My child is 3 years old. I want to know which is the best way to stop breastfeeding?

She cries and fights with her mother if her mother refuses to breastfeed her. We also found that it also helps her to sleep.

  • 5
    Can I ask why you want to stop? The child still seems to have a need of it. Other than that, I suppose that any of the common methods of stopping should work. The main being: stop breastfeeding and be consistent about it.
    – Erik
    Jun 29, 2015 at 8:53
  • Does she eat any food as well? Jun 29, 2015 at 13:48
  • 9
    How about this: Just stop breastfeeding her. You shouldn't be under the thumb of the cries of a 3 year old. Sometimes a little tear or two will do a child good. Jun 29, 2015 at 14:04
  • When you say "it helps her to sleep" do you mean that breastfeeding helps her to sleep? Or do you mean that refusing to breastfeed her helps her to sleep? Jun 29, 2015 at 14:59
  • 1
    @Erik My wife dr. asked to stop due to some health problem. And also she takes her solid food well.
    – Namshum
    Jul 2, 2015 at 6:20

5 Answers 5


My wife stopped breastfeeding when our daughter was 3. She did it by repeating often the whole month before she turned 3 that when she will be 3, she will be older, and that she will stop breastfeeding. Bigger childs don't drink breast milk, that's part of the growing-up process, at by the time our daughter was 3, she perfectly understood that. Actually, for several weeks before her birthday, she kept repeating when breastfeeding that soon she will be 3 years old and that she will not drink from breast anymore.

So, our approach was basically to turn it into a good thing, about growing-up, and linked it with the particular moment of her birthday, so that it is clear when breastfeeding would stop.

  • 9
    My parents did this for me leading up to my 4th birthday - we had a ceremony where i threw my drinking bottle in the bin. I was very proud.
    – Gusdor
    Jun 29, 2015 at 14:56
  • I like your approach. But the problem is that her birthday is gone. Plz. suggest which another important moment will be better to use your approach.
    – Namshum
    Jul 1, 2015 at 7:41
  • 7
    Pretty sure that if you invent "Old enough to stop breastfeeding-day" which is conviently two weeks from today, it will work just fine. Kids at that age won't know any better.
    – Erik
    Jul 2, 2015 at 8:15
  • 3
    Wow! it working DainDwarf just told her she is know grown up. Now, she pretend to be grown up even her mother offered. Thanks again.
    – Namshum
    Jul 15, 2015 at 6:16
  • 1
    I personally wouldn't use the "big girl/boy" thing as we know other nursing kids & since they may well meet a child older than that still nursing & inadvertently comment about it being for babies & I'd feel responsible for the comment. Age of weaning has nothing to do with independence or growing up. I've seen clingy kids that were never breastfed & weaned off bottles at a year & kids nursing at 5 that were incredibly independent spirits from early on. That is a personality thing. Now if we knew no kids that might nurse older, I might think differently. As it is, I wouldn't use it.
    – threetimes
    Jul 17, 2017 at 7:23

My wife just started the process. We had some problem to put my son to sleep: he would fall asleep only sucking, and wake up couple of times during night for milk.

One day my wife was away and I had to put him to sleep alone... Took me 1 hour, so I decided we had to stop.

It's been quite easy actually: the first night it took again a good hour and he cried a lot, but we resisted and with some cuddles and a change of dress (he got sweaty) we finally managed. Next day we just said "Good night" and he slept. He even stopped waking up for milk.

My wife still gives him milk in the morning to help the transition and because he breast is sore: it need to get used to the new "prodution" schedule.

I know it seems cruel, and I was really sorry to see my son cry, but sometimes they're just having a tantrum and once they understand they won't get what they want they'll stop. And I guarantee they will not hate you!

So my suggestion is to start putting her to sleep without breastfeeding, maybe giving her some cow milk or drinking yoghurt (my son prefers the latter) 15-20 minutes before. Then gradually stop breastfeeding during the day.


Breastfeeding is very good for children. According to the World Health Organisation, the average age, worldwide, at which children stop breastfeeding is 4.7 years. So it is not unhealthy for children to still be breastfeeding at 3 years: she's not even near the average.

Having said that, if you want to move her away from breastfeeding, try to introduce more and more solid food into her diet. Try to get her to feed herself, rather than spoonfeeding her. This can be a slow process but a child of her age should grasp it (no pun intended) pretty quickly.

