Advice Column, Baby, Pregnancy & Baby

When it is the right time to wean your baby off the bottle?

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When is it the right time to wean your little one off of the bottle? Paediatricians are now recommending that the phasing out of bottles should start within the child’s second year. As much as I feel that it is not appropriate to set strict deadlines on any important aspects in your child’s life there certainly are some benefits to weaning them off.

Research shows that prolonged use of bottles can cause tooth decay, it could lead to your child being too reliant on his or her feed rather than making use of the meal that has been provided to them to sustain their hunger and provide the necessary nutrition they need as a growing toddler. Excessive milk consumption can lead to excessive weight gain or an imbalance in nutrition because the milk being used as a substitute for food.  So helping your child get to the point where they are ready to say goodbye to that bottle, is important. But how?

Many parents don’t think to offer a cup until the child has reached the end of the their first year. One is able introduce a cup, with or without a lid from between 6-9 months of age, but it important to see the signs of readiness. If your child has strong motor skills and is already holding the bottle on their own, he is more likely to take to a cup right away, but if those skills are not apparent there is still no reason not to start.

Which ever approach you take depends on your child’s attachment to the bottle and whether or not you feel that they are ready to take this next phase.

A good way to start would be to assist your child by holding the cup for them and allowing them to take small sips at a time.

If your child is one that is reluctantly willing to give up the bottle, take it slow. Start by introducing a supplemental source of liquid for several days. Offer this to your child and allow them to play with the empty cup afterwards. By familiarising the child with the new item this could win them over!

Replace the bottle for a sippy cup once a day for a week and slowly build up to replace all day time beverages with the sippy cup. There are great one’s on the market at the moment, so shop around until you find one that you feel will best suite your child. Don’t go with the current market trends but rather what is best for your child’s particular needs.

Removing the bottles from view so that you child wont ask for them is also a great idea. There is nothing worse than seeing something and not being able to have it. If you have older children, get them involved as well. Young tots love to imitate their siblings so make it a family affair.

Nighttime (when you get to that phase) can prove to be the greatest challenge. The key as with all things parenting is consistency. Once you make that decision to remove the night feeds and replace them with a small cup of water before bed, there should be no going back.

Create new routines during this transition for bedtime, creating a little soft fun like a bedtime story or extra cuddles reaffirms the child that there is still a  warm comforting environment without the bottle and makes the transition easier for your child.

Giving up the bottle needn’t be a stressful time for mom or tot, but rather a time of excitement as you and your family celebrate this new chapter.

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