Weaning My 4 Year Old – For Reals This Time

Weaning My 4 Year Old – For Reals This Time


You could say I’m an expert on weaning. I should be, I’ve been doing it for the last two years. I’ve spent more time trying to wean my daughter than I’ve  spent just breastfeeding her. Though admittedly my ambition to wean her comes in waves. And it started out gently, from two years old we did “Don’t offer – Don’t refuse” just to see if she’d wean herself – she did not. She’s required a little more persuasion than that. And we’ve reached the point where self weaning simply is no longer an option for me. She’d happily continue, and that’s fine. But I’m done. So done. It’s time. 

Writing about Weaning

On the upside, weaning her has been some pretty good blog-fodder. 

I started out very optimistically. I wrote “10 Tips For Gently Weaning A Toddler” two years ago.

One year ago – at a low point I wrote “Weaning A Toddler and Failing” Let me tell you breastfeeding aversion and a boob-obsessed toddler is not fun.

Followed by “My Last World Breastfeeding Week As A Breastfeeding Mother

…. And then the next World Breastfeeding Week – still a breastfeeding mother

On the topic of World Breastfeeding Week,  three years ago a doctor told me that my daughter was too old to breastfeed and that I should wean her immediately (and asked if she was drinking “Regular milk” – because apparently human breast milk is not regular milk for a human child).

Oh how I love to pop back into that doctor’s office and tell him she’s still breastfeeding. Just to see the look on his face.

Then I should look up the nurse who told me just before my daughter’s 2nd birthday that “The only reason she’s still breastfeeding is because you keep offering it”, and her statement was so utterly absurd that I couldn’t even manage a response. So she gave me this smug gotcha look. I wish I could tell her that she could not be more wrong. If she announced the sky is pink, trees grow upside down and dogs can fly – she could still not be more wrong than telling me that the only reason that my daughter breastfeeds is because I offer it to her.

Then the nurse and I could possibly discuss all the common concerns people have had about breastfeeding preschoolers.

The Plan

So, what is my spectacular, fool proof, perfect plan to wean my daughter that will totally work THIS time and I won’t be writing another article about breastfeeding her ever ever again, because this phase of my life will be over once and for all……?

I’m going away for 5 days. That’s it. Essentially I’m not going to wean her, her father is. Because I’m the one with the boobs and they seem to keep getting in the way! 

I have all my fingers and toes crossed that 5 days is a long enough break from the boob she won’t want it any more.

She’s been warned. We’ve talked about it a lot over the last couple of weeks. She’s moderately okay with the idea. I told her when I get back there won’t be any milk left – she did ask if she could “try and see” if there is when I get back, but I’ve told her that’s it. We won’t try. We won’t see. We don’t go back. 

Hopefully it’ll stick.

Hopefully this will be the end of it. This time. For reals.

Have you weaned a particular persistent child? What did the trick in the end? Or did they EVENTUALLY self wean? 



Rachel Stewart

Rachel is the founder of Parenting Central. She is raising two children, boy and girl, with her partner. Rachel is obsessed prams, car seats, carriers and all things baby. She has worked in the baby industry for several years, for both suppliers and also in a retail setting and has developed a passion for connecting parents with the right products to make their lives easier. When Rachel isn't playing with prams she's enjoys crocheting, drinking coffee (sometimes wine) and spending a little too much time on Facebook.


  1. Haha. Good luck. My first self weaned due to my pregnancy at 19 months. My second was weaned just after his 5th birthday. It was a long process. It wasn’t traumatic for him. There were no tears. But he’s 7 now and still sometimes cheekily asks for boobie juice. And he’ll roll his eyes and gets this dreamy face when you ask him what it tasted like. His description “it tastes like loooove”. Can’t blame him for not wanting to stop then.

  2. When weaning Mr (then) 3.5, the feed he had the most trouble letting go of was the first feed of the day. I am not ashamed to say that I bribed him with milo. Milo mixed with ‘proper’ milk hahahah

  3. Loved this. I expected my very independent second child to self wean at 1 like his brother. 2 months from turning 2 (and that was my cut off point, ) no signs of slowing down. Have no idea how we’re going to go with weaning ?

  4. I have had two babies that self weaned really, my older child just began to chew and play and didn’t actually feed so I stopped offering and he never asked. My second was different but I don’t think she was getting a particularly satisfying feed anyway, always hungry, never satisfied. I suppose it wasn’t so much weaning as just getting her fed! For me, the biggest thing is to do what makes you both happy and not feel like you are depriving yourselves of something.

  5. I had plans to bf to 2yrs.. I felt two yrs would be my limit, my children are 100th and 97th percentile tall and I am short so felt awkward to go beyond that but both dd’s self weaned earlier.. dd1 abruptly self weaned at 14mo (my guess is because I was pregnant) leaving me in pain with mastitis and dd2 slowly self weaned between 18-20mo so was pain free 🙂

    1. Good on DD2! My first self weaned gently, such a gradual taper off in the end I didn’t even know when his last breastfeed had been because I just woke up one day and realised it had been a few days. And that was it. So much kinder on the boobs! Sudden self weaning sounds painful… And I don’t know… I think I’d be a little sad without some warning?

    2. Parenting Central it was sad and stressful because I kept trying to get her to feed but she just kept refusing plus she had a severe dairy/soy/rice/oats allergy so I didn’t have a safe substitute to offer her on hand but thankfully after a trip to her pead he prescribed a hydrolysed formula which she took to 🙂 dd2 was definitely much kinder ?

  6. I’ve struggled with slowly weaning my little guy and in day three of weaning him at 2yrs 7mths. I started with no day feeds unless for sleep. Then this week thought I’m ready to try this. He has had some tears but not distress. He understands “empty” means none left. So I went with that. Might help for you when you get back. Tell her your boobs are now empty and won’t make any more milk. ☺️

  7. Hahaha.

    DD went to 3.5. I was 6 months pregnant with DS and my breasts were just too sore. I had to wean her, first just nights, then all together. It was 6 weeks of hell, she was very angry to night wean her, day time was about 6 more months. I tandem fed for a while.

    With DS he was 3 years, and it’s been only in the last 3 months – though we tried a dozen times before, to no avail. I had just had enough finally, and instead of doi g it gently, we went cold turkey and hard line about it. 6 and a half years of breastfeeding, interrupted nights, and maternity bras… and 12 months of trying to gently wean using every technique out there… oh, it was a hard road! And I thought DD was stubbourn! DS was a nightmare.

    I wish it had been on their terms, when they werr ready. And I didn’t wean either of them without sadness. And i did worry about it changing our relationship – and it did for a while, both kids were very mad, and sad, and it was a miserable time for a couple of weeks with them (her at night, she gave up days gently)… but now he comes to me for cuddles and to spend time on my lap, he just does it without breastfeeding. And DD is just as cuddly and loving as before, too.

    But, my goodness, it is not easy! You read about mums with self-weaning babies, and they seem like unicorns, when your child is determined never to stop, lol.

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