When the time came to wean my daughter and son from their bottles I got all emotional and cried. It came around the same time that I was returning to work and my babies were growing up too quickly. I no longer had a baby- they were officially toddlers.
Most pediatricians recommend that we start weaning our babies from their bottles at 12 months. At a year old, babies have the motor skills to sit up, hold a cup and drink from it, and they no longer need a bottle for nutrition. A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics found 9 months to be the best age to wean babies from bottles, regardless of whether they were bottle fed or breastfed. Bottles are also a source of comfort and security for our little ones. Longer use of bottles can lead to cavities and drinking more milk than they may need in a day. Start to introduce a sippy cup or an open cup to your baby at around 6 months of age, even though it will likely end up on the floor but after repetitive use they’ll get use to it and use it more.
Tips to Phase Out the Bottle
Take a cup into the bathtub and let them play with it and have fun!
Decrease the bottles you use by replacing with a cup one feed at a time, with the least important first – usually the midday bottles.
Dilute the milk a little more each day with water.
Instead of giving the morning bottle in their room or in bed with you bring them up to the table and serve breakfast with their sippy cup.
Bring the bedtime bottle to the start of your bedtime routine.
Don’t forget to offer water in the sippy cup, especially in the hot summer months.
Give your little one lots of positive praise!
The bedtime bottle will be the hardest bottle to wean from your toddler and it should be the last bottle. This bottle tends to be a big part of the bedtime routine (given at the start so your toddler doesn’t use it as a sleep prop and become drowsy by it) and is the one that provides the most comfort for babies. When weaning the bedtime bottle, give milk in a cup at dinner time and then follow the rest of your bedtime routine without it.
Dentists recommend sippy cups with a hard spout. When we started using sippy cups in our house it was similar to finding the right soother – many didn’t make the cut and were not approved by our toddlers. A couple of our favourites were the Munchkin 360 and Replay No Spill sippy cups. Once you’ve started phasing out bottles make sure you get rid of them or put them out of sight! Sometimes if your toddler is very attached to their bottle a cold turkey approach might be best, but plan ahead and sticking with it will help.
Remember, The Mama Coach team is here to help you transition your little one from a bottle to a cup. If you need help weaning from the breast we can work with you to develop a plan that makes everyone comfortable.