Stopping the Bottle

Print this page Bookmark and Share
Parents

Many toddlers become attached to their bottles. They have them with them much of the time, so 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 strategies 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 infants 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 the baby a bottle right away, bring the 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.

fall-asleep.gif

Generally, the last bottle to eliminate 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.

More Strategies

Here are some other tips to keep in mind:

  • Spill-proof cups that have spouts designed just for babies (often referred to as "sippy cups") can help ease the transition from the bottle.
  • When your child does use the cup, offer plenty of praise and positive reinforcement. 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 child is thirsty or hungry, provide nourishment in a cup or on a plate. If it's comfort, offer hugs, and if your child is bored, sit down and play!
  • As you're weaning 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 gradually 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 continue to have problems or concerns about stopping the bottle, talk with your doctor.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: October 113



Related Resources

Web SiteAcademy of Nutrition and Dietetics Offering nutrition information, resources, and access to registered dietitians.
Web SiteWomen, Infants, and Children (WIC) The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children - better known as the WIC Program - serves to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, & children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.


Related Articles

Toddlers at the Table: Avoiding Power Struggles By anticipating problems and offering choices, you can teach your toddler healthy eating habits and avoid power struggles about food.
Healthy Drinks for Kids What kids drink can drastically affect the amount of calories consumed, as well as the amount of calcium needed to build strong bones.
How Can I Wean My Reluctant 2-Year-Old? Find out what the experts have to say.
Does Skim Milk Provide the Same Nutrients as Whole Milk? Find out what the experts have to say.
Nutrition Guide for Toddlers While growth slows somewhat during the toddler years, it's a new era where kids will eat and drink more independently.
Weaning Your Child Weaning is when babies make the transition from breast milk to other sources of nourishment. Here's how to make this change easier on your child and you.




Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2014 KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com



 

Upcoming Events

Car Seat Safety Check

For a fun night of playing games and having a good time, families are encouraged to bring any board games, card games or other fun games to play. Pizza and beverages provided. Feel free to bring a snack or dessert to share.

Car Seat Safety Check

Car Seat Safety Check

View full event calendarView full event calendar

Health and Safety

Your child's health and safety is our top priority

Accreditations

The Children's Medical Center of Dayton Dayton Children's
The Right Care for the Right Reasons

One Children's Plaza - Dayton, Ohio - 45404-1815
937-641-3000
www.childrensdayton.org