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How to Wean Baby Off Bottle: A Complete Guide

How to Wean Baby Off Bottle A Complete Guide

The beauty of bottle-feeding breast milk is that it’s convenient and nutritious. But at some point in your baby’s journey, you’ll slowly have to wean them off their bottles. 

One of the biggest milestones every parent has to face is the bottle-weaning period. It marks a new era when babies can begin eating solid foods. 

But before reaching this milestone, there are a few obstacles we have to go through, such as weaning — and weaning babies off bottles isn’t always a walk in a park. 

This is especially true for kids who can’t seem to give up their bottles regardless of age. 

Nevertheless, there are different tried and tested methods that can help. I’ve listed some of them here, which I’m sure you’ll find very helpful! 

How to Wean Your Baby Off the Bottle

How to Wean Your Baby Off the Bottle

There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to weaning babies off their bottles. It often takes a couple of trial and errors to find the right method.  

Based on my research, there are two approaches to weaning babies off their bottles: gradual and immediate.

A lot of parents seem to agree that both approaches are helpful. 

However, there may still be challenges if you start the weaning period late. Studies show it’s best to start when babies are six months old. 

The transition will be smoother, unlike if you start them late at 12 months. 

Gradual Approach 

For me, the gradual approach is the easiest. You’ll slowly introduce to your baby alternatives to their bottles

This way, they can get used to it earlier, without too many tears and tantrums. 

Doctors recommend reducing the number of bottles you give babies in a day. If your baby feeds 6 times daily, slowly transition and reduce the frequency. 

As an alternative, you can swap the bottles for sippy cups! Soon enough, they’ll get used to this, and they’ll be able to drink from cups like a pro. 

They’ll also learn how to hold their cups on their own without any help.

Immediate Approach

As its name suggests, the immediate approach is the fastest way to wean babies off their bottles. Unfortunately, I find it to be the most challenging to do. 

There’s only one way to start this approach: stop giving your baby their bottles. Decide which day it is, and commit to it. Get all your baby bottles together and put them out of sight. 

Now, the challenge begins when your baby starts crying for their bottle. Most parents will be tempted to give in at this stage, but don’t! 

You might not see the end of your baby’s bottle-weaning phase if you keep giving in. 

Instead, offer an alternative to their bottles. You can give their milk through a sippy cup, providing the same purpose but in a different form. 

Another option is offering healthy and unique snacks your baby might enjoy! 

They’re more likely to give up their bottles if a better alternative exists. 

How to Transition From Bottle to Cup

How to Transition From Bottle to Cup

The next best alternative to baby bottles is sippy cups. Based on my research, a lot of moms found sippy cups to be helpful. 

It comes in different forms and sizes, which makes the transition easy. 

Slowly introduce sippy cups one day at a time. Change the frequency every other day until your baby is comfortable holding the cup. 

During the starting stage, carefully watch your baby and their sippy cups. Make sure the cups aren’t leaking, or you’ll have milk all over the place. 

At the same time, be patient and help your baby drink from their sippy cups. Remember, this is brand new information that they’ll have to learn. 

That said, remember PAT: Patience, Assistance, and Time. 

Additional Tips to Wean Your Baby Off the Bottles

Additional Tips to Wean Your Baby Off the Bottles

My doctors and mom friends shared helpful tips on how to wean babies off their bottles. I’ve listed them here so you can prepare for this important milestone. 

1. Start Them Young

The earlier you start weaning your baby, the better. Research suggests that six months old is a good starting age. 

Slowly switch your baby’s bottles to a sippy cup like the gradual approach. Get them used to the feeling of holding and drinking from a cup. Later, you can even start introducing solid foods!

2. Remove the Valve

Most parents are averse to making a mess. Unfortunately, making a mess is part of bottle weaning and might be effective in some cases. 

You can try removing the valve of your baby’s sippy cups. Add a few tablespoons of milk or water, and teach your baby to drink from the cup. 

It might be messy, but this method teaches them how drinking from a cup works. Soon, you’ll be able to put a full amount of milk without them spilling anything. 

3. Start With a Silicone Spout

Silicone spouts are effective and useful for parents who want to take a slow and gradual approach. 

You can switch the usual bottle nipples for a spout and get them used to drinking from them. Once they’re used to it, you can fully transition to a sippy cup! 

4. Offer Something Else Besides Water

Use other liquids instead of water. Water is good for our babies, although they’re flavorless. Babies are likely to drink from sippy cups containing sweet and flavorful liquids.

So, I highly suggest using natural fruit juices to entice your baby! You can even introduce them to soy milk if they’re not allergic. Remember, make this transition a pleasurable one for your baby. 

