Home | Q & A: dropping down to nursing twice a day

Q & A: dropping down to nursing twice a day

by Heather

Hey it’s half way through the week.  Whoop!  Our little family is going away for the weekend, which makes me look forward to Friday even more.  Today we’re talking food, but not so much recipes.  Hunter food.  The boob food.

Between 9 and 10 months we made a big switch in our daily nursing routine.  At 9 months he was nursing 4-5 times a day.  Then at 10 months we dropped down to 2-3.  Now at almost 11 months we are just at twice a day.    When I originally made the switch to less than 4, I had lots of questions, so to the internet I went searching… and I came up disappointed.  I couldn’t find that much info on when or how to do it.  So I went with my mommy instinct and dove in.  While I am no expert in nursing or babies, I thought it would be helpful to answer the questions that I had, in hopes I can help another mom out there.  This is what worked for Hunter and I.  Remember, every baby is different!

I should also note that Hunter does not feed on demand.  While we do follow the baby led weaning approach for his food, I did not follow the ‘let him nurse whenever’ approach.  We have a flexible routine, which I’ll outline, but it’s still a routine none the less.

Q & A: dropping down to nursing twice a day

When does Hunter nurse?

In the morning before breakfast.  If he wakes before 7am, I’ll have him play for a bit until 7am, then we nurse and have breakfast.  If he wakes after 7am I nurse him right when he wakes.  He nurses again at 7pm before getting ready for bed.

When did you know that Hunter was ready to drop a feeding?

A few months ago I remember reading about some other babies that nursed just twice a day, that were the same age as Hunter.  I thought to myself, I don’t think Hunter will ever get there!  Well, at the time he wasn’t ready.  He was eating solids well, but still I think his solids vs. nursing was split 50/50.  Then around 10 months (or a little before), I decided one day to just try nursing 3 times – morning ,mid day and before bed.  On that day he instantly made a switch to eating more solids.  He didn’t fuss about nursing less, it just seemed natural.  I was already at the point where he was eating solids first, and then nursing.

How old was he when he dropped a feeding?

Between 9-10 months he dropped down from 4-5 times a day, to 2-3 times a day.  Now at 10 1/2 months he only nurses twice a day.

How did we drop the feedings?

Cutting out the midday feeding was a more gradual thing.  He would eat lunch between 11-12pm, then I would nurse him about an hour later.  He didn’t always seem to need it, but I did it anyway.  Then one day we were busy and I just forgot.  Thankfully he didn’t seem to mind.  For a couple weeks he would want it (he’d get fussy), so I’d nurse him.  Then last week I just decided not to anymore and it’s been fine.  He eats soooooo much food.  I think nursing has become more of a comfort than anything for him.

Do I pump now that he is nursing less?

When we first went down to 3 times a day, I was still pumping.  I wanted to make sure my milk supply stayed up in case he really wasn’t ready to nurse less.  Then on the days I only nursed him in the morning and night, I pumped midday.  Now I don’t pump midday.  I have seem a huge decrease in my milk supply, but I figured that will happen as he needs it less and less.

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Nursing and solids, how does it work together?

When Hunter first starting eating solids, I would always nurse first, then offer solids.  Then as time went by I picked one meal a day to offer solids first, and then nurse.  Then as we continued on over the weeks I’d offer solids first at more and more meals, to where he was always eating solids first, and then nursing.  I tried to make sure solids and nursing were within an hour of each other, so that it was a big meal, instead of two separate snacks.

When will I stop nursing?

My goal was always to nurse to 1 year, and I know we’ll make that goal.  After that, I”m not sure.  This is probably a selfish reason, but I want to get pregnant again, and breastfeeding has definitely been working as birth control for us.  I’ll see where we’re at when he turns a year.

I hope this is helpful to you nursing mamas out there.  Please let me know if you have any questions I didn’t answer!

Have a great day. 🙂

Heather

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38 comments

Erica April 17, 2013 - 10:41 am

WOW! I think you’re amazing for nursing as long as you have! You go girl!

