Weaning Baby From Bottle to Cup
Ready to wean your baby to a cup? Here’s how to make the transition easier.
Weaning Baby from the Breast and Bottle: Common Challenges
Expect success when you start weaning baby -- but be prepared for possible delays.
Many babies wean easily. “There was no gradual with [Jeremy],” says FlutterByWolf on WebMD’s parenting boards. “He was receptive enough to go straight from bottle to sippy. Lucky me!”
But a few babies decide they’re not ready to give up the breast or bottle. “My little boy is really into nursing and struggled when we gave him his first sippy cup at six months,” says board member KandBMommy. “He just chewed on the [sippy’s] rubber spout like it was a chew toy.”
If it’s difficult for your little one to make the transition, pros and parents offer these tips:
- Keep using the baby bottle or breastfeeding, but shorten each feeding session.
- Offer your baby his sippy cup first and don’t try the breast or bottle unless he rejects it.
- To prevent your baby from growing too attached to his bottle, don't let him crawl, walk around, or go to bed with it. Because nighttime feedings can be the most difficult to give up for both parent and child, try replacing them with new bonding habits, such as reading a book or looking at the stars together.
- Try different sippy cups. Although sippy cups are still the favored cup for the weaning transition, there are dozens of styles. Some have short, wide spouts or straws; some have handles, others don’t. You -- and your baby -- can only discover which one he prefers through trial and error.
- If your baby continues to resist weaning, let him get into the groove of eating solid foods before trying again. Some children naturally lose interest in the baby bottle or breast once they’re eating three solid meals most days.
What if you are having a tough time with the transition? Weaning has been called “a long good-bye,” and maybe you’ve found you’re just not ready to say it.
In that case, offer yourself the same nurturing patience you give your child. Acknowledge that weaning is an emotional, painful, but ultimately freeing process. And, then take time to bond with your little one in new ways, such as cuddling and reading together.
Weaning Baby: Strategies for Success
When you’re ready to take the plunge from breast or baby bottle to sippy cups, keep these baby-weaning tips in mind:
- Don’t start weaning baby when your lives are busy or stressful. If you’re starting a new job tomorrow or moving, or baby’s going through a new developmental stage, wait a month or two before weaning.
- Breastfeed or bottle feed a sick baby, even if you’re in the middle of trying to wean. It gives your baby a familiar, soothing comfort and may help him feel better sooner.
- ”Follow your child's lead,” says Boogies1123, whose son “has led the way the entire time, making it a really painless and tear-free transition.”
- Offer your little one other sources of calcium, such as yogurt or cheese, if he isn’t drinking 16 ounces of baby formula a day during the weaning process.
- Make sure your baby is eating solid foods by six months, whether or not he’s weaned. By the time he’s one year old, breast milk alone won’t provide all the nutrients he needs.
- Put breast milk or baby formula in the sippy cup when weaning baby. “Putting the same thing in a new container (i.e. a cup) makes it that much more likely that a baby will be interested,” Jana tells WebMD.
- Remember that once babies are eating solid foods, they’re getting liquids in the food they eat, says Jana. This means that their liquid requirements will naturally drop and they won’t drink the same volume from a sippy that they once did from breast or baby bottle.
- Be patient as your milk dries up, if you are transitioning from breastfeeding. For most moms, it can take between 2-4 weeks before milk production stops.
- Keep in mind that weaning doesn’t need to be all or nothing. Some women wean during the day and continue breast- or bottle feeding baby at night. Choose the process that works for you.