Weaning baby from the breast/bottle to a cup is an emotional time. It’s exciting and somber at the same time. It is so amazing to watch baby mature, grow and learn BUT can’t time just slow down?!?! It’s typically recommended that babies be weaned from bottle drinking around twelve months of age. By this time they have the ability and coordination to drink from a cup and bottles become more for security and pacifying. My little guy has gone two weeks now without a bottle and the time has come to put those bottles away. There is no going back, they are goners! Bottles are a closed chapter in our lives. Below are my recommendations for transitioning baby from breast/bottle to exclusive cup drinking.
I recommend introducing babies to a cup when they start solids. Let baby explore an empty cup during meal times for a week or so before introducing liquids in it. It’s important to have continuity with meal times. Set up a special area for eating and have baby sit there with each meal. Baby should always be sitting upright for eating and drinking aside from the breast.
I introduced an empty cup with meals when my baby started solids at four months old. At five months old, I began putting two ounces of water in the cup and working with my baby to drink it when I fed him solids. It is important to give baby lots of praise and encouragement when they attempt to drink from a cup, make them feel proud. At five months old, my baby ate solids and had a few sips of water from his cup twice a day. At six months old, I began feeding baby solids three meals a day and providing water in his cups for drinking. During this time, I was breast/bottle feeding first thing in the morning, snacks in between meals, right before bed and a dream feed. I gradually replaced breast/bottle feeding with solids and cup drinking. When we went to our six months wellness visit, our pediatrician suggested that I offer my baby milk in a cup as well as water. She said that baby may not like milk from a cup and that it was better to start sooner rather than later. This made total sense to me but I went home confused thinking, “my baby is supposed to get milk from me?!?!” It was a hard pill to swallow but I decided to put my expressed breast milk into a cup. I trained my baby to drink from a straw cup. Check out my article on teaching baby to drink from a straw. This did not mix well with breast milk. When my son was learning to drink from a straw, he spit out a lot of liquid in the beginning. Watching him spit out my breast milk brought me to tears. This was when formula was introduced into my baby’s diet. At seven months old, we had planned for me to go back to work and put baby in daycare. When this time came, I did not want to send bottles to daycare since we were on a roll with cup drinking. So, I decided to replace my between meal breast feeds with snacks of solids and cup drinks in preparation. At this time, my son was eating solids and drinking from cups for breakfast, snack, lunch, snack and dinner. I was still doing breast feeds first thing in the morning and before bed. At eight months old, I decided to discontinue breast-feeding. So, instead of offering the morning breast feed before his breakfast, I started offering him his breakfast of solids and cup drink earlier, therefore replacing his breastfeed. I was stressed out about this but baby didn’t miss a beat, he just kept on moving forward. Around this time, we weaned out his dream feed as well. My baby was only getting one bottle a day, right before bedtime. At ten months old, my son was drinking very little from his bedtime bottle because he was full from dinner and his first tooth was coming in. He refused his bottle two nights in a row (we’re guessing it was related to teething). My husband and I talked and decided to push back baby’s dinner time to right before bedtime and eliminate the last bottle. And just like that, bottles were no longer existent in our lives. It was bittersweet. I do miss the dependence and bond of bottle time but I’m thrilled to no longer have to heat and wash bottles. My precious speechbaby is shaping into an independent and intelligent speechboy.
Long story short, when weaning baby to cup drinking, gradually replace breast/bottle feeds with solids and cup drinking and baby will go with the flow. And you can either pack those bottles away for the next one or toss! We are packing ours away in hopes that we will be blessed with baby number two when the time is right. For now, we say sayonara baby bottles! Let me know if you have any questions.