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Fit Mama April 18, 2013 - 10:39 pm

Thank ya lady 🙂

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Maryam August 14, 2016 - 2:32 pm

Cool I have similar experience but like u I wanted to get pregnant again soon. My son was 14months I planned to breastfeed until he was 2 years old 🙁 anyway. So I nursed at night for 1 week, 2nd week I stopped breastfeeding, 3rd I became pregnancy. But surprising I was 1 month pregnant.

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Sasha March 18, 2016 - 3:49 pm

A lot of mamas/ young mamas are exclusively breastfeeding I still am & am 18 turning 19 in May along with my almost one year old son in May as well. I have been breastfeeding since the minute he came out of the whom. & am now almost 11 months later am weaning him from 4-5 feedings a day down to 2-3. & this is all after mealtime. To breastfeed you need ALOT of patients & sometimes, it’s too much. But it’s the best for your LO so might as well & your saving hundreds of dollars on formula

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Sasha March 18, 2016 - 3:51 pm

Oh & I also don’t bother pumping. I’m full all night long until the morning, then during the day is a lil less full & then night & I got expanding balloons LOL

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Jade April 18, 2013 - 8:28 am

My friend had told me how she had done the weaning with her child so, now, when I am looking for info I am going off of that. She did it a lot like you, and would forget to do a nursing session a few days, and then it was gone! Although, I still think my dude loves the boob way too much, I have cut down on my pumping at work and will continue to do so, so that I just can feed at home mainly the morning, noon, and night ones. I’ve had to supplement for a while because my output is so poor, and strangely I still feel guilty giving up these pumps, but it is also liberating too!

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Fit Mama April 18, 2013 - 10:37 pm

Going back to work and pumping is such a commitment, I think you are amazing for doing it as long as you have! It has been freeing to me too, nursing less. Although I was sad when I thought about it at first, it’s just the next step 🙂

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Lisa@HealthyDiaries April 18, 2013 - 5:43 pm

Thanks for this post Heather! I would like to stop breastfeeding completely shortly after Roberto’s 1st bday. I’d like to have him down to 2 feedings by his bday and then take another month or two to stop those. He’s 8.5 months now and he usually nurses 5 times a day. Are you giving Hunter another kind of milk to transition onto?

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Fit Mama April 18, 2013 - 10:34 pm

I have not, and I am hoping to just continue feeding him his normal meals of real food (just offering more) and not have to do much milk…. just seems more natural to me. I think you’ve got a great plan Lisa!

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Julie May 7, 2014 - 2:13 pm

Hi there!

Just stumbled across your blog, very well done. I know this is an old post – however I have a few questions. It seems as though your style is similar to mine regarding nursing/schedules etc.
My son (also named Hunter! how funny) is 10 months old. As of a few days ago, I dropped to nursing morning and evening only. He eats solids well. Three meals a day, plus a snack or two. I plan to continue this for a month, and then drop the morning for a week and then the evening. I’d like him to be fully done with breastfeeding by 11.5 months.
In your experience, when you dropped your nursing to am and pm only did you give your Hunter any milk of any sort during the day? How/when did you fully wean?
I’m a runner and training for a half-marathon next month – I’m excited to be finished with breastfeeding! However, I’d like to avoid formula and bottles.

Let me know your experience! Thank you!!
Julie

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Fit Mama May 7, 2014 - 2:28 pm

Hi Julie! I never gave Hunter any milk to replace breastmilk. He was always a great eater and just seemed less interested in nursing when he got closer to 1 year. We weaned shortly after he turned 1. When I wanted to drop a feed I offered him food first, then if he was fussy like he wanted to nurse, I would do it, but normally he’d be just fine with food. I didn’t force weaning, just gently encouraged it by giving him food first. 🙂 When we fully weaned it kind of just happened while we were camping. We were down to just evenings and I kind of forgot + he never asked for it, then we were done! Feel free to check out his monthly updates around 12/13 months for more on what he was eating and our schedule: https://www.fitmamarealfood.com/life/baby/
I hope that helped! It was almost a year ago now so I’m going by mostly memory. Let me know if you have any other questions!

