10 Worst Reasons to Wean a Breastfed Baby

Judy Dutton | Feb 24, 2015 Baby
10 Worst Reasons to Wean a Breastfed Baby

breastfeeding baby

All good things must eventually come to an end, and breastfeeding is no exception. Still, the question remains: When should you wean? Turns out many women stop breastfeeding long before they have to -- or want to -- due to misguided beliefs about what's best for their baby's health.

To make sure you aren't jumping the gun, check out the faulty logic that makes many a mom end nursing before it's really time. Keep them in mind when you hit these roadblocks so you can decide when is truly the right time for you!

When did you know it was time to stop breastfeeding?


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  • Bad Reason #1: You're Sick


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    Got a cold or flu, and afraid of passing it to your baby through breast milk? That's a myth.

    "Moms who get sick are often afraid breastfeeding will make her baby sick," says Jennifer Lincoln, an OB/GYN at Bundoo, which enables parents to consult with doctors online. "That's false! If anything, it will protect the baby since she’ll be passing along antibodies to whatever illness she has."

  • Bad Reason #2: You Believe Breastfeeding Has No Health Benefits Past Their First Birthday


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    "Moms often think breastfeeding past a certain age has no benefits," says Lincoln. "But there are tons of benefits to extended breastfeeding." According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, children weaned before two years of age are at increased risk of illness, since their immune system is only 60 percent developed by the age of 1.

  • Bad Reason #3: You're Pregnant


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    "Unless the mother has a history of high risk pregnancies -- i.e. miscarriage or premature labor -- it is safe to breastfeed while pregnant," says lactation consultant Irene Zoppi.

    That said, your breast milk will change in volume and composition during pregnancy, reverting back to colostrum -- the antibody and nutrient-rich "first milk" that moms usually produce. "And since the sodium content of colostrum is higher than mature milk, many toddlers will self-wean during this time due to the salty taste," says Zoppi. But if not, it's totally fine to carry on.

    More from The Stir: Breastfeeding While Pregnant: 5 Problems & Solutions

  • Bad Reason #4: You're Nursing an Infant


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    An infant needs all the breast milk he can get, so it's a bad idea to divert that supply to a toddler, right? Wrong. For one, your breasts can produce enough milk for two.

    "Tandem nursing -- nursing a newborn and his or her older sibling -- is normal and healthy and practiced in many cultures outside of the U.S.," points out Lincoln. Added bonus: Continuing to breastfeed a toddler can help him adjust smoothly to a baby's arrival and assuage feelings of jealousy, since he can still be close to you, too.

    More from The Stir: 'Badass Breastfeeder' Nurses Toddler & Newborn: You Got a Problem With That?

  • Bad Reason #5: You're Transitioning to Solid Food


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    If you're concerned that breastfeeding will keep your baby from exploring solid foods, you can stop worrying. "Solid foods under 12 months old are just for exploring new tastes and textures," says Dr. Lincoln. "The primary source of nutrition under a year is breast milk or formula, not solid food." Plus, since the food a mom eats may flavor her breast milk and introduce a baby to new flavors, some experts say that breastfed babies may actually be more open to exploring new foods.

  • Bad Reason #6: You've Started Taking Medication


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    "Most medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, are considered safe to use while breastfeeding," says lactation consultant Cindy Leclerc. So, don't just assume the drugs you're on will be bad for baby; speak to your pharmacist or physician and find out for sure.

    And if you are prescribed a medication that is not considered safe while breastfeeding, hope is not lost: Ask your doc about a substitute medication compatible with nursing.

  • Bad Reason #7: You're Returning to Work


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    A return to work does not need to mean the end of breastfeeding. Nursing doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing activity. For instance, why not continue breastfeeding in the morning and nights, and on weekends? If you can carve out time to pump while you're at work (every three hours or so is best), you can maintain your supply and bring it home for baby to drink.

    More from The Stir: Exclusively Pumping Breast Milk: 7 Tips to Guarantee Baby's Bottles Will Be Filled

  • Bad Reason #8: Baby Is Teething ... and Biting Your Boob


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    Ouch! While no mom should put up with that, instead of weaning, you can teach baby what's appropriate to bite and what isn't. "Immediately take your baby off the breast and offer him a toy, cool wash cloth, knuckle or something else that is okay to bite," says lactation consultant Tanja Knutson. "When they are teething, it feels good on their gums to bite down, so they just need to learn what they can bite on."

  • Bad Reason #9: You're Worried Nursing Too Long Will Traumatize Your Toddler


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    Once and for all: "There is no foundation that extended breastfeeding will traumatize a child," says Zoppi. Or maybe you've been warned, "If you don’t wean by ___, you’ll never be able to." Again, false. Just like all kids eventually potty train, all eventually wean. What's more, if you withdraw breastfeeding before your baby is ready, you may actually have the opposite effect and mess him up!

  • Bad Reason #10: You're Feeling Pressured By Others To Stop


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    Bottom line: There is simply no "right" time to wean. So stop heeding those dirty looks and listening to these unfounded warnings and try tuning into what you and your baby want -- because that's what will really tell you when the time is truly right.

    More from The Stir: What Weaning Is Really Like ... For Moms


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