Weaning The Bottle

Reasons to do it:

Toddlers are more likely to get attached to things between 15-18 months so it is wise to start weaning the bottle as soon as that first birthday is approaching with an aim to be rid of it within a month or two.

Teeth are at risk if milky residue sits on them overnight and the bottle teat can cause problems with the positioning of the teeth too. Your dentist will advise you the same.

If the bottle is too easily availble for your child after 12 months this can increase the chances that your child will fill up on milk and spoil his appetite for solids. Some little ones will opt for ‘drinking their meals’ given the chance to do so (my son did this)!

The bottle may become a sleep onset association which means your child relies on it in order to get to sleep.

How to do it:

  1. Offer a cup: Use a free flow/sippy style cup that does not require any sucking.
  2. Drop the lunchtime bottle and offer milk in a cup only. 
  3. Drop the dinner time bottle around five days to a week after the lunchtime bottle is gone. Milk can still be offered in a cup but not to worry if it is rejected.
  4. Drop the morning bottle and go straight to breakfast instead.
  5. Drop the evening or bedtime bottle last. If you feel your child needs some milk, offer it in a cup. If it is rejected, do not force it.

As long as your child is getting enough calories in the daytime, growing and following their growth curve nicely and there are no weight concerns, he will not need milk at bedtime in order to make it through the night without feeding.

Throw away all bottles as soon as your baby is weaned! You don't  want any temptation to reach for one or have your little one find it!

Over 18 months and already attached?

If your toddler or pre-schooler:

  • - uses the bottle as a security object
  • - wants it when he is tired
  • - will have a tantrum to get it
  • - uses it to fall asleep
  • - carries it around with him
  • - demands a certain beverage in it
    ...then he is attached.

In this situation

  • - Give him fair warning that the bottle is going, three to five days in advance. remind him a few times each day but be caring and positive in how you explain this.
  • - Reduce the number of bottles he has and the amount of liquid in them in the days leading up to them going.
  • - Remove all bottles from the house before he wakes up in the morning on the big day!
  • - Offer a reward for being so clever and brave