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Weaning from the bottle

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bottleWhether you’re weaning from the bottle or from the breast, it can be a stressful time for you and your baby. A lot of mothers find weaning to be a huge struggle.

I was very fortunate that the weaning experience was a smooth one and the whole transition took very little time for both my babies.

I breastfed my first child as long as I could (5 months) but after visiting my doctor and trying everything I could, I just couldn’t produce enough milk for her. Eventually she was feeding exclusively from the bottle so when it was time to wean her, I only had to wean her from the bottle.

My mother had told me as soon as she was born to never let her hold her own bottle. I remembered that and stuck to her advice. I believe that made a huge difference when it was time to wean her off the bottle.

When she was a year old, I gradually introduced more sippy cups
with milk and less bottles until she was completely weaned. The whole process took a few weeks.

When my son was born, I was determined to make a better go at breastfeeding. I was devastated when I had to have surgery one day after he was born and couldn’t breastfeed him. I tried pumping but with the nurse’s help and a hospital-grade pump, I could barely get an ounce of milk.

By the time the drugs from the surgery had worn off and I was able to breastfeed again, my short supply of milk had almost dwindled to nothing. My son and I both suffered for seven weeks trying to breastfeed until I finally switched to the bottle permanently.

Thus, my son was weaned from the bottle at one year of age as well. The process was virtually the same. I never let him hold the bottle and when it was time to wean, I slowly added more sippy cups as the days went on. He was completely weaned from the bottle within a few weeks.

The biggest obstacle for me with both my children during the weaning phase was that they always wanted the bottle to fall asleep. I expected this long before it was time to wean so I made sure to develop some strong sleep routines.

I would always wrap them in a blanket right before bedtime, then sit and rock with them in a rocking chair while listening to Baby Einstein music and feeding them. This put them to sleep every time. Sometimes their little eyes would roll back and they’d fall asleep as soon as they’d hear the music. They were used to the same routine every single time they went to sleep

When I started to wean them, I took the bottle away but kept the same routine of swaddling them and rocking them while listening to music. They hardly fussed or put up a fight at all.

You can read the article I wrote about weaning here:

How To Wean Baby Off The Bottle

I’d love to hear your own thoughts, questions or experiences with weaning your baby.

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1 Anastasia { 03.16.09 at 9:01 pm }

I have a friend whos little girl is 20 months and still HAS TO HAVE a bottle of water when she goes to bed..they’ve tried just not giving it to her but she just screams all night. Any ideas?
(Shes tried the switch for the cup!)

2 cassie { 03.17.09 at 9:31 am }

@Anastasia – well the good thing is that a bottle of water at night is much better than milk or juice which isn’t good for her teeth. I still send my kids to bed with sippy cups of water, and I still go to bed with a glass of water! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. I would just try to gradually introduce the cup during the day time and when she’s a little more ready and familiar with it, try it again at night.

3 Elizabeth { 06.16.09 at 5:49 pm }

I am in the process of weaning my 11 month old from bottle to sippy cup. He will drink from a sippy as long as I am holding it for him, like when I give him a bottle. Is this what I am supposed to do? Also, while weaning, is he getting enough liquids and nutrients? It seems as though he is hardly drinking a thing. Any info would be helpful!

4 cassie { 06.18.09 at 10:09 am }

Hi Elizabeth – as long as he’s having the usual amounts of pees and poops during the day, he should be getting enough. I fed my kids a lot of yogurt, pureed fruit, etc. while they were weaning to make up for the nutrients not digested from formula.

At 11 months, babies are capable of holding sippy cups themselves, if it’s comfortable for them. If he’s not holding it himself, it could be that the handles are not easy to hold. I have a list of BPA-free sippy cups here that are favorites with babies.

I would try getting him to hold the sippy cup each time you give it to him. It might take awhile but he’ll start holding it himself eventually. Just give him some time.

