Bye-Bye, Bottle

Resisting Change

If your little one really likes to suck on things...

Sucking can be a way for babies to seek comfort, so offer a substitute lovey (say, a blankie or a stuffed animal) while he switches to cups. But then make sure you don?t let your child repeat the pattern and get overly attached to his new cup. ?Lots of children like to carry a sippy around too, so it?s best to give an open cup at snacktime and mealtime,? says Katie Mulligan, R.D., a pediatric dietitian in Warwick, Rhode Island. This will help encourage the concept of drinking only when seated.

If you worry your baby will go hungry without a bottle...

Between 6 and 12 months, as your baby eats more solid food, the amount of formula or breast milk he drinks will naturally decline. So yes, he may drink less as he figures out how to use his sippy cup, but he'll probably also take a keener interest in his jarred peaches -- which is totally normal. If you're worried, try serving your baby three meals a day of solid food, along with a sippy cup of formula or breast milk, recommends Jill Castle, R.D., a pediatric dietitian in Nashville. Offer regular bottles between meals, which can serve as snacks. As your baby gets bigger and eats more solids, slowly phase out the bottles so that your baby is off them by 12 months.

If your baby cries when she can't have a bottle in her crib...

Taking the bottle away at bedtime is a good idea even if you're not transitioning to a sippy cup just yet. A bottle in bed may be soothing, but all that liquid pools in your little one's mouth once she's asleep, boosting the likelihood of both cavities and ear infections. Make over your baby's bedtime routine by feeding her in a chair, then offering another comfort object for her to hold there instead, like a favorite teddy bear. Once she's used to that, replace the bottle with a sippy cup -- and a snuggle. "When I introduced the sippy cup, I held my boys close while they drank from it, much like bottle-feeding," says Jessie Charles, a mother of three from Brigham City, Utah. "I think the closeness and one-on-one time made the transition a lot easier."

Originally published in the June 2011 issue of Parents magazine.

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