Any parent who has witnessed the love affair between baby and bottle knows security is a bottle's main appeal. But most pediatricians recommend that parents start weaning their child off the bottle at around 12 months, for a host of reasons. The two major ones are:
1. Prolonged bottle drinking can damage baby teeth. Mobile toddlers tend to tote their bottles around, drinking on the go, as opposed to infants, who are usually fed in a parent's arms, with the bottle being removed as soon as the feeding session is over. If the bottle contains anything other than water, what you have is an acidic solution that is washing over the teeth and decalcifying them, which can lead to cavities, says Art Nowak, MD, a professor in the departments of pediatric dentistry and pediatrics at the University of Iowa.
2. Bottle drinkers tend to ingest more milk -- typically up to 32 ounces a day, according to Suzanne Corrigan, MD, a pediatrician in Irving, Texas. Toddlers only need two to three servings of dairy a day, equivalent to 16 to 24 ounces of milk. While milk is a healthy food, kids who drink too much of it may not want to eat enough solid food, missing out on important nutrients like iron.
By the time they're a year old, kids have the motor skills to sit up, hold a cup, and drink from it, so they no longer need a bottle, at least not for nutrition. One-year-olds are much less stubborn, have a shorter memory, and are more interested in pleasing their parents than a child just six months older. But if you've missed this window and your toddler is strongly attached to his bottle, don't despair. You can get him off of it. On the following pages are some strategies to try.
By the time babies are between 9 and 12 months old, they're often ready to make the switch from bottle to cup. At this age, they're more interested in what's going on around them than they are in sucking on a breast or bottle. But phasing out the bottle this early means planning ahead. Here are some tips:
This moderate approach works best with younger toddlers. Over a period of about a month:
During this transition, these creative ideas may ease the process:
If you wean your 12- to 15-month-old gradually, chances are he'll be able to give up even the bedtime or morning bottle without a fuss.
For a child who is strongly attached to her bottle as a comfort object, a gradual approach may be too agonizing. And she may already be down to just one or two daily bottles. A sudden withdrawal can be painful for everyone, but it may be the most effective method. Here are some ideas to ease the process:
Getting your child off the bottle usually involves some trial and error -- and sometimes tears. But here's the good news: Once you decide on a plan and stick with it, you will get results.
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.>