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Stopping the Bottle

By Heather Zimmerman, M.D.

Toddler drinking from bottle.

Stopping the bottle with your toddler can be difficult. Boys Town Pediatrics offers tips on making the transition easier for you and your child.

Transitioning Tips and Benefits

  • The longer parents wait to start the transition, the more attached your child may become. At 6 months of age, parents can start introducing water in a sippy cup to complement breast milk or formula intake. Using a sippy cup to start will help your child adjust to the change and help improve with hand-to-mouth coordination. Find one that has a soft and pliable spout similar to a nipple's texture and begin having your baby test the sippy cup between feedings.
  • Start gradually with once a day and by the time your child is 12 months of age, transition from the bottle to the cup at all meal times, or at least the majority of the time. During the transition, your child may spill quite a few times while adjusting to the cup. Practice makes perfect!
  • Stopping the bottle is important for hygiene as well. The sugars from milk can cause cavities and tooth decay on growing teeth. For this reason, stopping the nighttime bottle first can help with risk of cavities. If your toddler is still drinking from the bottle or nursing when teeth are growing in, remember to brush his teeth.

The process of stopping the bottle can be different for every family, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends weaning completely by 15 months. Prolonged botte-feeding has been associated with excessive milk intake and iron deficiency due to displacement of iron-containing food choices. If you have any questions or concerns on how to help your baby transition, consult your pediatrician.