|SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center|
Stopping the Bottle
Many toddlers become attached to their bottles. Besides providing nourishment, bottles also mean comfort and security.
But it's important for parents to start weaning babies from bottles around the end of the first year and start getting them comfortable drinking from cups. The longer parents wait to start the transition, the more attached kids become to their bottles and the more difficult it can be to break the bottle habit.
Switching from bottle to cup can be challenging, but these tips can make the change easier for parents and kids.
Timing the Transition
Most doctors recommend introducing a cup around the time a baby is 6 months old. In the beginning, much of what you serve in a cup will end up on the floor or on your baby. But by 12 months of age, most babies have the coordination and manual dexterity to hold a cup and drink from it.
Age 1 is also when doctors recommend switching from formula to cow's milk, so it can be a natural transition to offer milk in a cup rather than a bottle.
If you're still breastfeeding, you can continue feeding your baby breast milk, but you may want to do so by offering it (as well as diluted juice or water) in a cup.
Tips to Try
Instead of cutting out bottles all at once, try eliminating them gradually from the feeding schedule, starting at mealtimes.
If your baby usually drinks three bottles each day, for example, start by eliminating the morning bottle. Instead of giving a bottle right away, bring your baby to the table and after the feeding has started, offer milk from a cup. You might need to offer some encouragement and explanation, saying something like "you're a big boy now and can use a cup like mommy."
As you try to eliminate the morning bottle, keep offering the afternoon and evening bottles for about a week. That way, if your child asks for the bottle you can provide assurance that one is coming later.
The next week, eliminate another bottle feeding and provide milk in a cup instead, preferably when your baby is sitting at the table in a high chair.
Generally, the last bottle to stop should be the nighttime bottle. That bottle tends to be a part of the bedtime routine and is the one that most provides comfort to babies. Instead of the bottle, try offering a cup of milk with your child's dinner and continue with the rest of your nighttime tasks, like a bath, bedtime story, or teeth brushing.
Here are some other tips to keep in mind:
If you continue to have problems or concerns about stopping the bottle, talk with your doctor.
Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD