Many parents find the transition period between their kid’s infancy to their toddler years a bit difficult, especially when it’s time to ease the child from the baby bottle habit. Parents will try everything, from begging, to hiding bottles and sometimes even offering rewards, just for their child to stop sucking it. Sometimes, these tactics work. Most of the time, they blow up in the parents’ faces.
Sooner or later, you too will have to learn how to stop your child from being dependent on his feeding bottle. It might not seem harmful, but prolonged bottle-feeding can have drastic effects on your child, like rotting or crooked teeth, bloated belly and problems like being taunted or teased by older kids.
It’s not easy, but there are a few effective ways to deal and get rid of your baby’s bottle. Here are several tactics you can use.
The Cold Turkey Technique
When it’s too prolonged already, many parents treat their baby’s bottle fanaticism like an addiction or a disorder, so when it’s time to put a stop to it, they use the most straight-forward, no dilly-dally tactic: cold turkey. They remove bottle-feeding all at once, without any preparation or any special action. They believe that as soon as the bottle is out of sight, the child will have an easier time staying away from the habit.
You can try two cold turkey methods:
The Harsh Way – First, remove all baby bottles in your home, then dump them out or hide them completely out of your child’s sight. When your kid starts asking, just offer a simple and straightforward explanation. If he starts crying, be stern and never give in.
The harsh method works, but it can be a little hard on your child. You’ll have to expect a lot of whining, crying and tantrum-throwing. Your child can also develop a trauma, and your relationship with him might become strained. Even so, it’s the quickest way to get rid of that bottle habit.
The Compassionate Way – Even if you’re getting rid of the bottle in an abrupt way, you can still be kind to your child. Here’s one way how: before garbage day, tell your toddler that all his bottles need to go “bye-bye”. If he becomes upset, be very reassuring. Give him one last bottle for bedtime. When he wakes up the next day, ask him to help you put the bottles in a garbage bag, then head out and wait for the truck to arrive. Put the bag on the curb, and let your child watch as the truck takes it away. You can even let him wave “bye-bye” to his bottles and the truck. When they’re gone, hug your child and praise him for being “all grown-up”.
Your child might have a hard time adjusting to living without his bottles. Every time he asks “where’s my bottle?”, just answer sympathetically (but with a smile) “they went bye-bye, remember?”. He will become upset, but when he remembers that he was there when he sent the bottles away, he’ll most likely calm down.
Get a Tippy Cup
Your baby might not need his bottle anymore, but he’ll still need to drink up his milk. Instead of giving him a bottle, use a tippy cup instead. Also known as a “sippy cup”, this is a lidded cup with a spout where a child can drink from. It’s sealed tight to prevent spills, and sometimes has handles for your baby’s easy and comfortable gripping. Tippy cups are the best transitional containers for your child when you’re training him not to bottle-feed anymore.
At first, most kids find tippy cups cumbersome and difficult to use, and they won’t want to use it. To help your kid get settled with the right cup, here are several tips to remember:
- Start with a tippy cup with a soft, rubbery spout, so your child won’t feel the sudden change at once.
- Bring your child with you when buying a tippy cup, so he can choose which one he likes.
- Don’t just settle on one cup style for your child. Get several different ones, so you can choose which fits him best.
- Find tippy cups with interesting and adorable designs on them, like your child’s favorite cartoon character.
- Get a transparent cup. When your child clearly sees what’s inside, he’ll become more interested to drink it.
Instead of putting regular milk in the cup, add a bit of chocolate syrup to make chocolate milk (or strawberry syrup, for strawberry milk). Show him you’re adding it, so he’ll be enticed to drink it up.
Although it’s very efficient to use a tippy cup, it can have several drawbacks. For one, your child might become attached to his tippy cup, just like what happened with his bottle. According to many speech therapists, prolonged use of tippy cups can also lead to problems in speech skills and oral development in kids.
