As you watch your child grow and develop into a toddler you might notice that they still prefer drinking from a bottle. You might think that it may be time for your child to start drinking from a cup, but what do you do if they do not like the idea of switching from their bottle. Do not worry. It is common for toddlers to still be attached to their bottles, but it is worth trying to start introducing them to the cup. This may take some time to complete, so try to stay relaxed as you move through the process. Listed below are some tips that could make bottle weaning easier.

How to Get Your Toddler off the Bottle

Transitioning your child from their bottle to a cup starts with getting your child to a point where they are willing to consume milk from the cup and consume more solid foods to take in calories. This also requires children to make the emotional transition of letting go of the bottle as a comfort object. The best way to start this is to make a point of taking things gradually and using a loving attitude as children will have a tough time going cold turkey from their bottles.

1. Make Plans Before the Switch

Most children make the switch from bottle to cup around 9-12 months of age. Around this age children tend to be much more interested in observing their surroundings than spending their time sucking a bottle. If you plan to phase out the bottle around this time you will need to plan ahead. When your child is around 6 months, have them occasionally drink from a sippy cup so they will be familiar with a cup when it comes time to remove the bottle. Do not always offer milk in a bottle and alternative drinks in a cup. Otherwise your child may refuse to drink milk if it is not presented to them in their bottle.

2. Make the Bottle Disappear

When you are weaning, remove all bottles from site so your child will not request them instead of the cup. If you have an older child, talk with them and let them know it is time to stop using their bottle. You can help your child make this transition by packing up the bottles and sending them away together.

3. Reduce Volume of the Milk

If your toddler only has a bottle at night, start decreasing the amount of milk they receive each night, but do this slowly. For example, you can cut back their serving by an ounce each night for around a week. Continue decreasing the amount of milk they receive and start keeping a sippy cup or other small glass of water next to their bed instead. If your child starts having trouble falling asleep without their bottle, tell them to close their eyes and wait for sleep. Teach them the habit of closing their eyes and relaxing so they can drift off naturally.

4. Pull Away One Bottle at a Time

It is easier to switch a child off the bottle by removing one bottle from their routine at a time. For example, you can start by switching out the bottle they get during the day, keep the cup as part of their routine for a few days and then switch over their morning bottle. Then you can start switching out their nighttime bottle and so on. When you get to the point where your child is only getting one bottle a day, switch up the schedule.

Avoid running the same routine you did to prepare the bottle. Instead, during bottle time start a new routine such as bath time or taking a walk, or put them straight to bed. If you have managed to do this new routine successfully 3 times in a row it will start to stick.

5. Set a New Bedtime Routine

If you normally give your child a bottle before you put them to bed, start giving them a small snack and a cup of milk instead. Then help your child brush their teeth and take some time to snuggle. If you usually gave your child their bottle in a rocking chair, you can start to offer an alternative like a backrub instead, putting the chair out of sight. If you are consistent with the new routine you have chosen your child should be settled into it in around two weeks.

6. Be Consistent

Among all the tips about how to get your toddler off the bottle, this point is the most important. If your child is very attached to their bottle it will be difficult for them to settle into bed. The key to helping them through this period of adjustment is to be consistent and refuse to go back once you have started using the cup. Your child may initially reject the cup and cry or ask for a bottle, but if you give into this, it can cause confusion and make the ultimate process of eliminating the bottle that much more difficult.

7. Go Cold Turkey

If your child sees their bottle as a comfort object then it can be difficult to use a gradual approach to removing it. It may be more effective to simply remove all bottles from their routine at once. Before you go to remove the bottles from your child’s routine, try to get them used to the idea, reminding them each day that it is going to be time for them to not have bottles anymore. Then when it comes to the date you have set to go cold turkey, remove all evidence of bottles so they are not in sight. It can be helpful to have your child participate in removing them to get them involved with the idea.

8. Offer Rewards and Comforts

You may want to offer rewards for getting through times when they would normally have a bottle with a cup. Offering a favorite snack can be an excellent motivator. You can also keep water or juice ready during times when your child would normally ask for a bottle to help curb their desire. You may also offer a different comfort object such as a teddy bear if not having a bottle is making them feel anxious.

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Watch a video for more tips on how to get your toddler off the bottle and switching to sippy cups: