Some parents find that taking away the bottle is even more stressful than weaning from the breast. Portable and easily replaceable, bottles are the ultimate convenient comfort object. I've yet to hear of a child who willingly pitched her bottle.
"Unfortunately, too much bottle use can lead to tooth decay, especially when it's used as a sleep aid," says Dr. Neuspiel. A child who falls asleep with a bottle in her mouth is coating her teeth in sugary liquid, which is a breeding ground for tooth troubles.
Introducing a cup to a die-hard bottle sucker won't be a piece of cake, but you can make it easier.
- Start early. It's easier to get a 10-month-old to use a cup than it is to wrench a bottle from a toddler.
- Take it slowly. As with breast weaning, the gradual approach is best. Replace one feeding a day with a cup of your child's favorite drink for one week, two for the next, and so on. Leave morning and bedtime for last.
- Make baby part of the process. Kids 1 and older are notorious for wanting independence, so let an older child choose his own sippy cup.
- Be strong. Getting rid of the last couple of bottles can be tough. One strategy is to only offer the bottle when it's filled with water or another beverage your child doesn't relish, then offer the cup with his favorite. If that doesn't work, Dr. Neuspiel recommends the hardline: Pick a time where there are few distractions, and get rid of your bottles. When your child wants one, offer him a cup. He may resist, "but when he sees that a bottle isn't an option, he'll take the cup."
Originally published in American Baby magazine.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.