My daughter loved her “ba-ba” (bottle). She did NOT want to give it up. I remember her tears as I carried the bottles out to our friendly sanitation worker while she threw herself on the floor in protest.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends weaning prior to 18 months of age. If you wait too long to introduce the cup, toddlers can become attached to the bottle causing weaning difficulties. Prolonged bottle use can increase the risk of dental decay (Google baby bottle mouth) and can lead to the over-consumption of milk, which may contribute to pediatric obesity and picky eaters.
Babies should drink breast milk or formula until one year of age. Breast-fed babies also need daily vitamin supplementation with Poly-vi-sol with iron or Nova-Ferrum multivitamin with iron. The cup may be introduced between nine to twelve months. The cup can contain formula or pumped breast milk if offered prior to a year of age.
After a year of age whole milk is recommended until 24 months. Water is not recommended under six months of age. Juice may be offered in small amounts (1-2 oz/day) to infants over six months of age if desired; however, formula or breast milk is preferred until 12 months. Most toddlers do not need night-time feeds after one year of age, although they may still demand it.
There are various sippy cups on the market. Just search Amazon for “sippy cups” and you will see a wide variety. Every child is different and will have his or her own preference. You may wish to try a few different kinds. Sometimes a child will prefer a cup with a straw. It may take some experimentation to find which cup works best for your child. Do not allow your child to walk around with a cup, as they may fall and injure themselves.
I recommend introducing the sippy cup between nine to twelve months by offering the cup in between bottles. Sit your child securely in a high-chair (supervised) and offer the cup along with a snack such as puffs. Allow them to get comfortable with the cup. Between 12-15 months, replace the lunchtime bottle with a cup. For the next week or two, give bottles the rest of the day, but a cup at lunch.
After a couple of weeks, replace both the morning and lunchtime bottles with cups, while allowing bottles the rest of the day. Do this for a couple of weeks. Next transition to morning, lunch, and dinner cups, allowing just the evening bottle. Finally, since the bedtime bottle is the toughest to give up, tackle this one last. Offer a cup of milk or a bottle of water. Most toddlers will want the milk. Some may throw that bottle of water at you in protest.
Remember that this is a gradual process which takes time and patience. Toddlers need to learn to accept a cup. This is a transition. Our job as parents is to ease the transition by allowing this process to happen gradually and naturally. Our goal is to be completely off the bottle before eighteen months of age.
Dr. Melanie J Wilhelm, DNP, CPNP, is a Doctor of Nursing Practice, and a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in Norfolk, as well as an Assistant Professor at Old Dominion University. Her book, Raising Today’s Baby: Second Edition, is available on Amazon. Read more at RaisingTodaysChild.com. Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RaisingTodaysChild and twitter at www.twitter.com/Rzn2dayschild