5 Nicole { 06.20.09 at 3:30 pm }

I am researching how to wean my baby (she is currently 10.5 months old) and I will not do it until one year of age. But she has taken a sippy cup since 6 months of age. However, I’ve always put water in the sippy cup and I’ve tried giving her milk in the sippy but she basically takes it and throws it aside and refuses to drink it. Do you have any suggestions as to what would be a good process to wean? (I am a strong believer that babies should be allowed unlimited amounts of water throughout the day – as water is (in my opinion) one of hte best things to help “keep your body clean”. But I am stuck as to what to do as I’ve only introduced water in the sippy. (She actually won’t even drink juice from it – just water). She is down to about 3 bottles a day. (morning, mid-day and about 1/2 hour before bed). – We are on a routine but bedtime does not consist of a bottle and then bed. She gets the bottle and then about 1/2 hour to a hour later will go to bed for the night.

Any suggestions would be great.


6 cassie { 06.24.09 at 3:04 pm }

Hi Nicole – it sounds like things are actually going really great with the weaning process. I don’t give my kids anything but water in sippy cups either, but when we went through the weaning process I did feed them whole milk in the sippy cup until they learned how to drink out of a regular cup.

I would try buying a separate cup that is just for milk so she associates it with milk and not water. Maybe a plastic cup with handles but no spout, or a different brand of sippy cup. Or is it the milk in general that she won’t drink? Is it formula or whole milk? I never had trouble getting my babies to drink milk when weaning off of formula, but I know a lot of babies who do refuse it. In that case, I think most parents try soy or goat’s milk.

7 sleepless for over a year { 07.15.09 at 8:58 pm }

ok this is going to sound absolutly ridiculous!! my 14 month old still does not sleep throught the night!!! i am a co sleeper due to the fact that when she was born she had some health issues and it just became a habit, not easily broken. that is not the issue though. she still needs a bottle to fall asleep and i find myself at 3 am having to get up to get up and give her a bottle. she will not go back to sleep without it. Even for naps she is dependent on the bottle. she drinks from a sippy and loves it until bedtime or nap time… she absolutly must have it!!!!! she can not be fooled by a sippy or bubba with water for sleep. i tried watering it down but still nothing!! she wakes up every night sine day 1!!!! and must drift to sleep with bottle!!! please help!!!!!

8 cassie { 07.15.09 at 11:24 pm }

Hey Sleepless,

That doesn’t sound ridiculous at all. I used to breastfeed my kids while I was laying down in the bed. We would sleep like that all night. It was hard to break that habit but the only thing that worked was establishing a bedtime routine. I wrote an article awhile ago that has a few ideas for establishing a bedtime routine here. Keep in touch and let me know how things go! :)

9 Sarah { 07.18.09 at 1:43 pm }

I made a mistake and waited to long and now I’m really struggling
My son is 18 months and i am trying to wean him off bottle to sippy cup. I have taken the bottle completly away now.
He takes sippy cups throughout the day with water since he was about 6 or 7 months. When I try to give him a sippy cup with milk he refuses and tosses it aside. I bought 2 sippy cups one for milk and the other for water and he just refuses the milk sippy cup so I tried to put milk in his water sippy cup and he still won’t take it. He does best during the day with sippy cup but at night he wakes up all hours crying for bottle. I can only get him to drink from sippy cups with straws he never would take to any other kind. I am worried should he be drinking more milk?
Any advice will be appreciated greatly.

10 cassie { 07.18.09 at 1:54 pm }

Hi Sarah,

Have you tried warming the milk up? A friend of mine had a son who would only drink milk out of a sippy cup after she warmed it up in the microwave first.

As long as he’s continuing to grow and having the right amount of poops and pees during the day, he should be getting enough nutrition. My kids rarely drink milk anymore so I make sure they get those nutrients from other foods instead like cheese, yogurt, etc..

