Do you have a toddler who is attached to their bottle? Do they throw a fit when you try and make the switch to a cup? Here are some tips to help you make the transition and get rid of your toddler’s bottle once and for all.
The concern with your toddler’s bottle
Once your baby is one, there is really no benefit to serving milk, or any liquid, in a bottle. They are developmentally ready, and have been for awhile at this point, to drink from other cups. Often, the bottle is purely for comfort at this stage and they just like feeling the nipple in their mouth. Which can make it all that much harder of a habit for you to break!
The reason why we want to see kids being switched away from bottles is that they can affect their jaw and how they bite, and hurt the development of their teeth. Not to mention, many times bottles given to toddlers happen at night. Drinking from a bottle before bed can leave milk on your child’s teeth, and cause a breakdown of the enamel. This leads to tooth decay, and can be quite a serious problem for children.
When should you stop giving your toddler milk in a bottle?
Ideally, bottles would be a thing of the past by around 12 months. In reality, this can be quite hard to achieve for many families. The 12 month period is a time of many changes, and it is okay to prolong getting your toddler off the bottle for a bit. Aim to have your toddler off the bottle by 15 months, 18 months at the latest.
How to get a toddler off of the bottle
Now comes the actual hard part of getting your toddler off their bottle. Depending on your child’s temperament, this could be easy or quite difficult, and there are many different ways to do it. One of the most effective, and quickest, is to simply remove the bottles from the picture. If both you and the child know that there are no bottles in the house, there is no way to go back on your decision.
Instead, give either an open cup or a straw cup for them to drink their milk from. If it is a bedtime bottle you are replacing, try to replace with water instead so there is no risk of tooth decay. At a minimum if you continue to give milk in a cup at bedtime, brush your child’s teeth before they sleep.
As I mentioned above, bottles are habits and about comfort at this point, especially before bed. Your child is not likely to enjoy being told that there will be no more bottles. Even if they’re young enough where you don’t think they understand your words. But it is okay for them to cry and be upset that there aren’t any more bottles. That’s a normal emotion for them to have. It doesn’t mean that that should change your mind and have you give in to bottles again.
As with most things around toddlers, as soon as you capitulate or they even see you waver in your dedication, they will work harder to get what they want. So if you can see a way to do it, plan to just ditch the bottles cold turkey and remove any temptation.
A gentler way to get your toddler off of bottles
If you can’t imagine yourself going cold turkey from giving bottles, there are a few other ways to accomplish the same goal. One way is to start by giving a cup at a time of the day that is least important to them. Start with breakfast time or a snack. Instead of letting them walk around with their bottle, if you aren’t already have them sit down and have milk with meals. After they are one, really treat milk as if it is a food and give with meals and other foods.
Start by making the transition at one meal, and then after they get used to that incorporate the cup into other meals and gradually transition the bottle out.
Toddler bottles at bedtime
If bedtime seems to be the issue, try gradually diluting the milk in your toddler’s bottle with water. Start with just a small amount, and increase until it is completely water. Once it is all water in the bottle, you can try making the switch to a cup by simply switching it out with a cup if they still need water before bed. Some kids will also completely stop drinking anything before bed if it is no longer milk, and may give up the bottle completely once it is primarily or completely water.
The bottom line
There is no one way to get rid off bottles for toddlers, as every child is going to be different. But at the end of the day, getting rid of bottles is important for their oral health. They may not like it, but it is important that you stand your ground, make the decision to transition away from bottles, and stick with it!