Many toddlers have a hard time switching from the bottle to a cup. They’ve become quite attached to getting all their nourishment from a bottle. The reality is that if your toddler doesn’t want to easily give up drinking from a bottle she’s most likely attached to it for emotional reasons as well. Her bottle has become almost like a security blanket for her. Despite this attachment, it’s important that you start to wean her from the bottle when she’s about one-year-old. This is the time to get her comfortable drinking from a cup. The longer that you wait to wean her from the bottle the harder it’s going to be to break her of the habit. Making the switch from bottle to cup can be difficult but there are some things that you can do to make the transition easier for your baby.
Get the Timing Right
Make sure that you time the transition from bottle to cup, so that you’re not attempting the switch when your baby is too young. Most doctors recommend that you start introducing a cup when your baby is about six months old. Starting any earlier is just too soon. Your baby just won’t have the motor skills needed to hold a sippy cup. Of course, when you first give your baby a cup most of what’s in it is going to end up all over her and all over the floor. This is perfectly fine. Just be prepared for the mess. Waiting longer than six months to introduce a cup to your baby can set you up for future problems. The longer your baby uses a bottle the more it becomes a habit that is going to be hard to break.
Cut Out One Bottle at a Time
Instead of taking away all your baby’s bottles and insisting that she use a cup, start by cutting out one bottle a day. Start doing this doing meal times rather than taking away a nighttime bottle. If your baby is drinking four bottles a day then start by taking away her morning bottle. Encourage her to use a sippy cup while she has her breakfast. When she does ask for milk during the day first try offering her a cup to see what she does. You might be surprised and find that she’s completely open to drinking of all her milk during the day from a cup. Make sure that you give her lots of praise no matter how much she drinks from the cup. Over the next couple of weeks, you can continue to eliminate her bottles one by one until she’s only left with her nighttime bottle. The goal here is to make the transition from bottle to cup as smooth and easy for both of you as possible.
Getting Rid of the Nighttime Bottle
The last bottle that you eliminate should be your baby’s nighttime bottle. This is because this is usually the hardest bottle to take away from your baby. For most babies their nighttime bottle is part of their bedtime routine and it usually more about comfort than at any other time of the day. Start by offering her milk from a cup and then just continuing with the rest of the bedtime rituals. Try to ignore the first pleas for her bottle and see if she’s willing to go to sleep without it. If she starts to cry and fuss then consider letting her have the bottle. It could be that at six months to one-year-old she’s not quite ready to let you take away that last bottle at night. This is perfectly okay. If she’s drinking from a cup during the day then it’s okay to keep the bottle at night in favor of a good night’s sleep. You can try again when your baby is one-year-old.
When Your Baby Resists a Cup
Many babies resist the move from bottle to cup. For some of these babies, a bottle is more about the comfort and security they get from sucking than it is about wanting to drink from a bottle. If your baby is relying on her bottle for comfort then you’ll have to offer a substitution if you want to take away the bottle without a big battle. Make sure she has a favorite blanket or a stuffed toy that she can turn to while you switch her from bottle to cup. Make sure that you give her extra love and attention during this transition. Don’t be surprised if she becomes as attached to her sippy cup as she was to her bottle. Many children like to carry their sippy cup around with them wherever they go. Don’t worry about this attachment since you know it’s not a habit that is going to be affecting her teeth! No matter what you find works best for you remember to be patient and understanding as your little one makes her big move from bottle to cup.