Approaching your child’s first birthday is very exciting. The stress of thinking that you have to give up the bottle though can cause fear in the most easy going parents. For some of our babies breastfeeding or having a bottle is how we get them to sleep, or to be comfortable. Since breastfeeding or formula is the main source of their nutrition, cutting it out can feel overwhelming.
There are a few reasons why pediatricians suggest to stop bottle feeding after a year. One of them is because it can do damage to your baby’s teeth. Another reason is drinking bottles can ingest more milk than what is healthy consumption. On average a toddler needs about 16-24oz per day, but studies have shown that bottle fed babies after one consume around 32oz per day. It also can create a habit with your baby to feel as though their bottle is comfort.
Some babies are ready to start the transition around nine months. The switch can be gradual, you do not have to go cold turkey. Around the six month mark you can start introducing other cups to your child. This can be a sippy cup, straw cup, whatever they tend to gravitate too. You can give them this during meals when they sit at the table, or you can give them a cup to play with while in the bathtub.
When giving them a sippy cup make sure you offer them milk in it as well. If you only offer other beverages to them in the sippy cup they will think the bottle is only for milk, while the sippy cup is for other beverages. If you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby, skip the bottle altogether and go straight to a cup. This will eliminate the process of weaning from a bottle.
Some tips can help make the transition easier.
Make sure you take it slow. Some babies are not good with complete elimination of the bottle. You can start by phasing out one meal from a bottle a day. You can either offer your baby milk out of a cup or a snack to replace the bottle. After your baby eats a meal you can give them milk in a cup to finish the meal.
Finding a cup your baby loves is key too. Whether it is a sippy cup, a straw cup or a regular cup whatever your baby drinks well out of is the route to go. This can take some trial and error to find what your baby likes.
Another thing to try to do is to put bottles away. If your baby can’t see the bottles they may not think about it.
When you do give your baby a bottle you can start watering down the milk, while you give full milk in a cup.
Praise your baby when they drink out of a cup.
The last bottle to phase out is nighttime.
When you come up with a plan to start weaning out the bottle make sure all the caregivers are onboard with the plan.
Remember you are not hurting your baby by stopping bottle feeds, your child will be eating a variety of foods so they will not be malnourished. This may take some time so don’t worry if it takes longer than you think.
Don’t put pressure on your child and force them to give up the bottle before they are ready. Timing is everything to help make the transition easy for everyone. Your baby will help let you know when they are ready to give up the bottle.
Your baby can feel safe and reassured when having a bottle. So when you start taking away the bottle you need to add extra reassurance with love, hugs and kisses. Sometimes a good plan is to give a baby milk out of a sippy cup the same way you would give them a bottle. Same chair, same snuggles, whatever the routine is try and do it just with a sippy cup.
Weaning from a bottle can be stressful and time consuming. In the long run though it will help your child. It will decrease chances of liquid pooling in the mouth to wash away the enamel on their teeth. It will also help them consume more food to get the dietary needs they need instead of filling up solely on milk. Make sure you take some time to figure out a plan you can stick to when you decide to start weaning your child off the bottle.
Some babies are ready to start the transition from bottle to cup around nine months - find some helpful tips here! #HealthStatus
If you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby, skip the bottle altogether and go straight to a cup.
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