Every good parent knows that their child can’t use a baby bottle for the rest of their lives. So when is the appropriate time to make the transition from the bottle to the cup and how does one go about accomplishing that seemingly difficult task? Believe it or not, having your infant making the switch doesn’t have to be all that challenging. Here are a few tips to make your transition as smooth as possible for you and your little one.
- Start out earlier than later
At around six months let your child begin testing out sippy cups. Chances are that they won’t want to make the switch at that time, but it’s far better than trying to make them use a cup when you are trying to wean them off of the bottle. Most babies are around the one year mark by the time they’re ready to make the switch. Allowing them to get some practice with the cups is a good way to ensure a smoother transition.
- Present the cup as a reward
Your child may be nervous about the strange new device in their hands. They may not know how it works or what its purpose is. This can lead to confusion and eventually resentment for the cup. To counteract this connection in your baby’s brain, try to present the cup as something they get after doing something well or enjoyable. In order for your infant to associate the cup as something positive you should consider using it in times of joy like while you two are playing together. This way, they will form a positive mental link to the sippy cup.
- Gradually phase them out
For younger children, bottle moderation usually works best. This means that you should cut down on the amount of times you give your child a bottle (as an alternative to a cup) little by little until they are off of the bottle completely. You can try various techniques such as diluting the formula with water when served in a bottle, but leaving it as is when served in a cup. That way they grow to associate the cup with better tasting nutrients. You may also want to consider replacing their snack-time bottles with cups, but leaving the meal-time bottles alone.
- Quitting cold turkey
Sometimes the gradual approach doesn’t work out like you hope it will. Every child is different and so occasionally you will have to remove the bottle all at once. This is especially true for older children who are older and use their bottle as something of a comfort object. If you are going to try this approach, make sure your child knows and understands what is going to happen. They don’t necessarily need to like it or understand why, but letting them know that they are too old for the bottle in very important.
Weaning your child off of his or her bottle seems like a difficult task to accomplish, but it doesn’t have to be. However, it is important that it is accomplished. Prolonged usage of bottles boost tooth decay, are linked to stunted social growth, and users tend to ingest more milk. Kicking the bottle early will help you and your child avoid any unnecessary problems you may face in the future.