How to Stop Bottle Feeding Toddlers
Weaning from a bottle typically occurs around age 1 to prevent problems for your toddler. Extended bottle use increases the chances of tooth damage and can lead to excessive consumption of milk. Toddlers may resist giving up the comfort and familiarity of the bottle if you don't begin the transition early. Create a plan for weaning your toddler from the bottle to guide the process.
A sudden removal of all bottles can leave your toddler feeling upset. Rather than focusing on taking away the bottles, spend time integrating sippy cups into your toddler's day. Offer a cup at meal and snack times when your toddler is alert and distracted by eating. She is less likely to need the soothing aspect of the bottle when she is eating. Toddlers are often most resistant to cups at bedtime or nap time because the soothing bottle becomes part of the sleep routine. Once your toddler is willing to drink from cups during other times of the day, introduce sippy cups at sleep time.
Make the Bottle Less Appealing
Making the contents of your toddler's bottle less appealing aids in transitioning to a cup. Water down the milk she drinks from the cup so it doesn't taste as delicious. KidsHealth recommends gradually increasing the amount of water while decreasing the milk in the bottle until you only offer water in the bottle 1. At the same time, offer a sippy cup with milk in it. The flavor of the milk makes the sippy cup a more appealing option than the bottle with only water.
If your toddler asks for a bottle, determine if she needs something to eat or drink. Encourage her to drink from a sippy cup instead of the bottle. Keeping a regular schedule helps stay on top of her needs before she becomes crabby. For example, if she goes for long stretches without food or drink, she is likely to become crabby and may cry more over not having a bottle. Help her replace the comfort of the bottle through cuddling or rocking her. A special stuffed animal or blanket is another soothing option for toddlers.
Get Rid of Bottles
Hanging onto the bottles as a backup is tempting, but if your toddler sees the bottles she may have more difficulty giving them up. If you don't want to remove the bottles completely from the house, pack them away where your toddler won't find them. Place her sippy cups where the bottles were stored. When she asks for a bottle, show her that the bottles were replaced with sippy cups.
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