How to Bottle Wean after 12 Months
I get asked about bottle weaning all the time.
Parents are usually really worried about this change because they fear that it will be a huge deal. Many parents expect their child to react negatively, and become hesitant to try bottle weaning. I am here to say that it does not have to be this way! Remember, positivity will help guide your child. They will see you are excited and positive about this new cup, they will reflect your emotions!
There are basically two options when it comes to bottle weaning: cold turkey and the taper off method.
If you are going to do cold turkey then you have to commit and not look back. It’s either you use it, or you don’t. I will say, however, from a child development perspective that the cold turkey method can be really challenging and not the most respectful way to go. After all, if someone took away my favorite coffee mug one day and told me I HAD to drink out of a brand new coffee mug with a weird lip I would be pissed off. Because I love my coffee mug. I know the way it smells and feels and it's part of my daily routine. I know you have something in your routine that you feel the same. However if that's the way you go, then you do have to commit and follow through because if you are wishy washy they will not learn.
The second option is the taper off method. If you choose to do a more slow, gradual method, you will want to offer a cup of water with meals beginning at 6-7 months. They can practice with a cup young and it sets them up for success when it is time to get rid of the bottle for good. There is also less pressure for them to drink from it at every meal because they are still getting what they need from breast or bottle. Pick a meal and give them a cup of water to practice and get comfortable with it, if they choose. They will also see you drinking at meals, just like them!
At 12 months you can begin to reduce the amount of milk you put into the bottle and water it down so it's less appealing. Put the milk in the cup and just offer that and water at every meal/snack. Essentially you want to make the cup more appealing and the bottle less appealing by putting what they like in the cup, and what they do not prefer in the bottle. It takes time and patience. They will throw it, they will refuse it, and they may even just play with it but keep offering because like most things the more you expose them to something new and the more opportunities they have to practice something new the quicker they master it. Don't give up even if it's weeks of refusal.
Remember, your outlook on the situation is really important. If you seem really excited and make using a cup an exciting thing, they will be more likely to give it a try. They mimic your emotions, so use that to guide them through this process!