Do you want to help your toddler give up the bottle? According to the AAP, tots should phase out bottle use between 12-24 months of age. Some young children adjust well to drinking out of sippy cups, while others do not. Many tots who sometimes drink from a cup still prefer a bottle, especially when drinking milk. Here are some ideas to help wean your toddler from a bottle to a cup.
Tips for Giving up the Night-Time and Nap-Time Bottle
Many children learn as infants to fall asleep while nursing or drinking a bottle. This habit of sipping milk can become a comforting part of their sleep-time routine. Unfortunately, falling asleep while sipping milk or juice is a bad habit that puts toddlers’ teeth at risk for developing cavities. Breaking this habit can be difficult. Here are some tips that may help your toddler give up the bottle at night time and nap time:
Gradually Switch From Milk (or Juice) to Water: Instead of giving all milk (or juice), fill part of the bottle up with water. Gradually, from day to day, make it more watery. Keep doing this until it’s only water. This may cause your little one to give up the bottle, but even if he/she still decides to drink it, at least it won’t lead to cavities!
Give Less and Less: This is another gradual approach. Slowly, night by night, give less and less to drink. Finally, give just an empty bottle.
Make the Hole Bigger: Bottles are often preferred because the liquid comes out slowly. If you make the bottle’s nipple hole slightly more significant, the fluid will flow out more quickly, making the bottle less fun to use. Of course, you can’t damage the nipple in a way that would make it a choking hazard. The hole should not be huge, and there should be no pieces that are ragged or hanging or cracked. Your toddler may decide to wean from the bottle when drinking from it no longer feels the same.
Give a Sippy Cup of Water: Just because you don’t want your toddler to have a bottle of milk at the bed, doesn’t mean he/she can’t still enjoy a drink. Warn your little one that there will be no more bottles in bed or the crib. Then, when it’s time for nap or bed, let him/her pick out a sippy cup to be filled with water.
Hold and Rock your Toddler with a Sippy Cup of Milk: The bedtime bottle is very comforting for many toddlers. Help your toddler find that comfort differently. Before bed or nap, hold and rock your toddler while he/she drinks milk from a sippy cup. When he/she is done drinking, brush teeth, and lay your toddler down.
General Tips for Weaning Your Toddler From the Bottle:
Going from a bottle to a sippy cup isn’t always fun for your little one, but here are some tips to help in the transition:
Replace One Bottle at a Time: If your child is not eager to give up the bottle, make the transition gradual. Begin by replacing one of the daily bottles with the sippy cup. Then move on to replacing another bottle with a sippy cup, until eventually, your toddler is only using sippy cups.
Buy a Variety of Sippy Cups: If you buy a variety of sippy cups, you are bound to find one your toddler prefers.
Let Your Toddler Use a Straw: Straws are exciting for young children because they’ve seen parents and older siblings use them. Straws give the appearance of being something a “big kid” would use.
Let Your Child Choose a Special Cup: Toddlers love to have a little control! Make the transition easier by letting your little one choose a special cup (sippy cup or regular cup) that he/she would like to have.
Give the Bottles Away and Celebrate: Set a date for you two to give away the bottles and then have a little fun. You can give them to a friend with a baby or simply donate them to a thrift store. Afterward, do something enjoyable with your little one. You could go somewhere special, or play fun games, or even have a small party.
“Lose” the Top of the Bottle: One day, remove all the tops from the bottles. Then when your toddler wants a bottle, show your little one that all the heads are gone. Offer a sippy cup, or offer to put a small amount of drink in the container and let your tot drink out of it like a “big kid” cup.
Offer the Sippy Cup in the Car: Some toddlers won’t take a sippy cup at home when they have other options but are willing to try one on a car ride when they have little else to do.