I hope that helps. If you have any more questions, ask away! :)

11 Breezy { 08.10.09 at 8:30 am }

My daughter is almost 10 months old and my husband and I decided to cold turkey wean my daughter from the bottle last week. She started out doing great as long as we held her and cuddled, but the last couple days she hasn’t been taking formula from her sippy. We tried adding a bit of Karo syrup to get her to drink it and that only lasted about 2 feedings. She is starting to wake up at the same time every night and I can’t help but think that she is doing this becuase she is being weaned from her bottle. Do you think she isn’t getting enough formula? I’d hate to go back now, since everything I have read says to stay strong and consistent with your decision. Any suggestions?

12 cassie { 08.10.09 at 10:43 am }

@Breezy – The weaning process can definitely change the sleeping schedule, but it should return to normal after things settle. As long as she’s still having the right amounts of poops and pees, she’s getting enough to drink. If you want to double check, you can get her weighed at the nurse’s or doctor’s office. At this time, you’ll probably notice she’s eating more solid foods which makes up for the drop in formula intake. In a few months, she won’t need formula at all so it’s normal for her to start drinking a little less right now. Feeding her things like yogurt., cheese, fruits and veggies, etc. will ensure she’s still getting proper nutrition.

13 Erika { 02.08.10 at 10:59 am }

I am trying to figure out the best way to wean my child from her bottle and seem to be making no headway. She drinks from a sippy all day but at nap time and half way through the night she “needs” her bottle. She will suck on it for a few minutes and then throw it to the side. She does not need her bottle to go to sleep just to comfort her during sleep half way through. ANy help or suggestions would be appreaciated!!

14 cassie { 02.08.10 at 11:12 am }

Hi Erika,

My son was just like your daughter. He wanted his bottle but it would take him about thirty seconds to fall asleep once I gave it to him so he was just using it as a comfort thing. This is actually a good thing because you can replace it with something else. Instead of giving him his bottle at nap or bed time, we would do the same things we always did for his routine (rock in a chair with a blanket while listening to a lullaby CD), give him his bottle, but then I’d take it away as soon as he stopped drinking. I’d set it down, then he’d get all worked up, so I’d give it to him again until he stopped drinking. We did this enough times until he realized that he couldn’t use the bottle to sleep, just to drink. Once that was established, it was much easier to replace the bottle with a cup. I hope this helps!

15 NT { 06.05.10 at 12:39 pm }

Ok my daughter is 9 months old and in 3 months we’re expecting our little boy. I would like to have my girl off the bottle before having my boy so that we’re not struggling to feed both of them from a bottle. She hates to hold her own bottle so that part’s not too bad. But she hates to hold a sippy cup too. I wonder at times if i should just give her a cup instead of a sippy cup. Tried it once or twice and it works but havent tried it enough to know if it is better than the sippy cup. But I’m struggling on figuring out if I should let her get frusterated with the sippy cup to grab it on her own and feed herself or if I still have to hold the cup for her. I really could use some help on some more steps to take. She’s a very strong willed baby and very quick learner. She loves solid foods but I really would love to have her more independent so I can handle the new baby and her when that time comes.

16 Expecting again { 06.05.10 at 12:45 pm }

My daughter is now 9 months old and I’ve had suck a hard time in getting her to like the idea of a sippy cup. My biggest delema is that we’re expecting our baby boy in 3 months and I would love to only have one baby on a bottle then instead of two. My daughter refuses to hold her own bottle and she basically does the same with the sippy cup. I’m struggling to have a plan laid out before I start this process. I’ve had her drink out of just a regular cup before and it doesn’t seem to do too bad but haven’t tried it enough to see if it’s better than the sippy cup. Could i just switch her to a cup and skip the sippy cup? Should I be the one holding the sippy cup/ cup or should I make her do this on her own. She’s very smart but also a determined little thing. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks

17 April { 06.08.10 at 8:42 am }

My daughter is 23 months old an still drinks from the bottle. I have bought every make an model of sippy cups out there. She will drink from a sippy cup but still crys through-out the day an night for her bottle. We have tried everything you could possible imagine to get her off of it an its just not working. I have even tried putting more water than milk in her bottle thinking she wouldn’t like it. Well, she drinks it anyway. I’m at a loss of what else to do. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