You can then use sippy cup alternatives like:
- Straw – Many babies enjoy drinking milk from a regular cup as long as they are using a straw. Just make sure the cut end is in the drink, since it can be sharp. You also shouldn’t let your child, run or walk with a straw in his mouth. Just let him sit while drinking.
- Shot glass – As long as properly supervised, shot glasses are effective drinking containers for kids. They’re small enough to be held by little hands and they hold enough liquid for little mouths. They also allow less spills.
- Plastic egg cups – If you think shot glasses are too fragile, then these are great alternatives.
“Just For Naptime And Bedtime, Sweetie”
It’s all right if you can get rid of the bottle habit abruptly, but you can also do it in a gradual manner, so your angel won’t become so heavily distressed. Here’s one way of doing it: tell your baby he can only have his bottle during naptime or bedtime. After all, most kids can’t sleep without drinking milk from their beloved bottle. When he wakes up, don’t allow him to take the bottle out of his bed or crib. Be very consistent with this rule. Explain to him that bottles belong in the bed, and if he needs to drink his milk, he’ll have to use his tippy cup.
You can also lessen the amount of bottled milk you give him. Instead of using the tall bottles, use the small, four-ounce bottles instead.
Another tactic is to put water in the bottle during naptime. When he realizes this, show him his tippy cup that contains the milk he likes, so he’ll choose it. Do the same during bedtime, until he becomes used to not having his bottle.
The Dinner Tactic
One reason why your kid finds it difficult to leave his baby habits is because he’s not exposed to a bigger world. Don’t confine him to those baby customs, and introduce him to a more “grown-up” place. For example, let him play with other kids his age, or those who are slightly older and don’t use bottles anymore. Seeing these other children without their bottles will make him think twice about using his own baby stuff.
Another technique you can use is to let him join the family as you sit down for supper. Pull his baby chair beside you and place a table setting for him, just like his other brothers and sisters have. Whisper and point out to him that no one is using baby bottles anymore. Say that since he’s a big kid already, he should also give his bottle up.
If you’re trying to convince him to use a tippy cup, try this: Let everyone at the table use a tippy cup. Make sure everyone shows your angel that they’re enjoying their cups, so he will also become enticed to use his.
Does your child want a toy, a game or a book so bad, he’ll do anything to have it? Then this is the most recommended technique for you. Talk to your toddler, and tell him that you’re going to offer a “reward” in exchange for all his bottles. If he really wants that item so badly, he’ll give in to your offer. Just make sure you give him what he wants, though, or he’ll definitely throw a tantrum.
If your child doesn’t immediately agree with the exchange, you should try convincing him with a smaller bargain. For example, in exchange for a day at the park, he’ll only use his bottle during bedtime. You can also bake him his favorite cupcakes and tell him he can have them if he agrees to only use his bottle for naptime.
Have A Happy Bottle Day
Most kids feel sad and tearful when saying goodbye to their bottle. It’s always a day you’d rather forget. Well, why not have it the other way around? Turn your child’s bottle-feeding transition into a festive event, by having a “Happy Bottle Day” celebration. It’s like a milestone birthday, except your kid isn’t getting old, but just saying goodbye to his old bottle habit. Invite all his playmates to the celebration, and have decorations and snacks ready. You can also play fun games to keep everyone excited.
When the ceremonial moment comes, get a garbage bag and pile out all the bottles and bottle-feeding materials (liners, cleaning brushes, washers). With everyone watching, tell your angel to put the items in the garbage bag to throw out. When he’s finish, applaud for him and sing “Happy Bottle Day To You” in front of his cake. He’ll always remember this day, in a fun and endearing way.
Your baby can grow up so quickly. One moment he’s just sleeping peacefully in his crib, but soon, he’ll be running all around the house, exploring and learning with his innocent toddler mind. Along with this change, you also have to help him get rid of his babyish habits, like sucking on a baby bottle. If you’re having difficulty with this, try these techniques. Soon, your little darling will no longer need his bottle and he’ll be more grown-up and ready to face a bigger world!
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