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How I Transitioned My Bottle-Loving Toddler to a Sippy

How I Transitioned My Bottle-Loving Toddler to a Sippy

It's every mom's question at some point: How do I wean my baby from his bottle, and when do I start trying?

Among Circle of Moms members who've posted recently on this topic, the average age for beginning to transition a toddler off the bottle is around 12 months — and some expert resources, including WebMD, say this is a good target age. But many toddler make the switch before or after this benchmark. What's really OK?

First, it's important to understand why we have to get our kids off the bottle at some point. The biggest reason, according to Penelope Leach, author of numerous books on child care, is that if kids get addicted to the bottle, they might drink so much milk that they aren't hungry for other important nutrition from food. Too much bottle-feeding can also cause cavities. This is especially common among babies who take their bottles into the crib, as the milk sugars settle in their mouths.


Everyone seems to agree that weaning is important; the question is when?

Circle of Moms member Kyja W. asked her son to go cold turkey at 11 months. She threw out all the bottles in the house, and offered a sippy cup in their stead. It was a miserable day of crying, but one day was all it took. Rhonda W. waited until her daughter was two, and she involved her toddler in the process. Together they had a little "throwing-away-the-bottle party." To Rhonda's pleasant surprise, her daughter never asked for a bottle again.

My story is similar to Rhonda's. My son was down to only a bottle at night before bed at 18 months, but when we took a two-week trip to Italy, he backslid. Perhaps because he never got fully on the right time zone, and because the weather was much warmer than he was used to at home, he wasn't terribly interested in food. (And that is highly unusual!) In Italy he became attached to his friend, the bottle, and we had to buy milk every day in some new foreign town, or order it from room service if stores were closed. His poop got very pale for a few days, but it really did sustain him, both nutritionally and emotionally. The emotional connection proved to be the sticking point when we got home.

As Leach points out, babies suck for comfort as well as for nutrition (bottle and breast), and "you don't have to wean your baby very early in order to avoid long-continued dependence on a bottle." I have long trusted Leach's advice, and that made me feel better about waiting until my son was nearly two to fully break him of the habit. But my partner and I still couldn't figure out how the heck we were going to do it.

One popular method is to replace the milk with water, which some parents, like Circle of Moms member Vanessa M., feel will be unappealing enough to break the addiction. I tried this with my son, and it made him as mad as if I had withdrawn the bottle altogether. He knew he'd been tricked.

Eventually though, my son led the way. We realized that his fussiness at night was being caused by the bottle, which had become a distraction to sleep, and we needed to help him let it go — literally. We always talk to him and explain what we think a good plan is — and one good reason to wait until toddlers are older is that they actually understand what you're saying to them, more or less —  and he characteristically nods in agreement. But he has a short memory when it comes to giving up something he desires, or thinks he desires. We held firm and told him he could have only the sippy cup, and we offered other replacements such as extra toys in the bathtub and new books. Still, he was quite unhappy about the whole thing.

Then, a lucky break came in odd wrapping: he got sick. With a high fever, he didn't want milk, so we were able to abandon the bottle for two days. Once he felt better, we knew we had to keep the ball rolling, so we maintained our stance, even explaining to him that not having the bottle at night would help him go "night-night," something he loves, but struggles to do. He trusted us reluctantly, fussing less each night. By the fourth night, miraculously, he didn't mention it at all. 

