Many parents have a difficult time stopping their child’s use of bottles. They are fearful of how the child will react and believe it’s best to allow him or her to continue usage rather than stripping the bottle from them, which can cause major trauma and commotion. So when is the appropriate time to eliminate the bottle and transition to sippy cup? Experts in the field believe “the sooner the better.” The longer parents wait to get rid of the bottle, the harder it is to transition. By a child’s second and third birthday, he or she develops a strong attachment to the nipple which makes it near impossible to break the habit. The child needs the nipple because of comfort - Nothing more. It’s best to wean the child off the nipple by 1 year of age.
Jolly Fun House Playschools, which focuses on early childhood, kindergarten, and grade school education with 3 locations in IL, believe transitioning off the bottle should be a slow and comfortable process. They recommend giving the child a sippy cup first at allotted bottle feeding times then finishing with a bottle. Try shifting the quantity offered until the child takes enough fluids from the cup, then handing them a small portion left in the bottle. Some may choose to drop the bottle at meal times altogether and strictly use a sippy cup.
Another way to wean the child off bottles is by reducing the amount of bottles allowed per day. This works best if one of the parents has the time and patience to work with his or her child directly. A good way to do this is to cut out one bottle per day for the first week. For example, eliminate the morning bottle and put the milk or water in a sippy cup instead. At first, the child may not drink out of it but don’t cave in. It will get easier over time. Then the following week, eliminate the second bottle per day, and so on from there. It’s important to not let the child fall asleep with a bottle or sippy cup at nap time – He or she must learn to fall asleep naturally and not by the comfort of sucking on something.
Many parents transition to sippy cups by adding sugary juices and milk into the sippy cup so the child is more apt to drink it but this is not recommended. The child will only want sugary drinks then and there will be an even bigger problem that will need to be dealt with. The nutritional health of the child should be thought about during this transition (and always) and offering them sugary drinks to appease them is not a good idea.
Remember, young children have to make many new adjustments as they get older and eliminating the bottle is one of them. Do not coddle them in this area of development as it is part of the journey of growing up. Even though their tears may be frustrating, they will end in a short period of time. Make the decision as a family to help the child become independent of bottles sooner than later…Parents, you won’t regret it!