Parent Time

Weaning Your Infant, Baby or Toddler from the Bottle.

Weaning, like other developmental stages, takes time, and some parents put off weaning because they don't want to go through the crying, sleepless nights and angry demands of their new little family addition.

But at some point, bottle feeding, like all good things, must come to an end. You can start your child using a cup as early as six months, with the idea of having him or her fully weaned by one to one and a half years of age. Once your child can sit up alone, eat from a spoon and eat at regular times throughout the day, weaning is in sight. Weaning is important because children's teeth can be affected by drinking from a bottle; tooth decay becomes more likely, teeth may not develop correctly, and the growing child's nutritional needs may not be met if she's getting her food from a bottle. Babies grow teeth because it's time for them to start eating solid food!

Check out these tips for weaning your child with little fuss!
  1. Give your baby a plastic cup to hold and play with from an early ageó3 to 6 months. You're setting the stage for drinking!
     
  2. By the time your child is 8 months old, give her a sippy cup for use during one meal. Don't fill it up, but let her drink some juice or milk from it every day. Start with one meal each day, and after a week, add the cup to another meal. Don't get rid of the bottle all at once; gradually substitute the sippy cup over time.
     
  3. Teach your child how to handle the cup by showing her. Hold the cup for her at first, so she only gets a little liquid and can practice drinking without choking on it. Cups are different from bottles, and your child needs to learn cup-drinking skills with your help.
     
  4. Don't throw the bottle away completely. Sometimes, children need to bottle for sleeping or quiet playtime. Let an occasional bottle comfort your child. But once you've substituted a sippy cup for any feeding or snack, don't replace it with the bottle. Keep the bottle for special needs.
     
  5. Don't rush. You may get your child 85% weaned, and worry about giving her a bottle at night. (Once your baby has teeth, bottles for napping or sleeping should only have water; milk or juice can cause tooth decay). Sucking is a primal instinct; children sometimes need to suck to feel soothed. Don't throw out something that can help your child feel secure; some children may use bottles occasionally for three years after weaning, and that's okay.

Continue reading more baby tips about Teaching Baby Independence

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