Image Source: swruler9284 via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Join The Conversation
StephanieHayden30068 StephanieHayden30068 5 years
all three of my kids did great- weaning from NON LIDDED CUPS IS THE TRICKEY PART! And 3 yrs old? wow- my kids dr yelled at me for letting my youngest play with her bottle at 14 mths! she quit in her own time, potty training took a month!! with a two wk relapse when she fell sick.. but she caught back on! i just waited til she was 2 and a half. my other two 18 months
sabrinaclark23865 sabrinaclark23865 5 years
Dustin2577 Dustin2577 5 years
Our son did quite well with the transition. At first he wasn't altogether keen on the sippy cup; he would occasionally whimper a bit and ask curiously what had become of his "baas". Within a few days though he was perfectly fine with his new Mickey Mouse cup.
SejalVora SejalVora 5 years
my daughter just turned 2 on july 1 . she drins from a cup during th day but requires the bottle at night to drink n sleep off. actually still gets up by 4 or 4:30 am n needs milk most of the times . if i dont then she thumb sucks vigourously . need help n advice as what to do /
April40220 April40220 5 years
MY 2 year old wont drink out of a sippy cup just regular cups but milk in bottles when i put milk in a cup he crys and throws it what should i do he eats good and is potty trained so i dont get why the bottle
MaricelSimbajon MaricelSimbajon 5 years
My daughter is turning 48 months but still drinks out of the bottle at bedtime. She drinks milk in a cup but won't go to sleep at night unless i give her milk in a bottle. She sucks her thumb when i don't give her bottle that it's now callused. She stopped thumb sucking before but she's back at it when at once i didn't give her bottle. How do i stop it and how do i wean her from bottle?
JenellMeyers JenellMeyers 5 years
I actually starter weaning off the bottle with both kids at around 6 months. I got them so used to the sippy cup when we first introduced juice, that the only time they actually got the bottle was at nap and bedtime. If they got formula any time in between we mixed it in the sippy cup (I don't know if they still sell them with measurements on the side). My son was off the bottle at 1 year and my daughter at 13 months. It was easy as pie, start the sippy early!
BronwenZimmerman BronwenZimmerman 5 years
I nursed. Offered sippy cup starting at 6mo. By 15mo she was weaned and using cup already.
CoMMember13631153050595 CoMMember13631153050595 5 years
The "easiest" way is to never give them a bottle to begin with. I nursed all six of my children for at least a year and they were never interested in a bottle. They started with a sippy cup at about four months with water and later juice or milk. Now my grandson is starting with a sippy cup at four months. He is not interested in a bottle either, but loves to drink water from his cup.
JenniferBailey21653 JenniferBailey21653 5 years
How do you ween a kid that is VERY head strong, knows fully well how to drink from a regular cup, one with a straw even a bottle of water etc.. but the bottle is LITERALLY his comfort.. NEVER sucked his thumb, doens't have a favorite blanket or stuffed animal and will literally go to sleep hugging his bottle.. and scream bloody murder for hours literally and throw up every time we try to take it away? My first son got rid of it on his own around 2.. this one is well over two but is VERY VERY different from any other kid that I've seen or ever dealt with. Just saying take it away does NOT work. I'm a strong believe like with potty training that they have to want to do it and nothing can be forced.. but what in the world am I supposed to do when he literally hugs it and LOVES it.. doesnt go to sleep drinking it.. its his love.. his stuffed animal/replacement for never having sucked his thumb.. bet there aren't too many cases like this that you have ever heard of lol.
BeccaRulo BeccaRulo 5 years
My son will not drink milk from anything but a bottle. He has always been small so I didnt want to take the bottle away because he wouldnt get needed calories. He has 40-60oz of milk a day, and eats like a pig. He gets bottles at 2 separate times, after meals. He just turned 2 and is no longer dangerously skinny so we will be taking his last 2 bottles away soon, starting with afternoon bottle.
BarbaraNorman BarbaraNorman 5 years
I was very lucky with my daughter. I introduces a sippie at 3 months and on her first birthday she stopped taking bottles on her own. She only wanted cups.
CoMMember13631153550222 CoMMember13631153550222 5 years
All my four children started on a cup as they began weaning. breakfast was made up with thier milk and the rest was put into a cup, if they wanted it thas the only way it came. They soon got used to it. A bottle was used at night for a while longer.
JordanMitchell37713 JordanMitchell37713 5 years
My daughter is almost 9 mmonths and she already doesnt depend on the bottle she has been on a sippy cup since 5 months...we give her formula in the bottle and everything else she drinks in a sippy cup its going to be a very easy transition for us luckily
KatieBona KatieBona 5 years
Breast milk or formula goes in a bottle at my house. Everything else goes in a sippy cup and is served cold. Best way for me to transition. Right at 12 months, the bottles go and the sippy cup stays. None of my kids showed any real attachment to a bottle, so it wasn't too hard for us :)
SaraHodges75229 SaraHodges75229 5 years
I did cry it out. Its kind of hard, but you really can't let your child be the one in control. It will come back to bite you in the butt later!
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