18 cassie { 06.08.10 at 9:43 am }

Hi NT,

I would definitely try giving your daughter a regular cup. I’d make a big deal out of it each time and drink out of a cup yourself too. If you make it a fun experience she’ll be more open to continuing to use it. There are lots of different plastic cups that are easy for little hands to hold so it might be a matter of finding the perfect cup. A lot of times that’s all that is needed. If the sippy cup frustrates her, it could be because it’s not comfortable for her to hold or drink from. The spout could also be too tough to drink out of so one with a different type or size of spout might also help. She is also still very young so I wouldn’t push it too hard or it may prolong the weaning process. Keep encouraging her with a plastic cup and she’ll get the hang of it soon. Let me know how everything goes! :)

19 cassie { 06.08.10 at 12:46 pm }

Hi April

My one suggestion is that she’s using it as a comfort (since she’ll drink it watered down) so there has to be some other thing to replace that comfort. How is her routine? Can there be something else incorporated into it to help her ease off the bottle and onto something else like a blanket or lullaby?

I might get a beating from some parents for saying this, but sometimes it’s OK to let your child cry when they can’t have what they want. The key is to be as calm and soothing about it as you can be. At times like those with my own children, I just kept reassuring them that everything was OK and they could still have their drinks and cuddles. It will just be a different apparatus they’re drinking out of and a bit tastier beverage. They soon realize that if you stay consistent and you’ll soon be forgetting that phase even happened.

20 Kellie { 09.01.10 at 1:49 pm }

Ok, my daughter co-sleeps & we found that was the only way to get a decent amount of sleep when she was first born because I breast fed. My plans were to wean her from the breast at a year old and then shortly after that wean her from the bottle. At 11 months, she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Before her diagnosis, she developed the habit of nursing almost all night (I was so exhausted) because of thirst from her high blood sugars. Instead of slowly weaning her from the breast as it was comfortable to both of us, I was forced to do it abruptly. She and I went through (and are still going through) many changes suddenly. From her week long hospital stay (2 nights of which, we could not stay with her – and she had NEVER spent a night without us), to weaning her from breastmilk (she has always refused formula), to getting at least 5 insulin injections per day – she has been through alot in such a short period of time. Luckily, she has been great giving up the breast – almost too great :( . However, we have developed this attachment with her bottles throughout the night. She has 2 – 5 bottles through the night and I have to change her diaper at least 2-3 times per night or she wets the bed. Now, she’s not gaining weight and it could be because she’s drinking so much. She eats solid foods just fine and really doesn’t care for a sippy cup at all. With so many changes to her life, I almost feel guilty taking it away, but I feel like it is the best thing. Can you help???

21 Baby Tips Online { 09.01.10 at 7:37 pm }

Hi Kellie,

In this case, we would recommend you speak with your doctor regarding this question, as standard practices can vary when a medical related issue is involved.

We wish you all the best with your baby.

BabyTipsOnline Team

22 Johnna { 08.18.11 at 8:43 pm }

Hello..my son is 10 months and I’ve been trying to wean him off the bottle..at least bring him down to 3 bottles. He’s on stage 3 foods, he has 5 teeth and I’m introducing regular food to him as well. The sippy cup he holds great just like his bottle. I wanted him to hold his bottle because I want him to be independent. (I’m not a crazy mom who’s not loving to her child I just wanted to teach him different things..lol) I have seen him suck from the cup but it’s not all the time…HE always CHEWS on it. He’ll do that after he finishes a bottle so I try to take it away and give him the cup; I don’t want him hanging on the bottle. I even tried putting the formula in the cup but I swear he knows the difference…LOL Also is replacing a bottle with other food ok? I’d really appreciate the help…thanks so much :) And I have like 10 different cups.

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