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Answers to more than 1000 questions about psychology, mental health, healthy living and relationships, written by a team of experts appointed by the Commission of the European Communities.
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The aim of Web4Health is to give good and useful free medical advice, help and self help in the areas of mental health, psychology, personality disorders, relationships, stress, anxiety, depression, emotional abuse, substance abuse, sexual abuse, types of mental illness, etc.

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How and at Which Age Should a Child Stop Being Breastfed?

Written by: Gunborg Palme, certified psychologist and certified psychotherapist, teacher and tutor in psychotherapy.

First version: 22 Jul 2008. Latest revision: 05 Aug 2008.

Question:

 I have a boy who is 16 months old and still wants to be breastfed, especially at night when going to sleep. How can I get him to stop requesting this?

Answer:

Different cultures have different customs regarding how long children are breast-fed. In some cultures breast-feeding continues for several years, while other cultures only breast-feed for a couple of months.

Your son obviously likes sucking your breasts, and he will not freely give up that pleasure. It might be better if his father, or some other person, who the child feels secure with, takes care of him when he is tired, until the worst crisis is over. Otherwise, you will not be able to withstand his crying, and there is a great risk that you will yield to his demands. It is best for you to be so far away that you cannot hear him. Thus, weaning can be much easier if the dad also handles the tucking in at night, instead of you doing it. There will then not be any discussion. In this way there is no breast to suck on, and finally the boy will get tired and fall asleep.

When he is accustomed to go to sleep without breast feeding, then you can go back to handle the tucking in for the night.

It is important that you avoid problems with your breasts if you stop breast-feeding abruptly. You may have to milk your breast dry yourself the first few days. Discuss this with a midwife, if you can. Even if you have decided to stop breast-feeding, you should expect that not only your son, but also you will feel sad for a few days.

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