How can I help my child stop using milk bottles?

When should children stop using bottles?

Once children can manage to drink water and milk from cups, they should stop using bottles. The earlier they stop, the easier the process will be. Generally, by the time your child is 18 months old, they should have stopped using bottles with teats completely.

Prolonged use of bottles increases the risk of tooth decay and ear infection. It can also lead to excessive milk intake, thus reducing children’s appetites during mealtimes.

Are there any practical tips for successful weaning?

Firstly, let your child get used to drinking from cups.

Secondly, get adequate psychological preparation. Some children may refuse drinking milk from the cups and may whine or even cry for their bottles, especially in the first few days of bottle weaning. You need to insist on not giving in to the request. Don’t let your child drink milk from bottles. Remember that bottle weaning is beneficial for his long-term health. Satisfy your child’s emotional needs by kissing, hugging and playing with him more. Let him know that you still love him.

Family members being not as supportive as you’d wish and inconsistencies in managing your child’s request of the bottle process, with the resultant giving in, are key factors of failure to wean off the bottles. Therefore, it is important to discuss with your family members and act consistently.

Thirdly, it is important to understand that the amount of milk a child drunk from a cup is generally less than that from a bottle. After the age of one, children drinking 360 to 480 ml of milk daily, together with daily foods, provides the calcium they need. When he drinks a smaller amount of milk, he will then have a larger appetite for food during mealtimes. So, you don’t need to worry them having not enough nutrients.

Weaning “cold turkey” tends to be problematic. It is easier to stop using the bottle in a gradual and loving way:

Usually, it is easier for children to adapt when the daytime bottle is stopped first. Give him around 120ml of milk in a cup and let him drink in a sitting position. Generally speaking, the daytime bottles can be stopped successfully in a few days’ time. Then, apply the successful experience to wean the morning and the bedtime bottles one after another.

For children accustomed to falling asleep with the bottle, it is important to have good bedtime routines. Give your child some snacks or a cup of milk before bedtime if he needs. Brush teeth before sleep and bring him to bed. Hugging your child, singing lullabies, telling him stories and kissing him goodnight to satisfy his emotional needs. In this way, he will be able to fall asleep quietly without drinking milk from a bottle.