Bottle Weaning

The Ins and Outs of Bottle Weaning

You should probably begin thinking about bottle weaning at about the time of your child’s first birthday.  Most parents tend to wait too long to wean their children off the bottle.  Studies have shown that putting off bottle weaning can have negative health effects and cause some developmental delays.  Babies whose parents didn’t bottle wean them in the first year find that not only is it more difficult to bottle wean their little ones later on, but that their child may have greater incidence of tooth decay and may develop two handed coordination more slowly than children who are weaned at about the one year mark.

Signs Your Child is ready For Bottle Weaning

Your child may actually be telling you that he or she is ready for bottle weaning.  You may find that you toddler actually asks for your cup, or that they show interest in pouring bath water into cups and drinking from them in the bath.  These signs suggest your child may be ready to learn how to drink from a cup.  You should use this natural desire to imitate you as a way of bottle weaning.

Even if your child does not show such signs, you should start thinking about bottle weaning him or her once they reach a full year.  Once your child is starting to get his or her legs fairly firmly under him or her, your child is ready to start drinking out of a normal cup.

Be careful however, to start the weaning process when things are normal and your child is feeling well.  You should not try to bottle wean your child when he or she has a cold or when your family is on vacation.  Both of these situations can create negative associations with the bottle weaning and make the whole process more difficult.

How to Bottle Wean

In order to wean your child you should use a process by which you slowly withdraw the bottle from rotation.  The best way to do this is usually to take away the lunchtime bottle.  The middle of the day tends to be the most active period for your little guy or gal, which makes it the perfect time for learning and trying new things.  Toddlers, like the rest of us, tend to be more tired and prone to crankiness at the end of the day.  Taking away a toddler’s bottle at nighttime can disrupt your nighttime ritual, which could lead to sleep problems.  Even if you wait, this disruption may occur, but it is more likely if you start with this nighttime bottle.

There are lots of tricks to going through this process.  You might start only giving your child their favorite juice in a cup and replacing water in the bottle.  Praise your child when they drink from the cup, but be sure not to make too big of a deal over spills.  Spills are a natural part of bottle weaning and if you make a big deal out of them, your child may get an aversion to the cup.  Therefore, you should try always to stay positive during bottle weaning.

Once you have eliminated bottles, try to put them away somewhere where your child will not come across them.  You don’t want your child to see the bottles in the cupboard and suddenly get a craving to go back on them.

You should also be careful not to let your child play with the bottle since this is likely to increase your child’s attachment to it.  So be sure to limit the bottle to feeding time and to take the bottle away as quickly as possible after he or she is done.  If you follow these instructions, your child is sure to be drinking out of regular cups in no time.