Eventually I think she will stop relying on breastfeeding for nutrition, and perhaps just use it for comfort. You should not rush to remove this source of comfort from her, as that is unkind. Instead, perhaps slowly replace it with cuddles which don't involve actual sucking on your nipple.

The key thing to bear in mind here is that your child's comfort and health is the most important thing. Any changes you make should be made primarily with kindness and with love. Good luck!

  • 10
    1) The average age that's widely mentioned/related to WHO is 4.2 years, not 4.7. 2) It's pretty much a bogus number anyway 3) I'm not sure Western cultures think breastfeeding over only 12 months is weird, but it's surely seen as inconvenient.
    – user11394
    Jun 29, 2015 at 17:56
  • 1
    The WHO is addressing the needs of children all over the world. Babies whose other food supplies are iffy, and where the water is contaminated likely benefit a lot more from extended breastfeeding than babies for whom those are not issues.
    – swbarnes2
    Feb 24, 2016 at 20:24

Perhaps unconventional in the US, but my mother-in-law put something bitter (like neem) on her nipple. Her children felt upset for a little while, but lost their appetite for breastmilk.

  • 1
    I wouldn't suggest inciting a feeling of betrayal in your children at any age, especially a young age. Positive punishment (operant conditioning) never truly seems like a good idea in my opinion. Jun 29, 2015 at 20:10
  • Hi, and welcome! That's inventive! I have to agree, though, I wouldn't do it that way, either. :) Jun 30, 2015 at 5:19
  • @ChrisCirefice Perhaps betrayal was too strong of a word (and it has been edited accordingly). More to the point, I think it is hard to claim that kids are being punished by this. As far as they are concerned, mom's milk has randomly become distasteful. Sure, you can get into your kid's head and make it a punishment, but it isn't necessary.
    – sautedman
    Jul 4, 2015 at 16:46
  • This solution could be combined with DainDwarf's above: explain how mommies milk will go off once the baby is big enough to go without.
    – Ivana
    Aug 19, 2019 at 8:44

Typically for weaning, what is easiest in the long run is to eliminate any sleep associations. That isn't easy if the child has been used to it. If you look to breastfeeding groups where you get "mom to mom" support, typically, what most feel is ideal is to have the other parent (if possible & present) to take over on sleep times. The child might protest certainly, but if you are kind & just stand firm, they will accept it, eventually. I do not personally just let my kids cry alone, but I have no issue allowing them to cry with their dad during a transition. I think it's normal & good. It is okay to have feelings about changes you don't like. It's okay to express those feelings. It's okay for them to have dad offer comfort even when they would prefer the comfort of a breast. I think of it like this. When I was younger & going through a break up & crying, my mom would hug me. I wanted my boyfriend (ex actually) to hug me, but having her hug me didn't make me stop crying or change anything, but it felt better that she cared. That is the role dad is playing in this situation. He may not be able to give the child what he/she wants, but he can offer love. (or mom, partner, etc - whoever the other parent is, assuming other parent & since this is dad asking, this fits).

Once you have given up the sleep times to nurse, then you work on the waking times. This will vary in difficulty quite a bit because at 3, some children are hardly nursing at all in the day while others are still very actively asking. So typically you figure out how many times a day you are nursing, about how long between & then remove "every other" nursing session by delay tactics & saying yes but with conditions. So you say something like this is the nursing chair. This is the only place we nurse now. It needs to be in a place that is not exciting, where the child isn't happy to go there per se, etc. Then when the child asks, you say "Yes we can nurse after lunch". So you don't say not now, or no, but yes...later. Usually after a few days or so you get a serious shift where they are already used to this and then you decrease again.

And if the child has been nursing a lot, decreases should happen no more than ever 3-5 days. Even at 3yrs into it, you can still run risks of things like plugs or issues if you halt too quickly. Weaning should be (relatively) painless for both parties & the best way to ensure that is to take a step back approach so that there is no point of absolute. With my kids (all weaned past age 3) it faded out so softly I didn't know it was the last time they would ask until it has already been a few weeks. We just faded it out & other than the initial transition to going to sleep without it, there was absolutely no upset & nothing hard about it. One of my kids was serious about nursing too. He was nursing 8-10 times a day at age 3 & I was working full time, and even he was able to phase out completely following this plan and no fuss involved. I had weaned him off the sleep phase earlier though. I weaned all them off falling asleep that way around 2yrs old. It only took about a week to be totally peaceful & every day was easier than the day before on the night weaning.

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