Many toddlers become attached to their bottles. Besides providing nourishment,
bottles also mean comfort and security.
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 harder it can be to break the bottle habit. Longer bottle use may lead to
cavities or cause
your child to drink more milk than he or she needs.
Switching from bottle to cup can be challenging, but these tips can make the
change easier for parents and kids.
How Should I Start the Switch?
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 hand skills needed
to hold a cup and drink from it.
Age 1 is also when doctors recommend switching from formula to cow's
milk. 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 in a cup.
Tips to Try
Instead of cutting out bottles all at once, try dropping them from the feeding
schedule over time.
For example, if your baby usually drinks three bottles each day, 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 encourage
your baby by saying something like "you're a big boy now and can use a cup like mommy."
As you try to stop 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 say
that one is coming later.
The next week, stop another bottle feeding and provide milk in a cup instead. Try
to do this 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
Other tips to keep in mind:
Spill-proof cups that have spouts designed just for babies ("sippy cups") can
help ease the move from the bottle. Dentists recommend sippy cups with a hard spout
or a straw, rather than ones with soft spouts.
When your child does use the cup, offer plenty of praise. If grandma is around,
for example, you might say, "See, Emma is such a big girl she drinks milk in a cup!"
If you keep getting asked for a bottle, find out what your child really needs
or wants and offer that instead. If your baby is thirsty or hungry, provide nourishment
in a cup or on a plate. If it's comfort, offer hugs, and if your little one is bored,
sit down and play!
As you wean your baby from
the bottle, try diluting the milk in the bottle with water. For the first few days,
fill half of it with water and half of it with milk. Then slowly add more water until
the entire bottle is water. By that time, it's likely that your child will lose interest
and be asking for the yummy milk that comes in a cup!
Get rid of the bottles or put them out of sight.
If you have problems or concerns about stopping the bottle, talk with your child's