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Tips on Ditching the Bottle

Are you thinking it's time for you and your baby to ditch the bottle and leap into the world of sippy cups? Some parents are apprehensive about making the switch because it seems like quite the task to conquer. However, if you understand a few important techniques weaning your child off the bottle will be a simple process instead of a nightmare! Knowing why it is important to make the transition at the right time, when the right time is, and a few methods are all discussed below.

Why Is It Important?

The biggest problem with keeping your child on the bottle for too long is that it can cause tooth decay and even ear infections. The fluids build up due to the slow drip and lying back with the bottle which can cause an ear infection. After 2 1/2 years of age a child's chance of teeth having decay also increases if he is still drinking milk and juice from a bottle. So as you can see it is beneficial for your child to be weaned off the bottle at the recommended age. Milk provides many necessary nutrients for your baby but as they grow up they need other nutrients from food that they cannot get from milk alone.

When Should You Start?

Most sources recommend beginning the process anywhere from 8-18 months of age. Ultimately the timing is up to you. Your baby should have hit other developmental milestones before you attempt weaning him off of the bottle. These include; sitting up by themselves, taking bottle feeds at regular times, eating from a spoon, and showing interest in others' food.

What Makes It Easier?

There are a few techniques you can try to make weaning a bit easier on you and your baby.

1.)   You can prevent a disaster by planning ahead. Don't try to begin the weaning process while traveling, moving, or going through a big change. The less distractions your baby has to deal with the better!

2.)   Introduce the sippy cup a while before you plan on making the transition. This will allow your baby to become familiar with the idea of a cup when you begin weaning.

3.)   Consistency is key. Once you start weaning do your best not to give up and go back to the bottle. Staying strong will keep the length of the process shorter. Otherwise if you continue to give in the process can drag on and become very tiresome. Persevere and it will pay off in the end!

4.)   Give him a different source of comfort. Usually a bottle becomes a comfort item for your baby and this makes the weaning process a little more difficult. You can prevent this by not allowing him to hold the bottle while he drinks from it. If you have already allowed him to hold the bottle while drinking you can replace his comfort item with a stuffed animal or blanket.

5.)   Give extra attention to your baby while making the switch. He will need you to cuddle and comfort him even more during this time.

6.)   If your child isn't taking to the cup as well as you would like try giving them cups with handles or straws. They are accustomed to sucking so giving them a medium between the bottle and cup like a straw may make the transition easier.

7.)   Only offer juice from a sippy cup in the beginning. This will encourage your child to switch over quicker because he will prefer juice over milk which is provided in the bottle. Once he is using the sippy cup regularly you can introduce milk into the sippy cup.

Each technique works differently for all children so try a few out and even implement your own. As always check with your pediatrician or doctor before making any major changes for their professional advice.