How to Wean From Breastfeeding to Whole Milk

Weaning from the breast is a different process for every child. Some babies wean themselves without any struggles before they've turned 1 year old; others show no signs of stopping even at age 2 or 3. If you're ready to stop breastfeeding and your pediatrician has given your child the OK to drink cow's milk, you may be worried about how to make such an important change to your child's routine. Transitioning from nursing to drinking cow's milk can be a challenge, but patience and persistence will help your child achieve this important milestone.

Substitute your child's least favorite feeding with a sippy cup of cow's milk. Many children are most attached to the pre-bedtime nursing session but have far less interest in daytime feedings. Anticipate when she'll be hungry and instead of settling down in your usual nursing spot, give her the cup in a different location.

Shorten the duration of your nursing sessions, then offer your child a cup of cow's milk to finish the feeding. Start by trimming just a minute or two off the usual time, then gradually cut back until your child is getting all of his milk from a cup.

Distract your child when she asks to nurse by telling her you'll feed her later, then quickly get her involved in a fun game or a favorite toy. This is more difficult when your child is actually hungry, so try this strategy when she wants to nurse out of habit, not hunger.

Offer your child plenty of hugs, cuddles and one-on-one attention throughout the day. Breastfeeding isn't just about eating, it's also a major source of comfort for babies and toddlers, so be sure to give your child more physical contact by way of back rubs, kisses and snuggles, recommends

Change the bedtime routine. The bedtime nursing session is often the last to go, and your child might fight extra hard if you attempt to substitute a cup of cow's milk for breastfeeding at this time. Instead of focusing the nighttime routine on nursing, center it around reading, singing lullabies, rocking or anything else that brings your child comfort.


If you usually pump your breast milk, start by offering your child a sippy cup with 90 percent breast milk and just 10 percent whole milk. As your baby gets used to the taste, gradually increase the amount of cow's milk over the course of several days or weeks until she's no longer drinking any breast milk from the cup.

If your child puts up a serious fight every time you refuse to breastfeed, have your husband or another relative take over and offer the milk cup while you stay out of sight. If your breasts simply aren't accessible to your toddler, he may be more willing to give them up.


Unless you must stop breastfeeding for a medical reason, don't rush the process. A sudden refusal to nurse your child may be distressing for him, so go slowly and wean him from the breast gradually.