By the time your baby gets into a groove with her bottle, you can probably start thinking about breaking the bond. Most babies are ready to start drinking from a sippy cup between 6 and 9 months, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. And by 12 months, it's best to boot the bottle altogether. One major reason: Once a baby starts walking, she's likely to carry her bottle around with her, whereas an infant fed by her parent will generally have the bottle removed right after feeding. If the bottle contains anything other than water, frequent sipping can lead to tooth decay.
One recent study in the journal Pediatrics found that 9 months may be the optimal age to wean babies from the bottle, regardless of whether those bottles hold formula or pumped breast milk. Parents who followed a one-week plan to switch their 9-month-old to a sippy cup were 60 percent less likely to have a child who was still using bottles at age 2, compared with parents who didn't receive any advice at all. Even better, the process was relatively stress-free. "Parents who waited until after age 1 to wean their baby off the bottle seemed to have a more difficult time," says study coauthor Jonathon Maguire, M.D., a pediatrician at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.
Because your child may be very attached to his bottle -- no matter what his age -- the thought of abruptly taking it away from him from can be daunting. So that's why we've compiled expert tips to help ensure the smoothest possible transition, regardless of any obstacles your child may face.