The nighttime bottle becomes a soothing part of your child's bedtime routine. Some children wean themselves, but others need a gentle nudge to stop taking a bottle at night. A gradual approach can help your child give up the bottle naturally. Slight changes to his nighttime routine and replacing the bottle with comfort items help ease the transition. Keep in mind that it can take some patience to wean a stubborn child from his nighttime bottle.
Choose a time to wean your baby that won't make the process more difficult. If he is teething, just moved to a new bed or is going through another change like starting day care, weaning him can present more of a challenge. Start the weaning process when your baby is on a normal schedule and not experiencing other stressful events.
Cut back on the amount of milk you put in the bottle each night. If he normally takes 5 ounces at night, cut back to 4 ounces for a few days. Keep decreasing the amount in the bottle by 1 ounce every few days.
Water down the milk or formula you put in the bottle to make it taste less appealing. Do this along with decreasing the amount, or use this technique alone. Start by using 10 percent water and 90 percent milk. If you normally offer 5 ounces of milk per night, start with 1/2 ounce of water and 4 1/2 ounces of milk. Increase the amount of water each night until he is only drinking water.
Emphasize other sources of comfort as you wean your baby off the bottle. Use a favorite blanket or soft toy at nighttime to soothe him. When he gets fussy about the bottle changes, offer the comfort item to distract him.
Get your child used to drinking from a sippy cup instead of a bottle during the day. Once she is familiar and comfortable with the sippy cup, offer her a cup of milk with her evening snack.
Offer an alternative option for sucking, which is often a self-soothing action for babies. A pacifier is commonly used for this purpose. Give him the pacifier as you cuddle at night instead of the bottle.
Allow your baby to fuss for a while as he gets used to going to sleep without the bottle. You might find that he settles down after only a short time without the bottle. If he continues crying or gets worked up, comfort him and offer him the pacifier or other comfort item again. Giving in and letting him have a bottle will likely make it more difficult to stop the nighttime feeding.