Most pediatricians recommend transitioning from the bottle at 12 months of age and most definitely to have completed the transition by 18 months of age. Anticipating this transition can be a cause of much anxiety in parents. Parents see the bottle as a way of soothing and giving nutrition to their child but there are downsides to continuing use of the bottle in toddlers. Bottle usage can boost tooth decay by the contact of milk with the teeth while sucking on the bottle, prolonged use of the bottle has been linked to childhood obesity as toddlers tend to take more calories throughout the course of the day. Prolonged sucking on the bottle can cause change in adult dentition down the line and drinking a bottle while lying down has been shown to increase the risk of ear infections.
Some parents choose to slowly wean bottles swapping some bottle feeds out for cups, some families simply stop cold turkey and find while the babies may initially go on strike refusing milk from the cup, with time they learn to adjust. Remember you child is getting plenty of calcium, hydration and nutrition from their solid diet so even if they go on a “milk in the cup” strike, it will not harm them.
Transitioning to sippy cups can begin at 6 months of age – start with a sippy cup that has a soft pliable spout, teach your baby how to tip it back and choose several types of different sippy cups and let your child explore. If your child refuses the sippy cup try dipping the spout in formula or breastmilk, or switch the bottle for the cup halfway through a feeding, let your child watch you sip from cups so they can learn. Enjoy the process….your baby is growing up!
Dr. Asha Ramachandran