How to Wean Your Baby off the Bottle

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How to Wean Your Baby off the Bottle

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The life of a baby involves much learning and training.

Many parents have a perceived notion about when and how their children should accomplish particular milestones.

The transition from one phase to another can be extremely frustrating and upsetting for the child and parents alike.

Therefore, the methods you use to encourage your child into the next phase are crucial.

Getting Ready to Switch

Decide the best way to wean your child.

There are two primary ways to do this.

As every child is different, a parent is best suited to judge which method works best for their child.

Consider your circumstances before you decide.

Gradual weaning may be the easier way to phase out your bottle if your child is fussy.

By slowly eliminating the bottle, your child almost won’t notice.

This is good when you have a lot of time.

It is not ideal for older children, as they will not have the time frame to go slow enough.

In some cases, it may be necessary to just go cold turkey.

This can be harder for some parents as it may result in fussiness or tantrums, leaving the parents feeling cruel; however, this is the fastest way to wean.

Going cold turkey works best with very willing children and children who should have already been weaned from the bottle.

Choose the appropriate time.

During certain ages children are more likely to try to appease their parents.

Also, there is a certain age before which you should not wean your child.

The success you have weaning your child has much to do with your timing.

It is recommended that most children start to use sippy cups between the ages of six and nine months.

Your baby needs to be developed enough to sit on his own and to eat solid foods from a spoon.

You will not have success if you introduce the sippy cup sooner than your child is developmentally ready.

You should not choose to take away the bottle during the time of trying to move the child to a new bed, getting a new family member or pet, moving to a new home, changing babysitters, teething or any other potential events that may cause upsets for your child.

These can derail your attempts.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends weaning from the bottle by 18 months.

Waiting too long increases your child’s risk of tooth decay, obesity, ear infections, and changes in the position of your child’s teeth.

Introduce your child to a sippy cup.

This introduction can begin as early as six months of age.

Allow the baby to explore the cup.

He may even “play” with it rather than drink from it during the initial introduction.

You will see him trying to use it as he becomes more familiar with it.

In general, only give formula or breast milk or, rarely, water, in the bottle.

Offer other drinks such as healthy juices or milk (once the child is a year old) only in the cup.

Your child will learn that the cup is where he gets these other drinks.

Making the Change Gradually

Give the baby a sippy cup instead of a bottle during mealtime.

Begin using the cup at one meal per day once the child is familiar with the cup.

This may occur at eight to ten months old. Then, replace your baby’s bottle at other meals.

Do this until all meals are eaten with a sippy cup instead of a bottle.

Start with meals in the middle of the day and with snacks.

Work on one feeding at a time. Don’t rush, but be sure to always make progress.

Offer your child a sippy cup instead of a bottle during other times of the day such as nap time and snack time preparation.

Children are less likely to give up feeding habits first thing in the morning and right before bed.

These are times when a child is likely to seek comfort.

For weaning the night time bottle, have a bedtime ritual in place such as a warm bath, a story, and a favorite toy.

This can help reduce the stress of losing the bottle.

Remain consistent during the weaning process.

Going back and forth between the bottle and sippy cup during meals will only confuse the child.

Continually diminish the presence of the bottle.

Keep track of how frequently your child uses a bottle.

Going Cold Turkey

Be firm. When you go cold turkey, you must expect your child to be unhappy about it.

She may want her bottle, and she may not take no for an answer.

By giving in, you undercut your efforts.

It is important for the success of this effort that you remain strong.

Don’t give in to your child’s demands.

Use critical periods.

A major, and easy, milestone one can use for the transition to sippy cups is the child’s first birthday.

This coincides with the transition from breast to cow’s milk.

It is acceptable to wait a little longer, but make sure to wean your child before eighteen months.

Switch no earlier than six months, as children at that age are too young.

Aim for the child’s first birthday, as this is a natural milestone.

Make it an event.

Tell your child that on a certain special day coming up, he will have the opportunity to trade all of his bottles for some fantastic thing he wants.

Tell him he gets to take some time to think of something he wants, and if he chooses, he can make the trade.

By planting the idea and giving your child time to imagine something he wants, you get him to sell himself on the possibility of giving up the bottle.

Remind him that the day is coming up.

Offer suggestions, such as a really nice cup or a new toy.

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