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Julie May 7, 2014 - 6:58 pm

Thank you! That’s kind of what I was thinking. I feel like there is so much pressure about amounts of milk and weaning to formula, blah blah – and I always felt as though breastfeeding came naturally, and then it would end naturally just the way you described.
You make me feel better about my theory about just letting it fade off without feeling it is absolutely necessary to replace it with something else. Aside from a healthy variety of food for his meals of course!
My son is also a great eater, however – he won’t feed himself with his hands! I see so many babies younger just shoveling food into their mouth on their own, and the only way Hunter will eat is if I spoon feed him. He does fine with diced food and any texture, so I’m not too worried – I just wonder if you have any advice about encouraging self-feeding. I put little pieces of things in front of him constantly, they end up being fed to the dog!
Thanks for your response – I plan to read more of your articles, and congrats on your new little one!

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Fit Mama May 12, 2014 - 1:06 pm

So we did baby led weaning with Hunter, which from the start encouraged him to feed himself. It was super rare that I spoon fed him at all, so I think that helped with his gradual increase in food. As he could handle it better, he ate more and more. I’d say just keep encouraging it! If he’s hungry enough, maybe he’d be more willing to feed himself??

Here are a couple posts I did on it if you’re interested.

part 1: https://www.fitmamarealfood.com/baby-led-weaning-part-1/

part 2:https://www.fitmamarealfood.com/baby-led-weaning-part-2/

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Sara July 5, 2014 - 9:29 am

I know this is an old post but I’ve started to wean my 11 month old baby boy…I think it’s harder on me than him lol. We’ve done a couple days of 2 feeds and he seems to be transitioning well, he often to preoccupied playing to think about nursing these days. But I’m just nervous he isn’t getting enough throughout the day to fill his belly and get the nutrition. I think he’s a good eater but he’s my first so I don’t know…what would Hunter generally eat throughout the day?

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Susanna December 9, 2014 - 4:27 pm

Thank you – I am breastfeeding my second child now. We have done BLW and he now BF 4 times a day but I am returning to work next month (he will be 9mo) and I want to cut out the 2 day feeds. I think the afternoon one will be easy as he only nurses for a few minutes then anyway but I was getting a bit worried about what to do about the midday one – All the info on the net tells me to replace the feed with formula – I never did this with my daughter so I was all confused. So great to read your experience of just supplying more food/water – very affirming! I am hoping I will gradually be able to wean him off the midday one by the time I return to work or at least by 10 months so I don’t have to express (I haven’t done that at all up til now!). Thanks again for taking the time to blog on this 🙂

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Alexandria March 13, 2016 - 9:46 am

Thank you so much for posting this! As you mentioned there is very little information on the internet that comes up in regard to reducing breastfeeding without supplementing with another “milk” form.

My son is currently 7.5 months and we breastfeed 4-5 times per day as well as 1-2 night feeds and 2 meals of solids (about 70 mls each). I am currently working on cutting out the night feed and will be adding a third solid meal this week.

I am lactose intolerant and notice he gets painfil gas after l consume dairy. Therefore I plan to limit his dairy intake to ensure he does not become reliant on cow’s milk as a food source.

I will be going back to work when he is 11.5 months old and he will be attending fulltime daycare. As long as biting is not an issue, i hope to have reduced to the morning and evening breastfeed. Otherwise i will pump for the same result.

I then plan to keep those two feeds up for the better part of a year. I have read how the consumption of breastmilk up to two years old can help on many levels, including social development and immunity. A lovely fact sheet is provided by KellyMom.com here: http://kellymom.com/ages/older-infant/ebf-benefits/

As the 2 feeds, whether by bottle or breast, will be in the home at wakeup and bedtime, there will be no social stigma attached, no pumping at work, and no rush to wean.

I will now be using your methods outlined above to help me get there!

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Rachelle June 15, 2016 - 9:28 pm

I have a question about dropping a feed. I am currently breastfeeding my daughter 4 times a day (morning, before nap, afternoon, before bed) but would like to drop down to 3. I am wondering how to do these 3 feeds; as in which side do I feed on. If I feed left, right, left one day then right, left, right the next day will my body be able to work it out or am I going to be getting engorged breasts everyday? Should I instead always feed twice on a particular side (left, right, left everyday)? Any info would be greatly appreciated!

