1 year old
Weaning from the Bottle
When to do it
As with many parenting decisions, there’s a bit of a debate over when to wean your baby from the bottle. Pediatricians generally recommend that babies are weaned somewhere between 12 and 18 months, yet most parents would tell you that their babies were drinking from a bottle well into the toddler years. Whether it’s because of the baby’s comfort or lack of cup-drinking skills, many parents just find it easier to continue putting cow’s milk into a bottle.
But pediatricians encourage you to nip the bottle habit early for a number of reasons:
- One of the biggest reasons is actually for your benefit: The sooner you try to break a habit, the easier it is to break. The same holds true for all “comfort habits,” whether it’s sucking on a pacifier or being rocked to sleep. Experts continuously stress that there will be less of a fight while your baby is young.
- Also, babies tend to be more attached to a bottle than they are a sippy cup, so there’s more of a chance that your baby will tote around a bottle, continuously sucking down milk or juice. Not only will this fill up little tummies (and cause a lack of nutrition, excess diarrhea, etc.), but it can also lead to tooth decay. Plus, if your baby always has a bottle-in-hand then how can he or she adequately play, explore and practice developmental skills? (Note: These points also apply to babies and toddlers who carry a sippy cup at all times.)
How to wean your baby
If you’re ready to say bye-bye to the baba, here are some weaning tips:
- Introduce your baby to a sippy cup and spoutless cup, if you haven’t done so already.
- Unless your baby is suddenly uninterested in a bottle (such as with many breastfed babies) or is an older toddler, you’ll want to wean gradually.
- Just as with weaning from the breast, try dropping one bottle-feeding session a day with a cup. Your baby will most likely have the most trouble dropping his or her nighttime bottle, so that might have to be the last to go. As always, this is largely based on your particular child.
- Another approach is to fill your baby’s bottle with only water, and serve milk and juice in a cup.
- You might need to up your baby’s calcium intake (through yogurt, cheese, etc.) if your baby isn’t drinking quite as much from a cup as a bottle.
- Throughout the weaning process, don’t leave your baby’s bottles out in plain sight. Just a mere glance at the comforting bottle can trigger a tantrum.
- Bring your baby to pick out some fun, colorful sippy cups as an incentive. While this won’t always work – especially with a younger toddler – it’s worth a shot.
- Don’t expect the weaning process to happen overnight. Just as with any type of weaning, you have to understand that this is a source of comfort and familiarity for your baby. Avoid weaning during any illness, major lifestyle upheaval or stressful situation.
- Another familiar piece of advice: be consistent. Consistency is key across the board – from infant sleep training to toddler discipline – and especially with weaning.
- Remember to be extra affectionate, understand and patient during the weaning process.