Behavior Q & A: Bottle Battle

Q: I've been trying to get my 12-month-old to use a Sippy cup instead of a bottle, but she refuses. Any tips for me?

A: It's probably become a power struggle, so take a break for a few weeks. Then pick a good time to try again. (Don't start if your child is already going through something stressful, like a change in caregivers, and is trying to cope with that situation.) If you've been cutting out the bottles one by one, try a different strategy. Instead of fighting over whether your daughter can have a bottle, give her one whenever she wants it, but just keep putting less milk in it. "If she asks for a refill, say, 'I can only give you more in a Sippy cup,' and stick to your guns. If she's thirsty enough, she'll take it," says Cathryn Tobin, M.D., author of The Parent's Problem Solver. And always offer a cup first at mealtime. Gradually, she'll lose interest in her bottle. Also buy your daughter her own special cup, and praise her when she chooses to use it. There's one other approach you can try: cold turkey. It isn't as harsh as it sounds—in fact, it works best for some kids. "Say goodbye together, then throw out all the old bottles," Dr. Tobin suggests. Give your child a lovey, such as a blanket or soft stuffed animal, to provide a little extra comfort as she makes the transition.