5. Offer a Sippy Cup Instead of a Bottle

Increase the number of times your baby drinks from a sippy cup instead of a bottle. This is a great idea for babies who’ve gotten the hang of using their cups. 

You can even start filling the cups with milk if you notice that they’re fully comfortable. Just watch out for any spills or leakage on their baby bottle. 

6. Stop Cold Turkey

Eliminate all the baby bottles in your home and use sippy cups altogether. Going cold turkey might sound extreme, but it is effective. 

It’s the fastest way to get babies to drink from a cup, although many tears will be involved. 

7. Make Your Baby Quit Using a Bottle at the Age of One

Once your baby is a year old, it’s time to say goodbye to their baby bottles. By this age, they should have gotten used to drinking from cups and eating solid foods. 

Their dependency on drinking from baby bottles should have lessened. In some cases, some parents even transition from breast milk to formula

Common Reasons to Stop Bottle Feeding

Common Reasons to Stop Bottle Feeding

Unfortunately, prolonged bottle feeding has some consequences. I’ve listed some common reasons for you to know what you’re up against. 

1. Increased Risk of Tooth Decay

Babies can experience tooth decay, even at an early age. They’re more likely to develop cavities when their teeth experience prolonged contact with milk. 

The risk is higher if parents don’t brush their kids’ teeth at night, leading to tooth decay at such an early age. 

2. Higher Chances of Obesity

Studies also show that prolonged bottle feeding can lead to obesity. I learned babies drink more milk from their bottles than from a sippy cup. 

As parents, our natural instinct is to think the more, the better. However, this isn’t the case for prolonged bottle feeding. 

3. Iron Deficiency (Anemia)

Drinking too much milk can block your baby’s body from absorbing iron from various foods. This is especially true for babies who consume cow’s milk. 

That being the case, your baby may suffer from anemia if they drink too much milk. 

4. Will Likely Form Crooked Smiles

One of the common problems faced by bottle-fed babies is they usually end up with a crooked smile. This happens often in babies who stay bottle-fed even though they’re already one year old and up.

It’s similar to how some toddlers develop a crooked smile, especially if they develop the thumb-sucking habit. 

In some serious cases, it can also affect the palate of your baby and even their jaw/teeth alignment. 

Frequently Asked Questions

I read through a lot of questions from many parents on the internet. Many raised a lot of valid points, which I will be sharing here. 

When Should You Bottle-Wean Your Child?

Generally, it’s best to start bottle-weaning your baby once they reach six months old. Remember, the earlier, the better! 

The transition won’t be easy, and some babies might even squirm and cry during the process. Regardless of what they do, be patient. They’ll be relying on you for help and assistance. 

What Happens if My Baby Refuses to Drink From a Cup?

There will be instances when some babies won’t take the cup from you. This can be frustrating for some parents, and it would definitely be a test of their patience. 

When this happens, don’t stop your efforts and just continue. You can start using a rewards system each time your baby reaches and drinks from the cup. 

Doing this helps motivate them to drink from a cup. 

Is Cow’s Milk a Good Alternative to Breastmilk?

Cow’s milk is a good alternative for kids older than one year old. However, keep in mind that it may take some time for kids to transition from breast milk to cow’s milk. 

To help with the transition, you can mix your breast milk with some cow’s milk. Gradually increase the cow’s milk until they’re fully accustomed to the taste. 

What Liquids Can I Put In My Baby’s Cup?

If you’re just starting with the weaning process, only use breast milk or water in your baby’s cup. Just change the contents frequently and ensure the breast milk is still good. 

Once they’ve gotten used to drinking from a cup, you can introduce diluted juice as a yummy treat. Just make sure it’s not too sweet!

Conclusion 

Weaning babies off their bottles isn’t usually an easy process. It requires a lot of patience, time, and mental preparation. 

But bottle weaning will be a breeze once you know what to do and what you’re up against. Your baby can drink from their sippy cups like a pro! 

Remember, you can choose between making a gradual and immediate approach depending on your parenting style. 

So, what are you waiting for? It might be time to finally replace your baby’s bottles with sippy cups while sleeping

Josie Mariano
Josie Mariano

Hello, my name is Josie Mariano, and I’m proud to say I’m a soon-to-be mom.
Although my partner and I are still waiting for our firstborn to arrive, we’re already doing whatever it takes to prepare for our baby’s needs.
I’ve been joining a lot of parenting forums and asking my doctors for advice on how to prepare for my baby. They’ve all been very informative and I was able to spot the areas I still need to work on.
At the same time, I also rely on my mom for tips on what to do during my pregnancy journey.
With everything that I’ve learned so far, I’d like to share these experiences to fellow parents and soon-to-be parents!