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Heather June 22, 2016 - 8:28 pm

Hi Rachelle, for my body I’ve always (and still) nursed on both breasts each nursing session. I just do my best to alternate which breast I start with, so if I was doing 3 feedings a day I would do R/L, then L/R, then R/L and then the next day start with L/R and continue that pattern. I hope that is helpful and if any other moms reading who do nurse on only one side each session have input as well, please share!

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Genna August 30, 2016 - 7:15 am

Ok I know this post is old but seriously Thank you for posting this bc it seems like the wild world of weaning is very daunting since it seems there are roughly 50000 ways to go about doing so and here I found someone who I agree with on the topic!
Quick question-
What time did you do meals after weaning currently my daughter wakes up at 7 is nursed then breakfast
Lunch at noon
Nurse around 3 then “dinner” around 330
Nurse then bed at 7
Do you just add in a snack or move dinner back and they are fine once you are done weaning? Does this make sense?
Daughrer is 10.5 months thank you in advance

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Pam May 27, 2017 - 8:17 am

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
My little guy (10 months) has dropped back to 3 times a day and I been searching the internet to make sure he is getting enough, like you said there isn’t much out there. There needs to be more info like this.

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Patty December 27, 2018 - 4:45 pm

Hello! Thanks for the post. 🙂
What about nigth weaning? When you cut down the feedings, was he still waking up at nigth? I’d love to know your experience in that matter. Thank you!!

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Heather January 1, 2019 - 5:34 am

Hi Patty! Night weaning happened naturally for us with Hunter. He was already sleeping through the night at the point of dropping down to nursing twice a day. With my girls I would still nurse them when they’d wake at night even though the day time nursing was reduced. Is your little one still waking at night to nurse (I’ve been there and still am with baby #4!)

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Pattt January 10, 2019 - 10:29 pm

Thank you!
Mine was sleeping through the nigth but now is waking up twice. :/
I reduced day feedings, but lately baby wants to nurse more than before. I am feeling a little discouraged as I am hoping to wean at 1 yo, (we’d love another baby). But it seems like this little one is not ready yet. I am reducing the nursing time (between 2-5 min) and then rock her. It seems to work some nights and others I just end nursing more in order to sleep. 🙂 Any suggestions? 🙂

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Heather February 15, 2019 - 6:30 am

Oh that’s hard! My third baby was a nighttime waker for a loooong time. With nighttime wakes and weaning I never forced it. It’s great that (usually) nursing is a quick thing that gets her to go back to sleep at night. I hope knowing that EVENTUALLY they do sleep through the night helps! That was my saving grace with her – eventually she did and for us, it was months after we weaned. Once we weaned I would just snuggle her instead of nursing her at nighttime wake ups. But other babies don’t need to wean to sleep through the night. Listen to your little ones cues and you’ll know what’s best for your baby. You got this mama!

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AD March 4, 2019 - 7:55 am

I came across this article and you are so right, it’s SO helpful. I have an 11 month and am considering weaning down to two feedings from 4. He’s been ebf and I’m ready to get some of my body and life back after a year. I’m going to follow your lead and start with one mean where I feed solids first then nurse wishing the hour, then eventually drop one then two nursing sessions gradually. I’ll keep the night and morning for emotional reasons but my question is, will my supply drop if I forget a night feeing here and there? For an occasional night out with hubs? This is pretty exciting!

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Heather April 9, 2019 - 6:08 am

That’s an exciting time for you and the hubs for sure! Personally for my supply if I have a random miss of a feeding it doesn’t affect it. If it was consistent and often then it would. Every person is different though! Let me know how it goes mama!

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Stephanie July 30, 2019 - 7:52 pm

My son is 17 months and we don’t consume dairy so I have always made it a priority to make sure breastfeeding worked for us, which I have loved and still do. However, he the last few weeks he has gone from 4-5 feedings to just 2-3. I know he is past that year mark, but everyone is so pro milk. You said you didn’t give any other milk when you dropped feedings, correct? There isn’t much information about breastfeeding a baby past 1 and just wanted some other moms thoughts. Thanks so much!

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Heather December 10, 2019 - 9:21 pm

That’s right Stephanie, we never went with offering milk to any of our kiddos after a year. We get dairy products in other ways (yogurt, kefir, cheese, and the occasion milk but not consistent), but not daily milk. Personal choice since I’d prefer my kiddos to fill up on other real foods!

