The American Dental Association recommends weaning your child from the bottle by 1 year of age, and if you’re a mom that probably sounds pretty early! One year? They’re still a baby! But there are plenty of reasons doctors agree that bottles can calm more harm than good. Increased risk of cavities in the front teeth, and a delay in development of facial muscles that come with learning to suck from a straw and cup are just a few. If you’re looking for some tips on ditching the bottle, we’ve got a few that will help you lose it in no time.
1. Replace Bottles One At A Time
With a full-blown bottle addict, you are probably giving a minimum of three bottles a day (morning, noon and night). The easiest way to start cutting back is to remove your afternoon or pre/post nap bottle. Start replacing them with lunch or other snack that will keep your baby full. Once a child is over 1 year old, they no longer need the 20+ ounces of milk and actually need no more than 16 ounces, including dairy foods so you don’t need to worry that you are depriving them of much-needed milk. Taking away the afternoon bottle is an easy start to weaning from bottles and won’t disrupt their bedtime routine right off the bat. Once they are settled without the afternoon bottle, begin removing the others gradually.
2. Start Giving Milk In A Sippy Cup
You don’t have to give up the afternoon milk entirely, especially if you start serving it in a sippy cup. Be forewarned that finding a sippy cup can be a loooonnng process. I think I tried over 5 different kinds before we found one that worked for us (and didn’t leak!). Don’t give up! Once you find a cup that works for you, gradually start transitioning milk over to sippy cups ONLY. Yes, your child may put up a fight, and you can even try different liquids in the sippy cup to entice them a little to use it. Once they get the hang of it, it’s all milk, all the time in the cup.
3. Make Milk A Mealtime Drink
Another tip for weaning from the bottle is transitioning a bottle/milk time from a comforting action, to more of a functional one where milk is served at meal times only. Perhaps one of the best reasons for this is that your child will be more likely to eat a balanced diet because they won’t be full from all that milk. Furthermore, it’s helpful for your child to develop a new association about when they can drink milk, which isn’t all the time or as a means for them to fall asleep.
4. Give Less Milk In The Bottle Each Time
Start making the bottle less satisfying by giving less milk each time you give one. You are also simultaneously allowing less time for your child to have the bottle, and eventually you’ll have such a small amount of milk that they will hopefully lose interest!
5. Celebrate No More Bottles
If you have an older child, why not make getting rid of the bottle special? Throw a mini celebration, go out for ice cream or use the bottles to “pay” for a special toy or other item that can be comforting. Trading in the bottle is a big step for both baby and mom so make it a positive experience!