Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Bottle Weaning for Beginners

by Rebecca Todd

March 01, 2011

You’ve made it through baby’s first year and have entered the infamous terrible twos. You’ve survived baby’s first teeth, first words and first steps and now the two of you are off and running. Now it’s time to enter the world of (cue scary music) bottle weaning! Although many parents consider this next step in their child’s development a daunting task, in essence it is a rite of passage that is essential to your baby’s growing sense of independence.

It is often one of baby’s first words. It’s a comforting item. It’s an important part of the parent-child bonding experience: the bottle. Often bottle feeding can be as hard to give up for a parent as it is for the child.

Many parents find bottle weaning success by making the transition to a sippy cup early. When a child begins sitting in a high chair and eating solid food—on average around 7 to 9 months—parents can begin introducing a sippy cup with meals.

Once a child becomes accustomed to using the cup with meals, mealtime bottles can begin to be eliminated. “Children will enjoy drinking from a cup at mealtimes like everyone else,” says Dr. Greenfield. Greenfield also recommends not letting a child carry a bottle around with him, but instead suggests giving the child a bottle only at specific times.

Dr. Hill recommends weaning gradually from other daily bottles by offering milk or other favorite drinks from cups and offering drinks less desirable to your child, or perhaps only water, from the bottle.

Pediatricians agree that the final bottle to be eliminated from your child’s diet should be the bedtime bottle, because it is often the one that helps your child relax and be ready for bed. When my youngest child was approaching the one year mark, I was afraid we would lose some of the closeness that comes from the bedtime bottle. Yet it’s important to remember the bottle may be going away, but that doesn’t mean that snuggle time has to go away. Keeping the routine of snuggling before bedtime by using the time to read a story or sing a song will make the transition easier for you both.

Children should be entirely off the bottle by one year or 15 months at the latest. In addition, Dr. Greenfield recommends transitioning from a sippy cup to a regular cup as soon as possible. “The sucking motion itself can cause problems including an increased risk for ear infections and tooth decay.” All the more reason to make the full transition from bottle to cup as soon as possible.