Every mother that bottle feeds dread bottle weaning. If your child has an attachment, it could seem impossible.
I didn’t start bottle weaning with my twins until they were 12 months old, and I’ve decided to do things differently with my baby boy.
I wasn’t able to get the twins off the bottle…until now (18 months old). Boy didn’t care for it, but Girl NEEDED it.
Boy= twin boy
Before naps I would try sippy cups and she would not go to sleep, at all, without that bottle. I wish I was joking. She would constantly scream unhinged until she receives a bottle.
One day I decided that I was just going to do it, an hour went by and I caved.I want to save mama’s from my bottle nightmare, rather you are starting early, or if you have toddler like Girl.
A baby becomes attached to the bottle because we offer them before naps and bedtime. So it becomes soothing, comforting, because it’s always been consistant and given when sleepy.
If you are looking for a quick answer without detail, here’s your answer.
The key to bottle weaning is interrupting that pattern and association of bottles to sleep.
Why you Need to Bottle Wean
Once your baby teeth really start to grow, bottles can have a negative impact on your little ones dental health. Nipples can cause:
- Tooth decay
- Your little ones teeth to grow outward.
So let’s talk a little bit about that.
Tooth decay that occurs from the use of bottles at toddlers teeth grow is called Bottle Tooth Decay. Bottle Tooth decay, better known as bottle rot, is the formation of severe cavities in toddlers teeth.
Also, that constant use of a nipple (I say nipple instead of bottle because it applies to pacifiers too, can cause their teeth to take the form of the nipple, sort of as if it was a retainer.
So let’s ditch those bottles! If you want to skip the early starters sections and go to the late weaning section you can do so, and if you need that bottle gone now mama you can go down to the S.O.S section near the bottom.
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Bottle Weaning for Early Starters
The best time to start bottle weaning is at 6 months of age. Your baby is not yet as dependent on the bottle as he/she would be in later months.
By this time your baby should be beginning solids. Offer your baby a sippy cup with meals instead of a bottle. Rubber sippy cup spouts are the best at this age because it resembles a nipple. There are also sippy cups that resembles breasts, I’ll leave a link to some of those below.
Once your baby reaches 9 months old you want to replace all bottles except for bedtime and naptime bottles with a cup. Because your baby has been using a sippy cup for meals already you are only replacing 2 more bottles, a transition that will be easier for your baby.
Begin adding something special to your baby nap and bedtime routines. You want your baby to have something to associate with comfort besides a bottle. This is important for later on.
A lovey, stuff animal, music, or books, is perfect for comfort during sleep. I’ll leave a link to a few below.
At 12 months old you want to replace nap time bottles with a cup. Your baby will be used to a cup by now, but still have an association with a bottle with sleep.
To make this transition easy as possible, offer the nap bottle with only half the amount your baby normally drinks 15 minutes earlier than you normally would during naps and offer the other item associated with sleep during the time you would normally offer the bottle. You also want to offer the half in a cup with the special item.
This would be the lovey, stuff animal, etc. What we are doing is replacing the bottle with another sleep association item without actually removing the bottle, which keeps that feeling of comfort there but replaces where that feeling comes from.
In other words, swapping without them knowing. Try 15 minutes for 3 days, then 30 minutes for 3 days, then 45 minutes for 3 days.On day 10, offer all of your baby milk in the cup with the special item and don’t offer the bottle at all.
Now that your baby only needs a bottle during the morning and before bed, we want to pull the morning bottle. The morning and the night time bottles are the hardest which is why we have been transitioning slowly, and left these two for last.
Replace the morning bottle and offer your baby a treat instead with their cup in the morning. This could be 30 minutes of screen time of a favorite show while mom makes breakfast, or their favorite toy. The object is to cause a distraction so that your baby barely notice their was a change.You could also distract your baby by changing your morning routine.
- Has your new toddler held a toothbrush yet? Add brushing teeth to your morning routine before a cup.
- Do You dress your baby before or after his/her morning bottle?
Try switching it up.
Even consider ditching the milk altogether if you have breakfast first thing in the morning (within 30 minutes of waking) and offer your toddler breakfast milk as their morning milk.
Once your toddler reaches 12 months, their milk needs change to 16 oz. Per day, making it relatively easy to drop the extra milk and your baby still meet his/her milk needs before the end of the day.
14 months! We are close to the finish line. Our goal is to have a completely weaned baby by 15 months old.We are going to use the same method we used for our naptime bottles AND morning bottles.
Night time bottles are the hardest bottles to replace.
- Offer your baby half of their milk in a bottle 15 minutes before your normally would for 3 days.
- Offer the other half at the normal time with their special item.
- Repeat for 30 minutes and 45 minutes.
- Fill their cup with all their milk on day 10.
- Add something special to their bedtime routine or switch it up.
Bottle Weaning for Late Weaners
If you starting out late, have no fear, there are a couple of tips and tricks that can still make bottle weaning less painful.
Water Bottle Trick
One thing I’ve learned through my research and experience is that sometimes a small change can make a huge impact especially when it comes to things like bottle weaning.
Fill your toddlers bottle with water and fill the sippy cup with milk. There’s a high possibility that your child will put down the bottle wanting milk, and pick up the sippy cup.
Yup, for some of you lucky mothers, it could be that easy.
Our toddlers can understand so much, they are so smart. Gather all of your toddlers botttles and tell them that they are a big boy/girl and it’s time to say bye bye to their bottles.
You could let your toddler help you place all of the botttles in a box, let your toddler say bye and take them away.If you also have an infant, like me, you can’t necessarily get rid of all the bottles in your house.
In this situation feed your baby away from your toddler, give your toddleran activity to stay busy with, cover you and your baby with a nursing blanket to the hide the bottle; the idea is out of sight, out of mind.
Sleep Routines for Nap and Bedtime
I talk about this method and the next method in the early starters section of this post as well because these methods really do work miracles.With babies and toddlers, it’s all about comfort and patterns. If you don’t already have routines for naps and bedtime set in place then this is where you want to start.
If you do already have one in place consider adding something or changing the order a little. You want to cause a distraction so that the missing bottle is not your baby’s focus.
Introduce a Stuff Animal or Lovey
The idea is to replace am item of comfort (the bottle) with another item of comfort. So that your baby doesn’t really feel a change when that bottle is gone, there still is a feeling of comfort.You want to use the method that I talked about here.
This was me! So don’t feel bad for being here. When you get to this point, there’s only one option left, but I’ll tell you exactly how to get through this, besides wine. #unashamedwinemom
There’s that word that makes us cringe. But at this point, it has to be done because of the dental issues that can be caused and the growing attachment.
When you take your toddler’s bottle away, expect screaming, yelling, and sleep refusal. However, do you know what I’ve learned?
Cold turkey is just sleep training again.
Treat the situation as if you are sleep training again with the CIO (cry it out) method or whatever method you used and within a few days everything will be back to normal without the bottle. Gasp!
It is literally the only method I have found to work with toddlers that are stuck in their ways.
Ok guys I worked really hard on this post, so please share your thoughts and feedback below in the comments so I know that I am providing you with the information you are looking for and share, share, share!