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Bye Bye Bottle

Baby bottle on a green sheetNow that your little one is turning one (where did the time go?), you may be ready to phase out the bottle in favor of a cup. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends leaving the bottle behind after a child’s first birthday. But, depending on how attached she’s become to her bottle, this could be easier said than done.

Why should I wean?

There are a few reasons why it’s best to ditch the bottle sooner rather than later. Bottles can lead to dental problems like tooth decay or improper tooth development. Using a bottle can also keep your child from learning more age-appropriate feeding skills, and may cause her to eat less solid food than her body needs.

How do I do it?

It’s up to you whether you want to cut off the bottle and have your baby go cold turkey, or take a more gradual approach. Either way, you want to choose a time that’s as stress-free as possible—if there’s a new baby at home, if your family is moving to a new house, or if you’re already planning to take away the pacifier, it might not be the best time to change the bottle routine.

Cold turkey

On the surface, there’s not much to it. The bottle is gone, and if your baby wants milk, she has to try a cup. The main things to remember are to be consistent (don’t give in to tears or tantrums if baby wants that bottle really badly) and be patient (this could take some time). Considering offering rewards for surviving the day without the bottle, and encourage her to hold a favorite blanket or toy if she seems to miss the comfort of the bottle.

Gradual change

Substitute a cup for the bottle, starting with just one feeding a day. Choose a time when baby usually drinks a smaller amount, rather than a full bottle. Use the cup at the same feeding time every day for a few days, and then add a second daily cup for a few days, continuing until all bottle feedings are replaced with the cup. If she’s really resistant, you can water down the milk in the bottle, saving the real thing for the cup, so that she likes the taste better out of a cup.

But, how to do it?

You’ll want to start with a small amount of milk in the cup, and slowly put the cup to your child’s mouth and tilt it up until a little milk goes into her mouth. Using the bottle for water only will help phase things out. Once she knows what’s going on, she should be more likely to give it a try. You can also model the behavior by drinking out of your own cup in between her sips. Be prepared for a few spills and dribbles, and don’t make a big deal out of them so your child doesn’t become upset or discouraged.