Solace Blog

Mom giving her son some love.

Transitioning from the bottle

March 5, 2019

Most babies love their bottle. But there comes a time when your child needs to kick the habit. The idea of transitioning away from bottles can be emotional (and slightly terrifying) for you and your partner—it marks the end of babyhood in many ways. It can be an even harder transition for your little one. A few simple steps can help ensure that the process is relatively painless for everyone involved.  Sure, it’s pretty unlikely that your child is going to be sucking on a bottle by the time they go to elementary school, but there are a few important reasons why you should bottle-wean baby sooner rather than later.

Helping Your Child Comfort Themselves

Toddlers tend to use bottles for comfort, just like pacifiers. It’s important to teach them to learn how to manage their feelings in a way that’s not linked to eating or drinking.  Introduce your child to a sippy cup with solid foods. Occasionally during their feeding, tip the spout of the cup to their mouth so they learn what it’s for. Don’t expect your baby to drink a measurable amount or satisfy their thirst with the sippy cup. In the beginning, it’s more about developing skills and habits early, than the actual function of the cup (learn more here about whether or not your child may need feeding therapy).  The earlier you introduce them, the more tantrums you can avoid during the transition.

Tips for Using a Sippy Cup

Whether you’re working with an infant or an older baby, until your child gets the hang of drinking from a sippy, remove the valve. While it prevents spills, it also makes the liquid harder to extract from the cup, potentially causing your child to get frustrated. When you’ve effectively replaced all your child’s bottles with sippy cups, you still need to get them on a “big-kid” eating schedule. If your child is accustomed to a pre-bedtime feeding, gradually reduce the volume of their nighttime bottle (now cup). Instead, feed them a protein-rich snack just before, to fill their belly.  You can also start to create some time between the final feeding and bedtime. If you typically give them their last milk in their nursery, feed them in the living room instead. This helps you slowly break their bedtime association with milk, while still making sure they go down with a full belly. If your baby hasn’t reached the one-year mark, strongly consider getting them off the bottle around the time their birthday arrives. After that, they can develop stronger attachments to items, including bottles, and breaking the habit can be much more difficult both for you and your baby.

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