Do they wean themselves one day? Natural weaning

Do they wean themselves one day? Natural weaning

Will children ever wean by themselves? What is the natural weaning age? In our society, weaning happens very early. It is much more frequent that breastfeeding journeys last months rather than years. The first time I saw a child about three years old breastfeeding, I couldn’t believe my eyes. At that time, my daughter was barely two months old, and I had not considered that breastfeeding could last ‘that long.’ I have discussed this feeling with many mothers who were equally surprised to discover that breastfeeding did not have to be a thing of months.

The natural age of weaning in humans is unknown because breastfeeding is a physiological and biological process shaped by the society and culture in which each mother lives. Therefore, it has been necessary to look to other sciences to solve the mystery of when a human baby should wean. The scientifically accepted answer is that weaning in humans naturally occurs between the ages of two and a half and seven years.

When you breastfeed a baby that is over two and a half months old, usually it’s unclear when they will wean, and many people might comment in a fun or not-so-fun way and ask you how long you will breastfeed or if your child will ever stop. And, of course, they do. Breastfeeding is a process that gradually fades. When nothing and no one forces the baby to stop breastfeeding, they do stop by themselves. Until a day comes when it’s over, and you haven’t even realized it. In this article, we wanted to include some experiences of other mothers, so if you wonder about how natural or spontaneous weaning happens, here are some examples:


My son weaned on the day he was 4 years and 1 month old. Or rather, that day, I was aware that he had stopped breastfeeding. I never did anything to force him to wean: no dropping feeds, no set routine. What I did, from when he was 15 months, was to go back to work 6-8 hours a day, which limited his access to breastfeeding a bit. Until he was 3 years old, he breastfed a lot: day and night. Little by little, he reduced his feeds on his own. For example, he stopped breastfeeding outside and when we were not at home. Daytime feeds were also becoming less frequent, and at one point, he only nursed when he woke up and when he went to sleep. Regarding nighttime feeds, from when he was about 3 years old, it was just once during the night (finally!!!), and maybe when he was around 3 and a half, he didn’t wake up anymore. He gradually stopped asking for the morning feed until he stopped asking for it altogether, and then there were only the night feeds left, which went from breastfeeding to sleep to “I’ll breastfeed for a while and then I go to sleep without”. And suddenly, one day, I realized that it had been about 4 or 5 nights without breastfeeding. And the most surprising thing for me: I told him about it, and he didn’t know how to breastfeed any more!


I am 32 years old and the mother of 4-year-old Maria.
Maria was breastfed on demand and exclusively until she was one year old, when she became interested in solid foods, and we practiced baby-led weaning. She continued to breastfeed on demand until she was 3 1/2 years old. When she was around 2 1/2 years old, my milk supply dropped, and I thought it was because weaning was in sight, but she continued to nurse on demand until she was 3 throughout the day and night. Especially when she came home from daycare and at night. Gradually, the feeds became less and less, until it was only just before bedtime and in the morning as she woke up. One day, when she was 3 and a half, she just stopped asking me. I asked her if she wanted to, and she said she didn’t need it anymore. And it lasted until today. I didn’t have any discomfort because supply decreased as demand decreased. None of us has even been grieving the weaning. It has been totally natural. She still likes to snuggle on my bare breast and smell me; I think she might feel a special memory. I’ve worked, she’s gone to school, we’ve been separated on weekends, and nothing has been a reason to stop breastfeeding on demand.


Our eldest has weaned herself shortly before her seventh birthday. It has been a quiet, very slow, but very sweet weaning. For a long time, she had been asking only occasionally, and what she liked the most was to share a little time breastfeeding with her little brother. Now, she just cuddles with us, sharing the moment. I think tandem breastfeeding has brought them together in a very special way. The little one just turned four years old, and we are still hanging in there… until he wants to.


We have been breastfeeding for 5 years and 1 year tandem breastfeeding. The oldest can breastfeed in the morning and evening, which are the feeds we have agreed on. Last night, she didn’t have any, and today, in the morning, she didn’t either. I think this is the process; it’s gradual. Natural weaning works like that.


My oldest son, now 7 1/2 years old, weaned himself around when he was 5. When his little sister was born, he was 3 years and 3 months old, and we did night weaning since he was 2 and a half years old. In the beginning, tandem feeding was very chaotic, and I had a hard time because his demand was higher than the baby’s, and it overwhelmed me a lot. But little by little, we negotiated certain things: not both breastfeeding at the same time, the baby always had a priority, and when we were out and about, only the baby breastfed, not him.

After he turned 5 years old, he asked less and less, and at one point, he had gone several weeks without nursing. So I asked him if he didn’t have anymore. And he told me that he was now a big boy and that he didn’t nurse anymore. And so without realizing it, he weaned.

Now, my 4-year-old daughter goes weeks without nursing, and every now and then, she will ask for a little bit. Let’s wait and see if it will be as natural as with her brother.


My son has always been very demanding, and so he was also with breastfeeding. I have never had to offer him the breast because he has always nursed a lot, very often, and from both breasts. This didn’t only happen in the first weeks or months but also until he was one year old. That’s why it never crossed my mind to wean him (and also because I enjoyed it), but in the last few months, I was a bit overwhelmed with breastfeeding because it became a “here and now” request, asking me to breastfeed and even helping himself by lifting my shirt.

At around 15-17 months, he stopped asking, and it seemed like he was going to wean himself… I wasn’t ready, so I started offering him the breast again (it felt too soon!), and it was from then on (although I think it’s an age thing and wasn’t triggered by me) that he started asking for more and more.

From when he was 2 years old on, I tried, on some occasions and with very little success, to replace some feeds with other gestures of affection, a game… a story. But even though when he asked, there was no way to “convince” him, I did notice that he was asking less and less. At night, I tried to put him to sleep without breastfeeding him or holding his hand, and I managed to do it on some occasions. If he woke up, I tried to offer him water, and I saw that he drank very eagerly (so I assumed he was thirsty). One thing led to another… and at 26 months, it so happened that he slept several days (4, to be exact) without breastfeeding.

I was already thinking about weaning, although I couldn’t help feeling a little nostalgic and sad. During those days, he didn’t ask me even during the day, and on the 5th day, he asked me at night. And I did the worst thing you can do: I refused. Half asleep I said no and he made a big mess… so on the 6th night, when he asked me again, I gave him. But guess what: he didn’t know how to suckle anymore! The position of his mouth was not correct, he sucked very strangely, and he told me: “No milk comes out, mama.” I felt terribly sorry for him because I saw that he didn’t understand what had happened and I told him that we would try again the next day. And then he never asked me again.

It’s been a month that he hasn’t been breastfeeding, and it’s a very strange situation. I miss it very much, but at the same time, I am relieved because I was starting to get tired, and I didn’t see myself continuing breastfeeding for too long.


When my child was six years and a few days old, she had been asking for very little for a few months, but she still asked every day. One day, the night came and I realized that she had not suckled, nor the next, nor the next day. Ten days later, when she was about to go to sleep, she said with a surprised face: “Mom! It’s been a long time since I didn’t have milky!” so she tried it, but she didn’t know how to anymore. She was so sad… and I gave her lots and lots of kisses and cuddles at that moment. And that was the end of it.

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