Hey Mommies!… Weaning from a bottle to cup can be a challenging time for parents and children. Take a second to put yourself in your child’s shoes. For the first whole year of their life, they have been used to the routine of getting a bottle. Now all the sudden it’s taken away. This is bound to be difficult!
For all you coffee drinkers, imagine if one day, someone just took away your morning coffee and said you couldn’t have any more. You’d probably be pretty darn upset! BUT… as the days went by, you would gradually get used to it. The same will happen with your child. It will be rough, but they will get there.
Here are 5 tips for weaning from a bottle to cup that should help reassure you and make the process easier.
- Start Introducing a Cup Early– Around 4-6 months of age, you can start introducing a sippy or straw cup. I’d personally recommend a straw cup. (Read why here). Either way, the earlier you start introducing, the more comfortable your child will be with a different type of cup. This will make the transition easier.
- Eliminate 1 Bottle at a Time– By “eliminate,” I mean replace the bottle with a cup of milk. So you are still offering milk. It’s just in a cup. Some people do just decide to throw all bottles away and go straight to a cup for all feedings. This may work, but it will likely be easier to make the transition by just eliminating 1 bottle at a time. Maybe start with the morning bottle. Then, go to the afternoon bottles. And finally, the night time bottle. Or, if your child is eating really well at lunch and not super reliant on afternoon bottles, start with those first.
- Increase Frequency of Snacks or Meals– Many parents get concerned because their child seems to drink less milk during this time. That is to be expected because again, it is a change, and it’s hard. Offering some additional snacks and meals can help make sure your child is full and gets the nutrition they need.
- Don’t Give Up and Go Back– As I’ve said, this is a hard time, and your child likely will not like it very much at all. They may refuse the cup all together to start, even if they are perfectly capable of drinking from it. They just don’t like the change, and they want what they are used to. If you go back to a bottle, you will reinforce their behavior of if they cry or don’t drink, they will get a bottle. This will likely prolong the process of weaning. Typically, if you stick it out for a few days, your child will finally realize there is no other option and they will drink. I always feel that a few rough days are better than months of struggling back and forth.
The first night we gave our son a cup instead of a bottle was ROUGH! He cried… a lot. My husband and I wondered if we should just go give him a bottle to calm down and go to sleep. BUT, we held strong and let him cry it out. After about 10 minutes, he fell asleep and slept until morning. The next night was about the same. He was upset but took a few drinks, cried about 5 minutes, and fell asleep. By the third to fourth night, he took his milk from his cup, listened to his story, and went to bed without crying. We never gave up or went back, and he eventually understood the new routine and did just fine.
5. Remember, Your Child Will Not Starve– So many parents worry that their child is going to starve. I completely understand this BUT, as long as your child is healthy, typically developing, and has no medical or health concerns, they will not starve. They may eat less for a few days as they learn to adjust, but they will not starve. You can also be assured of this if you only eliminate 1 bottle at a time. Even if your child doesn’t drink much milk from their cup during the bottle feeding you’ve eliminated, they are still getting food from other meals and bottles throughout the day.
As I’ve said multiple times, the process of weaning from a bottle to cup is often a hard and frustrating time. You may feel like an awful parent and wonder if you’ve made the right decision to start weaning. Just remember that, this too shall pass. You and your child will get through it. If you can just make it through the first few days, you’ll likely start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it should start to get easier.
Best of luck mommas! You’ll get there!
PS: Here’s a couple good straw cup options from Babies R Us if you’re looking!
By: Emily Bettis, MOT/L
Emily Bettis, MOT/L is a pediatric occupational therapist and mother. She has been working with children birth-5 since 2008 and has been a mother since 2013. Emily is the founder and author HeyMommies.com