on milk from six months. If you decide to stop breastfeeding, your little one will need to be able to feed from a bottle or drink from a cup.
Only children over the age of one can be given cows' milk to drink.
One step at a time
Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. The less you feed your baby, the less milk you produce. Bringing an immediate halt to breastfeeding may be physically uncomfortable for you, while the sudden change could upset your baby. It's advisable to take things slowly if you can.
What will happen?
As your baby's weaning habits become more established from around six months, breastfeeding times and frequency should decrease. You can try stopping one breastfeed every two or three days at first – substituting breast milk with a feed from a cup or bottle. Continue with this routine until your breast milk supply ends.
How long will it take to stop breastfeeding?
Every baby is different. It could take a few weeks if your child quickly loses interest in your breast, but it could also take anywhere between one and six months. If possible, let your little one dictate the pace. Taking it slowly will also help reduce the risk of mastitis.
Be patient – don't try to rush the process.
Choose the right time – make sure your baby is happy and well. Also avoid periods of change, such as a house move or the time you decide to move your little one into their own room.
Get help – ask a partner or a friend to feed your baby when you are not breastfeeding.
Comfort them – your baby is likely to miss the comfort of your breast, so try introducing a new soft toy or baby comforter.
Advice is available – contact your GP or public health nurse if you have any concerns.