While the weaning process from bottle to cup is easy for some, others struggle for months with the same. Drinking from a milk bottle for too long can cause a baby's teeth to decay. The recommended age to introduce sippy cups to babies is when they are around 9 to 12 months of age. However, the time for weaning a baby from the bottle, actually depends on the mother and her baby. It's up to them to decide when it is the right time, to shift to a cup. Nevertheless, waiting too long can make the transition very difficult, which is why we have some pointers that will help to wean your baby off bottle-feed.
Weaning Baby from Bottle to Sippy Cup
No Holding the Bottle
In order to make the cumbersome weaning process easier, it is better to start early. Every time you bottle-feed, hold the bottle yourself. Do not allow your infant to hold it. This prevents the baby from developing a relationship with the bottle. Babies who hold their milk bottles tend to develop a sense of comfort and security from it. This makes weaning even more difficult. Moreover, do not let your baby play with the bottle, or go off to sleep with it.
Holding a Cup Early
Although weaning should be carried out after the baby is about 9 to 12 months old, one should try to introduce a sippy cup, at about 6 months of age. Just allow the baby to hold the sippy cup and play with it. This will increase the baby's familiarity with the cup. The usual mistake parents make is to wait till the baby has grown old enough to handle a cup. However, this can get too late. So, start early.
Weaning is a gradual process and should not be done hastily. To start with, one can skip bottle-feed once every week. Instead, offer milk in a sippy cup. Do this during a feeding session, when your child drinks less. If your baby is below the age of 12 months, you can either express some breast milk or pour some formula milk into the sippy cup and offer it to your infant. This will at least have the flavor your child is used to. However, babies above the age of 12 months can be offered cow's milk. Then gradually replace the first feeding of the day with a sippy cup. This way gradually eliminate bottle-feeds.
Avoid the Cup when the Baby is Hungry or Sick
It is not such a good idea to introduce the sippy cup, when your baby is famished. The baby will instantly reject it and demand for the bottle. Moreover, the next time you try offering the bottle, he or she is less likely to take to it easily. Similarly, do not try to wean your baby when he or she is sick.
Cuddling and Pampering
Since your little one is going through a major transitional phase in his or her life, cuddle and pamper your infant as much as you can. This will provide a lot of comfort to your baby. Moreover, as he or she uses the cup, encourage and praise him or her for the marvelous efforts. You can also encourage your infant by drinking from a sippy cup yourself.
When a Baby Refuses the Sippy Cup
When the baby instantly shuns the sippy cup, there are a few strategies that a mother can try out.
Diluting the Milk in the Bottle
This helps most moms wean off their infants from the bottle. Just dilute the milk in the bottle with more amounts of water and give it to your baby. Then offer a sippy cup with regular milk. Your infant will soon learn that the sippy cup contains the milk that satisfies him or her and will soon give up the bottle.
Some parents find PediaSure of great help when weaning. PediaSure is a nutritious dietary supplement, which is tasty and quickly taken by the infant. What mothers do is add PediaSure to the milk in the sippy cup and provide diluted milk in the bottle. The infant soon demands the tastier milk. This way you can wean your baby off the bottle. In the next few weeks, you can gradually reduce the amount of PediaSure, added to each feed and wean your baby off PediaSure as well.
Bottle-to-Cup Trainer Kit
These days, you get sippy cups that resemble milk bottles. They come with softer spouts, thereby making the transition from bottle to cup easier. These bottle-to-cup trainers come with handles, which the infant can easily hold. You can buy this kit and try weaning your baby. You could also buy different types of sippy cups and see which one suits your infant's liking. You can also buy a feeding set with interchangeable spouts.
Make sure the milk bottle is not visible to the baby when you offer the sippy cup. The sight of the bottle will cause the baby to squeal for it. Moreover, you could also distract your infant with his favorite toy, while feeding him milk from the sippy cup. Playing soothing music, the kind the infant is familiar with also helps.
Don't Worry About the Mess
Often, parents are worried about milk spilling from the sippy cups. However, it is important that your infant learns to hold the sippy cup on his or her own. Placing too many restrictions on how to hold it and not to tilt it, will cause the child to resist or avoid the sippy cup. Do not let this happen. Be prepared to clean up the mess. At least this way, you can have your little one weaned off the bottle.
Even if the earlier attempts of weaning your infant have failed, do not get discouraged. Don't give in to the tantrums of your child. No matter how bad you feel for your baby, keep offering the cup every few days. Moreover, once your baby has begun drinking from the sippy cup, do not get back to bottle-feeding, no matter what.
Weaning your baby from bottle to cup may take anywhere between a few weeks to a few months. As a parent do not get disheartened. Keeping trying. Then again, you do not want to try so hard that it upsets your infant. Let your child take his or her time to get familiar with the sippy cup. Soon your baby will give up on the bottle and embrace the cup. Don't get too stressed out by the whole weaning process. All the best!