When to stop nursing?

So, my baby is 15 months old this month. And we are still nursing sporadically throughout the day. Most of the time, the nursing is relegated to nap times and bed times. But I’m a believer in on-demand nursing. Basically, if the baby wants to nurse, I let her nurse. I enjoy nursing. I love the bonding and attachment nursing creates. I love knowing that, no matter what else the baby has eaten – crayons, play dough, or cereal – she has gotten good nutrition that day because she has nursed. So, I find it hard to know when to stop nursing.

When to stop nursing? | MommyCrusader.com
My baby’s giving her stuffed cat a drink out of her cup.

Lately, though, my baby has been giving me some rather large signs that it’s probably time to start the weaning process in earnest.  She’ll come and nurse for 10 seconds, then be on her way again. I’m not a fan of the silly sipper style of nursing. So, there’s sign number one that I need to be giving her other liquid options during the day.

Sign number two is that, if she has settled down to nurse, she wants to nurse and nurse and nurse. And I just can’t handle the drain to my own personal reserves when the marathon nursing happens. I think this means it’s time to teach her to self-soothe more effectively. And though I’m not a fan of letting the baby “cry it out”, sometimes a little alone time is beneficial when learning to self-soothe. There are gentle ways of doing this. Like rubbing the baby’s back when she’s trying to get back to sleep, or holding her hand at night – instead of her holding Mommy. And sometimes, it’s good to give the baby a nice big teddy bear to snuggle with. My baby is currently enamored with a stuffed cat we have. (It’s very soft.)

Finally, sign number three is that my baby is inventing new ways to nurse from Mommy. Instead of lying down nicely to nurse, tummy to tummy, she has started trying to nurse with her head held vertically. Also, she has started trying to lie parallel to my body and still nurse. This new position causes great discomfort, for sure.

However, her final exploration of new positions to nurse from is by far the most painful. She has started to lay with her head horizontal to my body (which is nice, right?), but then she will twist so she’s on her hands and knees and start to do the yoga position downward facing dog. This means that her cute little bottom is up near my nose, while her mouth – with several teeth – is still busily nursing. (I did try to get a picture, but was worried about exposing something.)

Any way I look at it, these new behaviors are convincing me that it is time to start weaning the baby. And while I don’t believe in behavioral changes during the holiday season, I think I already have my number one New Year’s Resolution – wean the baby!

How about you other nursing mothers? Are there ways you know it’s time to wean the baby? I know every mother has her own feeling about when to wean and how to go about it. I’d love to hear about it in the comments below, and only ask that comments are respectful and supportive.


  1. Ah, one of the biggies of our babies getting older. My two older kids let me know by pretty much just not asking for it after a couple days of me not offering or being available to offer. My son was just eleven months and my daughter was 22 months.

    My third child is a whole different ballgame. She’s three. We still nurse at night and first thing in the morning. She would love to nurse way more often than that, but I would never get anything done ever. Even after four nights apart, all she wanted ro do was nurse. Now granted, my daughter is autistic and has Sensory Processing Disorder, and nursing fills a huge oral tactile sensory need for her which we have not found a close enough substitute for.

    But it is also one of the closest ways she bonds with me. She is often so sensitive about touch and skin to skin contact that it makes other types of bonding a challenge. Even when she nurses, I often can’t rest my arm across her legs or belly, or stroke her hair or arms, it’s just too much for her. But she loves to nurse and it helps her regulate and keep balanced, so we will probably stick with it for a while longer. Not sure how long a while, but a while.

    I do believe that our kids let us know when they are ready to move on from nursing though, and you’re a very perceptive mama, so I think when the time is right, you’ll know.


    1. Judith, thank you for sharing such thoughtful, insightful, and gentle comments. Good work doing what is best for your three year old. Three year olds have a lot of teeth — so well done. :) And, you are very right, our children let us know what they need- if we listen close enough. Thanks for your supportive and kind comments. Good luck with all your adventures. :)


  2. Wow, I admire moms that can stick with nursing. With my first two I was just young and scared. With my last two I made it for about 2 months, and got overwhelmed with trying to keep up with the others while still trying to nurse, especially before I became a SAHM. You’re doing awesome, and even if your nursing journey has come to an end, it was definitely one worth having!


    1. Thank you Brittany, for your supportive comments. Every Mother has to make her own way through the first years of child care. Thanks for coming by and commenting. Sorry to be so long in responding.


  3. Wow, I am right here with you with a lot of these. Except the yoga/acrobat nursing positions. My son is 13 months old. My goal was to nurse him for 6 months. At a year, I thought we would just back away from nursing and pumping (I work outside of the home), and gently replace with whole milk. He resisted fiercely, and although I am ready to be done, I know that he is not. Since this is one of his main comfort mechanisms, I cannot just cut him off, because I am ready.
    We are currently operating on the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” weaning plan. While I’m working this usually equates to a nursing before bed and in the night as he needs it. Although sometimes he asks when I get home, I can usually distract him with a snack. On the weekends it’s a different story. When he falls down, or gets sleepy, or is an anxious situation he asks to nurse fairly frequently throughout the day. I try to distract and hold off for a while, but if he is persistent, I let him. I hope that over time he will ask less and we can step down that way.
    I hope you find a way to wean your little one gently too. They are all different little people, so you’ll probably have to experiment with different approaches too. I look forward to reading about how it’s going.


    1. Thank you so much for your heartfelt comments. I wish you, too, the best of luck in your journey too. It’s a difficult transition, but as we both follow our Mommy voices, I”m sure we’ll get through it. Take care of your little guy and yourself. -Sorry to be so long in replying, it’s been a bit of a busy week or so.


  4. I’m totally in love with this! Pinned and tweeted. We appreciate you being a part of our party, and I hope to see you on tonight at 7 pm. We love partying with you!
    Happy Monday! Lou Lou Girls


    1. Thanks so much fabulous ladies! I’m glad you enjoyed the post and I’m always glad to link up to your wonderful linky! See you next time. :)


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