Getting off the bottle

I am often asked how to get a child off the bottle.  The key is teaching  your child to drink from a cup.  Most parents assume this should be a spill-proof cup but it can be any cup you choose.  (Please do not choose one that essentially has a bottle nipple as it defeats the purpose of eliminating the bottle.)  “Sippy cups” as used widely in the US are a very modern invention.  Children learn to drink from open top cups in many parts of the world.  Initially, the cup is held by an adult and later it is held by the child.  Many daycares require children younger than 2 years to drink from an open cup while seated at a table.  This is facilitated by using a small 4 ounce cup that the child can hold with one hand.  Straw with lid cups are becoming more common.  If you choose to teach your infant or toddler to drink from a straw, please be sure the straw is flexible so that it is difficult to injure the roof of the mouth with the straw. 

Encourage your child to accept other beverages (water, juice) from a cup by 8 or 9 months old at the latest.  Typically developing children should have the skills to drink from a cup before they turn one. 

Most children are ready to transition from formula to whole milk at their first birthday.  The first time your child ever tastes milk, it should come from a cup.  The bottle is already strongly associated with formula.  When they drink their last formula, it is their last opportunity for a bottle, ever!

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