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Health & Baby

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How to Switch Your Baby From Bottle to Cup

Why the Bottle Needs to Go continued...

He says that being too attached to the bottle could have the opposite effect, too: With some picky eaters, the bottle becomes the “go-to meal," and a child may not be eating enough of his breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Bottles could mess with her smile. Constant sucking can change the position of her adult teeth down the line. It can affect the development of her facial muscles and palate (roof of her mouth), says Peter Richel, MD. He's the chief of pediatrics at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y. This can easily lead to an overbite that might later need to be corrected with orthodontia such as braces.

Drinking while laying down increases the chance of ear infections. If your little one loves to curl up with a bottle, watch out.

"Some of the milk kind of gurgles up in the back of the throat, and it just sort of sits there while bacteria grows," Ayoob says. "Bacteria can crawl right up the Eustachian tube [in the throat] and into the ear."

Giving the Bottle the Boot

Your child should know how to drink out of a cup before you take away the bottle. Many pediatricians tell parents to introduce sippy cups around 6 to 9 months. That's when kids commonly start drinking water and other liquids besides formula and breast milk.

If, from a young age, you start giving some milk (not just water) in sippy or regular cups, then things will be easier when you're ready to get rid of the bottle for good, Richel says.

Once you decide to ditch bottles, there are two main ways to go about it: Go cold turkey, or slowly wean her off. Whichever way you choose, experts agree that sticking to it is key. "Cold turkey is the quickest but most difficult for parents, because they feel they are being cruel," Richel says.

Just don't expect either way to be easy. Even if you opt to wean slowly, "there will be some pushback," Ayoob says. "If you're trying to do it without any resistance whatsoever, you're in the wrong business."

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