How to stop breastfeeding: helpful, bonkers and surprising ideas

For many mothers, establishing breastfeeding is difficult and painful. But surprisingly, putting an end to breastfeeding can be a challenge, too. Here are some ideas for how to stop…

Establishing breastfeeding with my daughter was fairly easy: she was born, rooted for my nipple, found it and started sucking. (Later, I got mastitis and low iron and all sorts of other issues, but the start was ok).

When she was 15 months, I wanted my body back. She was eating plenty of proper food, and I’d weaned her down to just one feed in the morning. I don’t even remember her last feed – I just decided one morning not to offer it to her, and she wasn’t in the slightest bit fussed.

With my son, however, both ends of the breastfeeding journey were trickier. He found it harder to latch on at first, and once he did, it was excruciatingly painful for me. I had bleeding nipples, and winced every time he fed. But after a few weeks, it settled down.

When he turned one, I started to think about stopping. But he was a big feeder, and used it both for comfort and as a food source. Eventually, I managed to whittle it down to two feeds a day – morning and night – but he’d still lurch towards me if he spotted a bare bosom.

From time to time, I’d still offer him a breast to appease him when he was upset, or tired; it was a handy tool. But that meant that when I wanted to give up for good, I couldn’t get my head around how I’d ever manage to do that.

It didn’t look like he was going to start rejecting it any time soon, so I asked other women how they’d dropped those last feeds and their responses were sometimes ingenious, sometimes hilarious. So I thought I’d compile them here in case you, too, would like to stop breastfeeding but can’t quite work out how…

  • Go cold turkey. Just stop. Go away for the weekend, and then just refuse when you return.
  • Distract them during the day with snacks and toys, and stay out the house as much as possible to put an end to day-time feeds.
  • Get your partner to put the baby to bed, to help drop that night-time feed.
  • Get your partner to get him up in the morning, to drop the first feed of the day.
  • Give lots of cuddles, and comfort in other ways.
  • Don’t sit down for too long (or they’ll pounce).
  • Put toothpaste on your nipples.
  • Rub the breast with lemon juice and salt.
  • Lay down with him at night and sing to him, pat his back, but don’t offer the breast.
  • Bandage up your boobs.
  • Don’t offer, don’t refuse.
  • Clove oil on nipples.
  • Rub cumin powder on your boobs.
  • Have a chat, if they’re old enough, about it coming to an end.
  • Vinegar on the nipples.
  • Distract with books, telly, food.
  • Stay away: go out for the night, and first thing in the morning.
  • Don’t wear low-cut tops.

Do you have any other suggestions for giving up breastfeeding?