Breastfeeding: When do children naturally wean?

I'm in no hurry to wean my 20-month-old-son, who's happy, healthy and developing a sense of security and independence. The nursing definitely helps to ease his toddler frustrations, so I prefer to let weaning take its natural course. At what age do kids naturally wean, and what signs should I be looking for?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Nursing a toddler can definitely be a great experience.

There is absolutely nothing at all unusual about a 20-month-old continuing to enjoy breastfeeding. Unfortunately, in our country, we don't see many toddlers and older children openly nursing, so many nursing moms keep it on the down low.

Weaning varies from child to child. In places where kids are allowed to nurse as long as they want, the common age to self wean is between three and four.

When this process goes along at a child's pace, most often it is very gradual, and sometimes the decrease in nursing is hardly noticeable. All of a sudden, you might observe that your little one hasn't asked to nurse in the past couple of days. This seems to be very common when a child's "timetable" is followed.

If you both remain comfortable with the nursing relationship, it really isn't necessary to watch for signs of weaning. It will all happen on its own.

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