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Morgan August 28, 2019 - 10:28 am

Thank you for posting this! I haven’t found much that I can relate to in the goal of weaning by 1 year old and some posts say you have to nurse a certain amount of times per day. I am relieved to know that my little girl is following a similar path to your son. She eats a lot too!

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Heather December 10, 2019 - 9:18 pm

So glad it was helpful Morgan!

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Cheyenne September 19, 2019 - 8:04 am

Hi Heather! This is SUCH an old post I know, but it was still really helpful for me. I have a quick question…
So background, I have a 9-month-old son. We’ve reduced feedings to 3x a day (morning, evening, and one night feed) per his pediatrician’s permission. He is GREAT at drinking water and has frequent wet/dirty diapers. Weight gain is steady and he only asks to breastfeed during the day MAYBE once every week and a half.
So my question is, should I be worried about his caloric intake? Should I count the calories he eats? I know he’s on the young side to be only eating 3x a day, but the change was so easy it didn’t seem to even make a bump on the radar.

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Heather October 6, 2019 - 6:11 am

Hi Cheyenne – it sounds like he is doing great! Unless your pediatrician says differently sounds like you guys are on a great path. Wet and dirty diapers are always a good sign that babies are getting a good intake. Unless your pediatrician says to I don’t think counting calories is a necessary thing.

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Jennifer November 6, 2019 - 5:00 am

My baby is 6 months old. She’s been eating solids since 4 months. She still nurses about 8 times a day ( including night feeding)
She eats her solids 3 times a day. When should I start dropping a nursing and start adding snacks?

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Heather December 10, 2019 - 9:17 pm

I love this advice I first received on weaning – drop the session that is least convenient for you. For me, it was always the afternoon time/while I’m making dinner. See what works in your life and start there! Hope that’s helpful Jennifer 🙂

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Katie December 7, 2019 - 5:37 pm

Hello!

I know this is old, but I’m currently in the process of starting to wean my 10.5 month old son! He’s currently getting 4 feeds per day. sometimes all 4 are nursing, sometimes 3 are nursing and one is a bottle. On some random days I feel like my supply is low and I’ll supplement with some formula. That just started about 3 weeks ago and it was really hard on my after almost 10 months of strictly breast milk. Anyway, I would love to drop down to 2 or 3 nursing sessions per day and have that be enough, but I always worry he isn’t getting enough fluids! He’s a great eater and clearly prefers solids to milk at this point. If I didn’t make it sit down and nurse, I’m not sure he’s care much. EXCEPT, it seems he gets thirsty and that’s really the only reason he wants to nurse/have a bottle at all. We offer water at all of his meals, but he doesn’t always drink some. I’d say he’s only getting 2-3 ounces of water/day. Some days a little more, but never even one whole sippy cup per day. Do you have any tips for this? When you dropped to 2 feedings per day, how much water was your son having? I’ve tried many different types of cups, but he just doesn’t seem that interested most of the time.

Thanks!

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Heather December 10, 2019 - 9:13 pm

Hey Katie! This is def a question for your son’s doctor, but ask about how many wet diapers he should have. If he’s hitting it that can take worry away!

My son always loved water so we never had to worry about that much, but if he hadn’t liked it, here’s what I would try. I’d focus on water rich foods (sounds like your son loves solids) – like watermelon, berries, cucumber (try shredded without the skin for little ones without molars) and cut grapes. They provide hydration at the same time as food! Smoothies are another option. It can be more fun than water – load it with water rich fruits + water and it’s another way to get hydration in. I hope that’s helpful!

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Keely January 16, 2020 - 5:29 am

Hey. I’m thinking about dropping my son down to one nursing session a day. He is 18 months and right now we nurse 2-4 x depending on how much he’s asking for it. I would like to just do one feed in evening ideally. If you ever got down to one feed did your milk supply maintain itself for one feed a day??

Thanks,

Keely Klassen

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Heather January 25, 2020 - 5:43 am

Hey Keely! For myself when I dropped to one a day my supply definitely decreased because of less demand. But every mama is different!

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