Stopping the Bottle
Dr. Heather Zimmerman, Boys Town Pediatrics
Part of preparing to stop the bottle is introducing a cup ahead of time to get them used to drinking out of a cup. So for my patients what I recommend is starting at six months old, which is when we want to start introducing some water to complement breast milk or formula intake, the water is always in a cup, never in a bottle. We also suggest that that is the age that they start solid foods and I recommend having a cup of water every time you are doing solid foods. So initially it is just once a day they are getting a little practice but then by the time they are getting closer to twelve months old they are probably having three opportunities a day with the water cup where they are sitting and kind of getting some prodding from a parent, sort of reaching over and reminding them take a drink and handing them the cup. So lots of practice ahead of time, then I recommend cold turkey, bottles are done at twelve months old.
This is an important task to take on because in terms of dental health we don't want them drinking a bottle anymore. It's a major cavity risk to be sucking on a bottle nipple. It is just pushing milk sugars down against the back of the teeth. It's a personal preference how you get rid of them. I think cold turkey works the best for all behavioral things with toddlers because they just need to learn this is how it's going to be now. If you'd prefer to do kind of the well let's keep that morning bottle or let's keep that bedtime bottle, it is kind of confusing for them because then they may choose to hold out and not bother drinking out of the cup during the day because they know they are going to get their bottle at night.
That nighttime bottle is actually the one I want to get rid of first because of that cavity risk right before they go to sleep. If they do still take a bottle and they have teeth, you need to brush their teeth afterwards as soon as we have teeth in there, bedtime routine needs to include brushing teeth after that bottle or after nursing and then that is when we don't want them doing any overnight feeding anymore because of that cavity risk as well.
Breaking your child's habit of drinking out of a bottle can be difficult. Dr. Heather Zimmerman, pediatrician with Boys Town Pediatrics, explains the best way to break this routine and why it is important for your child to quit using a bottle at 12 months old.